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Demonstrators protest Trump immigration policies

From Fred Meyer to the offices of the Bureau of Land Management, an estimated 250 people lined Northwest Garden Valley Boulevard in Roseburg on Saturday morning to protest U.S. immigration policy that takes children away from parents that are trying to get into the U.S. along the Mexican border.

Demonstrators carried signs saying “Melt I.C.E.” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), “Love kids, don’t cage them” and “End Trump’s Cruel Internment Camps,” and several other signs that that people had created and brought to the hour-long event to display, along the busy street.

The Roseburg protest was one of nearly 700 marches or protests across the U.S., from immigrant-friendly cities like New York and Los Angeles to conservative Appalachia and Wyoming. They gathered on the front lawn of a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, near a detention center where migrant children were being held in cages, and on a street corner near Trump’s golf resort at Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president is spending the weekend.

Trump has backed away from family separations amid bipartisan and international uproar. His “zero tolerance policy” led officials to take more than 2,000 children from their parents as they tried to enter the country illegally, most of them fleeing violence, persecution or economic collapse in their home countries.

In Roseburg, the local event was organized by retired Roseburg attorney Diana Wales with a group called Indivisible Roseburg which is a part of the Indivisible movement, a national group whose mission on their website is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda.

“It’s a coordinated effort to lobby our congressional delegation to do what’s right and resist what is wrong,” Wales said. “We hope to end the policies of the Trump administration that are traumatizing children, that’s what this is all about.”

Mike Kroning said he had been a lifelong Republican but left the party a month ago.

“To use children and families as a means to achieve political ends seems like a cruel means and we shouldn’t put people in dog kennels and that’s what we’re doing at the border,” Kroning said.

Retired pediatrician Dr. Larry Hall came from Glide to participate in the rally because he felt like he had to make a statement.

“We’re here because we think that imprisoning children and keeping them from their families is a form of child abuse,” he said. “We think it’s unconscionable, we’re horrified, and we’re ashamed for what our country has done to the children of immigrants.”

A Roseburg woman named Blair, who did not want to give her last name, said she the issue means so much to her, she felt she had to put herself into action.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s outrageous, it reminds you of the concentration camps and the Japanese internment camps and all of that, and he (Trump) says he’s taking it back and let’s see how long, and are there going to be some children that are lost forever,” she said.

“This is a crime against humanity,” said attorney David Morrison. “it’s a violation of the most fundamental human right that can be defined, to take a child or infant away from their parents.”

Horns honked occasionally as the morning traffic passed by the demonstrators, and Wales said most appeared to be in support of their efforts.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Artist duo uses electricity to create space paintings

It’s the kind of setup one would find in Frankenstein’s Castle.

A Tesla coil over 7 feet tall sits inside the soundproof workshop of Dave Archer, unbeknownst to the neighbors next-door. Switched on, the machinery emits a loud buzzing noise. Archer’s dog Scruffy begins to shake in fear. He’s unable to comprehend the spectacle taking place before him.

Using a long metal rod known as a “lighting brush,” Brent Durand manipulates the blue strands of electricity generated from the coil. Working under the watchful eye of his mentor, he directs over two million volts into the paint smeared glass panel.

What may appear to be some sort of amateur science experiment is in fact an artistic process that Archer has developed over the past 40 years. The zaps energize the pigments and causes them to form in the shape and appearance of interstellar dust clouds and far away galaxies. After it dries, stars, planets, comets and other celestial bodies are painted on by hand. When light shines through the image it appears to glow. It’s as if it were a photo taken straight from the Hubble Telescope itself. Archer describes it as if “looking into a jewelry box that God flung across the universe.”

Archer’s work has appeared in National Geographic and was used to decorate the Starship Enterprise on the TV show “Star Trek: The Next Generation” for three seasons and two Star Trek movies. Archer, 77, works tirelessly to pass on his craft to the next generation.

The California native knew he wanted to be an artist ever since competing in a high school art competition at the age of 14. But it wasn’t until the ‘70s that Archer discovered his true passion: glass painting. It was his friend Ron Russell who introduced and encouraged him to pursue painting on glass. While skeptical at first, he quickly fell in love with it.

The duo’s mutual friend, Lee Byrd, had been experimenting for years with electricity and built his own Tesla coil. Eventually it occurred to Archer and Russell to combine Byrd’s electrical experiments with their glass paintings. After much trial and error, the trio were able develop a art process quite similar to what is used to this day. But back then they were only working with 50,000 volts. Today Archer can generate over 40 times that.

In 1999, Archer moved to Roseburg from California to look after his mother. After she passed away two years later, he decided to live out his dream of living in the country and stay.

“It was a culture shock,” Archer said, “but I got over it.”

Archer and Durand, master and apprentice, first met in 2009 at a video rental store. Durand was only 17 at the time, but Archer offered to take the Roseburg native on as a student once he turned 18. Durand believes the reason the pair get along so well is because of how his teacher sees himself in him.

“I’m kind of an oddball misfit, so in a way I think I remind him a lot of himself when he was younger, Durand said. “When he was awkward and didn’t really know what he was doing.”

Starting out, Durand, wasn’t allowed to use any of the equipment. Instead, his teacher instructed him to draw in a sketchbook. It was these childlike doodles that inspired Archer to nickname his student “Kidboy.”

Over the past seven years, Archer has shown him the ropes and inner workings of electrical painting. Durand is now able to proficiently operate the Tesla coil and Lightning Brush to create his own interstellar artwork in under two week’s time.

“Now I’ve gotten into something a lot bigger than just doodling on paper,” Durand said.

The duo work three days a week on their art. Durand remains a mostly silent accomplice as Archer does most of the talking. The teacher describes the two as the “Penn and Teller of glass painting.”

Durand said his mentor repeats himself a lot, but every now and then tells a story that’s new to him. Some of them are from Archer’s time as a doorman in the ‘60s at a San Francisco area cafe called Coffee and Confusion. It was there that he met and befriended entertainers like musician Janis Joplin, folk singer Hoyt Axton and comedian Steve Martin, who were just starting out their careers. Archer contributed several stories and details on the coffee shop to Martin’s 2007 autobiography “Born Standing Up.”

“Hearing him and all his stories kind of helps inspires me,” Durand said. He explained that his teacher has shown him that “you don’t always have to do what you’re being told to do, you can strive to get out there and do what you actually want to do.”

In his old age, Archer’s health isn’t what it used to be. Years of smoking and and getting zapped has left him with less energy than in his youth, and he gets tired more easily. Over the years Archer has been shocked numerous times, but Durand so far has been lucky enough to have avoided such injuries.

“He has yet to taste the cobra,” Archer said. “It’s gonna hurt like hell, but it probably won’t kill you.”

Upon his death, he plans to leave all of his tools and equipment to his protege. While Durand wants to carry on his teacher’s work, he isn’t sure where he’ll store all of the equipment from the workshop or how he’ll be able to fully support himself off of the craft. In any case, the two plan to continue capturing the beauty of the cosmos in an electrifying way until the day comes that they can’t anymore.

“This is my last dance,” Archer said. His dream is to create enough paintings “to have a good show, a real good show. And then maybe that’ll be it. Maybe we’ll have a giant show, the two of us, and then I’ll kiss it goodbye.”

Three commercial buildings charged for being 'derelict'

Owners of a vacant K-Mart building in Roseburg say they are working to be in compliance with a recent city ordinance, which requires owners to register “derelict” buildings and face steep fines for noncompliance.

The change approved last November to the city’s Municipal Code was designed to force owners to speed up repairs or demolition for so-called “zombie homes.”

According to the Roseburg Municipal Code, a derelict building is a structure that is unoccupied and boarded or which is unoccupied and unsecured. The city empowers the compliance officer to inspect the property and notify the owner of derelict status by mail and a post on the door.

In November, the city changed the municipal code to allow city officials to register buildings and assess fees on a monthly basis until repairs are made. Commercial property owners of a “derelict building” will be charged a nonrefundable $530 application fee and $530 per month until the building is secured without boarding it up.

After the ordinance took effect March 22, city officials wasted no time notifying property owners.

Last month 18 buildings were registered as derelict, including K-Mart, Safeway and Rite-Aid buildings.

On March, 27, city officials posted a letter on the front of the old K-Mart building, notifying owners of its derelict status.

Property owners Invest West and Pacifica Hotel Company say they have registered the Roseburg building and they have their architect working with the city to remove the derelict status. Spokesperson Chris Marquis said K-Mart still had possession of the building until September and boarded up the windows.

“The trade-off was do we want to risk issues with people breaking into the building,” Marquis said about the decision to leave the boards up. “Now that we can get in, we are working on re-tenanting the building. There’s been lots of interest so we’ve been evaluating who would be best for the community and the market.”

Marquis said they are looking at leasing the property out as two separate spaces and hope to have it filled in the next six to eight months.

K-mart closed last year in June but downtown, the old Safeway and Rite-Aid buildings have been closed up for more than a decade. The owner of those building did not return phone calls.

“What we’re looking for the property owners to do is take the boards off, maintain the landscaping, fix the windows, secure the doors, and hopefully once that happens, get it back on the market so it can get it fixed up and sold so people can start living in it again,” Community Development Director Stuart Cowie said. “It kind of makes the area look like there’s blight and we want to avoid that.”

The owners are given 30 days to register the building.

Cowie said in most cases, the property owner is deceased or long-gone and it’s in a state of pre-foreclosure.

“Not many of those individuals were voluntarily saying yes, I want to register this building and pay the city an application fee and a monthly fee and, if I don’t pay on time, a delinquent fee,” Cowie said. “This is giving them the prod to say, we don’t want to pay additional fees so what do we have to do to fix this building up. We aren’t real interested in fining people. What we’d like for them to do is take the boards off and if there are other ways to secure the building, go ahead and take those steps.”

According to the municipal code, the property owners are give six months to either repair or demolish the building.

If they do not comply within six months, the property can be labeled as a nuisance and the city can deal with it however they see fit up to and including demolition, but Cowie said they are more likely to foreclose.