Cold Weather Shelter to open this week; Lane County improves bond rating; Florence Fest ’17 to debut; PeaceHealth Lab Layoffs; Gas prices steady

Coast Radio News
Local News

Cooler weather prompts opening of shelter

The Florence Emergency Cold Weather Shelter will be open tonight and tomorrow… and if cooler overnight temperatures persist, it could open Friday night as well.

The shelter this evening will be housed in the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw at 3996 Highway 101.

Greg Wood with the Presbyterian Church said the shelter was originally scheduled to open at New Life Lutheran, but a schedule conflict prompted the move.

White shelter flags go up in several areas around the community to note the opening.  Volunteers will run free shuttles from the flag locations to the shelter from 4:45 to six pm.  Registration begins at five.

The intention is to give unhoused people a warm place to spend the night when the temperature falls to near freezing.  Volunteers serve a hot meal for dinner; then prepare breakfast the next morning.

Lane County bond rating improves

Future public works projects in Lane County will likely cost less to finance than in previous years.  Moody’s Investors Service recently complete a review of the county’s bond rating and increased it one step from A-a-3 to A-a-2.

That identifies Lane County as a “very low credit risk”.

The improved bond rating is a result of efforts over the past several years to reduce costs.  County administrator Steve Mokrohiskey said despite a 90-percent decline in federal funding and a low property tax rate, Lane County has continued to maintain a balanced budget while providing critical services.

Florence Fest ’17 to debut March 31st.

Seven jazz acts, including one rapidly-rising international star, will take the stage alongside a dozen wineries and an invitational juried art show in a brand new festival taking shape in Florence.

FlorenceFest ’17 will be at the Florence Events Center March 31st and April 1st.

Eugene’s Haley Loren will be on stage with her quintet on Saturday.  She’ll follow Friday’s headliner Toni Glausi and his 9-piece funk band.

The juried art show and sale will include more than 60 finalists out of more than 100 entries.

Coast Radio, the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance are teaming up to present the show that also features the Florence based Miles to Go Quartet.

Advance tickets are just $20 and can be purchased online at FlorenceChamber-dot-com.

Only one local job expected to be lost in PeaceHealth lab layoffs

181 employees of PeaceHealth Medical Labs will be laid off in Lane County.  That announcement comes following the news that PeaceHealth is selling a portion of its lab business to Quest Diagnostics, a for-profit company based in New Jersey.

In a letter to the Oregon Dislocated Worker Unit, PeaceHealth officials laid out the list of locations where workers will be laid off, and how many at each spot.

The bulk of the layoffs will come at the organization’s Springfield lab where 125 people will lose their jobs.  The other 56 lost jobs are spread over 14 other locations.

Only one job is projected to be lost in Florence; five others are outside of Lane County… in Roseburg and Bend.

According to the federally required filing made last week by PeaceHealth, more than 140 employees in Washington State will also be laid off.  Quest Diagnostics has already announced they will be hiring 275 employees in Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

Gas prices holding steady

Despite lower than usual demand, gas prices showed little movement this past week.  The local average cash price for a gallon of regular gas remained at $2.36 a gallon while the Oregon average price went up a penny to $2.54.

The average price nationwide, as measured by Triple-A remained at $2.28.

While Oregon’s average price did increase slightly this week, it is still one of 42 states that have seen prices slip in the past month.  At $2.90 a gallon, California’s average price is the highest on the mainland… Hawaii drivers pay an average of $3.12 a gallon.  The average price in Washington state is 20 cents higher than Oregon’s price at $2.74.  The nation’s cheapest markets are South Carolina at $2.04 a gallon; Alabama and Tennessee are at $2.06.