250 attend primary care town hall; Water company to go it alone; Lead testing expedited; Mapleton transfer site to close; From the Heart Dentistry; Red Flags fly.

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PeaceHealth VP apologizes for shortage

About 250 people turned out yesterday afternoon for an hour-long Town Hall meeting about the status of primary care physicians in the community.

A panel made up of administrators and managers, led by Senior Vice President Dr. Mark Adams, explained how they are working hard to recruit additional doctors.  Adams apologized to the audience at the Florence Events Center, saying he was “sorry and embarrassed” about the shortage.

Officials say they have signed eight primary care providers for Florence since last year.  Three of those are currently in practice; three more will start by the end of the year.  The other two will come in 2017 and 2018.  The shortage, they say, was compounded by the sudden departure of four physicians earlier this year… all related to personal and family considerations, and according to system officials, not due to any job or community dissatisfaction.

Florence Mayor Joe Henry moderated a brief question and answer period at the end of the hour-long session.  Still, many attendees were dissatisfied and remained after to air their frustrations with Peace Health officials.

South Coast Water not eligible for government aid

The woes of the South Coast Water District, a privately held water company serving 80 homes in the Siltcoos Heights neighborhood of Dunes City, will likely have to be solved without government assistance.

Jackie Mikalonis (MICK-uh-LO-nuss) is the mid-coast regional coordinator of the Governor’s Regional Solutions Team.  She, along with representatives of four state agencies, met with owners of the water district and Dunes City Administrator Jaime Mills.

Because the water system is privately held and operated it is not eligible for state and federal assistance.

The current owner, Randy Reitz (RITES) purchased the water system at the request of state health officials several years ago when aging system was unable to consistently provide water service to residents.  Since then he has upgraded facilities and provided service, but the basic infrastructure is still about 50-years old.  The company also wants to switch their intake from Siltcoos Lake to Woahink to improve water quality.

Lead testing expedited

Results of tests for lead in the water at Mapleton Schools are expected to be returned much quicker than earlier thought.  Superintendent Jodi O’Mara said her goal was to have the results of the testing back before classes begin in September.

She had been told they may not be ready until about the second week of school.

But, she was able to secure expedited testing.  That means once the lab in Eugene gets water samples, the results could be released within a week.

O’Mara had previously said she wouldn’t be surprised if testing proved positive for lead because of the age of the buildings.  She wants that confirmation as soon as possible so they can form an “action plan” to make sure drinking water at the schools is safe.

Mapleton Transfer Site to Close

Lane County residents who haul their own garbage will be paying more to do so.  Meanwhile, residents in Mapleton will be faced with a longer drive to dump.

Lane County Commissioners this week opted to close the Mapleton Waste Transfer Station on Highway 126 and restrict the Swisshome site to being open Saturdays only.

They also approved a rate hike at all waste transfer sites from a minimum of $10 to $12.

West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich said the Mapleton and Swisshome changes could still be about 60-days away.  He said they’ll need time to properly notify the users as well as adjust employee schedules.

Commissioners directed staff to begin the process of collecting the new rates “as soon as possible”.  It’s not known when that will be.   The changes were prompted by a recommendation to increase revenue and decrease expenses in the Waste Management Division in order to set aside a fund to ensure continued operation of the Short Mountain Landfill beyond 2025.  The rates will only impact dumping at transfer sites and will not commercial waste haulers.

From the Heart Dentistry

A free one-day dental clinic will be offered next week in Florence.  The Korando Dental Clinic will be transformed Thursday, August 25th into “From the Heart Dentistry”.  Dr. Charles W. Korando says “everyone is deserving of respect and dignity” and sometimes someone just needs a little help that “could have big results”.

During the one-day clinic, anyone can have a thorough cleaning, an extraction, or certain other repairs done at no cost to the patient.  Korando says people who come in Thursday will not be charged anything.  All of the labor is donated as are the supplies used.

Registration opens at six a.m. Thursday with services beginning at seven.  The final patient will be served by four p.m.

The Korando Dental Clinic… and From the Heart Dentristry… is at 1705 22nd Street in Florence.

Red Flags Continue to Fly

Critical fire weather conditions are occurring right now… prompting officials to issue a Red Flag Warning for high wildland fire danger through midnight tonight.

The National Weather Service says relative humidity is expected to be extremely low… in the 15 to 20 percent range.

High temperatures in the 80s and 90s are expected away from the beach this afternoon.  They will likely persist well into the evening.

Residents… especially the elderly and very young… could be especially vulnerable to the heat.  They say to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sunshine and… check on your relatives and neighbors.