Life Jacket exchange; Wyden blasts Senate Republicans; Jr. Baseball tourney boosts business; Boys and Girls Club opens summer teen program; Higher health rates and camping fees on horizon for 2017.

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Life jacket exchange aimed at improving safety for kids

Today is the first full day of summer and that means lots of people will be on the lakes and rivers.  Members of the Lane County Search and Rescue program say it’s important that everyone on the water have a properly fitting life jacket… but it’s especially important for children.

Search and Rescue volunteers are teaming up with the Eugene Emerald Valley Rotary Club to offer a free life jacket exchange for kids this Saturday from ten to two and then Sunday from 11 to 3 at Cabela’s in Springfield.

If you have a youth life jacket that is unused or outgrown, they’re asking you to drop it off at the event… and if you have a child who needs a new life jacket… they’ll fit him or her with the proper size.

Wyden blasts Senate for gun control inaction

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden didn’t hesitate to blast Republican foes in the U.S. Senate Monday night after that body shot down proposals that he said would have prohibited suspected terrorists from buying guns.

Ron Wyden – “Tonight, the far right responded to cries for common sense gun safety laws with still more inaction.”

The proposals would have also closed the “gun show loophole” in the background check system.

Ron Wyden – “It is deplorable the far right continues to value obedience to the NRA above the safety of American families.  This is nothing less than cowardice and must not be allowed to continue.”

Prominent Republicans opted for consistency despite the political frenzy just days after a gunman in Florida killed 49 people, prompting fresh calls for tighter restrictions on weapons.

Higher health rates expected in 2017

Consumers in Oregon can expect to see a double-digit increase in premiums for most health insurance carriers in 2017.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released a preliminary decision Friday regarding next year’s premium rate changes.

One carrier, Health Net, requested no rate change, but the state told the company that it wants to see a nearly ten-percent rate hike.

Officials at DCBS say the increases will be necessary to keep carriers from withdrawing from the market.  For the past few years, rate hikes have been approved because carriers have lost more money on paying out claims than collecting revenue from premiums.

In 2015, carriers in Oregon lost $217-million because policy rates were too low to cover the cost of claims.

The new rates will be finalized July 1st.

Baseball Tourney a boost to local businesses

The economic impact of the weekend Rick and Corrine Gehlke Junior Baseball tournament at Miller Park over the weekend was felt throughout the community.  Tournament organizers had positive feedback from local businesses that saw the result of such a large gathering of families for two long days of baseball.  Mike Blankenship, the President of Florence Junior Baseball, said they did a rough estimate of how many people were here.

Mike Blankenship – “We were thinking between 2-thousand and 25-hundred.”

There were 36 teams competing; each with about a dozen players, plus all of their family members; the majority of them from coastal communities.

Mike Blankenship – “We had people from Roseburg, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Coos Bay, North Bend, Bandon, Tillamook, Nestucca, uh, Lincoln City and Newport.”

Blankenship said many of the teams from Reedsport even stayed in Florence… either camping or in motels.  The team from North Bend won the “rookies” category; Coos Bay teams won the “minors” and the “majors” divisions.

Campers at Forest Service facilities could see increase

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to raise campground fees at some recreation sites on the Central Oregon Coast.  Those increases, the first in more than ten years, are being blamed on increasing maintenance and operating costs.  Some of the fee increase will also be used to improve services or amenities.

The current nightly rate of $20 at most area Forest Service campgrounds would go up just two dollars.  But fees at Driftwood II at Siltcoos Outlet, as well as at Horsefall and Spinreel campgrounds in Coos County would go to $25 per night.

Public input on the proposed changes will be presented to a citizen advisory committee later this year.  Changes would not be implemented until next year.

Teen Center summer program under way

A free recreation program for teens entering sixth through 12th grades got underway this week at the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center.

The nine-week program will feature daily activities, Monday through Friday through August August 19th.

It also include Friday field trips to attractions and activities including Sandland Adventures, a trampoline park and even a minor league baseball game.

Teen Center Director Tracy Aaron says the summer program also includes lunch and supper at the club for no extra cost for current Boys and Girls Club members.

New members can get in on the fun at a nominal fee.  They simply need to join and pay the annual $25 fee, plus a $50 summer program fee to be eligible.  Teens can attend as many days each week as they like.

Aaron said in addition to physical activities there will be classes on poetry, cooking, and music as well.

Complete details on the program are available at the club’s website or by calling the teen center at 541-902-0304.