Taking a look at the year in review. The top stories for 2017.
She pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband. Pamela Jean Gygi of Florence stood before a U.S. District Judge in Eugene in January 2017 and admitted that she had asked a parolee to kill her ex husband. The parolee then turned the tides by recording the conversations and giving them to investigators.
In February a 73 year old Arizona woman called 911 In Florence and told police that she had struggled with her 93 year old husband who suffered from dementia and shot him. Then 73 year old Carolyn Sue Stickley later changed her story saying she had promised her husband that he would not suffer and that he could die at home.
In April a breakdown in negotiations between Peace Health and their registered nurses caused the nurses to form an informational strike to pressure negotiations to continue. Even with the strike the nurses continued to work in good faith and later in the summer an agreement was reached which included retroactive pay increases for the union.
In May of last year it was announced that an experimental project that would bring Fiber Optics to the homes and businesses of Florence. HYAK, a division of Siuslaw Broadband, was created and through the following months hurdles were cleared. Trucks eventually arrived with the latest technology and construction of the project began in late October.
It was at the end of May when the Port of Siuslaw Board announced that it would be placing Port Manager Steve Leskin on administrative leave on allegations that he engaged in unwanted sexual advances. The leave would last until the board finally agreed on how to properly move forward and terminated Leskin on Monday August 7th.
May was a very active month for local news. On May 6th It was first reported in social media that the Florence police had an altercation that resulted in the death of a detainee at the justice center. A combative detainee had attacked police and had to be subdued with a taser and went into cardiac arrest. Police tried to revive David Keith Brickley who’s name was not released for 2 weeks while the Lane County District Attorney investigated the case to see if officers properly followed procedure.
“No Florence Police Officer used deadly force… given the circumstances they would have been justified using deadly force, but they did not.”
That was Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow. The 2 officers injured during the altercation recovered.
Another summer investigation of local, state and county police occurred in June when a man went on the run from police stealing several vehicles and even walked up to a residence demanding the homeowners car. It was determined that Cameron Ollman wanted to die in a shootout with police and after a lengthy chase police stopped Ollman. Detective Clay Day with the Lane County Sheriff’s
“Two other patrol vehicles intentionally collided with the suspect vehicle to prevent the suspect from continuing. Additionally several other officers discharged their firearms at the suspect. The suspect vehicle stopped and the suspect appeared to no longer be a threat.”
Ollman died at the scene.
It was sudden and unexpected when the Top management of Three rivers casino was replaced. On August 9th the Confederate Tribes of the Coos, lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians dismissed the Team of General Manager Mike Ross, Assistant General Manager Bob Garcia, and Chief Financial Officer Jim Herman. While the dismissal was under a cloud for some time, there was an indication from the Tribal Chief that the move was to clear the way for a new direction and not the result of any wrongdoing by the aforementioned parties.
The lid blew off the Oregon Coast Humane Society after a series of articles in the Siuslaw News outlined problems that members and volunteers expressed during a monthly board meeting. The situation continued to escalate as the months went by. Tensions at board meetings continued to escalate with the board requesting police presence to try and maintain decorum which only led to more conflicts. Recent interviews on Our Town with the board helped to address both sides of the issue, but there is still more to come in the new year!
While it doesn’t have the bite of some of the years stories the weather has probably gotten to be the biggest story of 2017 as people are still marveling over the amount of rainfall and harsh weather we saw for the first 5 months of 2017 and the last 3 months of 2016. Record rainfall, mudslides, wind and even snow captured the headlines. From January to May of 2017 the Florence area say 59.79 inches. There was an additional downpour of 38.67 inches from October to December. For a winter total of 98.46 inches according to the city of Florence website. Some sites list the total over 115 inches or more.