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Roseburg Public Schools announces three finalists for superintendent position


Charan Cline, Jared Cordon and Josh Middleton were announced Wednesday as the three finalists for the superintendent position at Roseburg Public Schools.

The Board of Directors conducted interviews last Wednesday and Thursday, and narrowed the field from 22 candidates to the final three.

The superintendent will begin July 1, taking over for interim Superintendent Lee Paterson.

Background and reference checks will now be conducted for each of the finalists. The school board anticipates bringing the finalists to the district to meet with staff and community, and to tour school facilities.

The public will have a chance to meet the candidates during the visits, tentatively scheduled for April 4.

Cline has been the superintendent in the Yamhill-Carlton School District since 2012 and has previous experience working in Douglas County. He was a superintendent for two small rural districts for two years and the Douglas Education Service District director of student achievement for four years. He also worked four years as a middle school principal in the Winston-Dillard School District and taught social studies at Philomath High School for six years.

Cordon has worked for the Beaverton School District since 2016 as the administrator of elementary curriculum, instruction and assessment. Prior to that, he was an elementary school principal at two different schools and a high school vice principal for three years.

Middleton has served as the superintendent for the Middleton School District in Middleton, Idaho, since 2016. He also has experience as an assistant superintendent in Billings, Montana, and superintendent in Laurel, Montana. He spent 11 years as a social studies teacher before becoming an administrator.

Second interviews for each of the candidates will be conducted by the school board in executive session.

Roseburg Forest Products denies blame in illegal timber practices report on Congo Basin

Roseburg Forest Products has been accused of “negligent sourcing” after an investigation determined some of the company’s suppliers had illegally logged okoume wood in the Congo Basin rainforest.

The report, released Monday, was written by the non-government organization Environmental Investigation Agency. It claims the wood, which was used primarily in the Breckenridge outdoor siding product line until the company stopped all production and sale of the product after finding out about the investigation, was harvested illegally.

Roseburg Forest Products denied any knowledge or complicity in illegal timber harvesting practices in the West African region.

The Homeland Security Investigations department within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is investigating whether two Pacific Northwest companies — Cornerstone Forest Products and Evergreen Hardwoods — harvested okoume timber in the Republic of Congo and Gabon in Western Africa illegally in participation with a China-based company, referred to in the report as the Dejia Group.

Roseburg Forest Products is one of the major buyers from both importers. The company said in a press release Tuesday it fully supports the investigation into the allegations and “wholly denies any knowledge of or complicity with the alleged actions.”

“Roseburg (Forest Products) proactively engaged third-party experts DoubleHelix Tracking Technologies to evaluate the importers’ compliance and perform onsite, in-person audits of their supply chains. The audits investigated country, species, supply chain, market and other external factors. Although the results of both audits were favorable, with no findings of Lacey Act violations, it appears that the audits were unable to detect the importers’ specific alleged illegal activities,” said Rebecca Taylor, a spokeswoman for Roseburg Forest Products, in a press release.

The investigation includes looking for infractions of the Lacey Act, which was passed in 1900 as the first federal law protecting wildlife. It was amended in 2008 to include plants such as trees used for timber, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website. It includes punishing American companies for violating state, tribal and national laws.

The company hired the auditing company in 2018 to conduct a full audit. This came shortly after Home Depot pulled all products with the wood in question from its stock.

The Environmental Investigation Agency conducted its own investigation into forestry practices in the Congo Basin over the past four years. It found that the Dejia Group, “one of the most influential groups of affiliated timber companies in Africa … has built its business model on bribery and other crimes.”

“According to evidence collected by EIA, the (Dejia Group) has continuously broken the most fundamental forest laws, has turned timber trade regulations upside-down, and has diverted millions in unpaid taxes from the governments of Gabon and the Republic of Congo,” the report summary said.

The agency found that the Dejia Group’s practices are common in the region and “plague the majority of companies.”

The rainforest in the Congo Basin is the second largest in the world, and the agency did the report in an effort to protect the rainforest and the local economies from outside abuse.

The agency recommended governments in Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the U.S., the European Union and China conduct investigations into the Dejia Group and its affiliates.

“(The company) has deliberately kept Evergreen as its intermediary with Africa-based suppliers and a convenient shield against legal enforcement actions,” the report reads.

The company was informed about the investigation on March 11 and was not aware of any issues beforehand, according to a March 18 press release. Taylor said the investigation is expected to last six to 12 months. The report stated that a company foreman said the okoume wood products make up to 10 percent of the company’s production.

“Roseburg has ended the use of okoume veneer in our products and quarantined all okoume fiber in our inventory. We have suspended our business relationships with Cornerstone and Evergreen during the investigation. Roseburg does not endorse or condone any illegal behavior or practices within our industry. Ferreting out bad actors is in the best interests of the wood products industry and the source countries.”

Taylor said the company will not look for a new okoume supplier during the investigation and the plants will continue working as usual.

Longtime community leader Dick Nichols passes away at 89

Longtime Winston resident Dick Nichols passed away Sunday night at the age of 89.

Nichols was part owner-manager of the Nichols Brothers cattle ranch just west of Winston from 1951-2015 when it became one of the largest cattle operations in Oregon.

Nichols was heavily involved in the Winston-Dillard area, along with supporting organizations in Roseburg, Douglas County and even some national groups.

He served on multiple cattle industry boards, including four years on the National Livestock and Meat Board, two years as the Oregon Beef Council chairman. and two years as president of the Douglas County Livestock Association. He also served on several county and city committees and was heavily involved in civic organizations.

Nichols was the Winston Area Chamber of Commerce’s First Citizen in 2008, and he and his wife, Mo Nichols, were honored with the Jim McClellan award for community involvement at the annual Chamber First Citizens’ Banquet on March 18 at the Winston Community Center. Nichols was instrumental in helping create the Music on the Half Shell in Roseburg, and his name is on the Nichols Bandshell at Stewart Park. He was the founder and president of Riverbend Live!, the free summer concert series in Winston.

One of his greatest memories, said Mo Nichols, was meeting with President Gerald Ford in 1974. Dick Nichols, along with two other members of the beef industry, spent several hours prepping Ford before the president’s trip to Japan to talk about opening up the country for beef imports from the U.S.

“We could buy Japanese cars, but the Japanese could not buy our beef,” Mo Nichols said. “Mission accomplished, the result of that meeting with the president and the Japanese opened the doors to trade for our beef.”

A celebration of life is planned for 2 p.m. on April 5 at the Winston Community Center at 440 SE Grape St., Winston.