Local News – School Safety – FEC Funding


Coast Radio News
Local News

December 18, 2012

School security changes to begin next week.

A plan to make school buildings in Florence more secure has been in the works for quite some time.  Part of that plan was implemented with changes at the High School over the summer that aimed to eliminate ‘blind’ spots from the front office.  Implementing more changes appears to be a sign of the times for superintendant Jeff Davis.

Jeff Davis — “We constantly have to revisit this, we want it to be a friendly environment for students and staff and visitors.  But, by the same token we have to be vigilant against possible intruders or people that have ill will.”

Changes to the elementary school began two years ago with the final step in that process set to begin next week.

Jeff Davis — “This vacation, over Christmas break we’ll be starting on that project as well.”

Davis says the project has been long-planned.  When it’s complete, visitors to the school will have to enter through the main office and not directly into a hallway.

Jeff Davis — “We will have access to the public when school starts and then after the kids are safely in the classrooms then the external doors will be locked.”

Davis says all schools have video surveillance in place and all exterior doors remain locked during the school day.

Snow Causes Delays

As much as two inches of snow fell in higher elevations of the Coast Range overnight.  The accumulation of snow and slush on Highways 126 and 36 didn’t cause any major problems, but it did prompt officials at Mapleton School District to cancel kindergarten for the day and open schools two hours later than normal.  Snow plows cleared the roadway before six this morning.  Officials say to use caution when traveling in higher elevations as road conditions could be slick.

Events Center Closure Possible

A broad volunteer base has been one of the major strengths of the Florence Events Center over the years.  That base may need to be expanded however if the center is going to survive in its current state.  Florence City Councilors last night reviewed the latest update in the city’s long term financial plan.  One portion of that plan focused on the structural shortfall in operating revenues at the FEC that could eventually lead to closure.

Finance Director Erin Reynolds pointed out that was just one of several possible eventualities as she delivered the news to the council that under current operations the FEC would be in the hole by about $184-thousand by the end of fiscal year 2017.  She says staffing is already at a minimum, as are operational costs, but the end this year of a long term agreement with Lane County is a cause for concern. Additional room tax has been used to pay off the mortgage and subsidize operations.  Without a stable long term funding source or a way to increase usage of the center such as an adjacent “headquarters hotel”, the future looks bleak; finding that long term solution is her proposed number one financial goal for the council in the coming year.

Statewide Tsunami Cleanup 

A statewide plan on how to coordinate cleanup of debris from the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami is being finalized today in Salem.  Governor Kitzhaber will sign the agreement today at a meeting of the statewide tsunami debris task force meeting.  State, federal and local officials will coordinate the identification, monitoring and cleanup of an estimated 1.5-million tons of debris that could eventually wash up on beaches in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.  That debris began arriving earlier this year, including a 188-ton dock that cost $100-thousand to remove and cleanup.  Officials are keeping an eye on yet another large dock that was spotted off the coast of Washington over the weekend.