Council work session to cover pot tax; state collections exceed estimates; Tenmile Lakes disaster declaration; Umpqua salmon derby; Fire update; Driving enforcement blitz

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City Council to discuss pot tax and housing

Florence voters will be deciding in November on whether or not to levy a 3-percent sales tax on retail sales of marijuana.  Mayor Joe Henry and the City Council will meet Wednesday morning in a special work session to discuss the matter.  City Manager Erin Reynolds said the amount of revenue generated by the proposal is still up in the air.

Erin Reynolds – “We still do not know.  Recreational marijuana sold out of a recreational retail shop hasn’t even occurred yet.  Right now recreational marijuana is only being sold out of those medical dispensaries that are allowed to do that.  So we just, we just don’t have any data to go off of.”


If approved by voters, the money generated would go direct to the city’s General Fund.

The council also intends to discuss a looming shortage of “workforce” housing.  They meet Wednesday morning, ten a.m., at City Hall.

State collects more pot tax than estimated

Medical marijuana dispensaries selling retail pot have sent $25.5-million in tax payments to the State of Oregon for just the first six months of 2016.

Dispensaries pass on a 25-percent sales tax for retail marijuana to the State Department of Revenue.  That rate will drop to 17-percent once the Oregon Liquor Control Commission finalizes rules for licensing retail outlets.  Several cities and counties are currently seeking voter approval of a 3-percent sales tax.

Retail marijuana sales have far exceeded original expectations in Oregon.  The Legislative Revenue Office had originally said they expected to collect $8.4-million in taxes over the two-year period ending in June 2017… They’ve already exceeded that for the first six months of this year.   In April, they upgraded the estimate to $35-million.

Firefighters battling blazes around the state

Fire crews are busy all around the state, working on blazes that have popped up in the past few days.  One blaze spotted Sunday near Adrian on the far eastern edge of the state has rapidly grown to one of the largest in Oregon.  The Cherry Road Fire has blackened nearly 50-square miles of brush and grass near the Idaho state line.  It’s burning on BLM Land two miles east of the Owyhee Reservoir and threatens Succor Creek State Park.

Crews have reached 35-percent containment on the Rail Fire near Unity.  That blaze made a run toward the Table Rock Lookout late Sunday, spreading 300-yards in one minute.  The lookout was spared, largely because it was wrapped with fire-resistant aluminum sheets.

The 191 acre Sheridan Fire just north of La Pine is 80 percent contained; the 34-hundred acre Withers Fire near Paisley was listed as 85-percent contained.  Evacuation orders for both fires were lifted by yesterday morning.

Tenmile Lake disaster declaration

Coos County Commissioners passed a resolution last week declaring a state of emergency on Tenmile Lakes.  The water level on the main lake was recently measured at just four feet above sea level… 13 feet below the mark measured in January of this year.  That’s also the lowest recorded level since measurements began in 1952.  Water levels are so low, boat ramps and moorage slips have been left high and dry.

An ad hoc group called Tenmile Grassroots has been pushing for construction of a temporary dam to hold winter and spring runoff through the summer so the situation doesn’t repeat itself.

The low water levels pose not only an environmental challenge say residents, but they will also have dramatic impacts on the economy of Lakeside, a small community south of Reedsport.

Umpqua salmon derby set for Labor Day weekend

A salmon derby on the Umpqua River over Labor Day weekend will reward the angler who catches the heaviest salmon on that stream over the three-day period.

The Salmon-Trout Enhancement Program of Reedsport and Winchester Bay is sponsoring the derby… offering a $500 cash prize for the heaviest salmon landed during the derby; plus additional $150 cash prizes for the heaviest salmon caught each day.

Advance tickets are on sale at Ace Hardware and Turman Tackle in Reedsport; plus STEP members will be at launch ramps in Winchester Bay and Reedsport.  Tickets are $10 per angler, or $25 per boat with three or more anglers.

Driving enforcement blitz

Law Enforcement officers will be spending extra time on the streets and roads over the next two weeks in an effort to reduce the number of crashes.  In addition to watching for drivers who aren’t “buckled up” and-or using their cell phones, they’re going to be focusing on “aggressive” driving and drivers under the influence of intoxicants.

The goal is to help stem the rising tide of highway deaths in the U.S.  Statistics released this week show highway deaths in the country are 9-percent higher for the first six months of this year over 2015.

Special funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association will pay for additional overtime patrols in Lane and Douglas Counties.