Human Trafficking in Florence; Climate Court; School Appoints Budget Committee Members; Rhododendron Court Announced

Human Trafficking in Florence

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and while the concept of Human Trafficking has been portrayed one way in Hollywood, it doesn’t represent real world issues that affect all of us even in Florence.  According to Bob Teter, executive director at Siuslaw Outreach services says human trafficking takes on many forms and is more common here in Florence than is public revealed.

“We see a lot of different forms, I mean we’ve seen, probably the most common one we’ve seen is a family member using a teenager to pay their bills so they may be forcing the teenager to go do sexual acts or labor acts to cover their rent.”

Working with Teter at SOS is Marie Hickman and says it is often difficult to remove individuals that are in a human trafficking situation.  It takes a lot of training and information to even recognize when a person is in trouble and when you do, they can’t just be yanked out.

“Don’t force them, they have already had all their power taken away. And the number one thing is we want to give them power, self confidence, self worth back to them.”

Hickman say people often want to be judgmental towards them without thoroughly understanding the circumstances of their situation.  For more information on human trafficking you can contact Siuslaw Outreach Services.

Climate Court

A special presentation in Florence Sunday afternoon is aimed at helping youth get involved in putting pressure on local governments and other agencies to address the climate crisis. Michael Allen has helped organize it and it will feature Dr. Tom Kerns, the founder of Environment and Human Rights Advisory.  Dr. Kerns lay out how student activists can organize their own climate trial.

“The trial itself would be all done by the students with some help from a consultant or possibly even a teacher at school.  They would select their own judge.”

Students also draw up the charges and serve as the prosecution.  Three student climate activists from Lincoln County will also be in attendance to share their own personal experience in this method.  The presentation is slated for 1:30 Sunday afternoon at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 2135 19th Street in Florence.

School Appoints Budget Committee Members

After much discussion and several votes that did not pass the Siuslaw School Board filled the three positions open on their budget committee.  The board initially tried to combine two positions with one vote but failed to get a consensus on the nominees.  They then approached the open seats one at a time and were able to fill two of the positions with Shelbey Erickson and former city councilor Ron Preisler.  The seat remaining, one with a partial term, went to Jennifer Waggoner.  Meetings for the budget committee will commence in March while preliminary work on the budget has begun.

Rhododendron Court Announced

The announcement of the Rhododendron Royal Court came down this morning at an assembly at Siuslaw High School.  This year’s senior princesses are Gilliam Norton, Eryn Morgan, Mary Jo Fontenot, Sunshine Armer and Michaela Butchart.  The princes are seniors Tristan Stewart, Caleb Lewis, Lucian Murphey, Ian Sissel and Alex Goss. 8 of the seniors are Siuslaw students and Lewis and Stewart are Mapleton students. Rhododendron Court organizer Wendy Kraus says it’s going to be a great run up to the festival.

“I love it, it’s going to be such a wonderful experience, they’ve got different personalities, they’re fun.

This year the Rhododendron Coronation will be a little earlier than in the past, the event will be the Saturday before the Festival on May 13th.