Election Worker Shortage; Sneaker Wave Victim Released; Winter Music Festival

Election Worker Shortage

Going into a big election year, staffing at elections offices in Oregon is an issue, according to a study. Staff-to-voter ratios vary widely between counties depending on their size but average about one staff member per 27-thousand voters statewide. Paul Manson with Portland State University helped conduct the research and says there are warning signs flashing as this election year ramps up. He says it’s a challenge for election offices to find workers in this politically charged environment.

“That came up in our interviews where one out of five clerks, we actually had to stop the interviews because it became so difficult for them to talk about what they’re hearing from members of the public in the sense of sort of attack and threats to their offices to the point where some aren’t comfortable even sharing what they do for a living outside of work.”

Manson says low pay also makes it hard to recruit and retain people to work in elections offices. He says the county level funding model, which is tied to the real estate market, presents challenges as well. Manson says these pressures have led election officials to leave the profession.

“It’s clearly institutional knowledge that’s going to be walking out the door and it’s going to be another contentious potential election cycle where we’re going to need to be super sharp and transparent about this work for keeping public trust.”

Sneaker Wave Victim Released

The victim of a sneaker wave on the south jetty last week has been released from the hospital. The 5 year old girl that was struck by a wave that contained a log was in good condition after a couple of days in the hospital in Springfield.  The girl had to be lifeflighted out of the area after the log pinned her to the ground in the sand on Thursday morning.  The incident reaffirms the dangers that the ocean presents.  A National Weather Service beach hazard was in effect at the time of the accident.  Accidents from sneaker waves happen often, sometimes with more deadly results.

Winter Music Festival

The annual winter Music festival is a little over 3 weeks away and festival organizers are saying that tickets are going fast.  Two day passes are already sold out but there are still single day passes available.  The festival is Friday January 26th and Saturday January 27th.  Friday night’s headliner is a crowd favorite and returns to the festival.  Never Come Down has been recognized by the international Bluegrass Music Association and is known for modern and traditional bluegrass mixes and their lively performances.  On Saturday night the Appalachian Road Show will honor the traditions of the Appalachian mountain region’s music. More information on the bands and the event can be found at wintermusicfestival.org and tickets can be purchased at the Florence Events Center and online at eventcenter.org.