Rain respite brief; Mayor lunches with the Governor; Dallas Brass to share experience; PeaceHealth to resume Nurse negotiations

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City offering free sand bags and sand…

Thursday’s brief respite from the rain was just that.  More rain is coming today and tomorrow.  That’s in addition to record amounts of rainfall leading to water accumulating in places not seen before according to Florence Public Works Director Mike Miller.

Mike Miller – “The ground water and the soils are super-saturated.  What we’re seeing right now it’s like taking, you know, a cup that’s full and going over to your kitchen sink and trying to put more water in it.  It can’t take any more, it’s gotta go somewhere.”

Standing water and runoff has closed streets and roads… even Heceta Beach Road… and has plagued several neighborhoods.

A self-serve sandbag station has been set up by Florence Public Works on the north end of their headquarters on Spruce Street.  Public Works Director Mike Miller says to bring your own shovel because the one provided “might not stick around”.  (City of Florence photo)

Mike Miller – “We have a very large six-inch pump that we’re running currently.  We’ve used it out at 18th street to pump down what was a seasonal wetland… it’s now very much a seasonal lake.”

Miller says that’s the largest of three pumps in use right now and he’s trying to rent more.  Several residents have reported water flowing or standing beneath their homes.  Miller says they have a self-serve sand bag station set up at Public Works on Spruce Street.  A brown metal locker contains the bags and you’ll have to bring your own shovel.  Miller says to remember… a filled sand bag can weigh more than 40-pounds.

Negotiations to resume with area nurses

A PeaceHealth official says they will be returning to the bargaining table with members of the Oregon Nurses Association in early April.  System Vice President Debra Miller said PeaceHealth is “committed to reaching an agreement through good faith bargaining”.   Miller said when they resume contract negotiations next month they will be joined by a federal mediator to help them – quote – “find common ground”.

Nurses at Peace Harbor Medical Center have been working without a contract since late January.  They’re seeking a pay increase and maintaining health benefits.

Miller said PeaceHealth recently completed a successful negotiation with their 15-hundred nurses in Eugene and they’re confident they can do the same in Florence.

Governor and Mayor share lunch, swap stories

Oregon Governor Kate Brown spent most of Tuesday in Florence, visiting with local officials about economic development… then hosting a community forum with residents in the afternoon.  In between the two, she met with Florence Mayor Joe Henry.

Joe Henry – “We had a nice lunch and she was very personable.  We talked about our pet projects and our community.  And for each one of them of course I mentioned that we would need financial support from the state.  You always have to ask.”

Henry is a semi-retired fiscal and social conservative… his views can be considerably different at times than that of the liberal democrat governor.  But, he says… in order to accomplish things you have to put a lot of that aside.

Joe Henry – “I think it has to be done as a team.  Of course I don’t agree with all of her policies. But I don’t agree with all of the things that other side is doing for that matter.  And as Mayor it’s sort of a non-partisan position so I try to manage the affairs or direct the affairs of the city in a non-partisan fashion and I’ll do my best to see that we continue to do that so we don’t get into this bickering or name calling that’s going on.”

One topic he says he brought up was the proposed “ReVision Florence” project to put a facelift on the core downtown area… Henry said the cost estimates keep growing for that, but he’s committed to the principals behind it.

Dallas Brass to share experiences with local students

Students in the advanced band at Siuslaw Middle School and members of the high school’s Symphonic Band will join the Dallas Brass for a performance on stage later this month at the Florence Events Center.

Members of the “high energy ensemble” perform an “American Musical Journey” March 29th at the FEC.  Seacoast Entertainment outreach coordinator Rachel Pearson says members of the band all started their careers just like local band students… as part of a school band.

Since they formed in 1983 the group has performed at venues like Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.  They also performed at the Florence Events Center courtesy of Seacoast Entertainment in 2007.

“An essential part” of this visit will be educational according to Pearson.  The Dallas Brass will rehearse with students who will in turn perform with the Brass during one song.  A limited number of seats are still available at the FEC box office for the March 29th performance.