Local News – Christmas Baskets – Crab Season turns deadly – Willoughby to be honored – Police seeking public help

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35th Community Christmas Basket Distribution Set for this Weekend

The gift items beneath 18 “giving trees” scattered around various businesses in Florence will be harvested today as organizers begin pulling together the 35th annual Community Christmas Basket distribution.  Volunteers will spend tomorrow sorting the toys that will go into Candy Cane Lane at the Three Rivers Bingo Hall.  Food will be sorted and the final shopping will be done as well.

Saturday morning beginning at ten AM volunteers will be ready to hand out an estimated 425 boxes containing food for a Christmas Dinner.  Project chair Shasta McMullen with Florence Soroptimist said this year instead of distributing toys and gifts at the same time, they’ll be separated.  Toys and gifts will be available Sunday from noon until five pm, then again Monday between ten and four.  There are no qualification requirements.  It’s open to anyone who declares a need because of income or other circumstances.

Driver of suspicious vehicle sought

Florence police officers are seeking the public’s help in locating a pickup that may have been involved in suspicious activities.  Children waiting for a school bus at approximately 8:15 Monday morning on 35th street near Wecoma told their bus driver that they had been approached by the driver of an “old rusty pickup truck”.

The students said the driver stopped, got out of the truck and asked some of the children if they wanted to wait inside for the bus.  They declined and the driver left.  Officers would like to speak with the driver of the truck that was described as being ‘rusty’, the front of the truck was blue and the rear was brown.  Anyone seeing the vehicle is asked to call Florence Police with information.

Crab season turns deadly

The first pots began being pulled early this morning on the new commercial Dungeness crab season.  The season traditionally begins December 1st but was delayed two weeks because of quality concerns.  Accounting for nearly $49-million in sales last year, the Dungeness crab fishery is the most valuable along the Oregon Coast.  More than 21-million pounds were harvested last year between December and August.  Most of that is typically sold during December and January.  It’s already turned in a deadly season.  The vessel “Randi”, loaded with crab pots and working out of Charleston, capsized early Monday morning about three miles north of the Coos Bay entrance.  Jim Peterson was in the wheelhouse at the time.  Two other crewmen were rescued, Peterson is still missing.

Willoughby to be honored

Elected officials and other city employees will honor outgoing city manager Bob Willoughby this Monday evening during his final meeting.  Willoughby began work in Florence in December 2006 and had previously announced that he would be leaving some time in 2012 because of a desire to move closer to family in the Portland Metro area.  He was recently hired to take a similar position in the Marion County community of Silverton.  Willoughby is credited with helping secure funding for a new $1.2-million senior center in Florence and worked with fire district officials in securing the annexation of the city into the Siuslaw Valley Fire District.