Florence Events Center begins 20th celebration

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Sea Lions Gathering for “splash off”.

Over the past several weeks 20 different artists have been creating artwork on 20 different seven foot long fiberglass sea lions… This weekend they’ll be presented to the public says Jennifer Connor with the Florence Events Center.

Jennifer Connor – “It’s our splash off.  The FEC is celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’ve got 20 sea lions, one for each year.  They’re painted and decorated by our artists and they’ll all be in one place, in one room.”

Connor said the Friends of the Events Center sought out a unique way to celebrate the 20th anniversary so they chose a public art display.

Jennifer Connor – “They’re very graceful, and that makes us think of dancing.  And of course we have a lot of dancing performances and performing arts at the FEC so we thought that was a nice tie-in.”

This will be the only time all 20 will be in the same place at the same time.  Next week they’ll be distributed around the community where they’ll be on display until next fall.

Jennifer Connor – “In October they will all migrate back to the FEC and we will be able to auction them off for our Friends of the Events Center.”

But not all, says Connor… four of them have already been paid for by underwriters.  They’ll remain with their sponsors and the other 16 will be sold.  Saturday’s “splash off” will be at the FEC from ten to three, it’s free and open to the public.

Scientists express concern about ocean conditions

A panel of ocean scientists says global carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly altering ocean chemistry along the West Coast and urgent action is needed to combat the troubling changes.

The group warned in a report Monday that failing to respond to ocean acidification will have devastating ecological consequences for the West Coast.

California, Oregon, Washington and the province of British Columbia in 2013 brought together 20 scientists to come up with management tools to address ocean acidification and waters with extremely low oxygen levels.

The panel outlines actions these governments can take, including exploring using seagrass to remove carbon dioxide from seawater, improving the monitoring network and identifying areas where local pollutants can make problems worse.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he’s ready to work with his counterparts on the West Coast to lead on the issue.

Forestland assessments examined

A committee that will review lands within Lane County to determine which should be classified as forestlands will begin work Monday morning in Veneta.

Their job will be to examine the fire risk of all properties in relation to nearby forestland and thereby determine which property owners will be required to pay an assessment to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

ODF is tasked with preventing and fighting wildland fire on private and state-owned lands.  A large share of the agency revenues come directly from land owners, but the determination of which will be assessed is regulated at the county level.

ODF and Lane County recently discovered several hundred parcels of land in Western Lane County that should have been subject to the assessment, but had not been charged.

Lane County Commissioners recently appointed the committee, which includes members of the public.  The committee meets Monday, beginning at 9 AM at the Oregon Department of Forestry office in Veneta.

Household hazardous waste roundup

Leftover paint, household cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals, car care products, arts and crafts supplies and other possibly hazardous waste can be disposed of in Florence next weekend.

Lane County and the City of Florence have teamed up for another household hazardous waste roundup at the Florence waste transfer site April 15th and 16th.

Individual residents can dispose of the items simply by showing up on those dates and at no cost.

But small businesses, non-profit groups, schools and churches are required to pre-register and will pay a fee for disposal.  According to information provided by Lane County, that fee would generally be less than by going through a traditional waste contractor.

Empty containers that once held hazardous materials can be thrown in the trash and should not be dropped off at the round up.

Despite recent increases, gas prices still quite low

Despite a sharp increase in retail gas prices since early March, drivers in Oregon… and in Florence… are paying far less this month than they have in several years.

The local average cash price for a gallon of regular remains just below the two dollar mark… $1.99.

The statewide average price as measured by Triple-A went up a penny to $2.18 while the national average price edged up by the same amount.  It’s still lower than the Oregon average at $2.05 a gallon.

Prices this week are about 65-cents per gallon on average less than last year at this time… and $1.65 less than two years ago.

April prices have not been at the current level since 2009.

Marine Science Day set for Newport center

Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport will throw open its doors Saturday for the annual “Marine Science Day”.  Visitors will be able to get “behind the scenes” in labs; connect with scientists; and learn more about oceanographic technologies and current marine research.

The free event, from ten to four Saturday, will also feature several “hands on” exhibits.

Some of the technologies and scientific studies that will be on display include recently deployed underwater robots, whale research, and the newly developed variety of seaweed that, when cooked, tastes like bacon.

The Hatfield Marine Science Center hosts the program every spring.  It includes a 2:30 PM presentation by oceanographers who will present a talk on the past, present and future technologies of ocean observing.

The center is near the Oregon Coast Aquarium, east of Highway 101 just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.