Cold Weather Shelter; Mapleton schools; Siuslaw Awards nominees; ODOT noise concerns; County leadership; Gas prices surge

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Cold Weather Shelter openings exceed plans

Florence’s volunteer run Cold Weather Shelter will be open again tonight and tomorrow… bringing the total number of openings so far this year to a dozen.  That’s twice what organizers anticipated for the entire season… and six times more than last year’s openings.

Reverend Greg Woods with the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw said last week was busy, but started off slow with only four guests on January 1st and 2nd.  By Wednesday the fourth however, the total had blossomed to 26, including two unhoused families with children.  Woods added that heavy snow that day closed many other services in Florence so the shelter remained open all day, instead of just overnight.  He said their TV and DVD player – quote – “got a good workout”.

Feedback from guests and volunteers has been positive and people are grateful for the days that they can be open.  But, he continued, it has been a strain on volunteers.  Each night they’re open, they have a crew of about ten people directly involved, including two who stay up all night to supervise.

A fund raiser is planned for the shelter in February, but Woods said anyone interested in donating or helping out now can call him directly.

Mapleton Calendar likely not adjusted for snow days

Students and staff at Mapleton Schools aren’t looking at any immediate changes to the school year because of weather closures.  Superintendent Jodi O’Mara says unlike other districts inland, Mapleton has only lost two days to the snow and ice.

Jodi O’Mara – “We’re still ok right now.  We’re not going to make any changes until we get through February.  Historically February tends to be the worst month.”

The Mapleton School Board meets this week, and it will be a topic of conversation.

Jodi O’Mara – “I will be talking to them about instructional hours.  I will, right now, am not concerned about adding a day or two.  For us, it would be more about adding an instructional day on a Friday, rather than extending the school year.”

O’Mara also expects the State Education Department to modify the minimum number of instructional days required for Oregon students.

Jodi O’Mara – “I can imagine with all of the school closures around the state they’re going to have to come up with something.  Otherwise you’re going to have schools going through June.”

That waiver, if it does come, wouldn’t be until at least February.  Another reason, she adds, for not making any adjustments until then.

Three businesses nominated for top business award

Finalists for the Sixth Annual Siuslaw Awards Presentation were announced this week with three local businesses nominated for the top award.  The Stu Johnston Business of the Year will be presented to either City Lights Cinemas; Lofy Construction and Design; or Terrace Homes February 8th during the ceremony at the Florence Events Center.

City Lights is nominated in the Community Caring category as well, along with Banner Bank and Laurel Bay Gardens.

America’s Mattress, Korando Dental Group, Lovejoy’s Restaurant and Tearoom, and Old Town Barbershop are up for the Curb Appeal award.  The Excellence in Customer Service category drew six nominees including Lovejoys’s, Lofy Construction, Funky Monkey Toys, Polished Boutique and Salon, The River House and Old Town Inns, and the City of Florence Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department.

RAIN, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network and the Friends of the Events Center are up for the Innovation in Business award.  The Friends of the FEC, Oregon Coast Military Museum, Rotary Club of Florence, Siuslaw Watershed Council and Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshop are nominated for the Non-Profit Achievement award.

Tickets for the semi-formal dinner are $35 and are available at the Chamber Visitor Center.

ODOT continues to address noise concerns

Crews applying a corrosion resistant coating to the Siuslaw River Bridge will continue working 23-hours a day this week.  Angela Beers-Sydel with the Oregon Department of Transportation says the work may not result in construction noise, but workers will be present.

ODOT continues to receive complaints about the generator and compressor noise.  Beers-Sydel said they will do additional noise testing to pinpoint some possible solutions.  Nearby residents say the sound from the machinery is “bouncing” and continues to be a concern.   The compressor supplying breathing air for workers is positioned at the north end of the bridge near Dairy Queen, while the generator is on the barge located beneath the bridge.

She said the contractor has about two months of work remaining on the north end of the bridge.  When that’s done they’ll move equipment to the south side of the river.

County Board selects 2017 leadership

Pat Farr will serve as the chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners in 2017.  West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich will be the vice-chair.

Both were elected to the positions in the opening minutes of the board’s first regular meeting of 2017 Tuesday in Eugene.

Farr called serving as chair an “honor” and is excited to help lead efforts to create 600 supportive housing units to get families and children off the streets over the next four years.

Bozievich was appreciative of the selection and said he looked forward to providing leadership on behalf of the board and the community.  Outgoing chair Faye Stewart was recognized for his leadership in 2016.

Gas prices take sudden increase

The average cash price for a gallon of regular gas in Florence took a huge jump this week: going up a dozen cents a gallon.  That was on top of a ten cent increase the week before, bringing the local cash average to $2.44 a gallon.

Oregon’s average price took a similar jump, but it’s only 16-cents higher than the 2016 year end average according to Triple-A.  It’s seventh highest in the nation at $2.56.

Market reactions to the OPEC deal to cut oil productions is the main cause for the increase according to Marie Dodds.  The Triple-A spokesperson said the national average price is not at its highest point since June… $2.37.

Dodds said refinery issues at two California facilities also created more pressure on west coast prices.  Hawaii has the highest average at $3.04.. California is the highest of the 48 contiguous states at $2.81.