News for Friday, 7/28/31 – Siuslaw working on building transitional program for developmentally disabled. An air quality alert is in effect until Tuesday. Update on fires around the state.

97J working on transitional program for developmentally disabled students

School board members heard from Mary Jo Vollmer during the public comments section at the beginning of Wednesday’s board meeting.  She wanted to “re-open” a complaint she had filed earlier this year related to her son Luke.  Vollmer’s son is only days away from turning 21 and she is asking that the school district to continue his education.  In May, the board denied that complaint, partly because they deemed the policy she was complaining about was valid.  Plus, an exception for one student this year would likely turn into multiple requests for exceptions next year as several other students are reaching the same cutoff age.  Lisa Utz is the Special Programs Director at 97J.  She says she has been working on a way to find help for Luke and other students like him, including others who have graduated in the past several years.  (UTZ) – “So the board directed me to really kind of lean into what could we do.”   Utz acknowledged that it is important to continue to provide services.  (UTZ) – “Much like we would help students who are going off to college or going on to the work force from, you know, graduating from twelfth grade with a diploma, this is an opportunity for us to figure out that next step for someone that might be more impacted by a disability”   She reiterated the Oregon Department of Human Resources, through their Developmentally Disabled Services, has the responsibility, tools and funding to make it happen.  Something, she told directors Wednesday, that is already in the works and should be operating by the end of August.

Air quality alert posted

It is that time of year in Oregon.  Wildfires across the central and southern portion of the state are having a negative impact on air quality prompting officials to issue an advisory.  The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency has expanded an earlier advisory for Eastern Lane County to include all of the county, including the coast area.  Smoke throughout the region, combined with forecasted conditions will likely cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels at times through at least Monday night.  Pollutants in the smoke can cause burning eyes and runny nose, even in healthy people.  Those with heart and/or lung conditions should limit outdoor activities and heed medical advice.

Update on the fires affecting air quality

Closest to home in Lane County, the Bedrock Fire, burning in rugged forested land in Eastern Lane County near Lowell has grown to more than 7-thousand acres with nearly 300 personnel actively working to bring it under control.  There are nearly 300 personnel actively working on the blaze, there are no structures threatened by the blaze but a Forest Closure Order has been issued for all lands, roads, trails and other recreation sites within the area.  The smoke from the Bedrock Fire is primarily going east into the Bend Area

Much of the smoke headed for the Umpqua, Willamette, and Siuslaw areas would likely be coming from the 25-thousand acre Flat Fire burning south of the Rogue River near Agness in Curry County. Authorities say the “human caused” fire is only 10% contained after nearly two weeks.  A “get ready” evacuation notice remains in effect on the north side of the Rogue River in Old Agness, up to Illahe Lodge.  A “level 2” order is in effect immediately east of Agness.

One positive note this week, a fire burning in rural Lincoln County near Toledo, the Sams Creek Fire is in the “mop up” stage.  The fire blackened about 7 acres Wednesday night and at one point prompted a “be prepared” evacuation warning, for dwelling near Pioneer Mountain Loop north of Highway 20.