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Emergency personnel rescue female from river near Stewart Park in Roseburg

Emergency personnel performed a water rescue on the South Umpqua River on Sunday night after three witnesses reported a female person screaming for help from the river, according to a press release from the Roseburg Fire Department.

At 7:54 p.m., firefighters responded to the call at Stewart Park. Three teenage witnesses saw the person in the water between the Stewart Park Drive bridge and the Stewart Park pavilion and called 911.

“They saw the female continue to float through the rapids and under the Stewart Park Bridge,” the department said.

Water levels along the river have been high due to recent heavy rains.

Several emergency agencies arrived on the scene and worked together to rescue the person, according the department.

Douglas County Fire District No. 2 launched a cataraft on the river at Stewart Park. At 8:48 p.m., three Roseburg Fire Department firefighters rescued the person on the southern side of the river near West Harvard Avenue and Old Melrose Road.

“Firefighters used rope bags to get the patient to shore,” the department said. “Once the patient was out of the river, Douglas County Water Rescue personnel, a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy and a Roseburg Police officer assisted with getting the patient up the embankment for transport.”

First responders with Umpqua Valley Ambulance transported the female to CHI Mercy Medical Center shortly after.

Oregon State Police also assisted rescue efforts.

The person’s name, age and condition have not been reported.

Roseburg Fire Department thanked all assisting agencies for “outstanding team effort,” according to the press release.

“With the increased rainfall and high river levels, Roseburg Fire Department is urging citizens to be cautious when walking, driving, or playing near high rivers, creeks, and lakes. Be situationally aware and pay close attention to your surroundings,” the department said.

Fire out, treasures intact but work ahead for Notre Dame

PARIS — An inferno that raged through Notre Dame Cathedral for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers, and a frantic rescue effort saved the monument’s “most precious treasures,” including the Crown of Thorns purportedly worn by Jesus, officials said Tuesday.

Also surviving was the Roman Catholic cathedral’s famous 18th century organ that boasts more than 8,000 pipes, after a plan to safeguard the masterpieces and relics was quickly put into action after the fire broke out Monday. Statues removed from the roof for restoration just days ago also were saved.

Officials consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of restoration work at the global architectural treasure that survived almost 900 years of tumultuous French history but was devastated in the blaze on the second day of Holy Week.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said the inquiry into what caused the fire would be “long and complex.” Fifty investigators were working on it and would interview workers from five companies hired for the renovations to the cathedral’s roof, where the flames first broke out.

Heitz said an initial fire alert was sounded at 6:20 p.m. Monday but no fire was found. The second alert was sounded at 6:43 p.m., and the blaze was discovered on the roof.

News that the fire was probably accidental has done nothing to ease the national mourning for the symbol of national pride immortalized in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

“Notre Dame has survived the revolutionary history of France, and this happened during building works,” said influential former Culture Minister Jack Lang.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said there were still some risks to the structure.

The cathedral is “under permanent surveillance because it can still budge,” Castaner told reporters after a brief visit inside.

The Crown of Thorns, regarded as Notre Dame’s most sacred relic, was among the treasures quickly transported from the Roman Catholic cathedral after the fire broke out, said Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire. Brought to Paris by King Louis IX in the 13th century, it is purported to have been pressed onto Christ’s head during the crucifixion. Also saved was the tunic of St. Louis, a long, shirt-like garment from the 13th century, said Culture Minister Franck Riester.

“The works of art, the most precious treasures were secured last night,” Riester told reporters, thanking teams from city hall, the culture ministry, firefighters and the bishopric who worked to save the items.

Other works were being transferred from City Hall to the Louvre. There they will be dehumidified, protected and eventually restored. The minister said the cathedral’s greatest paintings would be removed starting Friday. “We assume they have not been damaged by the fire but there will eventually be damage from the smoke,” he added.

The 3-meter-tall copper statues that looked over the city from Notre Dame’s 96-meter peak had already been sent to southwestern France for work that is part of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the spire and its 250 tons of lead.

“The task is — now the risk of fire has been put aside — about the building, how the structure will resist,” said Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said work must begin immediately to protect the remaining structure.

Azoulay told The Associated Press it was too early to say whether Notre Dame’s treasured rose windows were unscathed, because art experts hadn’t been able to study the site yet.

The first 24-48 hours were crucial to protecting the stone and wood structure from water damage and assessing the next steps, she said, warning that parts of the cathedral remain “extremely fragile,” notably hundreds of tons of scaffolding around the spire that collapsed. Notre Dame is part of a UNESCO heritage site and UNESCO has offered its expertise.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the cathedral he called “a part of us” and appealed for help to do so.

Offers of assistance began flowing in from around the world to help restore the 12th century tourist attraction to its former glory.

Poland, the Czech Republic and Greece were among those offering to send experts and technicians from their own restoration projects, while major French businesses pledged financial assistance.

Repairing the cathedral, including the 800-year-old wooden beams that made up its roof, presented challenges.

The roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was because “we don’t, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century,” said Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, adding the roof restoration work would have to use new technology.

Also of concern, Feydeau said, is the organ, “a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes.”

“It has not burnt, but no one can tell whether it has been damaged by water. Nobody knows if it is a functioning state or will need to be restored,” he told AP.

Peter Fuessenich, who oversees reconstruction for the Gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, said it could take decades to repair Notre Dame. Cologne Cathedral was heavily damaged during World War II and work to repair it is still ongoing more than 70 years later.

France’s richest businessman, Bernard Arnault, and his luxury goods group LVMH pledged 200 million euros ($226 million) for the reconstruction. Billionaire Francois Pinault and his son, Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Salma Hayek, said they were immediately giving 100 million euros from their company, Artemis, the holding company owning auction house Christie’s and the main shareholder of luxury fashion houses including Gucci. Major French companies Total and L’Oreal each pledged 100 million euros.

Pope Francis offered his prayers that Notre Dame, the “architectural gem of a collective memory,” will once again be a shrine to the Catholic faith, a symbol of the French nation and a spiritual and architectural gift to humanity.

Winston City Council approves public safety fee to fund new police vehicles

WINSTON — The Winston City Council voted unanimously Monday to enact a public safety fee to fund two new police vehicles.

The fee will charge each unit of all properties within the city limits $3 per month, which will be added to sewer bills.

The city has already purchased three new police vehicles, which City Manager Mark Bauer said would arrive in May. One of the new vehicles will be paid for from the city’s general fund.

At the first reading of the ordinance on April 1, city officials said three 2010 Dodge Chargers currently used by the Winston Police Department have far exceeded their life spans and repair costs are too high. They said the fee would allow for long-term funding to replace police vehicles, which the city has never had.

At the meeting, residents filled the city chambers to capacity. Most people who addressed the City Council spoke out against the proposal. They said their monthly sewer bills are already too high and they criticized the city of mismanaging funds.

On Monday, city officials reiterated comments they made at the previous meeting, saying the three oldest police vehicles are unsafe for police officers, and the fee is the most cost-efficient way to fund new vehicles.

“We’ve had a door fall off, we’ve had a wheel fall off, they’re junk,” Bauer said about the three old police vehicles.

City officials said the amount of money needed is too low to fund the vehicles using a bond, which citizens could vote on. City Councilor Scott Rutter said a bond wouldn’t include local nonprofits because they don’t pay property taxes. The fee would include everybody, he said.

The new vehicles cost $52,000 each, according to the report from city staff. The city’s general fund has a balance of $82,435, enough for one full vehicle. The city would pay for the other two vehicles by taking out a $104,000 loan from the sewer plant’s fund at a 2% interest rate, which would be paid back at the end of the fee’s five-year term, according to city officials.

Bauer said only Roseburg has lower monthly sewer bills in the area than Winston. Winston residents pay $47 per month in sewer flat fees.

Susan Chase, a Winston resident who addressed the city Monday, said sewer bills should apply to sewer-related expenses, not funding for police vehicles or other city expenses. She questioned whether the city would enact other fees in the future.

“It doesn’t look good,” Chase said. “Where does it end?”

Bauer said the fee isn’t part of the sewer bill even though it’s collected with sewer bills. He said the city would look into changing the title of the monthly city bill to reduce confusion.

Nanci Staples, a Winston resident who questioned the city officials about the fee at the last meeting, asked if the city attorney looked at the ordinance and whether he recommended any changes. Bauer said the city attorney reviewed the ordinance and didn’t recommend changes.

Staples added the city did not adequately publicize the second, final reading of the ordinance, noting far fewer people attended Monday’s meeting than the last meeting.

“I think we need it,” Staples said about the new police vehicles. “And I think it’s for the people that work for the city as well so that they are in safe environments at all times. My only issue has to do with how this was advertised. The public wasn’t totally aware of what was going on.”

Bauer disagreed with Staples’ suggestion that the public was not aware of the ordinance. He said the city published the City Council agendas on the city website and the agenda was posted outside city hall.

“With the discussion that’s happened on the radio, on the TV, on the website, on the local blog page, do you still believe people don’t know what’s going on?” Bauer asked.

“Yes,” Staples replied.

City Councilor Allen Hobson said residents who want to be aware of the City Council’s actions have the ability to do so.

“If they don’t want to know, you can’t get to them,” Hobson said. “It has been in the newspaper, and then people say, ‘Well I don’t get the newspaper.’ OK, I’m sorry.”