Local News: Three Rivers Foundation; Winter Weather; Legislature Missing Deadline? Despite Anemic Demand Gas Prices Shoot Up; Siuslaw Softball Seeking $$

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Three Rivers Foundation Hands Out $75,000

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch… the representatives of 17 western Oregon non-profit groups not only got a free lunch yesterday, but also went home with a check for anywhere between one and seven thousand dollars.

Mark Ingersoll is the chairman of the Three Rivers Foundation, the charitable group set up to channel some of the profits from Three Rivers Casino back into the community.  Yesterday’s awards were his group’s first.

Ingersoll – “We looked at different grants on what was going to back up our communities and get them through to the next year and take care of the less fortunate and the needy that really do need our support at this time.”

The money went to groups from Lane, Lincoln, Douglas, Coos and Curry Counties; primarily organizations that deal with youth and ‘at-risk families’.

Ingersoll – “You know, it was just sad that we didn’t have double the amount of money to give and double the amount of grants and next year it really looks like we’re going to much more funding and we’ll be able to spread this out further through the community.”

Ingersoll and foundation vice-president Jay Bozievich handed out the grant awards yesterday afternoon.

Travel and School Delays

Winter weather had quite an impact on travel in the interior portions of the state this morning.  Interstate Five between the California border and Canyonville was closed for several hours in different locations overnight because of hazardous driving conditions.

Several schools in the southern Willamette Valley and in Central Douglas County were operating on delays or closed entirely for the day because of snow.

Everything on the coast was on schedule.

Lawmakers Missing Self Imposed Deadline

The Oregon Legislature arrived at its own deadline for adjournment and there’s still no agreement on some major pieces of legislation.  Lawmakers in the House are working with Governor John Kitzhaber to find some combination of legislation that all would find acceptable.

Caught in the mix are Kitzhaber’s two education bills and one of his health care initiatives.  Even the budget, which has been mostly finalized, is on hold amid ongoing discussions about building and infrastructure projects.  The Legislature legally has until next week to finish up, but lawmakers had set a February 29th deadline before heading into this year’s session.

Despite Lackluster Demand Gas Prices Continue to Rise

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded has soared by 56-cents in Florence over the past three weeks.  More than half of that increase was recorded in the past week alone when the average shot up from $3.62 a gallon to $3.92.  Marie Dodds with Triple-A of Oregon says the national average price is at $3.72, up 15 cents since last week; and the Oregon average is up 23-cents this week to $3.90 a gallon.

While west coast prices have hit the ceiling, prices in other parts of the country have not.  Dodds says there’s never been such a diversity in prices.  Pacific Coast states have gone up on average 55-cents a gallon since the first of the year while in the Mountain state prices are up only about 18-cents.  Much of the increase is because of speculation in the market and, according to Dodds, demand for fuel has actually been “anemic”.

Siuslaw Softball Seeking $$

Spring sports began practice earlier this week at Siuslaw High School.  But, in addition to focusing on fundamentals and conditioning the softball team is still working on raising money.

O’Mara – “Last year our expenses totaled $12,000 and that’s with no coaches salaries, that’s just transportation, officials, well we have to, you know, put our own toilets out there and field maintenance, and stuff like that.”

Softball coach Sean O’Mara said no travel in the pre-season has reduced this season’s need to $10,000.  But, as of last week they only had about two grand in the bank.

The team is working on two different fund-raisers right now and O’Mara and any of the players would be happy to answer any questions about how people can help out.

Their first game is set for March 20th against Newport.