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A new year and a new name for Canyonville school

As school opens this week for many Douglas County schools, Canyonville Academy will begin the school year with its fifth name in the school’s 94-year history.

Only this time, the latest name change won’t include any mention of Christianity.

It was originally known as the Gospel Mission Bible School when it opened in 1924, and about five years later, it became Canyonville Bible School. In 1935, the school was renamed Canyonville Bible Academy, and it stayed that way for 64 years until 1999, when it was changed to Canyonville Christian Academy.

Now it will simply be known as Canyonville Academy.

Last fall, a committee, which convened to discuss the name of the school, determined that “Christian” stamped on diplomas proved to be a disadvantage for some international students where Christianity remains a minority.

discussed the name of the school, and whether or not it was putting their international students at a disadvantage, with a diploma that was stamped with the word “Christian” on it.

Roger Shaffer, whose family established the school, still teaches some classes there, and was on that committee. He said committee members agreed they don’t want to put their students in a situation where having a diploma from the school is seen negatively, when they return to their home country.

Shaffer said that even with the name change the school will continue with its same faith-based education model and Christian values.

“But we absolutely do not have any plans to make changes as to the nature of the school and the education,” Shaffer said.”On our website, we are trying to indicate that the school has a Christian heritage and Christian-based education, it’s just that the name won’t be on the documents.”

School officials say they are hopeful it will attract more of the international students to the boarding school in downtown Canyonville, which has a diverse student body from many countries.

“We want to protect our students who come from all over the world,” said CEO Corinne Burkhert. “Some of the countries they come from are not so keen on Christian schools, and I feel that students from those countries will feel more comfortable, and the parents number one concern is to make sure their student is safe.”

Burkhert said through the years, the school has been a college prep school and prepares students for academically and in lifestyle, so when they leave, they’re better prepared to make decisions on their own and better prepared academically to enter college, and this move is just bringing to light, what they really are.

“And that’s a college preparatory school,” she said. “The school has been training and preparing students for college and life for many years, and right now that’s what the focus is on.”

The name change is a work in progress. The administration is still getting all the signs changed, promotional information, website material, and even changing the school name on the athletic uniforms.

The school has an enrollment of about 80 students this year, and about 80 percent of those are international. The enrollment is down a little from past years, but Shaffer attributes that to the large senior class that graduated last spring.

Students come from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Hong Kong, Korea, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, South Africa, some from Vietnam and the school just picked up a student from Lithuania. There are also several U.S. students including some from Douglas County.

Quite a few of the students stay for the full four years of high school, but there are lot of transfers that will come in as juniors or seniors. Most of the international students don’t come as freshmen, but come during their sophomore or junior year and stay through graduation, and for many, it’s to get them ready for a U.S. college.

“They come to improve their English skills and to become ready to go into a college classroom and handle a lecture situation and paper writing and those kinds of things,” Shaffer said. “We feel a real obligation to college prep, so that when the international kids leave us, they’re ready.”

The academy’s reputation of being a safe place with a good education, is attractive for many of the foreign families.

“A lot of the parents are looking for a place that treats their kids as their own child,” Burkhert said.

Canyonville Academy has orientation on Monday, Labor day, and classes will start on Tuesday.

Clean Water Rule drowns out farmer fears

Thanks to a federal judge in South Carolina, Evan Kruse is taking stock of how much water is used at Kruse Farms and where it comes from. Because, if he hears of other farmers are getting fines, he’s going to “have to file for a permit to do absolutely every step of the farming process.”

The worry about water comes after the judge filed an injunction blocking the Trump administration’s delay of the regulation that defines what wetlands and waterways get federal protection. The injunction essentially restores the Waters of the U.S. rule in 26 states including Oregon.

“The Waters of the U.S. rule basically throws the guidelines of the Clean Water Act, the limits of the Clean Water Act, out the window,” Kruse said. “It puts us as natural resource users in this limbo wondering if basically everything we do could be in violation of the Clean Water Act because of their new definition of the Waters of the U.S.”

Kruse is the president of the Douglas County Farm Bureau, a lobbying group that has been at the front of the fight against the rule. Mary Anne Cooper is the Public Policy Counsel for the Oregon Farm Bureau and urged the Trump administration to permanently repeal the rule from 2015.

“Every day Oregon’s farmers and ranchers work very hard to maximize water efficiency and protect water quality because their livelihood and future depend on it, it’s the law, and it’s simply the right thing to do,” Cooper said in a statement about the injunction. “The 2015 WOTUS rule will hurt family agriculture in Oregon and is a case of extreme government overreach with no regard to the impact on rural communities.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 directing Pruitt to review the Clean Water Rule signed in 2015. Pruitt was able to hold the rule for two years while he evaluated whether to rescind or rewrite it. In February last year, the rule was blocked for another two years to February 2020 until the federal court in South Carolina’s injunction.

“I don’t think anybody expects the EPA to start enforcing every single thing that could be enforced, but it’s this selective enforcement,” Kruse said. “If we wanted to completely cover ourselves, we would have to go through the permitting process for all of that.”

In essence, the rule would establish whether anti-pollution laws are triggered if a farmer blocks a stream to make a pond for livestock, a developer fills in part of a wetland to put up a house or an oil pipeline has to cross a creek.

The final rule ensures protections for tributaries that have physical signs of flowing water, even if they don’t run all year round, and ditches that “look and act” like tributaries, said Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works.

“The 2015 WOTUS rule goes far beyond congressional intent and the lawful bounds of the Clean Water Act as articulated by previous Supreme Court decisions,” Cooper said. “At best, it is a solution in search of a problem. At worst, it is a federal land grab designed to give DEQ and EPA control over Oregon’s farmland far beyond what the law calls for.”

Fires near Curtin contained, expected smoke near I-5 for a few days

The six wildlfires that burned an estimated 97 acres along Interstate 5 near Curtin in northern Douglas County was related to a vehicle malfunction from a passing motorist, according to a statement released by the Douglas Forest Protective Association on Saturday.

DFPA officials said a failed catalytic converter from a passing car was responsible for starting the six wildfires.

The fire that was reported around 6 p.m. Friday night was contained by morning and the rural fire districts were sent home once threats to structures was minimized.

Kyle Reed, spokesperson for the DFPA, estimated the six fires together were about 97 acres on Saturday, with most of that focused in the two southern-most fires which combined overnight and are estimated to be about 85 acres together. Reed said they were able to get a dozer line around the fires except 200 feet that was hand-dug.

“That’s reassuring because a dozer line is wider that a typical hand line,” Reed said.

There will still be smoke for a couple of days while the crews continue to work on the fires and mop up the smoldering vegetation.

“It’s been a little bit cooler lately, but the vegetation has been pretty dry and the chances of a fire starting is still high,” Reed said.

Shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday, TripCheck showed clear roads between exits 162 and 165 northbound.

A fixed-wing recon ship will be flying overhead periodically and two helicopters are on standby, but had not taken off by 10 a.m.

Around 6 p.m. crews responded to a report of a natural cover fire burning near milepost 163 along the northbound lanes of I-5. En route, callers reported other fires burning between milepost 162 and 165.

Crews were able to quickly knock down the four most northern fires, the largest of which burned about 4 acres. The two most southern fires, located just north of the I-5 mp 162 onramp, challenged firefighters as both fires moved quickly up the hillside.

Two helicopters were used to help cool the fires as crews and bulldozers worked their way around the fires.

An air tanker from the Medford Tanker Base was also dispatched to the fire and delivered one load of fire retardant across the top of the southern two fires, slowing the fires spread farther up the hill. These two fires eventually merged together and were estimated to be about 78 acres in size.

Structural firefighters, were accessing nearby homes Friday night to determine if structure protection was needed. Reed said no official evacuations had been issued as of Friday night, but nearby residents should be aware of their surroundings and keep up to date with changing conditions.