Rain to ease Saturday, return Sunday; Hwy 36 closed again by slide; Oregon Pacific Bank shows improved profits; Port Commissioner expresses concerns

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A brief respite from the rain…

Florence has already received more than twice as much rain this month than it got in all of February last year… and more is likely to fall in the next ten days.

According to data on the Florence Public Works website, a total of four inches fell in the area Wednesday and Thursday.  That caused another series of stormwater runoff backups.  People who live and work here have said they are seeing standing water where they’ve never seen it before.

As of midnight Thursday there had been a total of 20.3 inches recorded by Public Works so far this month.  11.6 inches were measured in January this year and the rainfall in Florence in February a year ago was just 9 ½ inches.

Weather forecasters say it will be relatively dry today and tomorrow, but another system moving into the Central Coast late Sunday is bringing the potential for lots more precipitation.

It’s not known how long Highway 36, four miles east of Triangle Lake, will be closed after another large slide blocked both lanes February 16th. (Oregon Department of Transportation photo)

Highway 36 closed again by slides

The heavy rains this week are getting the blame for another series of slides that have closed Highway 36 between Mapleton and Triangle Lake.

Crews had just cleared a few smaller slides that came down before eight a.m. Thursday near milepost 25 and restored traffic when another large slide came oozing down.  The second slide, just after noon Thursday, blocked both lanes of the highway.

Angela Beers-Sydel with the Oregon Department of Transportation said there is no immediate detour in the area.

Beers-Sydel said there is no immediate estimate as to how long it will take to reopen the roadway.  It was closed for nine days last month after a series of slides in the same area.

OPB shows improved profits

Florence based Oregon Pacific Bank showed a nearly 60-percent increase in profits in 2016 over the previous year.  The bank released a statement this week reporting a $1.1-million profit.

In a written statement, President and CEO Ron Green said the net income equaled 26-cents a share, up from 17 cents in 2015.

Green credited an expansion into the Eugene-Springfield area for much of the success.  He said loans and deposits – quote – “experienced strong growth” following the opening of a professional banking office in downtown Eugene.

That office is led by Jeff Gusinow, a former senior vice president of Siuslaw Bank.  Formerly headquartered in Florence, Siuslaw Bank was acquired two years ago by Walla Walla, Washington based Banner Bank.

Rickard expresses concerns over manager evaluation

Port of Siuslaw Commissioners gave Port Manager Steven Leskin an overall “meets expectations” in 12 categories of his annual evaluation last month.  But one of the commissioners is saying her colleagues “did not do the right thing” when it came to helping Leskin be more productive.

Nancy Rickard read a statement at the beginning of Wednesday’s Port Commission meeting in which she said other commissioners failed to give Leskin an opportunity to address the parts of his evaluation in which they said he needed improvement.  Rickard said no comments were made that would have allowed him to respond to the critiques related to updating information, communicating with Commissioners, and carrying out assignments.

Rickard was also critical of the board for not saying why they opposed a four percent raise for Leskin.  She and Commission President Ron Caputo voted in favor of the raise January 30th, but the other three; David Huntington, Mike Buckwald and Terry Duman; voted no without any additional comment.

Rickard closed by saying commissioners have a responsibility to support the manager and staff recommendations and share in the communication process.

Special Port Commission meeting Monday

Port of Siuslaw Commissioners will hold a special meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the fate of the fishing vessel Tenacious.  Owned by Gordon Owen, the boat was the subject of a conversation by the commission January 30th.  During that discussion, commissioners acknowledged that the vessel is not sea worthy and is not being maintained.

Owen is also behind in his moorage payments.

The Tenacious is slated for public auction February 24th.

The commission will meet Monday afternoon at four pm to continue a discussion on Owen, the moorage payments, and the vessel.