December 11, 2012
Long time business, civic leader passes away
After a brief illness, long time business, civic and community leader Stu Johnston passed away this week. Johnston is probably best known to current residents as the driving force behind Johnston Motor Company, the Ford/Mercury dealership that his father Ed Johnston opened in 1939. At the time the dealership was housed in what is now Hoberg’s Muffler Center at Maple and Highway 101. Following World War II, in 1947, the younger Johnston joined the company. By 1959 he had convinced his dad to move way north of town on a large parcel of property. That move is one that shaped the look of Florence for many years to come. He operated the business for another four decades, weathering several economic cycles, before turning it over to the third generation, his son Brian, in the 1990s. Even though Johnston didn’t have an active day to day role in the business, he continued to keep a presence in the dealership for a number of years.
Stu Johnston had an impact on more than just the business community. In his younger days he played an active role in city government… spending nine years as a city councilor in the 1950s. In 1960 he was elected to the first of what would be two four-year terms as Mayor. It was during this time that Florence experienced significant growth and the beginnings of long term planning. Johnston and other community leaders were successful in a drive to pave most of the streets of Florence during his nearly two decades at City Hall. A crowning achievement was the dedication in 1967 of a new city hall, library and fire station on Highway 101. The Library has since moved to separate quarters, but the fire station and city hall are still in use.
In his later years, Johnston focused on community issues, serving 9-years on the board of the Western Lane Community Foundation. He also devoted significant time to the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and was instrumental in the move of that organization from a remote location south of Florence to the current building at 2nd and Maple.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has postponed the opening of the commercial Dungeness Crab season once again, this time to December 30th. Quality testing of crab samples has shown the development of mature crabs is slow, failing to meet minimum pre-season criteria. Oregon crabbers typically set their pots in late November and begin harvesting the lucrative Dungeness catch on December 1st. The season was initially delayed to December 16th, but another round of testing last week showed the meat content of test samples remained below the target of 25-percent.
A different look at Florence is on display through December 22nd at the Events Center. Their first-ever gingerbread village contest has drawn nearly two-dozen entries from individuals and businesses. The latter division has brought several representations of community features including a replica of Hans Peterson Field by Coast Insurance; Tony’s Garage and the Bridgeport Market. FEC Community Outreach Manager Lindsey Phillips says several families have entered stylized versions of their homes. They’re on display in the lobby of the FEC, visitors are encouraged to vote on their favorites… the people’s choice will be announce during breakfast with Santa, later this month.