Local News – Postal closures delayed; Governor institutes hiring freeze; school enrollment up; gas prices down; and the Vikings post their first win of the 11-12 season

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Proposed postal closures to be delayed

In response to lawmakers’ requests the U.S. Postal Service will delay the closing or consolidation of any postal facility until at least May 15th of next year.  At least for the time being, that will spare rural post offices in Deadwood, Swisshome, Walton and Gardiner; as well as the Gateway Mail processing center in Springfield.  Spokesman David Partenheimer says the postal service will continue to review details around the locations targeted for closure, as well as conduct public input meetings to gauge the impacts.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden welcomed the announcement saying the targeted facilities are “vital to the economic health of rural communities”.  Wyden called the decision to delay closures a ‘victory’ while Congress looks at trying to “tackle postal reform in the coming year”.  Earlier this fall the Postal Service had announced the possibility of closing 37-hundred mostly-rural post offices, 41 of which are in Oregon.

State implementing cost savings

Governor John Kitzhaber’s administration has implemented a hiring freeze and other cost-cutting measures.  The governor ordered the freeze Tuesday at the request of legislative budget leaders. A memo to agency heads says positions “essential to the state’s business” will be filled. But new classes of state troopers will be cancelled, and any new hire will have to be approved by a committee.

The governor also suspended new enrollments in the Oregon Health Plan’s “Standard” program, which provides health coverage for people without private insurance who don’t quite meet the qualifications for Medicaid.  A program providing day care funding for working parents won’t take new enrollment either, along with Project Independence, which helps seniors and people with disabilities live in their own homes.

Fuel prices for the Yule

Average gas prices continue to fall, reaching 10-month lows in Oregon and Nationally, but are still at record levels for the time of year.  Triple-A released figures this week showing the national average price fell by a penny to $3.27 a gallon; while the Oregon average price fell by six cents.  It’s at $3.46 a gallon.  Locally, the average price per gallon fell by seven cents; it’s at $3.43.

Enrollment stabilizing at local schools?

After declining steadily for the past several years, enrollment at Siuslaw Schools appears to have stabilized and is possibly on the rise… if only slightly.  Siuslaw School Board members will review a report this evening presented by Superintendant Jeff Davis.  The mid-year enrollment, as of December 7th, for all grades is at 1363 students.  Last year’s ending enrollment was 1345 which was a slight increase over the two years prior.  The increases have shown up in the lower grades and the high school.  The number of students at the middle school are about ten-percent lower than the past three years.

Vikings pick up first win on the court

J.B. Dodson stole the ball from Junction City’s Levi Smucker with five seconds remaining, then hit two free throws with a second remaining last night to give the Siuslaw Vikings a 54-50 win over the Junction City Tigers.  Dodson led scoring with 14 points, Jake Thompson had 13, and Jacob Egan and Mitchell Butler scored 11 apiece in the Vikings’ first win of the season.  The Vikings held the lead three different times on the night, but the Tigers were in front most of the way, but only led by one going into the final period.