9 January 2014
Lane County lets fewer inmates get out early
The revolving door at the Lane County Jail is turning even more slowly than officials thought it might after a tax increase restored the jail’s capacity.
Early releases for capacity reasons are running about 34 a week, down two-thirds since the May election.
Like a number of Oregon counties that long relied on federal timber payments to finance basic services, LaneCounty slashed budgets as the federal government prepared to end the subsidies. That meant early releases, including some inmates accused of felonies.
The property tax increase allowed the sheriff’s office to rehire laid-off deputies and restore 131 prisoner beds.
Officials say other factors are playing a part, such as a drop in the number of people local police book at the jail.
One of the things Fire Chief Jim Langborg will be working on in the coming months will be to try to facilitate more cooperative operations between his agency, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue, and Western Lane Ambulance District.
205 – “A lot of it is just kind of leadership, in the sense of keeping everybody on the same page and that page is really dictated by the boards.”
Langborg was hired late last year to take over the fire department following former Chief John Buchanan’s retirement. The ambulance district is looking at the upcoming retirement of long-time manager Henry Hanf as a possible chance to consolidate some operations while enhancing services. The two agencies talked about the possibility several years ago, but nothing came of the discussions.
206 – “I think sometimes having a new person come in from the outside can be refreshing in the sense that it starts it over.”
Hanf has announced his intentions to retire some time this year. He and Langborg will be meeting regularly over the coming months in an effort to facilitate combined operatins.
The National Weather Service is saying a series of winter storms are lined out over the Pacific, ready to bring plenty of rain to Western Oregon. KMTR Meteorologist Jeff Kelly says the first one actually arrived Tuesday.
207 – “They’re kind of one after the other, and they’re going to get progressively stronger. Each one’s going to get a little bit stronger, I think they’re going to peak Friday night and into Saturday. The winds are picking up too.”
But, he adds, the winds aren’t expected to be too severe… maybe in the 30 to 40 mile an hour range with some gusts slightly higher.
All that rain could cause some ground to become somewhat unstable as the soil becomes saturated.
But, Kelly says skiers will have reason for joy.
208 – “It’s going to be impressive. I mean, every storm has the component to give the ski resorts at least six inches. So when we get done with it, after about four or five systems coming into the Cascades we’re talking about two feet minimum, maybe even up to about four feet of powder.”