Rhodododren Festival Awaits; Commissioner Race; COVID-19 Update; 101 Delays

Rhodododren Festival Awaits

The Florence community is just a month away from the long awaited Rhododendron Festival and after two previous years of cancelled activities the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce is promising a full slate of activities.  The COVID-19 pandemic caused impacted travel and tourism along the coast dampening the late spring festival although attempts were present to keep long-running traditions alive in the interim.  For two years chamber ambassador and local businessman Mike Bones paraded Rhodys in a wheelbarrow down the route of the annual Rhododendron Parade, the Rhody Cruiser hopped in their cars for a cruise and a virtual parade was broadcast on social media.  This year, under the title of “Back in Bloom.”  Chamber President and CEO Bettina Hannigan says this town is ready to Party and all of the traditional events will be back.  She reminded residents that tourism accounts for $119 million dollars annually for the local economy and employs about 1900 workers.  Official celebrations kick off with the Rhododendron King and Queen Coronation on Thursday May 19th.  Look for the full list of events at florencechamber.com

Commissioner Race

There are still 5 candidates listed for the West Lane County Commissioner seat, but the field has narrowed to 4.  Rod Graves has decided to withdraw from the race citing family commitments leaving local businessman Terry Duman, Eugene engineer Dawn Wesley, Junction City’s Ryan Ceniga and Misty Fox from Deadwood.  The deadline for registering to vote in the May 17th election is this Tuesday.  In addition to the commissioner seat affiliated parties will also pick their preferred candidates for State Labor Commissioner, Oregon Governor, U.S. Senate and 4th District Congressional seat.  Ballots should begin arriving late next week.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Oregon as the summer season approaches.  Another 872 cases were reported yesterday by the Oregon Health Authority the largest single day total in more than a month.  The 7 day average has risen to 600.  The number of test returning positive has increased to 7%,  here in Florence there were 3 more cases reported yesterday bringing the total all time to 1,516.  Lane County reported 62 new cases and the rise across the country has seen a 23% increase.

101 Delays

The Oregon Department of Transportation is anticipating delays of about 20 minutes as they work on the bridge at Big Creek north of Florence.  The bridge is undergoing repairs to its concrete arches and handrails.  Both lanes of travel will be subject to delays.