Coast Radio News

Voter veto proposal tabled; Steelhead returns; Gas prices; Back to school; housing linked to healthcare

Commissioners suspend voter veto conversations

The Lane County Board of Commissioners did an ‘about face’ yesterday and voted to hold off on any further discussions on a controversial proposal.

They began discussing the deal in June.  If enacted, it would have given commissioners veto power over citizen initiated ballot measures in the county.

Commissioners talked about the perceived need to be able to ‘vet’ initiatives for their effectiveness before they make it to the ballot.  Current law allows courts to render a decision as to the legality and enforceability of measures only after voter approval.  Commissioners said the pre-election vetting would ultimately save the county money.

Opponents of the move… especially proponents of three ballot initiatives currently underway that could have been impacted by the measure… say it would usurp voters powers.  After a lengthy private “executive session” Tuesday,
Commissioners voted unanimously to table the conversation for at least six months.

Steelhead returns a sign of stream health

The number of steelhead making their way up Northwest rivers and streams has fallen far below predictions this season.  According to counts on the Columbia River, it’s at about half of the ten-year average so far.  But, it is still early in the season and shortages could be made up by a late-season surge.

Bob Rees, the head of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders says he believes the low numbers are due to poor water conditions such as a pocket of unusually warm water that lingered off the Pacific Coast last summer; along with a low amount of runoff from snowmelt this summer.

bob Rees – “We kind of call them our canary in the coal mine. These are fish that have very broad home ranges, both in fresh water and in salt water, and their health is really an indication about how our environment is faring over time.”

 

He says keeping an eye on fish such as steelhead in the Northwest can provide a picture of the health of the environment.

Local gas prices steady; at lowest point since 2004

The average cash price for a gallon of regular gas in Florence continues to hold steady at $2.31 headed into one of the busiest driving weekends of the year.

That’s in comparison to the statewide and national averages that both increased for the second week in a row.  The Oregon average price is up two cents this week to $2.46 a gallon.  The national average as measured by Triple-A is up four cents to $2.22.

Even with the increases, pump prices are 51-cents a gallon lower than they were at this point last year in Florence… and are at their lowest for the Labor Day Weekend since 2004.

Back to school

Classes get underway next Tuesday for all students at Mapleton School District.  Except for next week, classrooms at Mapleton will be active Mondays through Thursdays as a general rule.

In Florence, classes get underway on Wednesday, September 7th and will run Mondays through Fridays.

The back to school deadline means students will be out on area streets and roads early in the morning waiting for buses or walking to school.  The same will be true in mid afternoon as they head home.

Drivers are reminded they must stop for school buses when the lights are flashing and they are picking up or dropping off students.  No matter if you’re approaching a bus from in front or behind, and no matter if it’s a four lane highway with a center turn lane… all vehicles must come to a complete stop.

Housing and Healthcare compliment each other

Healthcare plans in Oregon are considering a new aspect of people’s health and well-being:  Stable housing.  Care providers are looking to tackle a big issue in Oregon, which ranks in the top five for rates of homelessness.  The nonprofit CareOregon is supporting this new task by giving grants to organizations that provide affordable and stable housing.  One of those is Helping Hands, which serves people in Lincoln, Tillamook, Clatsop and Yamhill Counties.  Alan Evans heads the organization.  He says cost savings and better outcomes in health care are possible when the connection is made with housing.

Alan Evans – “Before it used to be we would just keep a person secure, get a job, pay a little bit of rent, follow these rules.  Now we’re looking at a deeper, more community-oriented wellness program.”

A study of the homeless population in Portland by the Center for Outcomes Research and Education found when people moved into stable housing, Medicaid costs dropped 12-percent and emergency care dropped 18-percent.