A City in Motion

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… expected to continue that way

The concept of “inertia” was evident in last night’s State of the City Address presented by Mayor Joe Henry.

He spoke to the assembled crowd of more than 200 people at the Florence Events Center about how last year the city moved from a “state of hibernation” to one of motion.

Florence Mayor Joe Henry delivered the State of the City Address to residents January 21st. (City of Florence photo)
Florence Mayor Joe Henry delivered the State of the City Address to residents January 21st. (City of Florence photo)

That motion, he says, will continue in 2016.

Last year as Henry delivered his first State of the City address, Florence had an interim City Manager and an interim Police Chief. Both of those positions have been filled. Erin Reynolds was elevated from Finance Director to Manager; she in turn hired former Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner.

Henry talked about how city government in 2015 had either accomplished or made significant progress on seven broad goals and objectives set out by the City Council. Those included public services; public safety; infrastructure; economic development; and community trust. Those goals will be continued in 2016, but in a “more condensed and focused” manner says the Mayor.

Henry wrapped up by saying last year was a – quote – “ “fun and exciting time”.

Florence forest products company earns two awards

A locally based timber company picked up a pair of different awards this past week. Family owned and operated R&R King Logging earned the Southern Oregon Area Operator of the Year designation from the Oregon Department of Forestry. They were singled out for exceeding regulatory requirements in protecting a large fish-bearing stream where they were working. Crews used a suspended cable system to move logs over spans up to 4-thousand feet to prevent damage to streamside vegetation. That award makes the company one of four regional Operators of the Year. They will be honored by the Forestry Department in March.

That wasn’t the only good news for the company this week. The Associated Oregon Loggers recognized Jennifer Waggoner as the “Woman of the Year” for her efforts on behalf of the timber industry.

Waggoner is the fourth generation of R&R King Logging. The family purchased the logging operations of Erskine Lumber Company in 1968.   They now employ 75 people with a direct payroll of $3.6-million… and account for another three million in sub-contractors payroll.


Pertussis on the rise; causes concern in public health officials

Health officials in Lane County are concerned about the doubling of reported cases of Whooping Cough last year. Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County Public Health Chief Health Officer said the lung infection starts out looking like a common cold…

Dr. Patrick Leudtke – “But then around two weeks you start getting this nasty cough. In adults, we don’t typically whoop, hence the name whooping cough. Little kids with very small airways they get that high pitched sound as the air rushes through. But adults don’t get the whoop. We just get this hundred day chronic cough.”

It can be serious, even deadly, for infants and small children.

Dr. Patrick Leudtke – “The baby is counting on all of the family around them to keep them safe. And the best way to do that is for uncles and aunts, and mothers and fathers, and grandmas and grandpas, and brothers and sisters to be immune.”

The bacterial infection is totally preventable he says. Childhood vaccinations routinely include the initial Whooping Cough vaccine, but often a final “booster” is forgotten.

Dr. Patrick Leudtke – “Many many many adults have not had the T-DaP booster it’s called… T-D-a-P. They should get it, a T-DaP booster once in their life and now would be a great time to get it.”

Dr. Leudtke says the shots are covered by most health insurance plans and are readily available through your doctor or pharmacy.

Friends of Florence enters fourth decade

For more than 30 years the Friends of Florence has been providing free transportation to and from Eugene for cancer patients seeking treatment. Retired banker Tom Grove said it all started in 1985 when P.T. Smith was driving his wife, Esther, to and from Eugene for daily chemotherapy. While waiting for her one day, he watched as police were talking to what appeared to be a homeless man laying on a bench. It turned out the man had just finished a chemo treatment himself. The man told officers if they would give him a ride to “the edge of town” he could hitch-hike back home to Florence.

That, said Grove, struck a chord with Smith.

Tom Grove – “Probably within a week, and Esther had just passed away. And, he walked into the bank and says I got an idea and he told me that story. He said I’d like to, you know, start this service. And I says, well it sounds like a good idea to me. I says get at it and I gave him enough money to buy an old used Ford Econoline van it had like 97-thousand miles on it and that’s how we started it. In 1985 we took our first trip.”

Since that time volunteers have logged nearly 1.3-million miles and have transported thousands of area residents to and from appointments. Grove says they have rarely missed a day. Smith passed away in 2011, but Grove and dozens of volunteers continue to oversee what he began more than three decades ago.

Port District takes next step in purchase of property

Port of Siuslaw Commissioners approved an earnest money agreement this week to purchase a 51-acre parcel of industrial land at the confluence of the Siuslaw River and the North Fork Siuslaw. The purchase price has not yet been disclosed. The property is currently owned by Don Wilbur Limited.

The plan is to eventually develop a public recreational facility that may include a boat launch. If it does, it would relieve congestion in Old Town during peak fishing seasons at the Old Town boat ramp operated by the port

Port President Ron Caputo said the agreement will give the Port District until May 1st to determine the extent of any hazardous materials that may be on the site. He said with more than 60 years of industrial uses taking place at that location, it was more likely than not that there is some cleanup required.

A survey would determine the amount needed… then port commissioners would have to decide whether or not they could access enough state or federal assistance to pay for cleaning it up enough for public use.

AARP tax prep for 2016

Volunteer tax preparers will once again be offering assistance to seniors and low income taxpayers in the Florence area. Volunteer coordinator Frank Williams says the service, operated by AARP, will be available Mondays and Thursdays beginning February 1st at Siuslaw Public Library in Florence.

Williams said eligible participants need to bring this year’s tax info along with last year’s return; a photo ID, and your social security card.

No appointments are necessary, but Williams adds they may not be able to accommodate everyone on days when traffic is high. He also says users of the free service need to park in the Cross Road Assembly of God parking lot across 9th Street.