State Money Allocated for Florence Infrastructure Project; ; Gas Prices Shoot Skyward

State Money Allocated for Florence Infrastructure Project

It still needs the signature of the governor, but the city of Florence will be on the receiving end of 1.9 million dollars of state funding.  Senate Bill 1530 has cleared the House and Senate and it is part of the Governor’s plan to increase the availability of housing around the state.  The City of Florence submitted three potential projects that it would like to complete with the help of state money and was awarded money for one of the projects.  Representative Boomer Wright was one of the creators of the bill.

“They applied for 1.9 million dollars to be able to do some things to help with the growth of Florence particularly with housing.  Has a lot to do with infrastructure, with their sewer and water facilities, improving those.”

The project is an area of 4 city blocks located behind the Justice center off of Ninth Street.  The property is city owned and has been selected as a property to receive infrastructure work.  According to City Manager Erin Reynolds this money will help reduce the overall cost of housing as generally contractors have to foot the bill for properties that have not been previously fitted with water and sewer services.  Representative Wright says he is also working to get more money appropriated for areas like Mapleton that need extensive work on their water system.

Safe Shelter

Safe Shelter for Siuslaw Students has been working with families in Florence and Mapleton since 2019 to help reduce the effects of housing instability and homelessness on students.  Jennifer Ledbetter is the associate director of Safe Shelter.  She says their aim is to partner with other groups in the community to help struggling families.  There is a federal program that passed through congress a few years ago in the “McKenney-Vento” act.  It provides a framework for schools and other groups to track the issue; and also provides financial assistance.  Data show up to 5 or 6 percent of students in Siuslaw Schools deal with it on a regular basis.  But, upriver the need is even higher.

“Mapleton has consistently been in the top five for highest percentage of students that qualify for the McKenney Vento Program in the state.”

Ledbetter said over the past four years the percentage of students has ranged from a high of 30% in 2021 to 19% last year.  Safe Shelter is looking to grow their volunteer base.  Ledbetter says they will hold a community workshop sometime in April to help do that.

Gas Prices Shoot Skyward

Is there any relief in sight at the pumps?  Not according to Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon.  Dodds says the state continues to have week over week increases that are quickly rising the states prices.  This past week the state of Oregon jumped another 9 cents per gallon and the city of Florence has seen another 10 cent increase.  The third such increase in three weeks.  The average price of a gallon of regular gas here along the coast is $3.66.  Dodds says the blame lies primarily in the refineries moving to the mix of summer blend fuels and refinery maintenance but another major point has been the closure of locks along the Columbia River that has prevented fuel barges from moving through and tightened the supplies of fuel in the pacific northwest.  She says we are likely to see more increases in the coming weeks as driving ramps up with spring and summer weather on the horizon.