Siuslaw Valley board rescinds Fire Chief termination; volunteers in support of Jim Langborg talk about healing

Coast Radio News
Local News
22 July 2015

Fire Board rescinds termination order

Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief Jim Langborg could be back on the job as early as this morning following action taken last night by the fire district’s board of directors. Lori Gates, the board member who made the motion July 15th to suspend Langborg and terminate his employment, moved to reverse that action last night.

Lori Gates – “I’ve had conversations with community members and fire district members contrary to what I had previously been told. Based upon this I would like to make a motion to rescind my original motion last week.”

John Scott quickly seconded the motion. After minimal discussion, the board approved it on a 4-to-1 vote with board president John Carnahan the lone dissenter. Tony Phillips, who had previously sided with Carnahan and Gates to fire the chief, voted in favor of bringing him back, but did not comment.

The decision came after more than an hour of testimony and comment to the board; most of which was directed to the 120 people in the room.

Fire district attorney Christie Monson said the action nullifies last week’s termination order.

Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief Jim Langborg returned to his job July 22nd after the district's board of directors reversed course on a decision last week to terminate his employment.
Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief Jim Langborg returned to his job July 22nd after the district’s board of directors reversed course on a decision last week to terminate his employment.

Chief supporters talk about healing

20 people spoke to the fire district board last night about that decision to terminate Chief Jim Langborg’s employment.  Of those 20, four spoke in support of the decision.  Three of those were current volunteers, including Association President Tim Teel who also said firefighters who quit the department over the firing were – quote – “Walking out on the community”.

16 of the speakers last night were there to support Langborg, including the seven firefighters and a former board member who opposed the firing and the way it was handled.

Lann Leslie is an attorney representing Langborg. He pointed out board policies that appeared to have been violated; including those about discussing and reaching a decision outside of the meetings; and that all actions be listed on meeting agendas in order to give fair notice.

Lann Leslie – “Well of course that wasn’t done here. There was a decision made here by non-board members, in advance, and then Chief Langborg’s termination was decided upon before board members were even sworn in.”

Most of the speakers, including seven of the volunteers, talked about the importance of working to overcome the controversy and rebuild relationship that may have become strained in the past week.

Recreational pot sales not an automatic in Florence

Recreational sales of marijuana through the city of Florence’s only medical marijuana dispensary may be allowed by state law come October First, but it’s not an automatic.

That’s what City Councilors heard from their city manager Monday night.

Erin Reynolds said there are some things that need to be discussed and decided before that can happen.

The council does not have to accept recreational sales through medical facilities. But to reject it, they would have to decide before the October 1st deadline. They also have the option of sending a complete recreational sales ban to city voters. That wouldn’t be until November of next year.

If recreational sales are to be permitted, the council needs to also discuss and consider a possible three percent sales tax.

Reynolds is suggesting a council work session on the matter, giving elected officials a chance to hash out their options.

Average gas price in Florence holds steady

The average cash price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Florence held steady this week at $2.97. Oregon’s statewide average price as measured by Triple-A dipped two cents a gallon, but it’s still 16 cents higher than the local average at $3.13.

The national average price, at $2.75 a gallon, also slipped two cents a gallon.

Marie Dodds with Triple-A said west coast prices remain high… the average in California has shot up by 44-cents in the past week to a national high of $3.87 a gallon. Oregon remains sixth highest in the country. At $2.37 a gallon, South Carolina remains the lowest.

Revival of infant care urged

Since late June when the Boys and Girls Club shut down their Quality Child Care of Florence daycare, there has been no facility that provides care for infants and toddlers of working parents.

Rob Spooner, who was originally active in the drive to create QCCF five years ago, is working hard to revive the center. But, he says, he can’t do it alone.

Rob Spooner – “If we’re going to make infant and child care happen in Florence, then there has to be a definite expression of interest from people in the community: people telling us that in fact if we had the service they would bring their infants and toddlers. Other people saying that the whole idea excites them enough that they would like to come down and volunteer their time and money or whatever.”

Spooner will be pitching his proposal to the Florence Kiwanis Club next week. He would like that organization to purchase the QCCF building next to the middle school. He is hoping the service club would act as the financial agent for what he sees as a community wide effort.

Watershed Council to talk algae and habitat restoration

Area residents can learn more about what causes blue-green algae blooms in lakes and streams; as well as how scientists track them; next week during a special presentation by the Siuslaw Watershed Council.

Council coordinator Liz Vollmer-Buhl said Dr. Tim Otten with Oregon State University will talk about scientific tools and data that have expanded knowledge on how the toxins in the blue-green algae develop and grow.

Paul Burns will also give an update that evening about a major habitat restoration project that took place on 600 acres east of Tahkenitch Lake. The work will aid endangered Coho salmon.

The Watershed Council meets next Wednesday, the 29th, at the West Woahink Meeting Hall at Honeyman State Park; it begins at 6:30.