Street closures; School levy extension; LCC Board; Lane County Parks Plan; DMV scam; and gas prices

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Local News

Two area streets closed by repairs and construction

Rhododendron Drive between Greenwood and the south entrance to Peace Harbor Medical Center will be closed today and tomorrow as crews work on installing a 42-inch storm water culvert.

The culvert serves a drainage way near the city’s Waste Water Treatment Facility.  Sean Selig with Florence Public Works said the contractor working on infrastructure improvements on Rhdodendron Drive and Kingwood Street are installing the large drainage pipe.  No through traffic will be allowed on Rhododendron Drive at that spot, it will detour around onto 9th street.  Work is expected to be completed by the end of the day tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a repair crew is working into the third day trying to repair a collapsed sewer line beneath 18th street near Spruce.  Public Works Director Mike Miller said continued rains and the high groundwater continue to make the repairs difficult.  The depth of the excavation is adding to the challenge.  18th Street between Spruce and Tamarack will remain closed until at least this afternoon.

97-J board to discuss local option levy

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 this evening at the Elementary School Library… that’s at 6:30.  The special board meeting will immediately follow.

LCC Board fills vacancy

One of two candidates actively seeking the open Zone 1 position on the Lane Community College Board of Education will fill that spot for the final three months of this term.

Melanie Muenzer (MUNN-zurr) was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Sharon Stiles resigned earlier this year.  Muenzer lives in West Eugene and is an associate vice president for academic administration and chief of staff to the provost at the University of Oregon.

Her main opponent in the May 16th election is Jeff Gratreak (GRAY-trek).  He too lives in west Eugene.  He is the general manager and co-owner of Pizza Amore in Albany.

A third candidate will appear on the ballot, but is no longer actively seeking the spot.  Florence resident Sally Wantz has endorsed Muenzer.  Ballots for the May 16th election will be mailed later this week.

County Parks Master Plan

The Lane County Parks and Recreation Department is conducting an online survey about their proposed Parks and Open Space Master Plan.

Officials are also holding six area workshops on the plan around the county.  The first was held Monday evening in Eugene.

The second will be this evening at Mapleton High School.

Area residents will have a second opportunity to learn more about the plan and provide some feedback next week in Florence.  A workshop will be held at Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue on Highway 101 at 26th street May 4th.

An earlier press release by the department listed the Old Town Fire Station as the location in error.

Three other workshops will be held in Leaburg, Cottage Grove and Oakridge… all of them begin at six pm.

DMV Scam warned

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Department of Motor Vehicles saying you owe fees and you must pay them immediately… it’s a scam.

The calls are a variation on other scams reported in the past few years from people claiming to be police officers, Internal Revenue Service agents and even court bailiffs.

They all have several things in common according to David House with the Oregon DMV.  They all use intimidation, threaten arrest or criminal prosecution.  They also demand immediate payment, usually through a wire transfer using Western Union, or a prepaid visa or money card.

House said DMV never calls customers to request unpaid fees and they’re not able to accept payments over the phone.   He also said they won’t ask you for account numbers or other personal identifying information.

The best thing to do when faced with a caller claiming to be from DMV demanding immediate payment is to simply hang up.

Drivers paying 50-cents more a gallon than a year ago

Oil companies are beginning to stockpile gasoline inventories across the country in anticipation of high demand this summer.  Marie Dodds with Triple-A says that buildup is tightening short term supplies and putting “upward pressure” on retail prices.

The average prices for regular gas nationwide and in Oregon are at their highest point since September 2015.  The national average increased about a half-penny a gallon to $2.41 on average, while the Oregon average price went up a cent to $2.77.

Locally, the average cash price held steady at $2.58.

Drivers continue to pay more for gas than they did last year at this time.  The national average at the end of April 2016 was 28-cents lower than this week… and the statewide average was 54-cents lower…

Locally, drivers are paying 51-cents a gallon more for regular gas in Florence this week than May 1st of 2016.