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Cobb School classroom turns into colonial Jamestown

When entering Jan Polka’s classroom at Cobb School on Thursday, a large brown banner with sticks noted that it was not a classroom at all, it was Jamestown.

Third through fifth graders had been working in Jamestown all month, transforming their desks into businesses with storefronts and supplies displayed up front.

“We had to build something that represented what we were and we each picked a job that they had back then,” fourth grader Ruby Malepsy said. Those jobs included teacher, wheelwright, apothecary, gunsmith and law enforcement officer.

Students picked the jobs out of a hat, but when they started researching the jobs, they realized they couldn’t find a banker, farmer or candlemaker in Jamestown, and they quickly dismissed those jobs and traded them others.

Each student had to write a report on the job they now held in Jamestown and design a poster.

Angela Haber, a fifth grader, said she learned that wheelwrights don’t just fix wagon wheel, “but they also fix the wagons.”

Polka brought in most of the props to display the supplies, such as books for the school and bottles for the apothecary.

Students even created a roof from branches, sticks and twigs for their stores. Because of the roof, the students came up with a new way of getting the teacher’s attention: instead of raising their hands, they now raise a flag attached to their storefronts.

“I like the buildings on our desks because it gives us more privacy,” fourth grader Parker Rodgers said.

Desks were set up in a horseshoe shape and on the floor in the middle of the room, Polka painted a map of the 13 original colonies. Students were quick to name them all and were able to point out where Jamestown was on the map.

Additionally, students learned about the climates in the different colonies and raindrops — marbles hanging by a string — were hanging from the ceiling above the South, and paper snowflakes hung over the North.

Staging the classroom was just one part of Polka’s teaching method.

“I was a terrible student in school and it’s because I had to read out of a book a memorize,” Polka said. “My idea was to get them involved as much as I could and really get them to be a part of what’s going on.”

Polka, who has 38 years of teaching experience, frequently decorates her classroom and is excited for two more projects before the end of the school year; oceans and the westward movement.

Springtime crime prevention

Spring has finally arrived and we know many of you are taking advantage of the nicer weather to catch up on yard work. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind you of some crime prevention tips to keep you and your home safe.

In warm weather months, personal property thefts increase. There is a tendency to leave items such as bicycles, tools, lawnmowers, weed eaters and other yard equipment lying around in the open. Make sure you lock up your personal property in your garage or shed when not in use. It only takes a moment for someone to ride by and quickly take your property.

Courtesy of Andrea Zielinski 


While working in the yard and spring cleaning, we suggest you keep your doors locked. In fact, even when you are in your home, it is a good idea to lock your doors behind you. Too many of us leave valuables — purses, wallets and car keys — within reach from inside the front door. Locking your doors prevents a thief from stepping inside long enough to grab your purse and disappear.

Trim shrubs and hedges around the property to prevent sight lines from being blocked. Minimize landscaping around doors and windows so that it can’t be used as cover for someone attempting to enter your home. Try to view your own house and property the way a thief might see it. Identify vulnerabilities and take steps to make things more secure.

When you finish with that yard work, remember to clean up and put things away. Ladders and other tools left out have been known to be used by criminals to gain access into homes. Keep garage doors closed and lock any storage unit or shed you have on your property. An open door is an invitation to a thief. Deny criminals the opportunity to steal by securing your home and property.

Many people open windows or sliding glass doors while they are at home. Recognize that these openings may be common points of entry for would-be thieves. Always close and lock your windows and sliding doors when you go to bed or leave the house. If the window is required for ventilation, install a stop that allows it to be opened no more than 4 inches.

At night, keep your porch light on. Install motion-sensitive outside lights to brighten dark areas around doors or windows.

Consider investing in an alarm system or a video surveillance system, which have been proven to be very effective in deterring crime, and in case you are a victim, a good video surveillance system can be very successful in identifying the thief.

Being a good neighbor can be one of the best crime prevention tools. Watchful, attentive neighbors can spot suspicious activity and alert the police and the community to their presence. Get involved in your community, and help build good relationships with your neighbors.

Always report any activity that seems suspicious. Our emergency dispatch center will send an officer to the area to cruise through your neighborhood. To report suspicious activity or extra patrol, please call 541-440-4471. For crimes in progress or if someone is in immediate danger, dial 911.

Costs top $11.1 million to public entities in Douglas County from February snowstorm

Storm damage passes $11.1M

{child_byline}MAX EGENER

The News-Review


Damage to local public agencies from the devastating February snowstorm topped $11.1 million in Douglas County, according to an assessment from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

The snowstorm dropped more than one foot of heavy snow in some areas of the county, taking down trees and utility poles, blocking roads and collapsing structures. Many residents in the more rural areas of the county were without water for weeks as local pump stations also lost power.

Costs to Douglas Electric Cooperative for utility repairs made up $9.4 million of the county’s total. Thirteen public entities in the county, including five cities, the Cow Creek Band of South Umpqua Tribe of Indians and the Sutherlin and South Umpqua school districts, reported damage.

“The Douglas Electric Co-op was one of the hardest hit with power outages affecting the entire population of Douglas County with some residences without power for almost a month,” read a letter sent by Gov. Kate Brown to President Donald Trump on April 16. “This was the worst outage in the utility’s 81-year history.”

Brown’s letter requested the President declare a major disaster for the state. The declaration would allow public entities to be reimbursed up to 75% of the cost.

On Feb. 28, Brown declared a state of emergency, which included Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn and Marion counties. Coos, Curry, Douglas and Lane declared local emergencies.

Costs to Lane County were the highest at $17.3 million. But Douglas County had the highest per capita costs at $103.71, compared to $49.30 and $40.10 in for Lane and Curry counties.

Wayne Stinson, emergency manager with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said the county tried to paint the most accurate picture as possible of the destruction, including damage to homeowners and businesses, in its preliminary damage assessment. Additionally, the only death in the state that occurred as a direct result of the storm was in Douglas County, according to Brown’s letter.

The damage doesn’t qualify for FEMA’s reimbursement for private citizens or businesses, he said. That classification is reserved for more severe disasters in which homes are completely destroyed by a tornado or hurricane, for example.

He said that distinction is often difficult to tell people who experienced damage from the storm.

“If you’re struggling paycheck to paycheck, and you have something significant like that happen to your home, and for whatever reason you didn’t carry homeowner’s insurance, it’s tough,” Stinson said.