MYRTLE CREEK — Myrtle Creek business owners might seek damages after a diesel fuel spill contaminated the city’s drinking water and forced them to close last week.
Several businesses, mostly restaurants, closed on May 28 after the city told water customers not to use water for any purpose the day before.
The contamination occurred after a motorist drove off Springbrook Road into a ditch and spilled diesel fuel, said Katherine Benenati, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, in an email last week. The fuel ended up in Harrison Young Brook, which leads to the Springbrook Water Treatment Plant.
In a meeting at City Hall Monday afternoon, City Administrator Sean Negherbon provided business owners with insurance information of the person responsible for the spill. While the city has been in contact with the responsible person, Negherbon said the city will wait until DEQ concludes its investigation before releasing the person’s name.
“Calculate what you think you lost in profits or whatever costs you think you had as a result of this, and then you’ll turn that in to the insurance company,” Negherbon told business owners.
He said they can file for reimbursement with the U.S. Coast Guard National Pollution Funds Center if claims for damages don’t get resolved with the insurance company within 90 days.
“You need to do everything certified and keep really good records,” Negherbon said.
Affected businesses were already closed the day the spill occurred because it was Memorial Day. The city’s water advisory persisted until 7 p.m. the next day, however. The city switched to a secondary water source on the South Umpqua River, began flushing the distribution system and ran two series of tests, which concluded contamination was below harmful levels, before lifting the advisory.
Edward and Morgan Hernandez, owners of Ed & Mo’s Diner, said the restaurant was closed on May 28, but business was slow the next day.
“We had three people in probably four hours,” Morgan said. “It was bad. They were coming in saying, ‘We want some water without diesel.’ Our first year of business there were times when we had a two-hour gap in between tables coming in. This was worse.”
Edward said while the city lifted the water advisory, people were still wary of drinking the water. “That’s why they weren’t coming in,” he said.
Negherbon said in an interview he noticed some businesses didn’t close on May 28 despite the city’s water advisory. He added it would be “unethical” for business owners to make a claim for damages if they didn’t close.
“You should have some way of documenting you were actually closed and incurred some loss, because I know not all restaurants closed, and that could be a problem later on,” he said at the meeting.
Negherbon said the city is still running on the South Umpqua Water Treatment Plant while it continues flushing the Springbrook plant.
The incident is on the City Council’s agenda for its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Sutherlin High School graduates, their families, friends and teachers gathered Sunday for a graduation celebration in the warm sun at the football field.
It was the first time in more than 35 years the graduation was held outside. Graduation has taken place inside the gymnasium for decades, but due to repairs from the snowstorm in February, the venue was not available this year.
Sutherlin High School technology teacher Ron Owings was selected by the senior class as the graduation speaker, although he said “I constantly forget their names, I forget what sport they’re in, I don’t know whether they’re in ag, drama, art, woods, band, choir or Special Olympics or some other activity. I think it was an electronic vote where one of my techy kids I do know well opened up a command prompt with administrative rights wrote a little backscript and I won by that vote.”
Owings, as well as all the other speakers, thanked the parents and families of the graduates for their support throughout their high school careers.
“All of these people suffered through the good times and the bad times for the last 12 years,” Owings said. “We pushed, pleaded and begged for you to do simple things: get out of bed, get to school on time, do your homework, go to practice, get your grades up, get motivated or just get off that stupid phone. The teachers were just simply trying to do their jobs, parents and everyone else were just trying to show you they care or to let you know they didn’t want you to live with them for the rest of your lives.”
He then shared some advise — he admittedly borrowed from Ygritte, a wildling from the Game of Thrones television show — by telling the graduates, “You know nothing of reality. This is one of those life changing events that, ready or not, it’ll change you forever. Only you can determine if it’s good or bad.”
Owings encouraged the graduates to “find a positive reason to exist on the planet.”
Keaten Clarno and Aisia Carrillo were co-valedictorians and shared some of their most memorable times in the Sutherlin school system with the people in attendance.
Senior Class President Sydnee Allen read the names of all the graduated aloud as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.
Sutherlin High School Principal Kevin Hunt started the ceremony by announcing the faculty selections, scholarship winners and top 10% academic award recipients.
“They are now prepared to enter adulthood and the real world,” Hunt said. “Whether that be pursuing post-secondary education, military service or entry into the workforce, today is the day that signifies the closure to one chapter in life and the beginning of the next. I have high hopes for this class.”
WINCHESTER — Glide seniors Dillon Towne and Zach Holland just wanted a way to honor retired Glide football coach Jody Doty — considered by many students to be one of the biggest influences on their lives.
The rest of the Wildcat senior football players quickly bought into the idea and prepared a simple, but heartfelt tribute during Sunday’s Glide High School graduation ceremony at Jacoby Auditorium at Umpqua Community College.
One by one as their names were called, Glide seniors walked through a trellis arch, stopped to display their Glide football jerseys under their gowns and pointed to Doty in the audience.
“That was for how much they love him,” said Aaron Towne, who became Glide’s newest head football coach after Doty announced his retirement. “You will never meet a better person than him.”
Doty first met Dillon Towne and his family when Dillon was in middle school. The coach, teacher and friend has made an impression on him ever since.
“He’s a family member for sure,” Dillon Towne said.
The tribute was a nice surprise for Doty, who had no idea it was coming.
“It struck a nice chord with me,” Doty said Sunday afternoon.
It was part of a memorable day for nearly 50 students of the class of 2019 who walked across the stage to receive their diplomas in front of faculty, family members and friends. Mashayla Belloir, Gabriel Bunnell, Joseph DeBell, Nehemiah Dunnavant and Brooke Roberts were the valedictorians, while Alyssa Malek served as the salutatorian.
In addition to valedictory and salutatory speeches, Calvin Metz and Johanna Pope performed “Butterfly Fly Away” and audience members were treated to a slide show mixing baby photos and grad photos from the class of 2019.