Planning Commission Passes Extension; Food Share Prepares; Three Buttes Fire; Gas Prices

Planning Commission Passes Extension

Last night the Florence Planning Commission heard from Matt Braun of Braun Hospitality on the reasons for needing an extension of the design review for the planned Wyndham Microtel project on Quince Street.  Braun told the commission that interest rate hikes have affected the ability to raise money for the project by making the investment less appealing to investors, however he has added a partner to help cover some of the preliminary costs and they have also lowered their return to make investment more palatable.  Braun says the project is moving forward. And they have considered some of the concerns that were brought up in previous meetings.  There has been a bar added to the design with a small kitchen to meet OLCC standards and they also took into account comments on how the setup would affect views of the estuary.

“we really spent a lot of time playing with different options and I think we discussed this last year and the one that we came to really balanced safety, flow, the aesthetics and the view itself.”

After the close of the public hearing the commission went directly to the approval of the extension with a unanimous vote to approve.  The extension will allow for the project to continue.

Food Share Prepares

A number of government programs to aid lower income families and individuals would be cut off for an undetermined length of time if Congress can’t come to a budget agreement this week.  Colin Morgan is the Executive Director of Florence Food Share.  He says if there were a sudden closure of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Plan; also known as SNAP; or WIC; the Women and Infant Children nutritional program, Food Share would handle it.

“We can make it work.  That small town spunky energy of hey, we’ll move this here, move that there, change hours here, expand hours there.  We’ll meet that need.”

But, he added, it wouldn’t be without an extra effort on the part of donors and volunteers.

“We’re already serving folks at capacity.  We’re pretty much full and busy from the minute we open to the minute we close. So, our issue if we had a sudden influx not only would be food, but it would also be time and availability to serve folks.”

Morgan says if more food or volunteers are needed, he is confident the community will come together.

Three Buttes Fire

The U.S. Forest service is reporting that the Three Buttes fire is now 56% contained and has not grown over the past week with the area of the fire at 119 acres,  suppression work continues and the forest service has once again closed one of the forest roads around the fire.  Forest Road 5854 had been reopened but rain in the amount of 3.91 inches has caused concern for the stability of the area.  Forest Roads 58 and 1057 remain partially closed and the Upper North Fork Siuslaw Road remains open.  Fire danger for the area has moved to low with the recent rains and the U.S. Forest Service does not anticipate having any more updates on the fire unless a surge were to occur.

Gas Prices

Oregon is seeing lower gas prices despite a spike of California prices due to refinery issues there.  Oregon lost three cents per gallon last week to $4.67 for regular gas.  The Florence area is holding fairly steady at $4.54 a gallon.  The temporary closure of one of the busiest stations in Florence has not affected prices.  The Fred Meyer fuel station is being remodeled and completion of the project will likely pass the date expected for reopening.  One contractor with the project told Coast Radio News that there have been a few supply issues that have caused them to stay longer on the project.  Work continues despite the recent rain.