Coast Radio News

Local News – Belson Leaving, Dunes City Council, Wyden, & West Nile Virus

Coast Radio News
Local News

A major change is coming in the staffing at Florence City Hall.  After nearly six years on the job, Community Development Director Sandra Belson will be leaving to return to an assignment with the Peace Corps. 

City Recorder Kelli Weese will assume the role of Interim Planning Director effective September 11th. 

The level of building, development and planning activity in Florence is currently far less than pre-recession levels so City Manager Jacque Betz says she’ll eliminate the position held by Belson entirely and will not be naming a new Community Development Director.  The current senior planner for the city, Wendy Campbell, is on a military deployment to Afghanistan, and won’t be back until late spring.  In the interim, Betz will evaluate the needs of the community and the department and will hold of on making any permanent selections.

Belson supervised several key projects during her tenure in Florence, including the Rhododendron Drive Integrated Transportation Plan; and the current draft update to the city’s Transportation Systems Plan; as well as worked with the Siuslaw Estuary Partnership to strengthen drinking water protections. 

She will spend nine months as a Peace Corps Response volunteer on the African continent, working in Guinea.  This will be her second stint with the Peace Corps., she served three years in Samoa.


Voters in Dunes City won’t have any more choices than those in Florence on the November ballot.  But, they’ll at least have a candidate for every open position on the city council.  Two incumbent councilors opted to seek re-election… Jaime Mills and Ed Scarberry… while one did not re-file.  Richard Koehler will step down from the council when his term ends at the end of this year.  In his place will likely be former Florence Police Chief Maury Sanders.  One candidate filed for mayor… Rebecca Ruede has held that post since spring of 2011 when she was appointed.

Health officials say two cases of West Nile Virus, one on the South Coast, have been confirmed among humans in Oregon.  One individual in Coos County tested positive for the virus which is borne by mosquitoes.  The other case was confirmed in southeast Oregon in Malhuer county.  Both patients; one man, one woman; each older than 50; are recovering.  Officials say until this week the virus had only been found in animals in Oregon, including a horse in Klamath County and pools of insects in Jackson, Morrow, and Malhuer county.  West Nile is a potentially serious illness spread by mosquitoes with most infections showing up with mild, flu-like symptoms.  Some severe cases can cause an inflammation of the brain and, in rare cases, death. 

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden will be taking a walking tour of tsunami debris collection areas maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department tomorrow in Florence.  The Oregon Democrat was one of the first to call for federal intervention into the matter of debris from Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami posing a threat to Northwest tourism, fishing and shipping.  Tomorrow’s walking tour will begin at the Honeyman State Park office, three miles south of Florence on Highway 101.  Striding along with Wyden will be officials from Oregon Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the City of Florence.