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The News-Review wins 27 awards at regional contests

The News-Review received 17 awards in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspaper Contest after earning 10 awards at the annual Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Northwest Excellence in Journalism last month.

The newspaper earned a third-place finish in the General Excellence Award, an award that is the top newspaper prize in the state. The award is given to the newspaper with the best overall product and based on samples of the newspaper during 2017.

Designers Chelsea Duncan and Michael Henneke were awarded first-place for Best Page One Design after placing an editorial titled “A path forward” about the Umpqua Community College shooting investigation on A1.

Reporters Ian Campbell and April Ehrlich received first-place for their coverage of the Winston mayor’s arrest and resignation.

The newspaper’s Editorial Board earned first-place for Best Editorial Coverage for “Our civic duty,” which was published in response to the mayor’s arrest.

Photographer Michael Sullivan won two first-place awards for Best News Photo and Best Sports Photo.

Ehrlich won second place in Best Enterprise Reporting for “The forgotten children,” an investigation into the area’s skyrocketing foster care rates amid drug addiction in Southern Oregon.

Campbell’s article, “‘I thought I might die,’” earned two second-place awards for Best Writing and Best Feature: General. The story featured an Umpqua Community College shooting survivor’s experience during the 2015 tragedy.

Campbell also earned a second-place award in Best Educational Coverage for “A case for care,” a story on a Roseburg girl’s struggle to convince the local school district to allow her service dog to attend school.

Reporter Aaron Yost earned a second-place award in Best Sports Photo for his photo at a Glide baseball game.

Q&A about Home Rule

The Home Rule Charter slated to appear on the ballot this November would change the way Douglas County government operates.

Third-place awards went to: Ehrlich for Best Enterprise Reporting for “‘Zombie Homes,’” a look into unoccupied homes and how they drag down values and increase crime; Campbell and Senior Reporter Carisa Cegavske for Best Spot News Coverage for their coverage after the release of the UCC shooting investigation; Cegavske for Best Government Coverage for “Home Rule Q&A”; Sullivan for Best News Photo for “Wildfire,” which captured an onlooker gazing across the North Umpqua River at a roaring fire; and The News-Review Staff for Best Special Section for its 2017 Visitors Guide and Best Web Design for its newly redesigned website.

This year's award-winning photos

Fiddle player Michael Cleveland takes center stage at Music at the Half Shell

When audience members saw Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper take the stage with his band at Tuesday’s Music on the Half Shell concert at Stewart Park, many in the audience were unaware he couldn’t see them back — because the award-winning bluegrass fiddle player is blind.

“It’s very surprising, I didn’t notice that until you told me,” Pranom Baltzo said. “I like the music, it’s so relaxing.”

Baltzo travels back and forth between Mexico and Thailand frequently, but has been making visits to Roseburg for the past six years for a few months at a time.

Lora Bateson of Roseburg said she enjoyed Cleveland’s music.

“I think he’s good,” Bateson said. “Could you image doing that when you’re blind?”

“It’s all in his fingers and in his heart and soul,” Irene Jones of Roseburg said about Cleveland, “so I think he’s got it in there, he’s got the touch.”

Kyle Yates of Roseburg had never heard of bluegrass until Tuesday night. He said he enjoyed the music.

“It’s very catchy and upbeat and different than what’s normally here,” Yates said.

Kylee Patterson of Roseburg likes the diversity from Music on the Half Shell.

“I think they’re great, I think a great part about the Half Shell is every week you hear something different, and I’m expecting to see some people dancing soon, that’s my favorite part about the Half Shell, to be honest,” Patterson said.

When asked if she likes to dance at the Half Shell concerts, Patterson said no, describing herself more as an observer than a dancer.

Next Tuesday, the Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha will be the next act in the Music on the Half Shell concert series.

Former councilors hope to return to Roseburg City Council

Two Roseburg city councilors have filed for re-election, and two former councilors are hoping to get their old seats back.

Roseburg City Recorder Amy Sowa reported incumbents Alison Eggers and Tom Ryan have filed for re-election to Ward 1 and Ward 2, respectively.

Eggers so far has no challengers, but Ryan has two: former councilor Marty Katz, and Dennis Rogers, owner of the marijuana store Canna King.

In Ward 3, former councilor Bob Cotterell has filed for election. Cotterell served four years in that position before losing his 2014 re-election bid to John McDonald, who currently holds the seat. McDonald has said he doesn't plan to run for re-election because he wants to spend more time with his 2 year old daughter, and because his responsibilities for the Army National Guard are increasing.

Longtime Mayor Larry Rich has also filed for re-election and so far has no challengers.

No one has filed for a vacant council position in Ward 4.

Candidates still have more than a month to file. The deadline is 5 p.m. Aug. 28.

Katz was appointed to the council in 2012, and stepped down in 2015. He formerly served with Ryan as one of two Ward 2 councilors.

Just one Ward 2 spot — Ryan’s — is up for re-election this year. Katz said it’s unfortunate the seat he’s running for is already occupied, but there’s only an opening once every few years. This opening just happened to be at a time that was good for him, he said.

Katz said he had some “unfinished business” to complete. He said he wants to see improvements downtown, including having the parking garage torn down and replaced with a small park. He also said he wants to see Southeast Main Street refurbished. Katz, who formerly owned a business on Southeast Main Street, said all the council’s focus has been on a few blocks of Southeast Jackson Street.

“Main Street might as well be on the far side of the moon,” he said.

Katz said he’d bring a little more energy to the role than Ryan.

“When somebody’s been there for a long time, things become routine,” he said. “It’s time for somebody with a different vision.”

Ryan has been on the council about 20 years, first serving from 1995 to 2004, and returning from 2007 until the present. He said that experience is valuable.

“It takes quite awhile to learn your way around, to know what an enterprise zone is, to know what the rules are of the council, to know what the council can do and what the council can’t do, and how hard it is to make a decision when a decision has to be made and your two options aren’t the best,” he said.

Ryan chairs the city’s Economic Development Commission, which is part of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership. One of the things he’s been working on is a proposal to help solve the city’s housing crisis by allowing three 600- to 800-square-foot homes on one lot.

He said he’s proud of preventing a plan to create back-in parking spots downtown, and of helping keep the city on solid financial footing. He also touted the city’s work turning what was once the Douglas County Library System’s main branch into a city library.

“We’re trying to make it what it would be if the county was never in the library business,” he said.

Rogers did not respond to a call requesting comment on his run. He attempted a run for city council in 2016, but was disqualified because some of the signatures he submitted with his petition were ineligible. Later in 2016 he made an unsuccessful run for Douglas County commissioner.

Cotterell served with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam and was a policeman with the Roseburg Police Department for 25 years. He was on the council four years before McDonald defeated him in the 2014 election.

“In my mind, originally, I committed to doing eight years. I just took a vacation,” Cotterell said.

He said he doesn’t think the council is working as smoothly as it did four years ago, and he’d like to create a little more harmony.

Cotterell also feels the Harvard Avenue area is underrepresented compared with downtown. It needs its sidewalks and streets repaired, he said.

“These people work hard all day, and they come home, and they should have some benefit for living in a city,” he said.

Cotterell also said he would fight for veterans, who he said are often forgotten but are real economic generators. He said Roseburg is becoming a retirement community, so the creation of service-connected jobs should be encouraged.

Cotterell also said his experience would be valuable at a time when the city recently saw the retirements of its police and fire chiefs and its city recorder.

“It’s good to have someone there with some historical perspective,” he said.

City to study effectiveness of contract with chamber of commerce

The Roseburg City Council Monday voted to seek an independent evaluation of whether the city is getting the best bang for the bucks it gives the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber receives about $600,000 per year from the city, more than half the city’s hotel/motel tax income. That dollar amount is up considerably from six years ago, when the tax money funneled to the chamber was about $400,000. The money is intended to be used for tourism promotion, advertising and visitor services.

Roseburg Community Development Director Stuart Cowie recommended the city seek an independent evaluation to determine whether the money “is being used to its utmost effectiveness.” He recommended up to $20,000 be spent on the study.

The evaluation would look at whether the money spent is bringing results for Roseburg, and also at how similar funds are being used in cities around the state.

Council President Tom Ryan said without a study, the city doesn’t have the expertise to determine whether it’s getting a good deal from the contract.

“We don’t know if we’re wasting money, or if we’re getting a good bang for our buck,” he said.

Councilor Ashley Hicks questioned whether it made sense to spend $20,000 on a study, rather than spending that money directly on tourism.

“We already know that we need to make a different decision,” she said.

City Manager Lance Colley said an independent evaluation of how the money’s being spent has never been performed, to the best of his knowledge. He said this is “not a study that is going to sit on a shelf.” Instead, he said, it will provide the councilors with tangible information to determine whether it wants to continue with the contract with the chamber or terminate it.

Councilor Steve Kaser said he asked at a recent chamber presentation how Roseburg’s efforts compare to other cities, and received the answer that it was a lot better; however, he said he was unable to find any information to back that up and never received any from the chamber.

“We should have done this four years ago,” he said.

Councilor Brian Prawitz said he looked forward to seeing the data, and hoped it would show the chamber was doing a great job with the money.

“I hope it confirms that they’re crushing it,” he said.