Nurses to picket; Sewer line collapses; Big Wave Poetry Fest; Voter Registration Deadline

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Nurses set “informational picket”

Nurses at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center in Florence voted last week to authorize an “informational picket” following what negotiators on their side of the table termed an “unsuccessful contract mediation session” last week with administrators.

Kevin Mealey, a spokesman for the Oregon Nurses Association, said PeaceHealth made “limited concessions and refused to make meaningful progress on a fair contract”.

Peace Harbor Chief Administrative Officer Rick Yecny said he was “surprised and disappointed” at the news.  He added management has proposed “market-competitive compensation and benefits consistent with other offers agreed-to by members of the same nurses union in other communities”.

Another session with that federal mediator is set for April 26th.

Mealey said the informational picket will take place Monday, May 1st at the intersection of Highways 101 and 126 in Florence.

Sewer main line collapses

Repairs on a sinkhole on 18th street have prompted closure of that roadway between Spruce and Tamarack today.  Public Works Director Mike Miller said a sewer main line collapsed beneath the street, causing the void.

Traffic was allowed through the area over the weekend, but Miller said it was still safe.

A contractor began making the repairs this morning, prompting the closure.  Complicating things is the high groundwater table.  They are having to used special equipment and pumps to ‘dewater’ the area around the collapse so they can safely make the repairs.  Miller said the street was expected to reopen by five this evening.

Voter registration deadline set

If you’re not currently registered to vote and you want to participate in the May 16th special election, you better get a move on.

The deadline to register is midnight Tuesday.

If you don’t have a valid Oregon Driver’s License, a DMV-issued ID card, or a learner’s permit though, you’ll have to mail it in and have it postmarked by five o’clock that day.

Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart said the online registration is an option only if you have those items because your identity has already been confirmed and verified with state authorities.

You can go online at www-dot-OregonVotes-dot-org and click on the ‘voter registration’ link to see if you are currently registered… and if not, you can handle the matter right there.

Big Wave Poetry Fest

Two days of poetry competition are set for Florence over Mother’s Day Weekend.  The “Big Wave Poetry Fest” will start off with a “Spoken Word Slam” contest Friday, May 12th at the Florence Events Center, followed by two categories of poetry performances aimed at youth and teens the next afternoon.

Friday’s competition is open to all ages and participants must read an original poem.  Several cash prizes are being offered, including $500 for the best presentation of the night.  2nd place gets $250; there will be $100 winners in four different categories.

Saturday at two pm, performers between the ages of six and 14 will compete… their entries do not need to be original, but the “teen spoken word contest” at three that day requires original entries.

The Big Wave Poetry Fest will end with the premier showing of a documentary called From Prison to Purpose.  That’s a story of how Noah Schultz overcame his previous life as a Portland gang member and became an award winning poet and social activist during his time at the Oregon Youth Authority’s Camp Florence.  Schultz will be joined by last year’s Big Wave winner, Stephan (STEFF-un) Fowler who followed a path similar to Schultz’.