Local News – Florence Police Chief Retires; Flood Watch; Power Outage Cause; Wyden Town Halls

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Local News

Florence Police Chief opts for retirement…

He said it has been a “great experience”, but now is the time to retire and “create the opportunity for a transition of leadership within the department”. After serving 5 ½ years as the top cop in Florence, Maury Sanders will be stepping down effective Tuesday.  Sanders and outgoing city manager Bob Willoughby made the joint announcement yesterday afternoon.  Willoughby credited Sanders with bringing innovation and progress to the department.  During his tenure the holding cells at the Florence Justice Center were converted into a correctional facility and Sanders took the lead in negotiating a policing contract between the city and Three Rivers Casino.

Mayor Phil Brubaker initially declined to comment, but subsequently said the process of choosing a new chief will fall to incoming City Manager Jacque Betz.  That will be one of the first big tasks she will take on after being sworn in Tuesday night.

Flood Watch on the Siuslaw

Highway 126 just east of Mapleton was closed briefly this morning when heavy rains caused a slide to come down.  Emergency officials advise caution when driving today as there will likely be more water than usual on roadways.

A Flood Watch will remain in effect through this afternoon for the Siuslaw River and several other coastal streams as heavy rains continue to keep flows high.  The Siuslaw River crested just below flood stage above Mapleton early yesterday morning.  After falling through the day Thursday, it began rising again overnight, and is expected crest again later today, three feet above flood stage, or at 21-feet.  The rapid rise came on the heels of two inches of rain Wednesday, followed by another two inches yesterday.  Forecasters say more rain will fall today before a cold front moves in overnight, bringing drier weather through the weekend.

Power Outage Cause Determined

Much of Wednesday evening’s wide spread power outage in the Florence area was caused by a single tree that fell across a line east of Florence

Chris Chandler – “Of course with the storm that’s not hard to understand how that happens and unfortunately lost our feed from the Bonneville Power Administration.”

Chris Chandler with Central Lincoln PUD said despite the darkness and the stormy conditions crews were able to locate to source of the outage quickly, isolated it, and take steps to get the lights back on.

Chris Chandler – “We were able to reroute power coming from the south.  But the good news was that once we had the tree cleared off the line, between Florence and the Wendson Substation, we were able to use that as a backup in case it was needed.”

That allowed utility crews to begin working on scattered smaller outages around the area, including one in Dunes City that left dozens of homes without electricity until yesterday afternoon.

Wyden Town Halls

When he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Ron Wyden promised to hold Town Hall meetings in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year.  He’ll open 2012 with meetings in three coastal counties next week.  Wyden will be at Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue on Sunday, January 8th at One PM.  Three hours later he’s scheduled to appear at Reedsport Community Charter School, then the next morning at Ten, Wyden will hold a Town Hall meeting at the Coos Bay Library.