Police did have their hands full over the festival weekend…
The weather was nearly perfect, at least on Friday and Saturday, and the huge crowd that descended upon Florence for the 105th Rhododendron Festival had an attitude to match according to Florence Police Chief Ray Gutierrez.
Ray Gutierrez – “I think it was pretty mellow, although, boy, we sure had a lot of people in town.”
But, Gutierrez said, police still had plenty to do. And with the absence of the usual Lane County Sheriff’s detachment, local officers had their hands full at times.
Ray Gutierrez – “9 detoxes, and we arrested Friday night alone 5 drivers driving under the influence of intoxicants and we broke up about eight fights and there was a couple of assaults that occurred.”
There was also a burglary at a local pharmacy, but police solved it quickly when they arrested a man at Peace Harbor Hospital who was being treated for an overdose. As serious as those may sound, in the overall scheme of things, they were overshadowed by the vast majority of people that just wanted to have a good time.
Ray Gutierrez – “I had so many people come up and say what a great, great event this was this year. Even people that had never been here and told me they planned on coming back in future years because they were having such a good time.”
Failing Septic Being Watched By Officials
The report of a failing septic system can cause concern for public health officials. But, when that system serves a 40-unit mobile home park not far from two major water supply sources, people really sit up and take notice.
Two weeks ago Lane County Public health was notified that a drain field serving the Rhododendron Trailer Park just north of Florence had failed and septic runoff was pooling on the surface. That’s just about a mile away from Clear Lake, the source of drinking water for the Heceta Water District. It’s also upstream from the wellfield serving the City of Florence.
George Ehlers, with Lane County Public Health, says the park has more than one drain field and a contractor was able to redirect flow to others that appear to be functioning properly at this time.
He said they’ll continue to monitor the situation. But, if a new system or major repairs are needed, the state Department of Environmental Quality would be called in to oversee… and with municipal sewers from the City of Florence close by, the park could be required to connect rather than repair. Officials have previously said it could cost several hundred thousand dollars to extend a sewer trunk line from Munsel Lake Road to the Heceta Junction area.
Park Owner Mike McGinnis did not respond to a request for comment.
New School Boss for Reedsport
A former Oregon educator who left the state in 2007 is coming back to oversee the Reedsport School District. Jim Thomas is currently the head of the Craig, Alaska School District. His most recent Oregon assignment was in Scio, but Reedsport School Board Chair Noel Aasen (AW-senn) says Thomas has also worked in Douglas County. Thomas will be the principal of Highland Elementary School, as well as overseeing the entire district beginning July First.
Bike to School Huge Success
Organizers of the annual “Bike to School” day last Friday expected a large turnout of kids on bikes at Siuslaw Elementary, but Chris Wherity said even he was overwhelmed.
Chris Wherity – “They just kept coming and coming and coming and it was amazing to watch all these kids come in and we saw more and more kids and we started thinking what are we going to do, where are we going to put all these bikes?”
In all, more than 140 students showed up with bikes, more than double last year’s participation. Plus, said Wherity, there were dozens more who walked. Bike to School Day is intended as a way to highlight healthy activities for kids.