Governor Brown in Town; Plover protections set to go in place; Kiwanis trailer stolen; Mapleton school upgrades displayed; Heceta Lighthouse celebrates a birthday

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Oregon Governor in Florence Today

Governor Kate Brown is in Florence today to visit with local leaders and business owners about economic development. This afternoon, she’ll host a public forum at Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue to hear directly from residents about economic growth.  That’s at 1:30.

Before that, she’ll meet with Mayor Joe Henry and members of the Florence City Council in Old Town at the Siuslaw Bridge Interpretive Center to talk about two things… the Highway 101 bridge cathodic protection project currently underway, and the ReVision Florence initiative.

The latter project is a proposed $7.4-million makeover of Highways 101 and 126 in the core downtown area.  The Oregon Department of Transportation has already delayed a resurfacing project for that stretch until next year to allow city leaders time to develop a companion project funded partially by the Urban Renewal Agency.

While in town, the Governor will also visit with participants in the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network… known by the acronym of RAIN… and tour the Pacific View Industrial Park.

Plover protections go in place

The nesting season of a threatened shorebird is beginning soon and that means dry sand areas of some beaches on the central and south coast will be off-limits to visitors beginning this weekend.

The recovery of coastal populations of the Western Snowy Plover has been steady since it was first listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1993.  U.S. Forest Service biologist Cindy Burns said they have made “great strides” in reversing the downward slide of the sparrow-size bird.  Rope “exclosures” and signs will go up later this week, blocking access to some sandy areas that are prime nesting areas.

Those areas include the Baker and Sutton Beaches north of Florence and the Siltcoos estuary south of Florence.  In fact, nesting areas extend from the mouth of the Siltcoos Outlet to the Umpqua River.

Burns said nesting season begins March 15th, but due to the tides this week the ropes and signs won’t actually go out until Friday the 17th.

Heceta Birthday Party

The Heceta Lighthouse will be 123 years old later this month and it has never had a birthday party.  So Travel Lane County and the Heceta Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast are teaming up to have one on Thursday, March 30th.

It was on that date in 1894 that the first order Fresnel lens (fruh-NELL) was first lit.

Between four and seven pm that day they’ll have free hot dogs, popcorn and even birthday cake.  Tours of the historic keeper’s house will be offered and you can even take a selfie on the front porch with the light in the background.

Parking will be provided at the Heceta Lighthouse Day Use Area by the beach with a shuttle offered by Northwest Adventures Quest.  The shuttle is free, but there is a day-use fee for parking.

Stolen trailer

A small utility trailer used by the Florence Kiwanis Club as a ticket booth and the headquarters for their annual Fourth of July Duck Race has gone missing.

Kiwanis secretary Bill Craig reported the theft of the trailer last week to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

When last seen, it was stored in a parking lot at Northwest Travel Magazines near Twin Lakes Store north of Florence.  The 12-foot white cargo trailer was festooned with Blue Kiwanis signs and logos.  Craig says it’s likely been repainted and is long gone by now.  The thief or thieves had to cut a lock off the hitch to take it.

The trailer is a familiar Fourth of July sight in Old Town and at other community events.  The estimated value was $3-thousand.

Mapleton School remodel on display

The next step in an $8-million upgrade of facilities at Mapleton schools will be laid out for residents Wednesday night.  Superintendent Jodi O’Mara said an open house will be held in the high school library.

Jodi O’Mara – “People can come in anytime between six and 7:30 to view the plans, talk to staff and committee members that are there to answer questions and share what projects we’re undertaking.”

Voters approved a $4-million capital levy last spring that is matched by an equal amount of money from the Oregon Department of Education.  O’Mara said a few projects have already been completed… such as the replacement of the high school septic system… but many more are set to begin in June.

Jodi O’Mara – “So they’re actually going to see the drawings of all of the improvements.  Some of the improvements you can’t visually see, for instance replacing the plumbing so there are going to be additional lists on each of the boards.”

Many of the upgrades are structural, others are security related.  O’Mara said work will begin after classes end in June, but will continue through the first few months of the school year.