On Aug. 16, Florence will officially join Newport and Astoria in receiving the official designation as a Coast Guard City, becoming one of only three cities in Oregon — and only the 24th such city in the nation.
Not to mention the smallest.
The designation coincides with the 100-year anniversary of Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River, which was first established Dec. 14, 1917, when Capt. Theodore Roberge from the Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment was appointed as the “Keeper” of Station Siuslaw River.
Three months later, in March 1918, the station was expanded to a full crew of five men from Florence and three men from other area towns.
“Over the past 100 years, the community has rallied around and accepted the men and women of the Coast Guard as their own,” said Rear Adm. David Throop, commander of the 13th District of the Coast Guard. “The support of communities like Florence is essential in helping our crews and families to be ready at all times.
“We are happy to be able to highlight these local efforts by designating Florence a Coast Guard City.”
Coast Guard City designations are part of an official program to recognize the special efforts demonstrated by local communities in what they do for the men and women of the service.
The designation follows what has been a long process that began in early 2015, when Florence Mayor Joe Henry and a group of volunteers began the task of assembling an application package to submit to the U.S. Coast Guard for consideration.
Deborah Heldt Cordone, a U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River Auxiliary member, led the effort to prepare the package with help from the Oregon Coast Military Museum, as co-sponsor of the effort, along with the City of Florence.
“In addition to compiling an award-winning application package full of awesome pictures and letters of recommendation from many community leaders and elected officials, a Coast Guard Appreciation Military Ball was held at the Florence Events Center,” said Henry.
The full-dress event, held last October, drew dignitaries from all the city’s military groups as well as police and high ranking elected officials to mark the submission of the completed application package.
This past Monday, Henry received official notice from Rear Admiral David Throop, Commander of the 13th Coast Guard District in Seattle, Wash., of the application’s approval.
“This distinguished designation is the result of a lot of hard work and support from the entire community,” said Henry. “According to Admiral Throop, our application package was one of the best that has been submitted and we feel fortunate to have been selected.”
The Coast Guard City designation recognizes a special relationship between a local Coast Guard station and the community it is located in.
A ceremony to be presided over by Rear Adm. Throop will be held at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St., from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Aug. 16.
The event and reception are open to the community.
“Making Coast Guard men and women and their families feel at home in their home-away-from-home is an invaluable contribution to morale and service excellence,” Throop said in a statement released from the Coast Guard on Monday.
Henry responded by saying he was especially thankful for the employees and their families at Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River and for what they do for the Florence community and its many visitors.
“Not only do they keep our river and the adjoining miles of coastline safe for boaters, they are an integral part of our community, an important partner to our city, and they contribute greatly to what makes Florence Oregon’s Premier Coastal Community,” said Henry.
The Coast Guard City designation is bestowed by the commandant of the Coast Guard with approval from Congress and lasts for five years, at which time it will be evaluated.
“It is an indicator of the relationship between the city and the Coast Guard, one that we hold in highest regard,” Henry said of the designation.
Community members are encouraged to attend the August ceremony and hear about how Florence became a Coast Guard City, what the designation means and meet members of the community who have helped to achieve this community goal.
The formal portion of the program will begin at 11 a.m., and refreshments will be available.