Slide cleanup continuing

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Local News

Highway 36 to remain closed through at least Monday

A slide that blocked Highway 36 two miles west of Triangle Lake last week is still posing problems for crews trying to clean it up.

Angela Beers-Sydel – “We have 9 trucks running right now to get the debris out from the slide; and have taken out about 1500 yards of material and still haven’t actually gotten the road open all the way through for even our crews to get through.”

Angela Beers-Sydel with the Oregon Department of Transportation says one problem is that the top of the slope above the slide is still very unstable.

Angela Beers-Sydel – “There’s a really saturated over-burden at the top of that slide.”

They have a lot of the debris hauled off, but today and tomorrow they’ll actually bring more down.

Angela Beers-Sydel – “So the next couple of days we’re going to have crews up there doing what’s called scaling.  They get up, they knock down all the dirt, the rocks, the stumps, cut down any additional trees that might have become hazards with this slide.  And then we need to remove that debris too.”

Crews have been working 12 hour days all week.  She said they hope to have it cleared away and reopened by Monday.

Port backs out of property deal

The Port of Siuslaw will not be developing another up-river boat launch facility, at least not in the near future.

Following an executive session Wednesday night, Commissioners decided to opt out of a deal to buy 50-acres of property just above the confluence of the Siuslaw and the North Fork.

Don Wilbur and the port had agreed earlier this year on a sale price of $300-thousand for the land that has been in industrial use.  The port conducted soil and water samples and requested an environmental assessment of the land.  Port Manager Steven Leskin said there were some “minor issues” discovered, but nothing that would have blocked the sale.

But, he recommended against the purchase, telling commissioners that purchasing the land, along with additional development costs, would have “inhibited” the district’s ability to maintain existing assets.  He cited ongoing erosion damage at the Port’s RV Park and Marina, along with the need for additional facilities as further justification.

The District will forfeit $3,000 earnest money they paid in January.

No charges expected in Sundstrom death

Linn County authorities will probably not file any charges against the driver of a sport utility vehicle involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed a Mapleton man last year.

34-year old Shiloh Sundstrom was walking along Highway 34 just east of Corvallis around midnight one night in November.

He was struck and killed by a passing vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle called police the next day when he heard someone had been killed.  He told authorities he thought he had hit a deer.

The Linn County District Attorney’s office said there was not enough evidence to conclude the driver had behaved recklessly or committed any criminal acts after the crash.

Sundstrom had been pursuing a doctorate in Oregon State University’s Geography Department at the time of his death.

ODOT designates Highway 101 in memory of war veterans

The Oregon Department of Transportation has established Highway 101 as a war memorial highway honoring veterans of recent wars.

Ralph Martin is the Adjutant for the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans.

Ralph Martin – “Highway 101 has been designated as the Gulf War, Afghanistan War Veterans Memorial, and Iraq.”

To commemorate the designation, Martin said ODOT will be erecting 11 signs along the highway in the coming months.  One of those will be in the Florence area.  The D-A-V and ODOT will hold a joint dedication ceremony for the local sign Tuesday, April 5th at the D-A-V hall in Florence.

Social media buzz contributes to arson arrests

Police in Florence are crediting social media with helping them apprehend two suspects in an arson fire that destroyed a 112-year old home two weeks ago.  Police commander John Pitcher said investigators looked at surveillance video from a nearby convenience store that contained images of the two suspects.  They first circulated it to other nearby police agencies with no luck.  Last Friday evening they released it to the public and it hit Facebook.

John Pitcher – “They reposted and reposted and reposted those pictures and the individuals themselves saw those posts and got scared and they actually came to the police department.”

The two, an unnamed 17 year old male juvenile and 37 year old James Luis Main, both of Florence, turned themselves in Saturday afternoon.  Both face charges of Burglary and Arson.

Whale watching at Cape Perpetua

Spring break visitors along the Oregon Coast and at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center can have a “whale” of a good time in coming days.

Beginning Sunday and running through Saturday, March 26th, volunteers will be on hand to help visitors spot migrating gray whales.

The giant mammals are headed back north to summer feeding grounds near Alaska after spending the winter in warmer waters.

Retired park ranger Michael Noack will present a talk on “experiencing gray whales” two times Monday at Cape Perpetua.  He has studied the creatures for many years and has assisted whale research missions and trained whale watch volunteers.

Noack’s talks will be at 11:30, then again at 1:30 at the center.  There’s no cost for the presentations, but there is a day use fee charged for parking.