Increased staffing increases jail capacity

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Local News

Sheriff opens additional jail beds

20 more beds have been opened up at the Lane County Jail, bringing the total capacity available for local offenders up to 317.

Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp said that exceeds the minimum amount of 255 required by a local option tax levy approved three years ago by voters. At that time there were only 125 jail beds available, resulting in more than 5-thousand inmates being released early each year to prevent over-crowding. Trapp says the increased capacity has also eliminated the pre-trial release of violent and chronic offenders.

The Sheriff said his agency has been working on preparations to open the additional beds since last fall by reassigning space and hiring additional corrections staff. The latest round of openings brings the total capacity at the jail to 382. 65 of those beds are under contract to other agencies.

Umpqua and Siuslaw gain dredging allocations

More than $9-million will be allocated for projects in Oregon ports this year by the Army Corps of Engineers. More than half of that will be spent on operations and maintenance projects at five small ports, including the Ports of Siuslaw and Umpqua.

Representative Peter DeFazio announced the corps’ fiscal year work plan yesterday.

Last month he, along with Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, requested the additional funding. In a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army the foursome pointed out the importance of Oregon’s small ports and their part in the local economy. They also pointed out that the President’s budget had not included any funding for dredging and repairs.

Under the new allocation, $921-thousand will be spent on those projects at the Port of Siuslaw. The Port of Umpqua will receive $942-thousand.

Body on beach identified

The Lane County Medical examiner has identified the body found on the beach seven miles of Florence over the weekend as that of 31-year old Joshua W. Paulus. He was one of three men who lost their lives when the commercial crab vessel Eagle III crashed into the south jetty of the Coos Bay entrance and sank January 19th.

Paulus and 37-year old Danny Matlock were lost; the body of 52-year old Blain Steinmetz was recovered; and the boat’s master, Glenn Burkhow, escaped with bruises and hypothermia.

Paulus’ remains were found Saturday afternoon near Baker Beach.

Tsunami Safe for hospitality

A training course aimed at helping hospitality workers raise awareness of earthquake and tsunami preparedness in visitors to the Oregon Coast is coming to the region later this month.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management is offering the three hour training in seven coastal communities, including Florence and Reedsport between February 22nd and March 17th.

Geologic Hazards Coordinator Karen Parmelee said facilities that participate in the program will be at the “forefront” of providing safety for guests. The Florence session will be February 24th from nine until noon at Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue. The next morning the class will be offered in Reedsport at the Port of Umpqua Annex.

Class and registration info can be found at the OEM website at www-dot-tsunami safe-dot-info, or by calling Siuslaw Valley Fire in Florence.

Fuel prices still well below average

For the first time in seven years the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Oregon has dropped below the two dollar mark. It’s at $1.95 this week. Drivers in Florence have been enjoying prices below that benchmark for several weeks… considerably below that price.

This week’s local average is $1.62… down four cents from last week.

Marie Dodds with Triple-A says the national average price fell by six cents a gallon this week… it’s at $1.73.

Slain Seaside officer to be remembered

Flags will fly at half-staff Friday in memory of Seaside police sergeant Jason Goodding. Gooding was shot and killed in the line of duty last week while attempting to serve an arrest warrant. Another officer returned fire and mortally wounded the shooter. He eventually died at a hospital.

Governor Kate Brown said Gooding put the safety of his community first during his 13-years with the Seaside Police Department. A memorial service will be held Friday afternoon, one pm at the Seaside Convention Center. Sergeant Gooding is survived by his wife and two young daughters.