Former resident working for food safety; Fire districts agreement in process; Oregon Coast Aquarium for the birds; Fuel prices; Local RN nationally honored; Next gen firefighters

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Former Florence resident working for food safety

With an estimated 350 food safety outbreaks each year in the United States, it’s important for food processors and retailers to pay close attention to preventing contamination by things like E coli and salmonella.  A former Florence resident is in the middle of that work right now at Oregon State University.

Joy Waite-Cusic (KYU-sik) is a food safety scientist.  Two years ago she worked with onion farmers in Easter Oregon to verify their irrigation practices were safe.  She was able to show federal regulators that farmers were able to prevent E coli contamination.  Most recently, she’s been working on a process for Oregon Hazelnut growers to keep their product safe from salmonella contamination.  Waite-Cusic and others helped farmers develop a steam-blanching process that kills the bacteria, but doesn’t affect the flavor and texture of the nuts. Joy-CPS photo

Both projects had positive impacts on the Oregon economy.

Waite-Cusic is a 1998 graduate of Siuslaw High School.  She has a degree in Food Science and a masters in microbiology from Oregon State… She received a PhD in Food Science from Ohio State University in 2007.

Her work was detailed in the most recent edition of the magazine Oregon’s Agricultural Progress, published by Oregon State.

Automatic Aid Agreement in works for fire agencies

An agreement in the works between the Mapleton Fire District and Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue would blur the dividing line between the two agencies.  Currently, the two districts meet in the Tiernan area at about milepost 9 on Highway 126.

If approved by the Mapleton Fire District board in August, Mapleton crews would automatically respond as far as milepost 3 at Cushman, along with Siuslaw Valley.

In return, Siuslaw Valley would automatically send an engine and a water tender to structure and vegetation fires, along with a “heavy rescue” to car crashes, throughout Mapleton’s district.

Under current procedures, each agency only responds to the other’s calls if requested.  The new agreement, says Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief Jim Langborg, would make the responses automatic.

Siuslaw Valley directors approved their portion of the agreement last week.

Langborg says once Mapleton signs on, the two agencies will begin developing dispatch and training requirements.

Next gen wildland firefighters

11 students at the Angell Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Lincoln County will begin training to become wildland firefighters next week.

Dan Eddy, the Fire Management Officer for the Siuslaw National Forest said it’s a “great partnership” giving students at the center “another career path to pursue”.

The students will be trained in wildland firefighting, as well as safe operation of chainsaws by forest service personnel.

Job Corps Centers across the country offer a variety of different training opportunities to youth between the ages of 16 and 24.  Many of those centers, such as Angell, near Waldport, are dedicated to wildland firefighting.

Emergency room RN honored

A Florence man was recently honored as being one of the top ten outstanding young leaders in the nation when it comes to providing health care.

William “Chip” Scott is a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Peace Harbor Medical Center.  He was recognized by the Catholic Health Association at their recent national assembly in Orlando, Florida.

Peace Harbor Emergency Medical Director Dr. William Foster said Scott’s knowledge and calm demeanor are important.  Foster said he feels fortunate whenever a critical patient arrives and Scott is on duty.

Local gas prices begin summer ending slip

The average cash price for a gallon of regular gas fell by three cents in Florence this week.  It’s at $2.38.  That’s similar to the nickel a gallon drop in the national average… from $2.20 to $2.15; and the penny a gallon drop in the Oregon statewide average.  According to Triple-A of Oregon, that average price is $2.151.

All three prices:  Local, statewide and national; are at their lowest for this time of year in more than a decade.

Triple-A spokesperson Marie Dodds said abundant fuel supplies and declining crude oil costs continue to mean good news for drivers around the country.  But, she warned, unexpected events could trigger higher prices later this summer.  She cited supply disruptions, geopolitical tensions overseas; or stronger than expected economic growth as possible causes.

Familiarity breeds birds at Oregon Coast Aquarium

It’s breeding season in the aviary at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.  Bird Curator C.J. McCarty says because it’s a closed environment with limited space, they carefully track how many eggs are being laid, and by which birds.

Some eggs are replaced by dummy, plaster filled eggs to keep populations down while allowing the parents to go through the natural nesting process.

Others are evaluated genetically.  If certain mating pairs keep the gene pool diverse, they’re allowed to breed, while others may not be.

And, he says, sometimes they provide young birds for other facilities.  One example of that, he said, was a pair of black oystercatchers that will eventually be sent to an aquarium in Portugal.