City hall upgrade coming on heels of public works expansion; Women (and men) march; 126 crash claims life; Highway 36 closed by 2nd slide

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After a half-century, City Hall to be upgraded

Florence City Councilors are expected to sign off on an agreement Monday evening with a Coos Bay architectural firm for design and supervision services of a $1.5-million renovation and expansion of City Hall.

Additional costs, including those involved in temporarily locating City Hall staff and functions will raise that pricetag to just under $2-million according to a report officials will be reviewing tonight.  City Manager Erin Reynolds says the facility is due for an upgrade.

Erin Reynolds – “We’re actually in our 50th year at City Hall.  It is one of those facilities that has very well served our community and we’re just looking at what are the current needs, what are the demands, and also looking at the safety and well being of our employees, and also the city council and also those who come to city hall regularly.”

The building would retain essentially the same footprint, but a new addition facing Highway 101 would create a new City Council Chamber and entry way.  The existing meeting room and the entire interior would then be remodeled to create new office space.  If all goes well, the entire project could be completed by this time next year.

Beginning that project will come right on the heels of completion of a new headquarters facility for Public Works.  Reynolds said as soon as that is done they’re going to need the space.

           Erin Reynolds – “This summer.  The goal is to be moved in around June 30th.  And then quickly thereafter we’re going to begin the remodel and expansion of City Hall.”

About half of City Hall staff will temporarily move into Public Works in the Business Park on Kingwood…

          Erin Reynolds – “Those being the planning and the building and the code enforcement employees of the city.  And then the other half of administration will be going to the Justice Center.”

A portion of the Justice Center had been reserved for future growth and is not being utilized.  That’s going to be remodeled temporarily to accommodate the utility billing and financial department employees.  By completely vacating City Hall for the last six months of this year Reynolds said the renovation can be done quicker… and with far less cost.

Saturday march in Florence mirror those around the country

An estimated 225 people marched along Highway 101 in Florence as part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness of women’s issues. (Photo by Amy Brazier)

Approximately 250 people gathered to march through Florence Saturday morning.  The messages they carried were similar to those brought by an estimated two-million plus around the country.  Some were in protest of the presidency of Donald Trump; others were in support of reproductive and medical rights.

In Florence the majority of the signs carried by men and women alike spoke of things like love, unity, and support for those who most need it.

At one time, the line of marchers extended from eighth street, all the way back to sixth… about 2 ½ blocks.

The march in Florence was in conjunction with others around the country.  A crowd of about seven-thousand marched through downtown Eugene; 70-thousand were in Portland.  The largest crowds were recorded in Los Angeles and Washington DC where about a half-million showed up in each city.

Highway 36 blocked by second slide

A second slide blocked Highway 36 just west of Triangle Lake Sunday. Transportation officials say motorists should be prepared for an “extended closure”. (Oregon Department of Transportation photo)

Crews worked Friday and Saturday to clear a landslide that blocked Highway 36 just west of Triangle Lake.  By Sunday they had made progress, but another slide came down yesterday afternoon about a quarter-mile east of where they had been working.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials said the first slide occurred Wednesday.  They initially estimated it was bout 400-cubic yards of rock, mud and trees… but by Saturday they had tripled their estimate to about 12-hundred.

Yesterday’s slide is estimated to be about twice that… or about 25-hundred cubic yards.

ODOT officials say motorists should plan for an “extended closure”.

Eugene woman dies in Sunday crash

A Eugene woman was killed Sunday evening in a single vehicle crash on Highway 126 just west of Walton.  Captain Bull Fugate with the Oregon State Police said 38 year old Dawn Compton was traveling east bound near milepost 29.  Her car failed to make a left hand curve, leaving the roadway and side-swiping a tree.  It then continue a ways further before striking a second tree.

Compton died at the scene.  One lane of Highway 126 was closed about three hours during the investigation.  Fugate says speed is being investigated as a contributing factor and it’s not clear whether or not the woman was wearing a seatbelt.

State of the city address scheduled

Florence Mayor Joe Henry will present his third annual “State of the City” address next month.  Henry was recently sworn in for his second two-year term.  He’ll talk about the progress made towards last year’s goals as well as some new ones for 2017.

He also hinted at a – quote – “sneak peak” of what will be coming. The event is co-hosted by the City and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce at the Florence Events Center.  It’s next Monday, January 30th,  from 5:30 to seven pm.