City Making Lasting Relationships; OPB Grows With Stock Offering; SCOTUS Ruling Could Impact Oregon Law; Driver Hit

Florence Mayor Joe Henry

To remain a city in motion it must endure change.  According to Mayor Joe Henry the forward movement and intergovernmental cooperation that has been established over the past several years is due in part to a renewed commitment to working with the state, the department of transportation and Lane County.  Mayor Henry said that in the past those agencies had been accused of not helping Florence.

“All I ever heard was ‘nobody ever does anything for us, Lane County doesn’t do anything, the state doesn’t do anything’ the real problem was that we never asked them to do it.”

The city recently received the final piece of the financing puzzle for the Revision Florence streetscape project which is set to enhance the corridor on 101 between the Siuslaw River bridge and Highway 126.   Lane County just kicked in the final contribution along with monies from the Oregon Department of Transportation.  Mayor Henry says the 7.5 million dollar effort is now fully funded.

“Revision Florence is just a good example of what we can accomplish if we work together with these partners, it is something that we never could have done on our own.”

Mayor Henry says that the city is also looking at ways to curb the homeless situation as well as come up with a plan for affordable housing and additions rooms to support the huge tourist trade in Florence. You can hear more from Mayor Henry on tomorrow’s Our Town (Thursday’s Our Town – for KCFM)

OPB Poised For Growth

To stay viable and a stand-alone entity Oregon Pacific Bank has reached out to saavy investors to build capital.  The effort was a push to continue to provide the steady foundation for its Florence headquarters and other community branches as well as continuing to provide the funds to borrowers.  OPB initiated a private stock offer to bring in capital which OPB President Ron Green says helps them to stay a community bank.

“By remaining independent we can keep those jobs here.  Keep our strong culture of philanthropy and giving and volunteering for boards and that’s important to me as well as giving a return to our shareholders, but our community involvement and being an employer is really a strong part of our culture and our board of directors culture.”

Green touted the individual efforts of the bank’s employees and their sense of giving back to the community as an indicator of the positive influence community owned banks can have.  He says OPB is poised to stay independent and to continue to have a positive effect on the community by providing banking needs as well as contributing to the culture of giving that exists in Florence.

SCOTUS Decision Could Impact Oregon

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today on a case that could affect protections for Oregon’s L-G-B-T community. The case will determine whether the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado was justified in his refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex couple because of his faith. Amy Herzfeld-Copple, co-executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, says a decade ago Oregon put into law strong protections against discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but those protections are threatened by this case.

“The Oregon Equality Act could be in peril if there wasn’t a favorable ruling in this U.S. Supreme Court case, which could mean that LGBTQ folks and many others could be turned away from a business just because of who they are or who they love.”

The case is similar to the case of Gresham cake-shop owners who also refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple based on their religious beliefs. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which enforces the Oregon Equality Act, found that that was discrimination. The lawyer for the Colorado cake shop claims that the baker is an artist and should not be forced to express what the government dictates.

Driver in Accident Hit

A portion of highway 126 was closed yesterday after a mid morning crash involving a tanker truck and a Honda element.  The driver of the Honda element crashed into the tanker truck and was almost immediately hit be oncoming traffic as he exited his vehicle.  The driver suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive.  The accident occurred at Milepost 35 just east of Walton.   Travel was able to resume by 11:15.