A century of library services in Florence

Coast Radio News
Local News
4 May 2015

May 7th, 1915, the doors first opened in Florence on what would eventually become the Siuslaw Public Library. Library director Meg Spencer says much has changed in the past ten decades.

Meg Spencer – “We had a hundred items when we opened our doors in 1915. Now we have over 165-thousand items.”

The original library was in borrowed space and was put together by an effort spearheaded by the local Women’s Conservation League. It eventually moved into a permanent home behind what is now Coast Real Estate in 1936. And, for the first 50 years was a strictly volunteer led effort.

The City of Florence formally took over in 1965 and then 25 years later, voters in the area approved formation of the library district.

Spencer says a public open house is set for Thursday, 6 to 8 PM at the library… there’ll be food, wine and photo opportunities with a giant library card.

Spencer, Adult Services Librarian Kevin Mittge and Library board member David Forsberg will talk more about the anniversary during Wednesday’s May edition of KCST’s Our Town.

Oregon Schools Will Face Huge Bill from PERS Reversal

Last week’s state Supreme Court ruling on a Public Employees Retirement System lawsuit could cost Oregon’s schools as much as $358 million in the 2017-19 biennium.

Jim Green is the deputy executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association. Friday he said he was hopeful lawmakers will act quickly to “mitigate” the financial blow schools are facing.

If they don’t, school districts in Oregon are facing an increase in retirement costs of 5 ½% in the next biennium. That would continue to add significant costs to not only schools, but other government agencies.

Green said that would have a “direct effect” on the quality of education in Oregon.

The Oregon Supreme Court last week reversed legislative efforts to reduce long-term retirement costs. Lawmakers had retroactively reduced benefits guaranteed to public employees in Oregon.

Last week’s court ruling won’t impact current rates or budgets. >>>

City Budget, Police Chief, Annexation Request

The budget process for the City of Florence enters the next stage of development tonight with the presentation of the budget message for the coming year.

The city’s budget committee will convene at City Hall at 5:30 this evening. City Manager Erin Reynolds will deliver the message and distribute the proposed budget for 2015-16.

Following the budget panel meeting, the Florence City Council will meet… that’s scheduled for six pm.

The council will continue a hearing from last month on a proposal to annex Jerry’s Place Bar and Grill on Rhododendron Drive. Owners of the restaurant have requested to connect to the city’s sanitary sewer.

The council will also hear a report from Lane Council of Governments Executive Director Brenda Wilson; hear a proclamation of Elks Youth Week; and swear in police chief Tom Turner.

Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden Open for Tours

Public tours of an historic rhododendron garden east of Reedsport will continue this Saturday.

Tours of the O.H. Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden near the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area were offered April 18th and 25th. This Saturday, they’ll be offered again for the final time of the season between ten AM and two PM.

There is no parking at the garden, so those taking the tour are being directed to the Dean Creek Elk Viewing area where shuttles are being operated.

The Bureau of Land Management acquired the Hinsdale home, the surrounding gardens and Spruce Reach Island in 1994. The gardens contain hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas, some of which are more than a century old.

OPB closing Safeway branch

Florence based Oregon Pacific Bank will be consolidating all of its local services in the main branch by August First.

OPB will be closing the in-store branch at Safeway on that date.

A bank spokesperson said despite a growth in the number of local banking clients, transactions at the Safeway branch have steadily decreased over the past two years.

President and CEO Ron Green said they’ll be offering Saturday banking at the main branch and the drive up teller lanes will be open Saturday mornings.

Green added online and mobile services are always available to bank clients who need access to their banking at any time.