Christmas basket donations sought

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Local News

School dismissed early for storm; Lane math instructor honored; Funding sought for NW ports; Gas prices dropping; Reward offered for return of stolen boat.

Fundraising about half way to goal

When the annual Community Christmas Baskets are distributed December 19th, an estimated 425 financially challenged households in the area will get a box containing the ingredients for Christmas Dinner: potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and the main item… a turkey… will be included along with a few extras.

Changes and challenges in the poultry industry this past year are making it more difficult for organizers of the project… members of the Soroptimist Club of Florence. The price of turkeys has risen dramatically, putting even more pressure on the all-volunteer effort.

Michelle Fraley is one of those volunteers. With a little more than two weeks to go, she says they’re only about half way to their goal.

Michelle Fraley – “We’ve collected about 12,000 which is a little more than half of what we’ve budgeted.”

Fraley says they will work to put together a good food box with whatever their total is, but she is hoping for a late rush of donations. Those can be mailed to PO Box 1209 in Florence; or dropped off at Holloway and Associates CPAS or Hoberg’s Auto Repair.

Weather forecast prompts administrators to dismiss classes early

Warnings of high winds on the central coast prompted an early closure of schools in Florence, but administrators in Mapleton opted to “ride out the storm” and stick with their original schedules.

Siuslaw Superintendent Ethel Angal said the highest winds, gusts up to 70-miles an hour, were forecast to hit around three o’clock… right when busses would be on the roads.

She said previous experiences and district policy are to err on the side of caution in this type of instance. That’s why classes were dismissed and busses began running at 12:30.

After school activities, the Twilight Program and a Facilities Improvement Committee meeting scheduled for this afternoon and evening were also cancelled.

Funding for small ports sought in 2017 federal budget

Oregon’s Fourth District Congressman, Peter DeFazio, joined an effort this week to increase federal funding for small ports in the Pacific Northwest.

In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, DeFazio urged him to “consider the needs of small coastal waterways in the Northwest” as the 2017 budget proposal is put together.

In recent years, federal commercial navigation projects on the Pacific Northwest Coast have been “routinely overlooked” according to the Springfield Democrat. Small ports like those on the Siuslaw and Umpqua Rivers were left unfunded in the President’s initial 2016 budget. Without adequate dredging and maintenance, navigation channels could “silt in” and jetties could crumble, leaving local fishers with unsafe access to ocean fishing grounds and damaging the local economies.

Drivers paying less

After a couple of consecutive weekly increases, the average cash price for a gallon of regular gas has begun the downward decline once again in Florence.

This week’s survey of six local stations shows the average price at $2.08 a gallon.

That’s just four cents higher than the national average price as measured by Triple-A… that fell by two cents in the past week.

The Oregon average price also fell by two cents this week… but it’s still considerably higher than the local price… it’s at $2.33 a gallon.

Marie Dodds with Triple-A says the national average price for regular gas is on track to drop below the two-dollar a gallon mark by Christmas for the first time since 2009.

Reward offered for “safe return” of stolen boat

A one-thousand dollar reward has been offered for the safe return of a boat, trailer and outboard motor valued at about $38-thousand. It was stolen a week ago in Florence from Y-Marina Boats on Highway 101.

Ryan Lancaster with Y-Marina Boats said sometime between late Sunday, November 22nd and early the next morning, someone hooked up to the trailer that held a brand new 2016 20-foot Duckworth boat with a 115-horsepower Yamaha motor and towed it away. Lancaster said it was likely the thief or thieves towed the trailer directly from the display location and onto Highway 101.

Lancaster said the dealer is offering $1,000 for the safe return of the entire package… or for the “capture of the individuals involved”.

He says contact Florence Police with any information.

Faculty recognition award presented to Florence teacher

Students and staff members at Lane Community College in Florence call him Dr. Bob. Tuesday night everybody called him surprised.

Dr. Robert Estill (ESS-till), the popular math instructor at the Florence Center was presented with a “Faculty Recognition Award”; one of two presented at Lane this fall.

Executive Dean, and former Florence Director, Mary Jeanne Kuhar, along with Faculty Council Co-Chair Joseph Colton drove over from Eugene and surprised Estill and his students with an impromptu party to go with the presentation. Kuhar says the award is driven by student input.

M.J. Kuhar – “The faculty are nominated by their students and so this is really the students being able to say I have a great teacher and I want everybody to know that.”

Estill’s recognition was the first to a Florence-based instructor since 1985. Estill has also been recognized by the Oregon Youth Authority for his volunteer work at Camp Florence and is a regular volunteer at Siuslaw High School.