News for Wednesday, July 26th, 2023 – Crisis response volunteers sought; Former dairy farm going “back to nature”; Sr and activity center asking for assistance

Crisis Response Team seeking volunteers

A 24-hour, 7-day-a-week crisis response team has been working in our community for nearly five years.  The Western Lane Crisis Response Team will respond any time, any day, when called, to help individuals dealing with suicidal thoughts, depression, homelessness, and even to deal with grief.  Joseph Bernard is one of just a half-dozen people who are on call.  Bernard, a doctor of psychology, says the only thing anyone needs to help out is to be a good listener and have plenty of empathy.  One other quality: (Bernard) “You can’t have judgement because, first place, you’re not walking in their shoes.”  The team is based on the Cahoots program that has been operating in the Eugene area for many years.  Cahoots has earned international recognition for their efforts to intervene in situations that otherwise could end in tragedy.  Bernard says they’d like to enlist new volunteers to help lighten the load.  He assures anyone wanting to help out that the safety of volunteers is taken seriously.  They only respond in pairs, and most often they’re “on scene” with law enforcement. (Bernard) “Actually I feel pretty safe in most of the calls but, we like to make sure that we take care of ourselves in these situations.”  Responders do receive a small stipend while they’re out on a call, and they receive training and support.  Call Western Lane Fire and EMS Authority to find out how to volunteer.

Postal customers in the Western Lane Area recently received a mailer touting a restoration project beginning on the Siuslaw River this summer.  It came from the McKenzie River Trust, the owners of a former dairy farm three miles east of Florence.  The trust purchased the former Waite Ranch in 2010 with the hope of restoring much of the 217 acre plot back to its natural state.  About two-thirds of Oregon’s “outer coast estuarine habitat”; think marshy bottomland adjacent to rivers; has been lost since European settlers began moving to the area in the 1850s.  The Waite Ranch occupies land that was once marshy wetlands but was reshaped and drained in order to make it productive for agriculture.  It served in that capacity for more than a century.  Work is currently underway on reshaping the land to allow more tidal influence and re-introduce and encourage the growth of native plants.  By doing so, the McKenzie River Trust also hopes to help restore native fish runs.

For a decade and a half, the Florence Senior and Activity Center has been operating on Kingwood Street, just north of the dog park, serving meals and providing recreational opportunities.  Mark Brennan was hired as the Director earlier this year and he’s currently looking for a few additional volunteers that would be, as he puts it, “essential to providing assistance to community members.”  Brennan is hoping for additional volunteers to help out in the reception area as well as in the kitchen.  He promises that the orientation process will be short and that no computer skills are needed. For more information, stop by the center at 1570 Kingwood Street during open hours, or call him directly at 541-901-1618.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gas climbed again this past week, driven by a rally in crude oil prices and severe heat causing issues at U.S. refineries.  Crude oil is nearing the $80 per barrel mark, the highest since mid-April.  Only five states, Oregon included, are seeing lower prices at the pump.  As of yesterday, Triple-A of Oregon reported the national average had a seven cent increase to $3.64 on average per gallon while the Oregon average price went down two cents to $4.58.  In Florence, the average is down slightly to $4.39 a gallon.  That’s 14-cents less than the average in Eugene and Springfield.  Medford and Ashland, at $4.73 has the highest average in the state while Pendleton boasts the lowest at $4.34 a gallon.