Local News Digest – Parks and streets at risk; Oregon Health Plan, trains and wind.

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Watch for potholes and long grass…


It’s a dilemma the likes of which Bob Willoughby has never seen.

Bob Willoughby – “Those of us that have been working for local governments for a long time, and we have a lot of experienced managers at the city, aren’t used to closing parks. You know, our experience has been in finding ways to open new ones.”

Even though the Florence City Council has not yet formally adopted a long range financial plan… that’s expected to come next week… the City Manager and staff at city hall are mindful of the plan that, he says, clearly identifies a lack of revenue to sustain current services.

Existing revenue sources will be enough to operate only basic services for the next few years.  That means activities like filling potholes and maintaining streets will be at a minimum.  It also will likely mean a sharp cutback in park maintenance… possibly even some closures.

Bob Willoughby – “Nobody wants to do that and I don’t anticipate it’ll come to that, but there will be an impact… I mean, it’s a certainty… we finally have a balanced budget following the policy adopted by the council and it certainly will have an impact on parks and streets.”

A consultant had suggested the city implement a street maintenance and parks user fee that would be added to utility bills.  But elected officials said increasing fees was not an option.


Oregon Health Authority Board in Florence this week.

More than 600-thousand Oregonians are served by the Oregon Health Plan.  Over the past few years the cost of providing care for those members has far outpaced inflation.  The Oregon Legislature approved a bill in the last session that would continue to put Oregon ahead of the curve in reigning in health care costs.


Patty Wentz – “How do we reorganize the health care delivery system so that we can get more bang for our buck? By paying for prevention? By paying for management of chronic illness? How do we get better health which will bring lower costs?

Patty Wentz with the Oregon Health Authority says the method chosen by lawmakers was the establishment of Coordinated Care Organizations.  They would give patients and caregivers incentives to focus on things like prevention and wellness, while streamlining the delivery of care.

The Oregon Health Authority has organized a series of meetings across the state to exchange information on the CCOs… One of those meetings will be at the Florence Events Center, tomorrow night, from six to eight pm.


Working on the railroad…

Four years after a rail line from Eugene to the Oregon coast was abruptly abandoned, service is on the verge of being restored.  The first train of the Coos Bay Rail Link is expected next week. It’s due at Southport Lumber.  Since the shutdown in 2007 shippers have been bearing higher costs during a tough economy and are looking forward to the new service.  The Port of Coos Bay bought the line for $16.6 million and fixed nine tunnels as well as repairing the ties and replacing ballast.  Yet to come is a bridge repair at Coos Bay that will extend the line to more shippers.

High Wind Watch…

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch for exposed headlands and beaches along the Oregon Coast through this evening.  A cold front is approaching the shoreline later today, bringing with it the possibility of high winds nearing 60 miles an hour.  Winds will be strongest in exposed areas… intown winds are expected to be much less.  The front is also bringing with it the possibility of heavy rains.