Merkley visits, talks with residents

A new Coos Historical & Maritime Center will be key to developing the Coos Bay-North Bend waterfont, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said Saturday.

Merkley, who visited Coos County over the Labor Day weekend, spoke at the dedication of the museum site.

After being led in by the Marshfield High School drum line, he expressed his support for the project, including $500,000 in federal money for it.

‘You can envision this area becoming a vital part of the Coos Bay-Coos County area,” he said.
‘The center is going to create a big change on the waterfront.”

Merkley noted that several proposals to build private developments nearby are already in the works.

Center receives deed

Coos Bay mayor Jeff McKeown said the museum is a way to ‘preserve a sense of who we are,” while launching ‘a new era for the community.”

As part of the ceremony, he handed over the deed to the property, transferring ownership from the city to the center.

Three trucks revved their engines and dumped the first loads of gravel, signifying the start of the project. Coos Bay Towboat’s Teclusa sprayed water in the bay to celebrate.

The gravel is a down payment on fill that will be added to the site, where construction is expected to start in the spring.

Merkley’s next stop was a townhall event at Southwestern Oregon Community College, where he fielded questions and comments from the crowd.

He spoke about the benefits of biomass and converting leftover foliage from logging into energy.

End oil dependence

‘We should create a 20-year plan to end our dependence on oil.”

Marshfield High School junior Connor Bryant asked Merkley what he was doing to make college more affordable.

Merkley said his emphasis is on freeing up millions of dollars for Pell grants and working to compress the cost of attending school.

‘There is no silver bullet,” he said.

Another citizen asked Merkley about manufacturing and what he’s doing to bring it back to America.

‘If we do not build things here in America, we will not have a middle class here in America,” the senator said.