Local News: Burglaries bag Florence man; State opens tsunami debris collection sites; Lane layoffs final; and Congress approves county payments

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Local News

Florence man facing burglary charges

Police say photographic evidence obtained through an investigation led them to arrest a 35-year old Florence man for two recent burglaries in the area.  But, investigators say, there could be more victims and they’re seeking public help in identifying what they believe to be stolen property.  Eric Eugene Fleming was lodged at the Lane County Jail Thursday where he’s facing charges including Burglary, Credit Card Fraud, Theft and Identity Theft.  Sergeant Carrie Carter with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office says Fleming was arrested on two specific burglaries, one of those was committed inside Florence city limits, a burglary reported last Tuesday at Spares Inc. on Kingwood Street.  The location of the second burglary, at a residence outside the city, was not released.

Carter says investigators have been able to identify some of the stolen goods, but they rely on crime victims reporting of theft and burglary losses to help them match up some of the goods that have been confiscated with reported losses.

Lane layoffs become final

Several Lane County employees, including Sheriff’s Deputies, Corrections Officers and dispatchers, turned in their gear Friday and collected their final paychecks.  65 positions were eliminated from the sheriff’s office alone because of budget cutbacks.  Nearly half of those had become vacant over the past several months and were not filled in anticipation of cutbacks.  Some employees transferred to other open positions but 29 department employees lost their jobs as of Friday.  A department spokesperson said layoffs have become common over the past several years but service levels are at an unprecedented level.

County payment extension granted

Even as those cutbacks were being made, the U.S. Congress was taking final action on a huge transportation bill.  One component of that was $346-million for 700 rural counties in 41 states.  About ten million each will go to Lane and Douglas Counties.  Lane County Administrator Liane (lee-ann) Richardson said the Board of County Commissioners will make the ultimate determination on what to do, but with another expected $8-million shortfall next year, she’s advocating holding on to the cash.

Tsunami debris can be dropped off

As more and more debris is being reported on Oregon beaches the State of Oregon is kicking collection and reporting efforts into high gear.  A network of 32 drop-off sites along the coast is now ready to accept beach debris from the March 2011 Japanese tsunami.  All Oregon State Parks will accept the debris, including Washburne, Honeyman and Umpqua Lighthouse Parks in Lane and Douglas County.  Bagged tsunami debris can also be dropped off at the Lane County Waste Transfer site on Rhododendron Drive.

Bandon beach babies

Ordinarily, wildlife officials say not to pick up or touch beach babies… young seals or birds that only appear to be abandoned this time of year.  But this time it was necessary.  Three Snowy Plover chicks are receiving care at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport this week after their parents were killed by a red fox at Bandon State Natural Area. The birds, currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were found by plover monitors from Portland State University last week in the nest.  One had already hatched, a second hatched while being transported to the aquarium and the third hatched after arrival.  Current records show approximately 250 of the birds currently survive in Oregon… an increase from only 28 in 1992.