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More seismic improvements slated as Green Elementary project wraps up after delays

Students and faculty at Green Elementary will be safer if an earthquake hits after this week.

The seismic improvement construction, which began in the spring and was expected to be finished in the summer, will be completed by the end of the week, according to school district officials.

The $1.5 million grant-funded project was not completed on time because contractors encountered elements of the building design that they didn’t expect. The building was originally constructed in the 1950s.

With the possibility of a massive earthquake in the Pacific Northwest looming, the district has proactively pursued seismic improvement grants through the state since the Roseburg High School gymnasium was upgraded in 2015.

As the project at Green Elementary wraps up, $1.5 million in seismic improvements at Fullerton IV Elementary School continue as planned. The district plans to finish the Fullerton project next summer.

In January, the school district plans to submit requests for proposal to contractors interested in seismic improvements at Hucrest Elementary and Melrose Elementary, which were awarded $1.5 million and $869,000 grants, respectively. The district also recently submitted grant proposals to the state for seismic improvements at Fremont and Jo Lane Middle Schools and Eastwood Elementary. District officials expect to know in April if they will receive those grants.

Oregon sits near the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 620-mile fault that stretches from Northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino California and separates the Juan de Fuca Tectonic Plate and the North American Tectonic Plate.

“The likelihood of a magnitude 9.0 Cascadia earthquake during our lifetimes and the consequences of such an earthquake are both so great that it is prudent to consider this type of earthquake when designing new structures or retrofit of existing structures,” reads a Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission report from 2013.

The last magnitude 9.0 Cascadia earthquake occurred in 1700. The time intervals between massive earthquakes on the fault have historically been shorter than the current one, according to the OSSPAC report. There’s a 40 percent chance of a magnitude 9.0 or greater earthquake in the next 50 years, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

“The whole Cascadia thing has really been brought to people’s attention over the last few years,” said Cheryl Northam, chief operations officer with Roseburg Public Schools.

She said the state Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program was small when the district applied for the Roseburg High School project. That year, $15 million was available to schools throughout the state. For the 2017-19 biennium, $100 million was available to schools.

Northam said she has had trouble recently finding contractors who are able to take on the projects because of the number of schools doing seismic upgrades.

Mike Jardine, project manager for the seismic improvements at Green and Fullerton Elementary with West Coast Construction Solutions, said not all school districts around the state have been as proactive in pursuit of the grants as the Roseburg district.

“It’s really an exciting time right now for these seismic projects,” Jardine said.

He said the grants for the next round of projects at Fremont and Jo Lane Middle Schools and Eastwood Elementary are “immediate occupancy” improvements — the structures will remain intact enough to serve as shelters for displaced people in the event of a massive earthquake. The previous projects will reinforce the buildings enough to make sure people can get out without getting harmed during an earthquake.

“This is not only helping the students in Roseburg,” Jardine said. “This is a huge deal for the community.”

He said it’s important that the district is being as proactive as it is, because its unlikely the funding will be available forever.

By undertaking the projects, the district also has the opportunity to make other building improvements at the same time in a cost efficient way, Jardine said.

“Say we’re tearing apart the walls in the boiler room,” he said. “That whole room is affected. So while we’ve got it tore out, why not get that old boiler out and get a new boiler in when we would have to pay to tear the walls down anyway to get it out.”

The district allocated $100,000 from the general fund to do other improvements at Green Elementary that were discovered during the seismic improvements but not covered in the grant.

It’s hard to predict what may delay these projects, according to Jardine. The building design schematics at Green Elementary had vague drawings, if any at all.

When construction workers were excavating to build in the moment frame — steel anchor that stabilizes the building walls — they discovered an old mechanical tunnel filled with abandoned water lines and electrical lines running along the footing of the building. Jardine said that was an example of something that delayed the project.

Green Elementary School Principal Amy Rodriguez said she’s glad the construction is nearly complete.

At the end of the previous school year, work began outside and teachers had to deal with the noises, but most of the work was completed over the summer. Workers were painting the hallways right up until the day before school started for this year.

“The last phase of this has limited our walkways and sidewalks so it has been a little hard, but it’s a great addition to our school, so we’re happy with the work that they’ve done and they’ve been wonderful to work with,” Rodriguez said.

Mike Henneke/News-Review file photo  

Workers from Win Elder Construction put the finishing touches on a section of new roof at Green Elementary School in September. From left are Steve Parnell, Jon Michael and Derrick Rhodes.

Fire starts in Rose Villa apartment

A fire started in one of the units at the Rose Villa Apartments after a tenant left a frying pan unattended in the 2000 block of Northeast Stephens Street Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters from the Roseburg Fire Department responded to the apartment fire around 3 p.m. and found heavy smoke and flames showing inside of an apartment.

Firefighters checked the structure for occupants and quickly extinguished the fire, according to Fire Marshal Monte Bryan.

John Dow, the tenant whose apartment caught fire, said the incident began as a grease fire while he was cooking french fries in his apartment.

He hadn’t been inside to see the damage and sat with fellow residents in the grass while firefighters dragged hoses into the building.

Dow said the smoke was bad, but when he saw the fire it was still only about two feet wide.

Fire officials said the fire was contained to the kitchen, but the building sustained approximately $10,000 in damage.

Roseburg woman pleads not guilty after stealing ambulance

The Roseburg woman who allegedly stole an ambulance and rammed a police car pleaded not guilty to her crimes in Douglas County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Christy Lynn Woods, 38, allegedly stole a Bay Cities ambulance while paramedics were giving CPR to a Roseburg woman in the 700 block of Southeast Jackson Street in September.

Her attorney, Jeffrey Greenwood, told Circuit Court Judge George Ambrosini on Tuesday they intended to rely on an insanity defense.

Greenwood filed a notice of intent with the court to rely on that defense on Oct. 4.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Hoddle asked that the trial date be set several months in advance so the prosecution would have time to receive a psychiatric evaluation from the Oregon State Hospital in Salem.

The judge agreed, and scheduled the trial for April 10.

After Woods allegedly stole the emergency vehicle, she led officers from the Roseburg Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police on a nearly 30-mile pursuit on Interstate 5.

Near Winchester, Oregon State Police Sgt. Ken Terry was driving in front of the ambulance, trying to push traffic out of the way.

Woods hit the bumper of Terry’s car going 85 mph, which sent his vehicle spinning through the median that separates the north and southbound lanes of the freeway.

An officer on scene reported that there was so much dirt and debris that he couldn’t see the road for a minute, according to court documents.

The trooper received minor injuries, but his car was totaled, according to police.

After hitting the trooper’s car, Woods continued northbound until she ran over a set of spike strips near Rice Valley. She continued on for a few more miles before exiting the highway at milepost 148. Woods then leaped out of the driver’s seat and went to the ground at the Arco gas station on John Long Road, according to court documents.

Woods is charged with second-degree assault, third-degree assault, unauthorized vehicle use, attempting to elude a police officer, failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, three counts of recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving, interfering with a firefighter or EMT and driving while suspended.