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Elections
Dennis Rogers comes out swinging in race for Roseburg city councilor

Roseburg city councilor candidate Dennis Rogers said he’s running for office because he thinks anybody but incumbent Tom Ryan should hold the job.

Rogers, who owns the marijuana store Canna King, thinks having a retired police officer like Ryan on the job is like having the “fox guard the hen house.”

Rogers is one of three candidates who has filed for the Ward 2 council seat so far. Ryan is seeking re-election, and former councilor Marty Katz has also thrown his hat into the ring. In interviews earlier this week, Ryan told The News-Review his 20 years of experience on the council was a plus, while Katz said he wanted to return to the council in order to push for downtown improvements like having the parking garage torn down and refurbishing Southeast Main Street.

Rogers cited the city’s handling of a May 7 pedestrian safety sting on Southeast Stephens Street as an example of the type of policy he opposes. During that sting, Rogers was arrested on suspicion of second-degree disorderly conduct.

Roseburg Police Department had a pedestrian walk across the street, using a crosswalk, and then an officer pulled out and cited drivers who failed to follow safety rules like stopping and waiting for the pedestrian to get all the way across the street.

Rogers called that entrapment and said the council shouldn’t have allowed the police to do it.

Instead, he recommended the city install a flashing light, activated when a pedestrian pushes a button, that alerts drivers a pedestrian is about to cross the street.

But on May 7, he took matters into his own hands. He told The News-Review he stood about 100 yards in front of the “cop trap” and warned away people who were approaching it by “holding up a big old X with my arms.”

After about 20 minutes, Rogers said he was arrested, but he paid his $250 bail and went right back out.

“I called up my manager here at Canna King and I told her that I was going to go back out there, and to bring me ... some more money because I might get arrested again,” he said. He wasn’t arrested a second time.

According to the police patrol logs, Rogers was standing in one lane of travel, and an officer politely asked him to step onto the sidewalk and not to yell loudly enough to cause alarm. The logs said he stepped back into the roadway and resumed yelling.

Rogers criticized Ryan for shutting down a May 14 council meeting when Councilor Ashley Hicks mentioned complaints from her constituents about the sting. Video of the meeting shows Ryan abruptly announced he was adjourning the meeting, after cutting off Hicks’s comments. Ryan told Hicks she was “out of line,” and she responded that he was “out of line.” Ryan, who is council president, had been running the meeting in the absence of the mayor that day.

Rogers said he wants to see the council work on saving its pennies.

“We’re not in a timber boom like we have been in generations past. We need to save our pennies and look out for the future, not just spend the money willy-nilly,” he said.

He cited the example of the $5 million the city spent to straighten out the “S” curves on Stewart Parkway, saying there are still curves there. One project he’s glad the city’s spending money on, though, is reopening the library in Roseburg.

“I think that a city without a means of educating themselves is a city that’s destined to fail,” he said. “So I’m glad that they brought that back.”

Rogers previously attempted a run for city council in 2016, but was disqualified from the ballot after some of his signatures were found to be ineligible. He joked that he’d do better this time around by not offering marijuana joints to people who sign. He said last time he posted a joke on Facebook suggesting he would do that, but took it down a few minutes later thinking people might take it seriously. Someone reported it to the Department of Justice, which he said sent him a “really nice little letter saying I probably shouldn’t do that.”

Rogers said he might not have filed if he’d known Katz was going to run; however, Rogers said he’s in it for the win.

“No one’s going to have more signs than me. No one’s going to throw more dollars at this than me. And the whole meme is going to be anybody but Tom,” he said.

Rogers said the people in power oppose him.

“They sure as heck don’t want me to be there as an elected official, and I think that scares them a little bit. Because I am unfiltered, and I’m not afraid to say exactly what I think,” he said.


Public_safety
Fire district wants wealthy homeowners to start paying their fair share

Next May, Douglas County Fire District No. 2 plans to ask voters to create a boundary around the district’s coverage area that would force landowners not currently paying taxes for fire service to pay up.

Douglas County Assessor-elect Heather Coffel said there are “island” properties within the district that haven’t annexed, or opted, into the district and aren’t paying taxes for fire service.

According to Fire Chief Rob Bullock, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars going untaxed.

Nearly a dozen of the properties not currently paying for fire service have total assessed values of more than $700,000 apiece and are located in wealthy neighborhoods on Fisher Road, Hayes Eden Lane and Cross Creek Drive. Some are worth more than one million dollars.

Deputy Chief Scott Richardson said Douglas County is not unique in this issue and added that other areas have taken a different approach.

“There are places in the state where fire chiefs and boards have taken the stance that they’re not going to go, and they have driven and watched houses burn,” Richardson said. “It’s obviously not something we want to do. We’d rather solve the issue.”

Bullock said when fire calls come in, there’s no way to determine whether the property owner is paying for fire service or not. For example, he said there are places where two homes are paying for service, but the one in between them isn’t.

“The people that find out that they’re paying taxes when their neighbors aren’t, they’re not happy,” Bullock said.

Residents who aren’t currently paying the tax have been sent letters asking them to join the district, Bullock said, but they have refused.

“If everybody took that stance and said ‘Oh, I’m not going to pay for it unless I need them,’ then we wouldn’t be there for them when they needed us,” Bullock said.

He said the residents who aren’t paying are also receiving insurance benefits.

“They’re getting the benefit of the insurance rate because our ISO rating is a 3,” Bullock said.

The Insurance Service Office rates a community’s ability to handle fires, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst. Many insurers factor in the rating when calculating home insurance premiums. So while the owners of these expensive houses don’t chip in for the fire service, they directly benefit from it being there.

The fire district has a tax rate of $3.16 per 1,000 of assessed value, so an owner of a $200,000 home would pay $632 a year for fire protection while an owner of a $700,000 home would pay $2,212.

Coffel said she wasn’t sure how the so-called island properties occur in the first place, saying the question was best directed toward the planning department.

She said when fire departments go through the annexation process, they start in the planning department. The assessor then serves as an administrator and collects the taxes once properties have opted into the district.

Planning Director Keith Cubic could not be reached for comment in time for deadline.

However, owners who opted out of the tax are still required to pay for the service if a fire affects their property, Coffel said. The owners would get charged different amounts depending on how many engines show up to the fire and how long they are there, Bullock said. He said the district uses state rates when determining the cost.

Coffel said property owners have the right to say they don’t want to be in the district.

“Because it’s not within a city, people don’t have to be in the taxing district,” Coffel said.

Couple forgone taxes with Roseburg’s ability to annex land within its urban growth boundary and the district is losing out on both money and coverage area.

Last month, the district approved a $12.4 million budget, with an $800,000 projected deficit. Bullock said the number isn’t concrete because he isn’t sure what outsourcing fleet maintenance will cost.

In personnel expenses alone, the district pays out nearly $7.3 million, but only receives $6.4 million in property taxes.

Last month, an information technology employee and fleet mechanic were laid off in an effort to cut costs. The IT position had a combined $127,908 in salary and benefits while the mechanic had a combined $133,196 in salary and benefits, according to data from the fire district.

Staffing per shift has also decreased by one person, down from 13, Bullock said. The entire department consists of 36 firefighters, a fire chief, a deputy chief, a fire marshal and two office support staff.

Bullock said the district has fewer people than it had 25 years ago, but is responding to four times the calls.

“Our revenue is not keeping pace with the cost of doing business,” Bullock said.

Some of the increased costs are uncontrollable, like paying for healthcare increases, but Bullock said he directed staff to cut 25 percent in each of their departments, which has made the materials and services budget “as bare bones as it can get.”

“In our realm, there’s two ways to address the budget: It’s either find a way to increase your revenues or decrease your expenditures,” Bullock said.


Crime
Sutherlin man arrested for allegedly meeting a 14-year-old for sex while his son was in the car

A Sutherlin man was arrested Tuesday after allegedly making plans to meet up with a 14-year-old for sex and bringing his 3-year-old son along.

Kyle Lee Walling, 29, was charged with first-degree online sexual corruption of a child, second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and luring a minor.

The conversation between Walling and the girl began on July 18, when he messaged her on Facebook saying “hi.”

Almost immediately, Walling asked the girl how old she was and she replied that she was 14, according to court documents.

“This is kinda not right u (sic) are 14 and I’m 29,” Walling said, according to court documents.

The Facebook page was operated by a Myrtle Creek police officer, who was posing as a 14-year-old girl to catch people who prey on children.

Over the next few days, the pair continued making small talk.

As the conversation progressed Walling started calling the girl a “cutie” and sent her multiple shirtless photos, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, Walling told the girl that he had a son and a dog and sent photos of both. The girl asked if he was still with the mother, according to court documents.

He said he was divorced, single and that she was “good to go.”

Later on, Walling said, “I want to touch the butt,” and described sex acts he wanted to perform on the girl, according to court documents.

The girl said Walling could either pick her up or he could come over to her house. Walling said he would let her know because he would have his son, according to court documents.

Shortly after he sent a photo of his genitals and described more sex acts, according to court documents.

That evening, Walling made plans to pick the girl up and said he would bring her back to his place because it would be easier to take care of his son. Then, he sent her a photo of three condoms, according to court documents.

The two planned to meet at the North Main Mini Mart in Myrtle Creek. Walling asked if it was the one down from the police station, according to court documents.

When Walling arrived at the mini-mart, he was taken into custody.

His son was placed in the care of the Department of Human Services after police were unable to locate his mother, according to court documents.

When police interviewed Walling, he told them he didn’t believe the girl was 14. He said he was going to ask for her ID and go home if she was underage.

The officer showed Walling the picture he sent the girl of his genitals and Walling said, “I know it was wrong.”

When asked by police if he was a monster or someone that made a mistake, Walling replied that he made a mistake, “a big one.”

Note: The (sic) used in a quote indicates a grammatical error in the original document.


Mike Henneke/The News-Review 

Oona Rabern of Myrtle Creek enjoys a slice of watermelon during the first day of the Myrtle Creek Summer Festival on Thursday at Millsite Park.


Elections
Roseburg City Councilor Steve Kaser won't seek re-election

Roseburg City Councilor Steve Kaser said he won’t seek re-election to his Ward 4 position.

So far, no one’s filed to run for the seat. Candidates have until Aug. 28 to do so.

Kaser said he and his wife recently received an offer on their home. They’re planning to downsize, which may involve eventually moving out of the ward. He said he doesn’t feel it’s fair to the voters to run for a term he might not be able to finish.

“Serving on City Council for almost 10 years has been a pleasure and an honor which made this decision difficult,” Kaser said.

In the meantime, he does have an apartment lined up within his ward, so he will be able to serve out his current term.

Ward 4 is in Southeast Roseburg, and includes the downtown area. Each ward is represented by two councilors, with one position from each ward open in the upcoming election. Councilor Ashley Hicks also serves Ward 4.