Fire Danger; Tough rental market; Stiles to lead LCC; Gas prices steady; FEC and Pink Martini; SMART documentary showing in Florence

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Local News

Fire Danger expected to take turn for worse

Much of Western Oregon is officially entering fire season today, but in Western Lane County we’ve been there for about a month.  Tom Soward (SOARD), the wildland fire supervisor for the Oregon Department of Forestry in Veneta says while things have been pretty mellow, it’s not out of the ordinary.

Tom Soward – “It’s probably pretty typical of what we get in July.  It seems unusual because the last three years have been so dry.   It’s not as dry this year as it has been the last three years, we’re getting a little bit of a relief.”

Despite recent rains, things can dry out very quickly.  Soward says the toughest part of fire season is coming in the next few weeks.

Tom Soward – “Often times it’s not until August that we start to seeing things heat up and start to become a problem.  In Western Oregon, generally August and September are our hottest months and last year it went into October.”

He says they’ve not yet implemented the most stringent fire season restrictions, but warm and dry weather will likely bring them quickly.

Renters facing tough market in Florence

A resurgence of home sales valued above $350-thousand in the greater Florence area could be signaling another upsurge in the local real estate market.  But along with the upside, there’s always the downside according to Tawfik Ahdab with the Pacific Valuation Group.

Ahdab released 2nd quarter sales info for the local real estate market and he cites an upsurge in the number of residential property sales that closed between April 1st and June 30th, along with the increased price of many of those.  He says that shows an “eagerness of buyers to get in the market” for higher valued homes.  In fact, home sales in all value ranges have done well so far this year.

But, there is a caveat… he says the market for existing homes is beginning to create a sudden lack of rental properties accompanied by “sudden and steep rent increases”.  He added the “despairing cry” for the lack of affordable rental units “has become a scream” and said it’s sadly reminiscent of a decade ago when renters were dislodged in record numbers and the shortage of workforce housing became a “social crisis” that was only alleviated by the Great Recession in 2007.

Stiles picked to lead LCC again

Florence resident Sharon Stiles will once again lead the Lane Community College Board of Directors.

Stiles, in her second four-year term on the board, was elected board chair for 2016-17 last week.  Rosie Pryor, also in her second term, was elected vice-chair.

Stiles represents Zone 1 on the LCC Board… covering all of Western Lane County.  Pryor is an “at large” board member.

Stiles previously chaired the board in 2012-13.

Gas prices continue steady run

Retail gas prices are at their lowest level in Oregon for this time of year since 2004.  Locally, the average cash price held steady for the fourth week in a row at $2.41 while the national average price fell two cents a gallon to $2.20.

Oregon Triple-A Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says the statewide average has barely moved in the past several weeks.. it’s currently $2.51.

Dodds said demand for gasoline remains at a record high level and prices are much lower than last year at this time.  She added that prices at the pump will likely remain low compared to previous years through Labor Day.

FEC to celebrate 20 with a Pink Martini

The internationally acclaimed “little orchestra” Pink Martini will headline the upcoming season for Florence’s Seacoast Entertainment Association.

The band formed in 1994 under the direction of pianist and composer Thomas Lauderdale.  It has toured around the world and regularly features special guest artists at many stops.
Pink Martini will feature two shows in Florence, November 18th and 19th to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Florence Events Center.  Seacoast Entertainment and the Friends of the FEC are combining to produce the show.  Tickets go on sale August 1st tat the FEC Box Office.

Mobile Animal Rescue documentary showing in Florence

The Oregon Coast Humane Society is bringing an award winning documentary to City Lights Cinemas this weekend.  It’s called “SMART: the Documentary” and it examines the impacts of the first small animal urban rescue team.  SMART stands for Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team.  The group is based on Los Angeles and will rescue any type of small animal.

SMART director Justin Zimmerman will be on hand for the showing and will present a talk immediately following the showing.  Oregon Coast Humane Society volunteers will also be on hand to answer any questions about the local humane society.

The showing cost $9 for adults, $7 for children.  It will be Saturday afternoon at 3:30.