Oregon Weighs in on Proposed Merger; Planning Commission Meeting; Gas Prices Soaring; Rangers Needed; Winter Storm For Mapleton Area

Oregon Weighs in on Proposed Merger

Higher prices at the grocery store will be inevitable.  That is what several states are saying and now Oregon is in agreement saying that the proposed merger of Kroger and Albertsons would reduce competition and give the chain too much control over prices.  But spokespeople for Kroger, which operates Fred Meyer says it will lead to lower prices as they can compete more closely with chains like Costco, Walmart, and Amazon.  But Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum believes the deal would have more negative effects like reduced access to prescription medicines and give the company too much leverage to keep wages low.  Rosenblum says their investigations reveal that with competitive pressure gone everyday essentials would cost more. The Federal Trade Commission plans to file a lawsuit in Oregon.  A merger of Kroger and Albertsons would immediately impact more than 170 stores across the state. The FTC and the grocery chains are on opposite sides of the fence as to how the merger will affect consumers.

Planning Commission Meeting

This evening’s meeting of the Florence Planning Commission will consider a conditional use permit for the city’s public works department to establish an estuary trail along the Siuslaw River with the trailhead located at the corner of 126 and Quince Street. The property is located in the Mainstreet Area A which requires a conditional use permit for the proposed purpose.  Trail amenities would include benches and interpretative signs. The Florence Planning commission meets this evening at City Hall at 5:30.

Gas Prices Soaring

Gas prices in Florence have risen an average of 30 cents in the past two weeks.  The local average of a gallon of regular gas in $3.49 a gallon with several stations topping $3.55. According to Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon some of the increase is due to a shutdown of a refinery in Indiana.  The refinery was closed due to damage sustained and is being evaluated.  The shutdown has limited availability of gas to certain regions.  Along the coast it is maintenance season according to Dodds which further puts pressure on supply.  Demand is slowly increasing and the switch to the more expensive summer blends is underway.  Summer blends help reduce gasoline emissions.

Rangers Needed

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is gearing up for summer and is seeking more than 250 seasonal park rangers to serve the many state parks. Positions run as early as April and run as late as December. Pay averages more than $20 per hour for rangers.  Ranger assistants pay starts at $17.34.  The positions come with paid sick leave, vacation, personal leave and 11 paid holidays.  Information on job locations and how to apply can be found at stateparks.oregon.gov.

Winter Storm For Mapleton Area

A winter storm watch is on its way for the Mapleton area Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night. Snow is predicted mainly for the higher elevations, but heavy rain is predicted for the lower portions with the potential to turn to snow.