Cancer Society Relay for Life at Miller Park; Coastal Caucus talks economics; Fire danger still serious; Demand for gas strong, but prices remain low; and 6th annual Florence Festival of Books

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Florence Relay looks to help beat cancer

The American Cancer Society Relay for life is returning to a 24-hour cycle this year… and it gets underway Saturday morning at Miller Park in Florence.

Struggling to find a way to attract more people, organizers switched to just 12-hours last year.  But, they’re going back to the “around the clock” schedule this year.

Registration begins at 10 a.m. Saturday morning with opening ceremonies set for 11.

The Mr. Relay competition will be at two, with Jason Wood and students performing at five.  The Memorial Slideshow begins at nine followed immediately by the Luminaria walk.  The popular food court will open at 11 Saturday morning as well.

The final “Theme” lap is at eight Sunday morning, followed by closing ceremonies at 9:30.

This year’s Relay is dedicated to the memory of Liz Hostick.  The 55-year old travel agent passed away July 21st, 2015 after a brief, but intense struggle with cancer.

Coastal Caucus discusses workforce housing

Government and business leaders from up and down the Oregon Coast met this week in North Bend to talk about the coastal economy.  Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich was one attendee… he said one major challenge heard from every community on the coast was a lack of “workforce housing”.

Jay Bozievich – “Problems with that is, one, your competing with the tourists and the rental properties and the value of housing in general drive housing costs way up.  The second theory to that is also the lack of buildable area on the Oregon Coast.”

The lack of buildable lands, he says, comes from the fact that many communities are in or adjacent to a flood zone and could be threatened by a tsunami in the event of a large earthquake.  One possible solution, he said, would require a shift in Oregon’s Land Use Planning regulations.

Jay Bozievich – “Maybe there needs to be a change to some of the statewide planning rules to allow resource lands that are uphill from some of these coastal communities that could be built on to make it easier to put them inside an urban growth boundary.”

Discussion panels also talked about way to help businesses grow and increase year-round employment opportunities.

Fire season still dangerous

Wildland firefighters in Oregon have been pleased so far with the season… there have been few large fires and the ones that have popped up haven’t turned into the weeks-long battles that have been typical in past years.

So far, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, 470 wildfires have burned just under 27-hundred acres on land they protect.  That compares very favorably to the 93-thousand acres that had burned by this point in 2013; 46-thousand in 2014; and just under 18-thousand last year.

The key in the steady reduction lies in preparedness according to ODF Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields.

Weather and conditions on the ground this summer have also contributed to the lower number of acres burning this season.

But, Fields added, the season is far from over and there can be no “let up” in safety and prevention efforts. 87-percent of the fires so far this year have been the result of people…

Sixth festival of books

Organizers of the annual Florence Festival of Books are preparing for this year’s edition.  It’s set for Saturday, September 24th and will feature more than 20 local authors.  They’ll be joined for another couple of dozen writers from outside the immediate area and at least a half dozen publishers.

Local writers who are seeking a chance to be published are also encouraged to bring their manuscripts for a variety of genres including poetry, children’s books, non-fiction and a host of fiction categories.

This year’s featured keynote speaker will be author Phillip Margolin.  He’s written 19 novels, many of them New York Times best sellers.

Registration for additional authors or publishers are taken online at Florence festival of books-dot-org.

High demand, but gas prices still low

Abundant supplies of gasoline have contributed to lower gas prices across the country this summer.  And that’s despite what Triple-A is calling the largest demand for gasoline they’ve ever recorded.

Even with that demand, analysts are saying retail fuel prices are expected to continue at their lowest levels in more than a decade.  The national average price for regular gas held steady this week at $2.12, but average prices in 38 states, including Oregon have gone down.

The average posted price for regular in the state dipped by three cents to $2.45.  Locally, the average posted cash price fell by the same amount to $2.33.