109th Rhododendron Festival – Catching the Wave

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Sunday morning rain didn’t dampen enthusiasm

The crowd may have been just a little bit lighter than usual yesterday, but it was no less enthusiastic as thousands of local residents and visitors lined both sides of Highway 101 for the 109th Rhododendron Festival Grand Floral Parade.

84 entries traversed the two-mile long parade route that ended in Old Town Florence near the Davis Carnival.

The entry by the Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshop… CROW… won the Grand Marshal’s Trophy; Girl Scout Troop 11752 won the Mayor’s Trophy and the Queen’s Award went to KXCR.

CROW doubled up with 1st place in the non-commercial division; Bi Mart won the Commercial trophy and the Service Group award went to the Florence Events Center.

Oregon City High School’s Scarlet Brigade, under the direction of 2001 Siuslaw High School grad Dana Henson, won the best marching band and the favorite equestrian entry was the Ixtapa Mexican Family Restaurant “mariachi horses”.

Results of several events listed

There was much more, of course, than the Grand Floral Parade.  At Saturday’s 24th annual Rhody Show and Shine there were 136 vehicles on display.  Rick Thackeray of Newport picked up the “Host Choice” car award for his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro.  The “Host Choice” truck was a 1967 Chevy C-10 belonging to Mitch Frahm of Florence.  The Best of Show went to Tracy Hilleary of Albany… and a 1956 Ford Panel Truck.

The Siuslaw Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society hosted their second flower show of the season.  The number of entries was down because of an ‘early bloom’ this year.  But there were still enough for several hundred trusses.  The Sweepstakes Award went to Larry Jensen, who had multiple winners.  The Best in Show went to an entry submitted by Dave Braley and Candy Bauman’s entry won the best Azalea.

Weekend enthusiasm dampened by fatal crash

A 59-year old motorcyclist from Coos Bay died at the scene of a crash 26-miles east of Florence late Saturday afternoon.  Oregon State Police troopers say Khris M. Sackett was driving his 2006 Harley Davidson eastbound when he rounded a sweeping curve and crossed the centerline, striking an oncoming car head on.

Police say Sackett was thrown from the bike and landed in the roadway.  His motorcycle then travelled off the road where it caught fire.

46-year old Toby Lee Gray of Florence was the driver of the westbound car.  He suffered minor injuries and was transported by ambulance to Peace Harbor Medical Center.

City continuing with “customer service” code changes

The Florence Planning Commission will review and discuss a pair of proposed changes to the city code Tuesday night.  First, they’ll continue a public hearing from May Tenth on changes to the Wireless Telecom Codes… those changes are being made to bring the local codes in line with federal laws.  The other changes, according to Florence City Manager Erin Reynolds, is an outgrowth of goals set by the City Council.

Erin Reynolds – “The whole goal for that is to streamline and to be customer service friendly and to reduce fees for things that, they’re, they have lots of strong criteria that can be placed in the code and there can be a checklist for staff to over the counter make administrative staff decisions.”

Those changes would allow city staff to make administrative decisions on some applications based on a clear cut check-list.  Reynolds said it would speed things up and make it less expensive for applicants, as well as save staff and volunteer times.

The Planning Commission meets at City Hall, Tuesday at seven p.m.

Property Tax reduction on way for county property owners

The Lane County Budget Committee approved a measure this week that will reduce property tax bills.  Three years ago, voters approved a 55-cents-per-thousand levy to fund jail and youth offender services.  County Administrator Steve Mokrohiskey (mo-kro-HI-skee) said the reason for the reduction was simple.

Steve Mokrohiskey – “We have a reserve in the Sheriff’s Office in the levy, in the jail levy fund, that’s been generated over the past 3 years.  A combination of revenues that have come in that have exceeded projection and expenses that have been under projections.  So, it’s a really good problem that we have here, right?  We’ve effectively managed the resources.”

Property tax statements next fall will be 17-cents-per-thousand less… the county will levy 38-cents.

Steve Mokrohiskey – “30-cents of that would go to adult correction jail beds in the Sheriff’s Office.  8-cents would go to fund youth treatment and detention beds.”

The Budget Committee approved it unanimously last week.  The full Board of County Commissioners… all of whom serve on the budget panel… must also vote on it.  That’s expected to be later this month or in early June.