Setting the scene
And the Oscar goes to — the Betty Long Unruh Theatre, for completing a four-year renovation that has earned a standing O from its patrons. (Yes, we know live theater gets Tonys, not Oscars, but it didn’t fit the quote.)
Umpqua Actors Community Theatre couldn’t afford all the changes at once, but plugged away like the tortoise in the race. The most recent phase cost $120,000, with 40 percent represented by contributions from the Ford Family Foundation and Whipple Foundation Fund, as well as UACT board members and an in-kind donation from Baldwin Construction. The most recent upgrades include an enlarged stage, the addition of 14 seats, improved lighting and other changes that make it much easier to see all the nuances actors present onstage.
Even though Zen masters remind us we need to be mindful, focused and in the present, the fact is that it’s easy to get twitchy and distracted by our surroundings. The UACT enhancements should help audience attention remain where it belongs. The sets, the costumes, the emoting, the dialogue — all will get a better showcase, offering more value for the price of admission.
State fails to bleat
The Oregon Department of Agriculture should have taken the initiative and notified the public that a scrapie-infected sheep was found in Douglas County.
Because of that one diseased animal, another 300 sheep from the same Roseburg area ranch were euthanized as a precaution.
If the department thought the massive loss of sheep because of an infection sometimes likened to mad cow disease wasn’t newsworthy, it was mistaken.
The rumors flew, and word got out anyway. By then, state officials had missed the chance to put the incident in perspective. Tainted meat had not entered the food supply. Scrapie is not a risk to humans.
The disease, however, is serious, and ignorance is the biggest danger. Scrapie spreads from the ewe to her offspring and other lambs through contact with the placenta. Females sold from infected flocks spread scrapie. The disease could be economically damaging. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has waged a decade-long campaign to eradicate the disease.
The department’s main weapon in the campaign? Awareness.
Sheep growers are urged to report sheep who show signs of the disease. Ranchers who must euthanize sheep are eligible to be compensated.
The state may note that the federal government takes the lead in containing scrapie and should have alerted the public. But the federal government is oftentimes remote and uncommunicative.
We expect better from Oregon departments. On this matter, our confidence was misplaced.
This was the first case of scrapie in Oregon in five years. Maybe there won’t be another case. If there is, state agriculture officials will have the chance to do better.
Let’s hear it for the teens
Once again, our community has come through to meet the needs of our youth. Donors raised enough money to add a teen center at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley in Roseburg.
The second-story addition offers areas specifically for middle and high school students, apart from their elementary school counterparts. Now the 75 to 80 older students will be able to take classes in art and music and begin exploring colleges and careers. They have areas for socializing, listening to music, doing homework and working on computers.
Some local individuals sponsored the various rooms as part of the $200,000 in fundraising by the club. The Ford Family Foundation contributed $300,000 and an anonymous donor offered $50,000. Roseburg contractor Perry Murray, a former Roseburg First Citizen known for his many generous volunteer roles, was the project manager. FCC Commercial Furniture of Roseburg designed the furnishings for the teen center. Grants and in-kind donations rounded out the successful effort.
It’s terrific to see so many people involved in a project for teens who rely on the center as their home away from home.