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Roseburg City Council pledges $25,000 to economic study for proposed allied and mental health college

Roseburg City Council on Monday authorized $25,000 to fund half of a study that would analyze the economic impact and benefits of the planned allied and mental health college in Roseburg.

Local governments and organizations have been working for years to bring the college to the area. Wayne Patterson, executive director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership, said the college would spur workforce development in an area with extensive mental healthcare needs but a shortage of healthcare workers.

Patterson said the city’s contribution shows the coalition Oregonians for Rural Health, a subgroup of the partnership, local governments and organizations continue to make progress toward establishing the college. He added that completing the study is required to be able to request funding from the Oregon State Legislature.

“We’re excited,” Patterson said. “The hope is that one domino knocks another one down and we just keep knocking these dominoes down until we’ve got a brand new allied mental health university in Roseburg.”

George Fox University and the coalition recently entered a memorandum of understanding to explore building the college in Roseburg. The university would provide the accreditation and the academic model, and the coalition would identify where to build the college and how to manage it.

In its economic assessment proposal, ECONorthwest said the study would analyze how the college would impact employment opportunities, residents’ incomes and tax revenues for local government.

It would also measure potential social benefits such as increased access to local health services, reduced costs of obtaining care, higher quality of life related to employment opportunities and improved access to care.

Additionally, the study would do a cost-benefit analysis of establishing the college.

The rural health coalition and George Fox University aren’t yet at the point of establishing how the college’s budget will look, according to Patterson. The study will allow the coalition to figure out whether the college can receive funding from the state, he said.

“This is a report that’s required by the state in order for us to request funding,” Patterson said. “We want to make sure that it gets into this next legislative session.”

Patterson said the support for the project from the City of Roseburg and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners has been extensive. The resolution to authorize funding for the study passed city council unanimously.

“This is not a one-man show,” Patterson said. “Without their help and helping us fast-track and getting these answers we’d still be halfway where we are today.”

JON MITCHELL/The News-Review  

that’s MY STICK

Dakota, a 1 1/2-year-old pug, plays keep-away with black labrador Annie recently at the Sutherlin dog park. Although a snowstorm in February shattered and toppled trees inside of the dog park, many friendly canines and their owners have continued to frequent the fenced area on the north part of town.

Trump approves Devil's Staircase Wilderness and Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area

President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan public lands package of bills Tuesday. As part of that package, two areas in Douglas County have been set aside for protection.

The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, located near Scottsburg, is a 30,261-acre rainforest named for a series of cascading waterfalls on Wassen Creek.

The steelhead area includes 99,653 acres of Forest Service land which will now be managed to protect wild salmonids. It’s named for Idleyld Park conservationists Frank and Jeanne Moore. Frank Moore is a World War II veteran who has been awarded the French Legion of Honor medal and inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Jeanne Moore is a longtime organizer of the annual Glide Wildflower Show whose discovery of rare plants led to conservation of the Limpy Rock area in the Umpqua National Forest.

Other protections for Oregon lands in the package signed into law Tuesday include permanent protections for the Chetco River and the designation of 250 miles of Oregon rivers and streams as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said the protections will ensure Oregon’s natural treasures for future generations to enjoy.

“Conserving our state’s iconic Devil’s Staircase, adding hundreds of miles of wild-and-scenic rivers, increasing wildfire protections and more totals up to a big win for Oregon’s recreation economy,” Wyden said in a written statement. “This is the largest public lands package passed by Congress in a decade and I look forward to building on its gains for every corner of our state.”

Cascadia Wildlands Director Josh Laughlin said in a written statement that the state’s “inventory of protected wildlands and waterways just got a huge boost.”

“These are storybook landscapes that will be forever safeguarded from industrialization and will continue to provide clean water, recreation, carbon storage, and critical salmon and wildlife habitat at a time it is so desperately needed,” he said.

Roseburg City Council adopts dorm style housing ordinance, authorizes staff to apply for grant to improve Beulah Park

Property owners in Roseburg have two new options for renting apartments following Roseburg City Council’s meeting Monday.

The city adopted land use code changes that will allow developers to create dormitory style apartment units within the downtown district. The code changes also allow homeowners to create accessory dwelling units on their properties.

Previously, property owners had to obtain a conditional use permit to rent those types of rooms.

The changes will align city code with state legislation that took effect last summer requiring cities make such housing options available.

In February, the Roseburg Planning Commission sent the land use changes to City Council for discussion. Magnus Johannesson, who owns two vacant buildings in downtown Roseburg, had approached city planners and was interested in renovating his buildings to create dormitory style apartments.

The buildings, which were originally used as hotels but have been vacant for decades, together contain more than 40 rooms without kitchens or bathrooms — there are shared kitchens and bathrooms in the buildings.

Johannesson said it was cost prohibitive to install bathrooms and kitchens in the individual rooms, which motivated the city to review options that would allow Johannesson to put the buildings to use.

In addition to the land use code changes, City Council appointed John Kennedy to the Roseburg Planning Commission. City Councilors also authorized the city staff to apply for a state grant to improve Beulah Park and approved funding and preliminary designs for local roadway improvements.

City Council President Tom Ryan said he could not vote to appoint Kennedy — who previously served on the parks commission and has been a developer in Douglas and Jackson counties for 15 years — because Kennedy is in a relationship with City Councilor Alison Eggers. Eggers recused herself from the appointment process as a result.

“Kennedy is eminently qualified for this,” Ryan said. “Having said that, I cannot and will not vote for Mr. Kennedy because he’s in a relationship with one of the city councilors. I know it’s perfectly legal, and if the council overrules me that’s fine.”

City councilors Linda Fisher-Fowler, Brian Prawitz, Andrea Zielinski and Ashley Hicks, as well as Mayor Larry Rich, acknowledged the relationship between Kennedy and Eggers, but concluded the couple has nothing to gain personally from their city positions.

City Council decided to appoint Kennedy instead of Patrick Lewandowski to the commission.

Later in the meeting, Public Works Director Nikki Messenger sought City Council approval to apply for an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Local Government Grant, which would be used to renovate Beulah Park.

The park used to have playground equipment, but it exceeded its lifespan and was removed.

The city’s application for the grant was previously denied. The city has revised its grant application and plans to reapply for the $150,000 grant. The city would also use $100,000 from the park improvement fund and $15,000 from the sidewalkfund to complete the project, which includes new playground equipment, new trees and sidewalks.

Additionally, the city authorized a task order for pavement rehabilitation on sections of Stewart Parkway, Garden Valley Boulevard and other main pedestrian areas with Murraysmith, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $188,737.

The city also authorized a preliminary design contract with Century West Engineering for roadway improvements on Douglas Avenue for an amount not to exceed $98,081. The improvements would better facilitate traffic and make the street more accessible to bikers and pedestrians, Messenger said.