Freezing Rain creates problems in the Valley

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Transportation and Education in mid and lower Willamette Valley impacted

Driving in the Portland and Mid-Willamette Valley areas is treacherous early this morning. Freezing rain and ice accumulation as far south as Eugene on the I-5 corridor are also causing school delays and numerous crashes.

Several schools in Benton, Polk and Linn counties are running on delays this morning, including classes at Oregon State University.

Schools in Florence and in Mapleton are on schedule however.

Driving conditions in the Eugene-Springfield area are risky this morning with several minor crashes reported.

Majority of Lane County costs for early buyouts will be recouped in first year.

31 senior employees at Lane County, each with an average tenure of 24-years, will take advantage of an offer of a buyout to take early retirement within the next six months.

The deals were offered last fall with the intention of reducing long term labor and health care costs at Lane County.

Most of the buyouts will be in the Public Works Department, but the Sheriff’s Office will see the loss of the Chief Deputy and a Senior Captain.

Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohiskey (mo-kro-HI-skee) has the authority to veto any of the proposed bailouts if it has the potential to cost Lane County more money than it saves.

Under the proposal, the county will pay out more than $600-thousand this year, but it’s expected that an additional $563-thousand in savings will be realized in the first year.

Workers who take the buyout will get 250 hours of regular pay, plus $500 for each year they have worked. The highest voluntary buyout amount will be roughly $29-thousand while the average is at about $19,500.

Manager interviews this afternoon

Port of Siuslaw Commissioners will hold private “executive session” interviews with finalists for the Port manager position this afternoon.

Interim Port Manager Dina McClure said the interviews will be in the port office conference room beginning at three o’clock.

An open meeting may follow interviews if the commissioners wish to take action.

This will be the second round of interviews since the announcement in September that former manager Bob Forsythe would be retiring after 3 ½ years on the job.

Salmon-Trout group to get crabby

The biology of the Dungeness crab will be presented this week during the monthly meeting of the Florence Salmon Trout Enhancement Group.

Carri Anderson is a sampling and research shellfish biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. She’ll talk Wednesday evening about the Dungeness life cycle. Anderson will also give a general overview of the recreational and commercial crab fisheries, as well as touch on the impact that domoic acid can have on the shellfish.

Her talk will take place Wednesday, seven pm, at the Florence Elks Lodge.

New laws have impact on drivers and veterans

If you’re not already registered to vote, you will automatically be signed up next time you renew your Oregon drivers license.

That’s the spinoff of just one new law enacted by last year’s Oregon Legislature that took effect over the weekend.

Three bills that took effect Friday related to Veterans. One allows counties and the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to create a volunteer corps of advisers to help Vets get support services. Another provides for additional confidentiality for Veterans and the third supports higher education efforts by former service members.

Another law pertains to the uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance. While it liberalizes the coverage companies are required to provide, it will also have an impact on premiums.

Indian Creek rehab plan subject of meeting

Public input on a proposed landscape restoration process planned for more than 30-thousand acres in the Indian Creek watershed northeast of Florence is sought.

The Siuslaw National Forest will hold a meeting Thursday, January 21st at the Mapleton Grange to explain the project. Forest Service spokesman Paul Meznarich says the restoration will address the need to “diversify habitat within younger stands of trees: as well as accelerate old-growth forest habitat characteristics.

The restoration is also intended to improve aquatic habitat for salmon.

More information on the project, as well as a link to online comments, can be found at the Siuslaw National Forest website.

McKeown to seek reelection to Oregon House

Oregon House District 9 Representative Caddy McKeown (muh-KYU-en) has filed for reelection. The Coos County Democrat is midway through her second term in the Oregon House.

She said Oregon’s economy is “on the mend”, but said the Great Recession has been “going on for a lot longer than seven years”. McKeown points to her efforts at improving education, “family wage jobs” and protections for seniors and health care as qualifications.