Real Estate rebound; Mapleton Schools get seismic funding; Street sinkhole; Climate change evidence; School budget extension.

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Real Estate market becoming one for the sellers…

The good news is that the local real estate market is on the solid upswing.  The bad news is if you’re looking to buy, you’re also looking at a limited supply and higher prices.

That’s the take from the first-quarter real estate report issued last week by Tawfik Ahdab with the Pacific Valuation Group.

According to that report, the number of home sales transactions completed in January, February and March of this year increased by 11-percent over last year’s first quarter.  At 91 it was the most homes sold in that period since 2005.

It’s not just the number of homes that has increased.  The total value of those homes exceeded $20-million… the most since 2007.  Adding to the good news for sellers and Realtors is the fact that as of March 31st there were 61 pending home sales… Ahdab says that’s the most at the end of the first quarter of any year since he began compiling the information.

Adding to the bad news for buyers is the fact that there is what he calls a “dearth of affordable housing”.

Mapleton schools to get seismic upgrades

Officials at the Mapleton School District learned this week they will get $2.9-million to pay for seismic upgrades to the elementary and high schools.  The money, provided by the state’s economic development agency, will be split nearly evenly between the two buildings.  It will pay for retrofitting of construction elements intended to lessen the danger of collapse and shifting in the event of an earthquake.

Mapleton Schools are currently in the midst of several other upgrades and remodeling.  Voters in the district approved a $4-million capital levy that is being matched by the state.

Some of the upgrades have been completed, still more are set for this summer.

Sinkhole resists repairs

18th street between Spruce and Tamarack remained closed overnight after high water slowed work to repair a collapsed sewer line.

Failure of the line created a sinkhole beneath the street according to Florence Public Works Director Mike Miller.

Miller had hoped for the repairs to be completed and the hole filled in by yesterday afternoon.  But, rain and an extremely high water table have combined to challenge the work.

Dewatering pumps are  being used to lower that water table in the immediate area.  The hope is for the work to be completed this afternoon.  Until then, drivers in the area have several options to detour around the closure.

Presenting evidence for climate change

Climate change is expected to become even more evident in Western Oregon in coming years.  Some scientists say the early signs are already apparent.  But what scientific evidence is there to support those assertions?

Dr. Paul Ruscher is the Dean of the Science Division at Lane Community College.  He will talk about watersheds and climate change impacts tomorrow night during a presentation at Siuslaw Public Library in Florence.  Ruscher will talk about environmental and economic impacts of change to the climate.

His talk is part of the Siuslaw Watershed Council general meeting Wednesday at the library.  The doors open at six pm and the meeting begins at 6:30.

School board to discuss levy extension request

Siuslaw School Board members are hoping to get an early start this week on a conversation about seeking voter approval of extending a five-year, $5-million local operating levy.  Voters first approved the levy, which generates about a million-dollars each year, nine years ago.  It was extended in May 2013 and is set to expire at the end of the next fiscal year.  If the board pursues it, it would likely be on the ballot in May of 2018.

Siuslaw School Board Chair Bill McDougle said the additional funding has become a “vital part” of operations at 97-J, adding that they cannot “function without it”.

It’s become especially important in recent years as the Oregon legislature struggles to come up with adequate funding for schools.

The school Budget Committee meets first Wednesday night at the Elementary School Library… that’s at 6:30.  The special board meeting will immediately follow.