Local News: Former DA says prison idea a bad one; Gas prices surge; Ocean floor shakes; Benefit to help two

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Local News

Prison Closure Plan a bad one says former DA

The Joint Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature is taking some ill-advised steps according to former Lane County District Attorney Doug Harcleroad.

Doug Harcleroad – “That’s a powerful committee and those people have a lot of influence, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I’d like it not to happen.”

In an effort to close a larger budget shortfall, the committee is pushing for the closure of the 400-bed Santiam Correctional Institution.  That move would shift the prison population to ‘temporary’ beds in other prisons and, says Harcleroad, would create hazardous conditions system-wide.

The short term savings would be $1.6-million and it would create long-term savings, but at what expense?

Doug Harcleroad – “I think the number is about 8-million in the next biennium.  The problem with that is that more people are going to prison because we’ve got more serious criminals out there and they need those beds.”

Harcleroad, a Senior Policy Advisor for the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance says a better move would be to allow the new director of the agency that oversees prisons to make decisions on how to save money in her department.

Doug Harcleroad – “You just tell the Department of Corrections to make it happen.  They’ve got a new, very capable Department of Corrections administrator by the name of Collette Peters and she can find $1.6-million in a billion dollar plus budget.”

Harcleroad says closing the Santiam facility is a bad idea at a time when forecasts show there will be an increased demand for prison space.

Ocean Floor Shakes

A 6.0 magnitude quake was recorded last night off the Oregon coast.  The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado says no damage was reported and only a smattering of people said they felt it.  The center of the quake was located about 150-miles west of Bandon at 7:31 last night.  U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Dale Grant said the quake occurred in a seismically active area and was “not uncommon at all.”  In his words, “These are the ones we like – nobody gets hurt and there’s no damage.”

Gas Prices Climb

Prices at the pump continue to climb… the national average price, as measured by Triple-A went up three cents this past week and is now at $3.51.  Oregon’s statewide average increased by the same amount, it’s now at $3.53.  Meanwhile, prices locally shot up by seven cents in the past week with the Florence average price today at $3.45 a gallon.  That’s still well below the national and statewide average, but 30-cents higher than it was last year at this time.

Benefit Breakfast

The Florence Elks Lodge will be hosting a benefit breakfast this Saturday morning for two young men who have recently experienced life-changing events.  Trevor Denning suffered a spinal injury in an ATV crash last summer.  The Siuslaw High School student has been confined to a wheel chair.  Fourth Grader Donnie Luizzi was diagnosed last year with a rare form of brain cancer and has been undergoing treatment at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.  In both cases insurance will help pay for treatment, but there are so many additional expenses community members have been helping out as they can.  Saturday’s breakfast is $10 and will be served from eight until 11:30