Local News: Cleanup for Rhody; Ballot Returns Lagging; Rural POs spared

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Time to clean up for annual festival…

The weather forecast for this weekend is calling for sunny and relatively warm, as well as much drier conditions than the past several months.  That would make it pretty good for cleaning up, mowing grass, pulling weeds and trimming shrubs in preparation for the 105th Annual Rhododendron Festival.

Phil Brubaker – “Community spirit, good neighbor days, and get ourselves ready to show off for Rhody weekend.”

Florence Mayor Phil Brubaker is encouraging residents to get ready for the visitors that will be in town for the third weekend in May.  The third weekend of each month is also when Florence usually operates the yard debris collection at the Florence Airport.

This month, however, it will be a week early so residents will have a place to drop off those trimmings.  The council recently approved a slight hike in the dropoff fees from $5 for city residents and $10 for non-residents to a flat $10 for everyone.

Phil Brubaker – “But we decided to hold off on implementing it until after Rhody Days so it’ll start in June.”

City officials estimate with the cost adjustment the dropoffs will come close to paying for themselves.

Rural POs Spared

Rural residents who rely on their local post office to maintain connections have won a reprieve from the U.S. Postal Service.  The latest postal proposal for cost cutting removes all 20 rural Oregon post offices from the chopping block, but their hours may be cut back.  That means Oregonians in communities like Deadwood, Walton and Gardiner won’t have to drive additional miles to get their mail.

The postal service had planned to close thousands of post offices with low volumes, but backed down amid opposition from communities and lawmakers.  Now the service says it will hold community meetings to explore options, including keeping post offices open but at reduced hours.

Ballot Returns Lagging

So far fewer than 15-percent of Lane County’s 194-thousand registered voters have returned ballots for the May 15th Primary.  With six days to return ballots, that means a lot of voters will have to respond to come anywhere close to the voter turnout in the last Presidential Primary.  In 2008, with the Democratic primary still undecided, 65-percent of voters in Lane County weighed in.

That contrasts with the last Congressional Primary two years ago when just over 42-percent returned their ballots.  Returns for this year’s election are running pretty close to last year when only local issues were decided and about 36 ½ – percent voted.  Not only is this year’s percentage of voters running well below previous returns, the number of registered voters has dropped by more than 10-thousand.

Four years ago there were just over 205-thousand voters in Lane County; this year only 194-thousand.