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Fatality brings out concerns at Stewart Parkway crosswalk

An intersection at the south end of the Stewart Parkway and Harvey Avenue in Roseburg got a major makeover when Stewart Parkway was straightened and widened to four lanes north of the YMCA building. The four-lane street extended through the intersection to the south end of the YMCA, and new traffic signals and crossing lights were installed, and the crosswalks got new markings.

But some people who walk the area frequently say they think the intersection is still just as dangerous as it was before the project.

On July 14, 76-year-old Zahia Bellahsene of the Hucrest area was struck by a vehicle in the crosswalk, and died four days later from the injuries she suffered, after she was taken to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield.

Roseburg police said Bellahsene was waiting at the crosswalk to go east across Stewart Parkway when the traffic light turned green at the same time as the walk signal. She was hit as she stepped into the crosswalk.

Sgt. Jeff Eichenbusch of the Roseburg Police Department, said no citations have been issued.

“There was nothing criminal in nature that we were investigating,” Eichenbush said. The case has since been referred to the Douglas County District Attorney’s office.

Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley said the city has heard some concerns from residents about pedestrian safety at the crosswalks, and officials have taken a look to see what could be done. He said the city, with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s help, installed some additional signage at the intersection. The signs are bright yellow between the signal lights and warn drivers to stop for pedestrians.

“We did go out and look and it’s not really different than most intersections at arterials, except that we happen to be in an area where there is a higher volume of pedestrian traffic,” Colley said.

Dave Ison, who lives nearby, walks through the area regularly. He thinks the drivers who are turning right to go south on Stewart Parkway don’t have a clear vision of traffic coming from the north and that causes some problems.

“Vehicles turning right can’t see (southbound traffic) because of all those limbs and things, and the traffic is flowing faster than before,” he said.

Trisha Manchester, a Hucrest resident who said she walks across that intersection several times a day, has had some close calls.

“I was almost hit,” she said. “A truck was literally touching my leg. There are so many kids and young moms with strollers, and elderly people that cross there.”

Jeff Ransom, of Roseburg, who takes his four young kids across Stewart Parkway to get to the YMCA, said he’s also had some close calls.

“(My son Aiden has) been almost hit a couple of times and people don’t look to the right, or they run the light. It’s not a very safe intersection, I don’t think,” Ransom said. “Everybody’s looking left when they’re trying to turn right, and they don’t see the walkers.”

Ison said he didn’t think the safety of pedestrians at the intersection was improved when the street was widened.

“I don’t think it’s safer, but I think what is better in this project is the sidewalk,” Ison said.

Colley said the city is concerned with pedestrian safety at all of their intersections. He said the city is trying to upgrade safety at every intersection.

“This is a new signal. The walk sign was on and it’s very unfortunate that someone failed to yield,” he said.

Ransom said drivers need to take a look around and make sure they’re clear on both sides before they make the right-hand turn onto Stewart Parkway.

“I think mainly, people just need to take some time and be in a little less of a hurry getting through that intersection,” Ransom said.

MSullivan / MICHAEL SULLIVAN/The News-Review  

Vehicles move through the intersection at Northwest Stewart Parkway and Northwest Harvey Avenue in Roseburg on Saturday.

Reedsport native named 2018 Statesman of the Year

Reedsport native Kerry Tymchuk has been selected as the 2018 Statesman of the Year by Oregon Business and Industry. The award has recognized leaders for achievements in public service in Oregon since 2001.

Tymchuk grew up in Reedsport and is a fifth-generation Oregonian. His past accomplishments include serving as Marion County deputy district attorney and serving for three years as chair of the Oregon Lottery Commission. He is currently serving as a member of the Oregon State Fair Council and is the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. In 2013, he was named Most Admired Non-Profit Executive in Portland by the Portland Business Journal. He’s also a four-time winner on the television game show “Jeopardy.”

OBI marketing communications director Tonia Holowetzki said Tymchuk was deserving of the award due to his ability to be bipartisan and civil in today’s times.

“His great sense of humor, his ability to connect with people from all walks of life, his deep, deep respect and love for our state and for our history and for what we can accomplish, I think all of those things makes him stand as a Statesman of the Year,” Holowetzki said. “It’s clear when you talk to Kerry that he is passionate about Oregon and he’s passionate about the success of our state and the success of our citizenry. So those are all important qualities that we honor and respect.”

Past award recipients include Phil and Penny Knight of Nike fame, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, former U.S. senator Mark Hatfield, Portland Mayor Vera Katz and Columbia Sportswear Board Chairman Gert Boyle. Tymchuk said he was honored to be among them as recipients of this award.

“To be included in a list of the people who have won that award previously, heroes of mine like Mark Hatfield, and Gert Boyle, who’s a good friend, and the other folks who have received the award, is very humbling,” Tymchuk said.

He gives his parents credit for instilling his sense of civic duty. His mother, Marlene Tymchuk, was a teacher at Reedsport High School and was Oregon’s Teacher of the Year in 1980. His father, Tom Tymchuk, served four terms as Mayor of Reedsport while his brother, Keith Tymchuk, served for six.

“I give a lot of credit to where I grew up, to parents who taught me at an early age about the importance of giving back to the community,” Kerry Tymchuk said. “Watching them, I learned a lot about the importance of community service, of giving back. So I give them a lot of credit and the community of Reedsport a lot of credit for being able to grow up in a community like that.”

The award will be presented to Tymchuk at a dinner event in Portland on September 13.

Smoky conditions aid firefighting on South Umpqua Complex Fire

Smoky conditions over the last couple days have allowed firefighters to make progress on control lines and spot fires in the South Umpqua Complex, which has grown to nearly 29,000 acres and is 18 percent contained.

However, the smoky conditions limited air operations over the weekend because of low visibility.

On Sunday, Oregon State Fire Marshal’s task forces installed sprinkler kits on 50 homes in the Elk Creek Road area as a precautionary measure. On Tuesday, crews will continue to assess homes west of Prospect to determine where defensible space work is needed. Crews also strengthened control lines and mopped up spot fires that started over the weekend near the Miles Fire.

On Monday, the Columbus Fire was more active along the eastern edge, while the western portion of the fire remained calm. The fire is burning toward an area that was burned in the High Cascades Fire last year and crews are hoping to use a portion of the scar as a control line.

Last week, the now 24,708-acre Miles Fire and 8,729-acre Sugar Pine Fire merged, encompassing a swath of land of the Jackson and Douglas County border.

A high-pressure system will remain across the region until Thursday. As the pressure builds, temperatures are expected to rise along with drier afternoon humidity.

A community meeting is scheduled on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Tiller Rural Fire Protection District.

Roseburg school district to hold executive session, consider dismissal or discipline of superintendent

Roseburg Public Schools is holding a special board meeting to consider the dismissal or discipline of Superintendent Gerry Washburn and a hold pre-termination meeting.

The meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, prior to the regular board meeting, and will be closed to the public.

According to the agenda, the Roseburg Schools Board of Education will meet in executive session to review and evaluate the performance of the superintendent, consider the dismissal or discipline of the superintendent, and have a pre-termination meeting.

In addition to all board members, Washburn is expected to attend the meeting, as are Richard Burton, director of student services, Robert Emerson, director of teaching and learning, Robert Freeman, director of human resources, and Cheryl Northam, chief operations officer.

The last time the school board met to evaluate the superintendent was Aug. 1. Only the school board members were present at that meeting. Prior to the August meeting, the board met on March 22, March 14 and Feb. 21 to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation.

On July 11, the school board appointed Micki Hall to the board to take over for Dan Endicott, who left to pursue a career in school administration. Hall, a retired teacher, had been an outspoken critic of Washburn and demanded his termination prior to her being appointed to the board.

The regular board meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.