Local News – Gutierrez Takes Top Cop Job; Ambulance Calls Increase; Verger preparing for final session; Endowment Fund Established for BG Club

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Florence names top cop

As of yesterday afternoon Florence has a new police chief.  Lieutenant Ray Gutierrez, a 30-year veteran of the Florence force, will be the top cop in the city.  Gutierrez was on vacation when former Chief Maury Sanders retired suddenly two weeks ago.

Yesterday was the first time he and City Manager Jacque Betz were able to sit down and discuss the needs of the department and his future.  Betz offered him the job, and he accepted.  They’ll work out the details of a new employment agreement this week.

Betz immediately informed the city council via email that the Chief’s swearing in ceremony will be held at the February 21st Council Meeting.  The delay is to allow Gutierrez time to invite out of town family members to the ceremony.

He began his law enforcement career in Coos County in 1977.  Gutierrez was hired as a patrolman in Florence in December 1981 and was promoted to Sergeant five years later.  In January 1997 he was named Lieutenant and has served in that capacity since that time.

Gift establishes endowment fund for Boys and Girls Club

A ten-thousand dollar gift from a local couple will create an endowment fund that will help the Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County meet their goals.  The gift, from Al and Audrey Pearn establishes the fund at the Western Lane Community Foundation.  Al Pearn said he may not be in a position to create “family wage” jobs, but he hopes that by creating the endowment others will be encouraged to contribute.  Club president Jenna Bartlett called the endowment “generous” and said it will enhance their ability to provide a safe place for kids to learn and grow in the long term.

Verger Readying for final session

State Senator Joanne Verger is preparing for what will be her final legislative session.  The Coos Bay Democrat has already announced she will not be seeking election to her third term in the Oregon Senate.  During the 2012 session set to start February First she’ll be co-chairing the Transportation and Economic Development Sub-Committee of the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Ambulance Calls on the rise

Western Lane Ambulance District is seeing a consistent increase in the demand for that agency’s services.  The district provides emergency medical response, treatment and transport in Florence, Dunes City, Mapleton, Swisshome and Deadwood.  District spokesman Al Kreitz says the demand has steadily increased over the years.

Al Kreitz – “Call volume is up 21% over five years.”

That translates to 500 more calls for service last year than five years ago.

Al Kreitz – “2409 calls in a year, 2011.  And that’s up from 1904 in 2006.”

The agency staffs two full-time paramedic units 24-hours a day, seven days a week; and operates a critical care transfer unit as well as specialized sand dunes rescue vehicles.