Aug. 7, 2019 — The Monday, Aug. 5, Florence City Council meeting began with Mayor Joe Henry reading a proclamation recognizing the work done by volunteers and staff at one of Florence’s most iconic destinations, the Heceta Head Lighthouse:
“Whereas, communities all across America will be celebrating National Lighthouse Day this week on Aug. 7, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Lighthouse Act 230 years ago, and to the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse in the United States,
“and Whereas, our City and neighboring community mariners traversing our waters have been protected by the ever-shining light at Heceta Head Lightstation for 125 years,
“and Whereas, the lightkeepers of Heceta Head Lightstation have worked tirelessly to the service of the lightstation, raising families and serving their country at Heceta Head with the utmost dedication to their work being productive citizens of the Florence community,
“and Whereas, we acknowledge the presence of those currently dedicated to preserving the lightstation’s grounds, buildings and history and to their passion to sharing the history to those who visit the lightstation and interpretive centers,” Henry read before proclaiming this week as Keepers of Heceta Head Lightstation Week in the City of Florence.
“This will honor Florence Oregon’s Heceta Head Lightstation and its keepers of days gone by to the present, and encourage citizens to join in this observance,” he said.
The proclamation was received by staff members and volunteers from the Heceta Head Lightstation. Terry Abeyta, Program Development Specialist for the Lightstation, is inviting the community to come for a visit on National Lighthouse Day today, Aug. 7.
“We didn’t publicize this upcoming event because with summer, the park parking lot has been filling up almost daily and with more publicity, the parking situation becomes overwhelming,” said Abeyta, who explained that the Aug. 7 celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “We will have a picnic stand set up at the bed and breakfast lawn, and sell picnic items, pourings of our 125th Anniversary private label wine and other refreshments.”
There will also be lawn games, entertainment on the porch, docent-led tours at the Keeper’s House and lighthouse and a community coloring-craft table for visitors to enjoy.
The positive start to the meeting continued throughout the evening and stood in contrast to recent meetings that have focused on problems between the Public Art Committee (PAC) and the Florence City Council. The heated debates of recent meetings was absent as the council seemed to be trying to move past some of the divisive issues surrounding public art.
Area resident Michael Allen was the only individual who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, requesting the city take concrete action to address the continuing problem of gun violence in America.
“I lament the failure of President Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate under [Mitch] McConnell to back bans on military-style assault weapons and limits on magazine cartridges,” Allen said. “I lament the tactics of the Republicans in our state Senate and the response of the Democratic leadership, backed by [Arnie ] Roblan and [Kate] McKeown, to kill the omnibus gun bill which included a gun safety storage measure. But most of all, I lament the lack of resolve by Mayor Henry and our city council to take steps to deal with the important matter of protecting our citizens from gun violence when the state and federal government is unwilling.”
Allen accused the mayor and others of suggesting that passing gun control laws by the city council is “preempted” by state statutes.
“This is true,” said Allen, “but our mass slaughters and daily killings using guns dictate that we do something at the local level.”
Allen then made a formal request of the City of Florence and the mayor to advocate with state legislators to modify the preemption statutes, allowing local governments to pass tougher gun violence prevention measures.
Other items on the limited agenda for the meeting included an introduction by Florence Events Center Director Kevin Rhodes of a new employee, Matt Miller, and consent items related to changes in the city’s fee structure.
The council also heard a staff presentation from Florence Finance Manager Lezlea Purcell in support of a request for street closure related to the Rods n’ Rhodies event planned for Sept. 14.
Purcell reported to the council that the applicant had successfully completed all of the required paperwork and staff recommended approval of the request, which the council agreed to. There was a brief public hearing to allow for community input but there were no public comments on the request.
The only action item that required councilor attention was from Public Works Director Mike Miller, who asked the council to approve the awarding of a construction proposal bid to Ray Wells, Inc., for $284,426 for water services along the southside of Highway 126.
The council unanimously approved the request.
City Manager Erin Reynolds’ report included a positive update on a grant application and reminded councilors and the community about the second National Night Out, held last night, and today’s dedication of the new mural. She encouraged residents and councilors to attend.
Henry ended the meeting on a positive note with comments regarding the PAC and the work session attended earlier in the day by committee members and councilors.
“This morning we had what I consider a productive meeting between our city council and our PAC. As everyone knows, there has been some stress involving the city council and the PAC, and I believe we made some progress on trying to resolve some of those issues and at least possibly created a path forward that we can work on in the next few months,” Henry said. “I was encouraged by this meeting.”
The next Florence City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Florence City Hall. For more information, visit ci.florence.or.us.