The hugs kept coming for Lance Colley at a retirement reception for the outgoing Roseburg city manager on Thursday.
Colley’s final day will be April 30, after seven years in the position.
Family, friends, city staff, law enforcement officials, current and former city councilors and committee members, and many people who have known Colley his whole life — including one of his former teachers at Roseburg High School — gathered to celebrate Colley and wish him a happy retirement.
While people came and went throughout the 2 1/2-hour event in the Ford Room of the Roseburg Public Library, more than 40 people were listening to Colley when he gave his speech.
“This is kind of bittersweet,” Colley said. “I’ve spent 35 years in public service in Roseburg, and my entire life, born and raised across the river here.”
Before being hired as city manager in 2012, he was finance director of the Roseburg School District for nine years. From 1984-2003, he was the city’s finance director.
A photo board put together by city staff at the party featured several photos of Colley from his time as Roseburg’s finance director.
“This is a great turnout, thank you,” Colley said.
“I’m not sure what I was expecting — when I woke up at 3 o’clock from the dream that nobody showed up,” he joked. “The people I work with are what I’m going to miss most, and almost all of them are in the room, so thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
City Recorder Amy Sowa said when her position became available many things drew her here, but one in particular was that she knew Colley was “a really great guy.” The two city officials went to Roseburg High School together. “But when I got here I didn’t realize what an incredible city manager he was.”
Mike Baker, a former Roseburg city councilor, admitted to The News-Review he didn’t vote for Colley during the hiring process.
“I’m glad he proved me wrong,” Baker said.
Colley’s service to the community has extended far beyond his employment with the city, said Mayor Larry Rich at Colley’s final city council meeting on Monday. Rich listed 19 boards, organizations and committees on which Colley has served, including the allied and mental health college coalition, the Blue Zones worksite committee, the local crisis committee, the Umpqua Business Center board of directors and the Umpqua Community College Memorial Committee.
“And that’s just the list we could find,” Rich said.
City officials have repeatedly said their only regret about Colley is that he isn’t staying longer. They have been unapologetic about saying that Colley was the best city manager the city has ever had.
“His passion, commitment and dedication to this community has been unsurpassed by any previous city manager,” Rich said at the meeting.
It was the first city council meeting Janice Essenberg, Colley’s partner, attended. Colley said she was interested to see if he would cry. He didn’t, but he said his final address to the City Council was difficult.
“This is a little harder than I actually thought it was going to be, and I thought it was going to be hard,” Colley said at the meeting.
Colley said he feels good about the position in which he’s leaving the city. He was finance director when the city first created an urban renewal district, which he said has brought key growth to the area. That plan is now at the end of its 30-year term, and he’s happy he had the chance to help develop a new urban renewal plan, which will take effect next year.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Colley said. “One thing I didn’t think we were going to be doing was a library. And in the last year, the last two years, we went from a pretty aggressive council goal-setting process that we thought was going to be as time-consuming as anything could ever be, and then we threw in, well heck, how about a library.”
He said one of the things he’s most proud of is the cultivation of the city’s leadership team.
“The leadership team that we all have put together here I think is one of the finest leadership teams that you’ll find in a municipal organization anywhere, not just in a small community or a medium-sized community,” Colley said. “You’ve got very gifted and talented people in leadership who are going to help you face the challenges and meet the opportunities that you’ll see over the next many years to come.”
Colley said he looks forward to traveling and spending more time with his family in retirement. He has four grandchildren.
Essenberg said she and Colley are taking a trip to Rome, Venice and Tuscany shortly after Colley’s final day at the city.
Essenberg said it was gratifying to see the love Colley received at the reception Thursday.
“He cares so much about this community, so to see them give it back is really special,” Essenberg said.
Roseburg Public Schools’ board of directors unanimously agreed to finalize a three-year contract with incoming Superintendent Jared Cordon during Wednesday’s meeting.
Cordon will be paid $164,400 annually, according to the contract. This will be a rolling three-year agreement, which may be extended prior to July 1 of each year.
Cordon addressed the board during the meeting at Roseburg High School, where he also had a chance to watch part of the track and field competition.
“It’s really an honor and a pleasure to be here, and I look forward to serving this community, serving the board and working alongside staff and students,” he said. “I pledge my attention to move this work forward, to celebrate opportunities for our kids and our staff. And make Roseburg a place that people want to be at, and want to return to.”
The school district will also pay a variety of other costs, including $5,000 for relocation, the employee’s required contributions into the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System, $1,250 monthly into a tax sheltered annuity and a $500 monthly vehicle allowance.
Cordon will officially take over the helm of Douglas County’s largest school district on July 1, but will be working with interim Superintendent Lee Paterson in June to allow for a smooth transition. During the transition period, Cordon will be paid $630 for each day worked.
Cordon is entitled to 25 paid vacation days under the contract, in addition to leave for personal business, bereavement and professional development as is available to all 12-month administrative staff. Additionally, there are 11 paid holidays and 98 days of accumulated sick leave Cordon has acquired throughout his educational career which will roll over into his Roseburg contract.
Goals and objectives for the evaluation of the superintendent will be written on or before the September school board meeting, and on or before July 1 of each year the district shall establish those general goals and specific objectives in consultation with Cordon.
Cordon’s performance will be evaluated and assessed in executive session on or before March 14 of each year of his contract.
The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians is getting 17,519 acres of timber land as part of the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act signed in January of last year.
About 32,000 acres of land are being reclassified from public domain lands to tribal lands for the Cow Creek and the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. Another 32,000 acres will be reclassified as Oregon and California Railroad Lands.
The tribe was one of the first to sign a compact with the state but it did not receive land in the agreement. Tim Vredenburg, Cow Creek’s director of forest management, said the land being restored is historically significant and right in the heart of the tribe’s ancestral land.
“The tribe’s waited over 150 years to have a reservation of their own that fulfills the 1853 treaty,” he said. “Really, I can’t overstate how important that land restoration is to the tribe. The tribe cares deeply for the land and the resource.”
The Bureau of Land Management has until January 2020 to determine which land will be reclassified and has published an interactive map on its website, www.blm.gov, to give the public an opportunity to identify areas of concern, according to acting Deputy State Director Michael Campbell.
“These lands, technically, haven’t left federal status,” Campbell said. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs is holding them in trust, but for all practical purposes, they are tribal lands.”
The BLM manages about 2.5 million acres of land in a checkerboard pattern throughout Western Oregon and the reclassified land will come from about 300,000 acres of public domain land.
“That’s kind of the point of this exercise is to say to members of the public, these are the 300,000 acres, of these, which do you think will be best to reclassify from public status to O&C status,” Campbell said.
Vredenburg said the tribe is in the process of collecting data to ensure the tribe uses the land for the benefit of the whole forest and within the tribe’s goals and principles.
“It’s a bit of process developing those strategies in a thoughtful way,” Vredenburg said. “The tribe looks at forest management and defines that through their values, they are considering the whole forest. They want clean water and healthy habitats where wildlife will be abundant and their people can hunt and fish and gather in a way that’s significant to them, that’s meaningful.”
Dan Courtney, the chair for the Cow Creek Tribe, said in a press release that everyone will benefit from tribal management.
“This forest will sustain and protect drinking water, wildlife, and local mills benefiting the health of a community we share with many,” Courtney said. “Additionally, we all benefit as tribal management practices have long demonstrated increased timber yields, suppressed fire dangers, and maintained biodiversity, providing a national model for sustainable forest management.”
Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman, who is also the president of the Association of O&C Counties, said the association helped write the bill to ensure they would have “no net loss” of land.
“The resource management plan that manages the O&C doesn’t change,” Freeman said. “It’s a relatively small amount of land. Because there’s public domain lands, those lands will just literally move into the O&C holding. We’re at zero net loss, it’s just a shifting of lands.”
The Cow Creek Tribe has over 1,800 members. The tribe signed a treaty with the United States in 1853 and ceded more than 500,000 acres to the United States for 2.3 cents an acre, which was sold for $1.25 an acre to pioneer settlers according to the tribe’s website.
The Cow Creek Tribe never received the reservation the treaty promised but stayed in their homelands and continued to meet and hold council. Western Oregon tribes were forced to assimilate or were terminated in the 1950s. A more aggressive approach for restoration took place in the 1970s, according to the tribe’s website. The Tribe was restored in 1982.
“The tribes never stopped being tribes,” Vredenburg said. “It’s the fabric of who they are. The wheels of government turn slowly. If it weren’t for the determination of the tribe and recognition from the Oregon congressional delegation that a promise had been made and that it was important for us as a country to honor that promise, I don’t think it would have happened. It required an act of Congress and those are difficult to come by.”