State of the City; County bond rating could improve; Snow day adjustments may not be needed; Theives disrupt Lakeside phone service; Blind date with a book.

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Mayor recaps the “state of the city”

There were no real surprises in Florence Mayor Joe Henry’s annual State of the City address last night.

Florence Mayor Joe Henry delivered his third annual State of the City address this week.  (City of Florence photo)

That’s mainly because of one of the items he mentioned during the address to about 125 people in the audience at the Florence Events Center.  That was what he called the “continuous improvements in communication”.  Henry said the flow of information through city government has steadily improved over the past three years.  He pointed to a new website, the continuation of the monthly newsletter and other efforts to “get the word out” on different projects and issues.

Despite the fact that many of the things he was going to talk about were already well known, Henry did take time to talk about several successes in the past year.

One of those is the return of a school resource officer through the efforts of Police Chief Tom Turner.  Another was the completion of the Rhododendron Drive Multi-Use Path and groundbreaking for a new Public Works Facility.  He also talked about plans for an expansion and renovation of City Hall.

There were many other successes in the economic development arena and in streamlining some of the building and development codes.  Henry called his first two year term “fun and exciting” and said he is looking forward to his next term that got underway this month.

Lane County bond rating revision possible

Efforts to control costs, reduce debt and increase financial stability could soon pay off for Lane County.  Moody’s Investors Services, the organization that provides credit ratings and risk analysis for public bond offerings, is in the middle of reviewing a potential upgrade in the county’s credit rating. That could ultimately wind up saving the county… and county residents… money according to Devon Ashbridge.  She said an upgrade could lead to a higher bond rating, thereby reducing costs when financing public projects.   Ashbridge said the county has worked to “significantly reduce debt obligations” that will save taxpayers $2.4-million in interest payments.  She also pointed to continued efforts to keep the cost of employee benefits down and increase long term financial stability.

Moody’s is expected to make a final decision by the end of March.

Blind date with a book in February

The people at Siuslaw Public Library want to “fix you up” with a blind date in February.

Adult services librarian Kevin Mittge is not opening a dating service.  He just wants visitors to the library to experience something new and different when it comes to selecting a book.

That’s why the “Blind Date with a book” promotion running the month of February.  Librarians have selected a variety of books in different genres and styles, wrapped them in plain paper wrappers and put them on display.  The only identifying factor on them according to Mittge is whether or not they are fiction or non-fiction.

The idea is to select a book, check it out, unwrap it and read it.  Each book contains a short questionnaire about what you may have liked… or disliked… about the experience.  As an incentive all of the returned questionnaires will be entered into a prize drawing.

Mittge says the point is to take a risk and expand your reading horizon.

Metal theives disrupt Coos phone service

For the fourth time this year in Coos County, metal thieves disrupted phone service by stealing phone lines off the pole.  Police say the thieves usually burn the insulation off of the wires and then sell the copper for scrap.

The latest incident was over the weekend in Lakeside, just south of Reedsport.  Thieves used a ladder to climb poles near the Lakeside Cemetery to steal about 400 feet of line.

The theft disrupted land-line phone service, including 9-1-1 service to the about 500 customers.

Frontier Telephone was able to reroute service and restore partial coverage.  The Coos County Sheriff’s Office then set up a special dispatch center at the Lakeside Library to handle emergency calls.

The Sheriff’s office said the estimated scrap value of the wire stolen was about $100… far less than the thousands of dollars of damage that was caused.

Local schools may not need to adjust schedule for snow days

Oregon school districts won’t have to make up for all of the days lost due to the weather in the past two months.  The Oregon State Board of Education decided last week to allow districts to write off up to 14 hours of state-required instructional time.

At Siuslaw and Mapleton schools the decision has no real impact… but could factor into things if there are additional “bad weather days” that lead to closures.

Superintendents at both districts said they have each lost two school days to weather this year; and both have adequate days on the schedule to meet the state-mandated minimums.

But, said Andy Grzeskowiak in Florence and Jodi O’Mara in Mapleton, the additional 14-hours could be utilized if they are forced to cancel any more school days this year.  Both have said February can often bring additional cold weather and snowy conditions.  School boards in both communities will wait until after March 1st to make any formal decisions on changing their instructional calendars… but if things hold as they are now, there should be no changes.