Local News: Neighbors Come Together; Plover Nesting Expanded; County Budget Delayed; Port Special Meeting

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Local News

North Florence Neighbors Band Together in Absence of Police Presence

Residents just outside the Florence City limits are taking things into their own hands.  An informal and impromptu neighborhood watch came together to corral one suspect caught breaking into a home near Heceta Beach Road.  The residents turned him over to a Florence police officer who held the man until a State Trooper could arrive.  But, says Leslie Kettenhofen, there were at least two other suspects in the area who continued their nefarious efforts.

Leslie Kettenhofen – “So this neighbor went out and said, hey, you know we’ve already arrested one person today and we’re after you.”

This round of break-ins on Tuesday wasn’t serious.

Leslie Kettenhofen – “I mean they have not messed with any houses that are occupied, you know that any of us live in.  They’re not stealing anything of value.  It’s more like maybe they’re homeless and camping.”

But neighbors say there have been plenty of thefts and break-ins over the past several months that have resulted in real losses.

Leslie Kettenhofen – “We’ve pretty much got a neighborhood watch going at this point.  You know, everybody’s checking each other’s houses, we all have each other’s cell phone numbers and email addresses and so we’re talking and texting and calling and reporting.”

With police response in rural areas continuing to be limited, Kettenhofen says there is “safety in numbers”.  She urges people to call police first, but then call your neighbors.

County Budget Approval Delayed

Lane County Commissioners held off on final approval of the 2012-13 budget yesterday.  Spokesperson Shelley Kurtz said a number of budget options are based on assumptions regarding available funds.  One of those options will have a direct impact on operations at the Sheriff’s office.  Sheriff Tom Turner says changes to the contract with the union representing deputies have not been ratified by the collective bargaining unit.  Acceptance of those changes will have an impact on expenditures… and staffing levels… within his agency.  The Board of County Commissioners is expected to take final action in a special meeting Monday afternoon.

Port to Update Strategic Plan

Speaking of special meetings… the Port of Siuslaw Commission will hold a special session Saturday from 9 to 3 to update the district’s Strategic Business Plan.  Don’t look for that meeting in Florence though.  Occasionally the Commission will meet in other parts of the district.  Saturday they’ll do that… they’ll be at King Estate Winery just south of Eugene on the upper reaches of the Siuslaw River drainage.  The meeting is open to the public.

Plover Critical Habitat Expansion Won’t Impact Oregon

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in response to a lawsuit filed by a Portland conservation group, has more than doubled the amount of acreage set aside as “critical habitat” for the endangered Western Snowy Plover.  Current ‘set-asides’ on the West Coast will increase from 12,147 acres to 24,527.  But, in Oregon the nesting areas will be reduced by 35 acres from 2,147 to 2,112 because of breeding success.