Local News – River Level; Minimum Wage; Christmas Trees; Pedestrian Safety

Coast Radio News
Local News

After a long dry spell the pendulum swings…

The Siuslaw River crested just below flood stage above Mapleton late last night and is headed downward, but more rain today could slow that decline or cause a brief rise in the river level.  According to the National Weather Service, though, it’s not expected reach the 18-foot flood stage.  Two inches of rain fell in the Florence area yesterday, more in the Coast Range; and the wind caused some problems as well.  Much of the Florence area spent a brief period without power in the evening but the lights were restored to all but just a few scattered outages by 7 pm.  Forecasters are calling for more rain and wind today, but neither are expected to be as intense as yesterday.

Minimum Wage Workers Getting a Raise

Oregon Voters in 2002 approved a law that tied the state’s minimum wage to growth in the Consumer Price Index.  That index grew by just under four-percent last year, prompting an automatic hike in the minimum wage from $8.50 an hour to $8.80 effective January 1st.  An estimated 137-thousand Oregonians, most of them in the hospitality or retail industries, will benefit from the extra 30-cents an hour.

For full time employees that means about an extra 50-dollars each month.  Some employers claim that extra cost will mean they hire fewer employees.  But, John Schmitt, an economist with the Center for Economic Policy Research has studied wage trends over the past 80-years.  He says increases in the minimum wage may impact prices, but the requirements have had no negative impact on jobs over the years.

Pedestrian Safety Enhanced in Old Town

Drivers on the east end of Bay Street and on Nopal between Bay and First this week likely noticed a couple of new features in the middle of the street in that area.  Florence Public Works Director Mike Miller says the pylons are the first part of a new warning system alerting drivers to the presence of pedestrians.

Mike Miller – “The signs show up this week.  They were shipped out of Portland last night so, we’re hoping to get them here in town on Thursday and depending on when they get here they’ll be up for the weekend.”

The large number of pedestrians coming out of the Port of Siuslaw parking lot, headed for Bay Street and Old Town can create a safety hazard.

Mike Miller – “There is a need for a crosswalk there because there are so many pedestrian movements.  However, pedestrian improvement projects can be expensive, especially in this situation where there’s no curb cuts or a ramp and you would have to go and spend $40-thousand to go ahead and do those types of projects.”

By going ‘low tech’ and using warning signs, the cost can be kept low while increasing pedestrian safety.

Christmas Tree Pickups

What to do with that Christmas Tree…  Many people typically take them down in the week between Christmas and New Years.  Garbage haulers will pick them up, but they wind up in the landfill.  There are a couple of groups in Reedsport and Florence though that will be glad to help you out… if you can help them out at the same time.  For a small donation the Siuslaw Valley Fire Fighters will pick up your tree this Saturday.  You simply need to call the fire station at 997-3212.  In Reedsport, the Braves’ Track and Field Team is raising money to buy new hurdles.  Give them a call at 662-1043 and they’ll be around to get your tree by tomorrow.

Viking Basketball

The Marshfield Pirates dominated the Siuslaw Vikings 53-28 last night in the opening round of the Les Schwab South Coast Holiday Tournament.  The Pirates will face Coquille this afternoon in the semi-final round while the Viking Boys will take on the McKay Scots at 10:15 this morning.