Florence Man Arrested in Assault of a Minor; Gas Prices; Missing Man Sought; State to Cap Insulin Prices; Shore Acres Volunteers

Florence Man Arrested in Assault of a Minor

Florence police arrested a man Monday afternoon in the case of a “minor female” that was taken from her home sometime on Saturday.  Most of the family was in bed asleep and two adults were in another part of the home when a man took the victim from her bedroom and assaulted her outside.  She was able to escape from her attacker and alert the rest of the family who called 9-1-1.  Police Chief John Pitcher said the victim was able to identify her attacker as someone she knew: a 27-year old Florence man.

“We developed this Michael Kirchhefer as a suspect in this case.  He actually was familiar with the family and had lived in that house for a little bit, but he was no longer associated with them.”

Family members said that Kirchhefer had been squatting in the home last year and had to be evicted.  He currently has no permanent address but police were able to locate him Monday afternoon when he was arrested and taken into custody.

“The charges we have against him are kidnapping I, burglary I, assault I, reckless endangering, menacing, strangulation and harassment.  This is an ongoing case so there could be additional charges coming.”

The police chief said out of consideration to the victim and her family, plus caution advised by the prosecutor’s office, he could not release any further information.  But in a press release about the case he referred to the possibility of “Child Abuse”.

“All I’m saying here is a minor female.  And like I said, I thought about that and the last thing I want to do is victimize the victim again.  So that’s why I’m saying it that way.”

Kirchhefer was transferred to the Lane County Jail where he remains.  A family member said the victim is expected to make a full recovery from her physical injuries, but the emotional scarring will take much longer to heal.

Gas Prices

Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon says the price of gas in Oregon is not showing any signs of easing off.  The past week the price in Oregon for regular gas jumped another 8 cents per gallon bringing the price to $4.29 on average.  She says the primary reason is not the switch to summer blends, but rather the decrease in supply.  Prices outside of the Northwest actually decreased this past week. In January oregonians were paying on average $3.79 a gallon, although that price in Florence was lower at about $3.49.  here at the pumps the average price for a gallon of regular is $4.07. prices this year are following a similar trend to 2023.

Missing Man Sought

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help in locating 39-year-old Brian John Fierke.  He last had contact with his family on March 26th, 2024.  Deputies, detectives, and Sheriff’s Search & Rescue have searched extensively for Fierke without success. Fierke is described as a white male adult, standing approximately 6’4” tall and weighing about 185 pounds.  Fierke has brown hair and blue eyes.  He may have brown facial hair.  Anyone with information about Fierke’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150, option 1, and reference LCSO Case #24-1671.

State to Cap Insulin Prices

Oregon lawmakers during the 2024 session took another step to further limit the price of insulin. Governor Tina Kotek has signed a bill into law that will cap out-of-pocket insulin prices at 35 dollars per month. Andrea Meyer with A-A-R-P Oregon says in 2019, the Legislature capped prices at 75 dollars per month but allowed for cost-of-living increases. She says the current cost cap is about 85 dollars with this increase.

“This past legislative session, the Oregon Legislature updated that law and now most Oregon residents with diabetes will see lower out of pocket costs for insulin next year. It is set at $35 a month and there will be no cost of living increase.”

Meyer says this new price is now set in stone. However it will not go into effect until January 1st, 2025.

Diabetes affects about 38 million nationwide. It’s also the eighth leading cause of death. Meyer says access to insulin impacts how people treat the disease.

“For far too many Oregonians, high prices of insulin have forced them to ration their insulin or even go without, which can lead to deadly consequences. So, reducing this drug to no more than $35 a month will make this lifesaving drug more affordable and accessible to most Oregonians.”

Twenty-six states and Washington, D-C have capped insulin prices.

Shore Acres Volunteers

If you are a fan of Shore Acres near Coos Bay, then perhaps you would like to volunteer to help spruce up the place.  Oregon Pars and Recreation Rangers are looking for help in the gardens with 6 dates over the next 6 months.  The first task is to clean out the pond.  That will be on Friday, April 19th, for more information or to sign up go to oprd.oregon.gov.