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Canyonville group tries to save historical mural uncovered by wind gust

CANYONVILLE — A powerful gust of wind from a storm last winter ripped off a metal facade on an old historical building in downtown Canyonville, uncovering an old mural that hadn’t been seen in several decades.

Now, groups in Canyonville are working to preserve the mural, which was painted around 1946 on the building where the Ritter Theater was once housed. The building is now is home to the Pioneer Market, a convenience store on Main Street across from Gordon’s Pharmacy in downtown.

The windstorm ripped off about an 8-foot section of metal. Mike Barton, the manager of the store, said he got a boom truck to pull down the rest of the metal so it wasn’t a safety hazard. The project ended up exposing the mural, which depicts a landscape with waterfalls.

“It’s definitely cool and got a lot of people’s attention,” he said. “It got them talking, and that’s how the historical society got involved.”

Barton wants to restore the mural, but said it was too costly. He was considering painting over it before the South Umpqua Historical Society stepped in.

“We want to put the (marquee) awning back on so it looks like the old movie theater, because that’s the point of trying to make the building look historic again,” he said.

The biggest thing is getting patches of stucco repaired from where gouges were left from the nail holes where they attached the metal to the building.

Susan Applegate, a descendant of pioneer Jesse Applegate, for whom the Applegate Trail is named, has agreed to repair the mural, and Victory Builders will repair and replace the stucco as needed if the group can raise the money.

“To keep it authentic, (Susan Applegate) would touch up the spots that were damaged in the remodeling of the building,” Barton said.

The stucco repair alone would cost about $10,000, and possibly thousands more for the painting. The movie marquee structure will also have to be rebuilt.

Now it’s up to the historical society and other groups in the area to come up with enough money to do the repairs. The store name would be displayed on the marquee like the movies were in the old days, so the store sign won’t block the mural. But Barton is getting a little anxious to get it done.

“The whole time I’ve been waiting, we’ve had no signage out front, letting anybody know this is a store,” Barton said. “We took all the signs down, and it just kind of came to a stop because I do want it restored,” he said.

The site originally had a livery stable in the early 1920s when it was purchased by Frank and Ruth Scovill Blattner, who tore it down and built a dance hall. During the week they would show an occasional movie, and then it turned into a dance hall on Saturday nights.

In 1946, the dance hall was purchased by Joe and Mildred Ritter who added the marquee front and turned it into a movie theater. The mural was painted at that time, but the art was eventually hidden by the metal covering some years later when other businesses occupied the building.

Susan Waddle of the South Umpqua Historical Society said the Canyonville Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce and many citizens of Canyonville want to see the mural and the stucco on the front of the store restored and are working to raise the money to do the work.

“We have committed $2,000 to begin toward the goal of $11,000,” Waddle said. “We are hoping the public will want to see the mural preserved as well.”

Waddle said it’s an important part of history in Canyonville that needs to be preserved.

“It’s very unusual and this is very unique — something that was preserved from 1946 — so that’s amounting to a few years now,” she said.

Barton has a donation jar in his store and he’s also going to do some raffles to raise money for the project. Donations may be made to the South Umpqua Historical Society, P.O. Box 1112, Canyonville, OR 97417.

Cooler temps, gusty winds this weekend

The Miles and Columbus fires have reached more than 50 percent containment on 49,418 acres. Firefighters and resources are continuing to be reassigned to other locations.

Fire officials said fire remains active in the gap between the two fires, specifically in the Butler Butte area.

Firefighters are patrolling the perimeter of the Miles and Columbus fires, looking for pockets of smoke smoldering in stumps and logs.

Kale Casey, an information officer with the fire, said the fire is burning deep instead of quickly passing over the landscape, causing interior smokes to pop up within the boundary of the fire.

“Until we get significant rain here in this part of Oregon — and it’s not predicted for many weeks now — the fire will burn deep,” Casey said.

A high-pressure system that moved into the region Thursday will continue to bring cooler temperatures and afternoon winds could improve the air quality, according to fire officials.

However, communities to the south and southeast of the fire will continue to experience significant smoke.

Smoky conditions of varying densities are expected to continue for the next few days until gusty winds push the smoke out.

The air in Roseburg was considered moderate Friday, according to the air quality index.

“Let’s hope we get some rain,” Casey said.

Photo courtesy of Marylin Wilmes  

Marylin Wilmes poses for a picture with the antelope she shot on Aug. 13.

County commissioners agree to sell property to Sutherlin resort developers

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to sell the former Sutherlin Industrial Park to a group of developers who want to create an Oregon-themed resort there.

The land will be sold for $1.2 million to Oregon Only Development, LLC. The company plans to create a $68 million resort on the site, including a hotel, convention center, amusement park with a waterslide, and a shopping village. The developers previously told The News-Review the resort would promote Oregon-based products and companies, and showcase the history of wood products and other local industries.

The initial idea for the site was simpler, and would just have included the water park.

Resort planned for Sutherlin

If developers have their way, a 90-acre resort promoting “all things Oregon” will be along the east side of Interstate 5 between the two Sutherlin exits and Highway 99.

The property’s location is off Taylor Road at Page Avenue, near Calapooya Street, just off Interstate 5. It consists of two parcels totaling about 126 acres that the county acquired in 1990 and 1991.

At the time, county officials had hoped to promote industrial development there, but over the past 28 years the wetlands have grown and the land remained undeveloped.

Commissioner Tim Freeman said that also means the parcels have been off the tax rolls during those years.

“The state’s come in and assessed them, I’m sure more than once, and taken more and more into wetlands, and the longer they sit there, the more we lose to wetlands,” he said. “So I’m excited about a project moving forward, and it’s too bad it’s taken 27 years to get there.”

Commissioner Chris Boice said he toured the site with the developers Tuesday. He said the developers were excited to have representatives from the city of Sutherlin and the county there.

“All of us were excited about trying to help them get their project complete, and they mentioned several times that that’s not the sort of cooperation that they run into in other places,” he said.