Chamber Wants Commissioners to Consider Off-Peak West Lane County; Rotary Auction – Blair Sneddon Hands Over the Reins; Parks See Record Numbers; Mapleton Water to Release Undisinfected Water

Chamber Wants Commissioners to Consider Off-Peak West Lane County

The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce reached out to its membership yesterday to make them aware that the Lane County Board of Commissioners is currently in deliberation on what to do with a portion of the Transient Lodging Tax funds.  The commissioners had discussed using a portion of the tax to fund a new stadium for the Eugene Emeralds baseball organization, an idea that met with some pushback from tourism partners.  Florence Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bettina Hannigan says the funds that could potentially be redirected can and do play an important role of supporting the tourism industry in the off-peak months.  Letters went forth to the county commissioners asking them to consider the negative impact of using these funds to build a Eugene facility.  Recently, west Lane County Commissioner Ryan Ceniga said he did not believe that using the TLT funds for a stadium was an equitable use of the funds for the entire county and was clear to point out that there is more Lane County outside the city limits of Eugene.  While tourism is a very important industry across the state and the county, areas like Florence that depend heavily on that tourism already have limited resources and the Transient Lodging Tax is an important economic tool for the growth and sustainability of the area.

Rotary Auction – Blair Sneddon Hands Over the Reins

Saturday evening the community will converge on the Florence Events Center for the 64th annual Rotary Scholarship Auction.  In recent years they’ve raised close to $100,000, all of which goes back to the community, most in the form of college scholarships.  The catalog this year contains the usual items:  wine, restaurant gift certificates, local products and services; even visits to a resort in Mexico.  But, for the first time since 1971 there is one person who won’t be there.

“Yeah!  625, now six and a half. Anybody go 650, 650, 650 dollars?  You have to give up on him?  Find me another sucker, er, a customer.”

Blair Sneddon has been an auctioneer for the event for 53 years, but as he nears the ripe old age of 89 it’s time to step aside.  Blair was joined at the podium in 1989 by number-three son Bob and they have worked in tandem since then.  Bob will be working solo tomorrow night.  John Moore with the Florence Rotary said Thursday they are officially sold out.  That means if you don’t have your ticket, you’re out of luck.

Parks See Record Numbers

Oregon State Parks continued to experience “near record-breaking” levels of both Day-Use and Camping in 2023. It was the second-busiest year on record for day-use visits.  Spokesperson Stephanie Knowlton says they estimate just over 52-million visits.  That’s just behind the record of 53-million in 2021.  Camping was down she said, mainly because of temporary closures of two coastal campgrounds; one in Lincoln County, the other in Coos County.  But, in our area, it was definitely up.

“Camping was at historic high at Honeyman at a hundred and 79-thousand.  A really popular park.”

Knowlton didn’t have exact figures, but said the economic benefits have to be high.

“That’s got an impact in terms of fuel and food  and ingredients for S’mores, all of those things, uh,that people are going to be coming through those local areas and purchasing those things before they head to the park.”

Another bright spot, she said, was at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park south of Reedsport where day-use visits more than doubled to 67-thousand visits.

Mapleton Water to Release Undisinfected Water

The Mapleton Commercial Area Owners Association has released a statement that due to a leak in their sulfur Dioxide Gas System they have received permission from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to temporarily release undisinfected treated sewage into the Siuslaw River. While it may sound extremely harmful, undisinfected treated water is used for many applications in farming and irrigation and is sometimes referred to as non-potable water that is not for consumption.  MCAOA Board Secretary, Vaness West said in the statement that the reason for the release is that work being done at the sewage treatment plant necessitated the release due to the gas being toxic to workers that are attempting to repair a leak.  Mapleton water district has been plagued with problems to the system for several years.  In a recent interview State Representative Boomer Wright says he is working on legislation that will hopefully bring money to Mapleton to permanently fix the ongoing issues.