“uptick” in flu diagnoses at Siuslaw schools; preventing tax foreclosures; check out all the races on the ballot; honoring military families; Robocalls; election website

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Help stop the spread of flu…

Public health authorities are saying there has been a – quote – “sharp uptick” in the diagnoses of influenza in school aged children in Florence.  Cindy Morgan, the Communicable Disease Supervisor for Lane County, called the increase “especially troubling” and called for everyone to do their part when it comes to stopping the spread of the highly contagious viral infection.

Morgan says flu usually shows up in mild symptoms for most people.  But, for some it can be life-threatening.

Other than getting immunized, one of the best ways to cut off the spread of influenza is by staying home if you don’t feel well.  She also says you should cover your coughs and wash your hands frequently.

Siuslaw Middle School Principal Andy Marohl said neither he nor the other building principals have seen excessive absences; the custodial staff has stepped up the cleaning and sanitizing of high-risk surfaces like table tops and even door knobs to help prevent the spread.

Program aims to keep properties out of tax foreclosure

A new program begins next week that will help homeowners in Lane County take care of their past-due property tax payments… but only if they can remain current.  Assessor Mike Cowles (COLES) said it’s aimed at preventing foreclosures and making sure local governments get the taxes that are due.

Mike Cowles – “It’s a win-win for the taxing districts and for the homeowner in that the taxpayer has an avenue to not have that delinquency out there.  The taxing districts actually receive the funds from the U.S. Treasury, so on all sides it works out well.”

Under the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative qualifying property owners get a four-year “forgivable” loan that pays their back taxes.  If they keep the accompanying agreement, the loan is forgiven after four years.

Information on the program is available at the Lane County Tax Assessor’s website.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been on ballots for 75 years

A lot of attention has been focused on the national and statewide races on the ballot.  But sometimes it’s the local ones that can have just as much of an impact.  John Byers with the Oregon Department of Agriculture says in communities all over Oregon, there are people seeking election to Soil and Water Conservation District boards.  There are 46 of them in Oregon; all of them have been instrumental, he says, in completing a variety of effective, on-the-ground projects that help landowners be good environmental stewards.

John Byers – “Soil and water conservation district directors have been on the ballot for many, many years.  It’s important that the general public have a say in how conservation is conducted in their community.  I encourage everyone to look at the issues and pay particular attention to the candidates.”

There are two positions open in the Siuslaw Soil and Water Conservation District… both have drawn solo candidates running unopposed.  Kevin Carroll is seeking the Zone 3 position and Richard Huff is filed for the “at-large” spot.

Military families honored

The Florence City Council will begin a week of recognition of veterans and their families this evening.  A special reception will be held at Florence City Hall at 5:30, just prior to the City Council Meeting.  The emphasis will be on recognizing families of active duty military members.

November is Military Family Appreciation Month.  The Council will make a formal proclamation.  The meeting begins at six.

Robocalls lead to confusion; possible investigation

The Oregon Republican Party has admitted they are behind many of the automated phone calls telling people their votes may not count tomorrow.

Voters across Oregon received the calls telling them their voter registration status was “inactive” and their vote may not count.

Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins ordered an investigation of the calls Friday morning, calling them a “voter suppression activity” that appeared to be aimed at discouraging some voters from returning their ballots.

By Friday afternoon the Oregon GOP had taken responsibility for many of the calls.  Republican Party Chair Bill Currier said the calls were part of the party’s effort “to make inactive GOP voters eligible to vote.”

He was unapologetic about the fact that the calls had caused confusion for some voters and criticized what he called “dishonest” efforts to discredit them.

Lane County Elections Supervisor Cheryl Betschart said many of those receiving the calls that reported them to her office were properly registered and in fact, had already returned their ballots.

New state website to help track election results

A new website with centralized election information from across the state is being rolled out just in time for tomorrow’s General Election.

It will make it easier to track and follow results on election night and can be found here. The new site replaces the old state results websites and includes election results pages for each county.  Previously, if you were interested in finding results for Oregon House and Senate elections, you would have to go to each individual county website and manually calculate the results.

As of Friday more than one-million Oregon voters had returned their ballots… and 110-thousand of Lane County’s 246-thousand ballots had been returned.

That sets the stage for what elections officials are calling a potential record turnout.