Former Florence residents victims of Coos County triple murder; Water and Sewer rate increases proposed; Festival of Books

Coast Radio News
Local News

17 June 2013

Former Florence Residents Believed Dead in Triple-Homicide

Authorities have not officially confirmed all of the identities, but it appears a popular former science teacher at Siuslaw High School, his wife, and a neighbor were the victims of a triple-homicide in Coos County Saturday.

73-year old Renae Cottam and his wife, Lola Cottam are believed to have died in a triple-homicide Saturday, June 15th in the tiny community of Bridge, Oregon in East Coos County.
73-year old Renae Cottam and his wife, Lola Cottam are believed to have died in a triple-homicide Saturday, June 15th in the tiny community of Bridge, Oregon in East Coos County.

Authorities responding to a house fire in a rural area east of Myrtle Point near Bridge found the body of 59-year old Kathleen Nelson in the burning home.  At the same time, they discovered another nearby home fully involved in flames.  It took firefighters longer to extinguish the blaze and when they did they discovered the remains of two more people.  According to Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frazier the conditions of the bodies made it difficult to make an ID, but they are believed to be Renae and Lola Cottam, both 73 years old.

Renae Cottam retired from teaching at Siuslaw High School about a dozen years ago.

Frazier said all three victims were believed to have been killed before the fires were set.

65-year old Edward Lawrence Nelson was arrested Saturday night.  No motive for the crime is known.  Nelson is expected to face charges of aggravated murder and arson.

As the news of the deaths of 73-year old Renae and Lola Cottam began to spread yesterday there was an outpouring on social media with dozens of Renae Cottam’s former students at Siuslaw High School expressing grief and disbelief.

One of those was Tyler Jackson of Gilbert, Arizona.  He said Cottam truly loved all of his students and cared for them even after graduated.  He noted Cottam kept in contact and would congratulate Jackson on his accomplishments.

Cottam retired from teaching about a dozen years ago, he and his wife moved to a remote property near Bridge in Eastern Coos County.  Their son, Michael Cottam acknowledged many of the postings on Facebook and said they are still dealing with the news.  He expects there will be a memorial service in Florence sometime in the next two to three weeks.

Water and Sewer Rates expected to rise in Florence

Florence City Councilors will take testimony this evening on proposed increases in water and sewer utility rates at City Hall.

Under a plan approved by the 2011 council, base residential rates are slated to increase by about two-dollars per month for water and sewer.  Commercial rates are expected to increase by a similar amount.

City Manager Jacque Betz said the proposed increases are part of a five-year financial plan approved two years ago and are expected to offset increases in costs for providing the services.  The increases, as proposed by city staff, would raise an additional $57-thousand dollars to help the water and waste water department meet operational needs.

The council will take testimony and are expected to take action on the proposal this evening.

The council meets at seven pm.

Florence Festival of Books

Lovers of books in Florence should mark their calendars for September 28th.  That’s when the third annual Florence Festival of Books is set to take place at the Florence Events Center.

Festival organizer and spokesperson Ellen Traylor says it’s a chance for authors to showcase their books… and for small publishers to make their presence known.

It’s also an opportunity for book lovers to meet the authors.

More information on how to secure space at the show can be had by calling the Florence Events Center.