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Sunnyslope buys every student a book thanks to donations

It started with a simple request on Facebook: Would anyone be interested in giving the gift of reading this holiday season?

Within minutes of posting her message, Casey DeGroot, a fifth-grade teacher at Sunnyslope Elementary School, saw the responses begin to flood in.

“Count me in!”

“I will help!”


“The response in like 20 minutes was so overwhelming,” DeGroot said.

DeGroot’s post in early November asked friends and family if they’d be willing to donate $7 apiece to buy brand-new books for the students in her class. “Thanks for considering blessing the life of one of my students!” the post read.

Enough pledges quickly came in for DeGroot’s class of 25 students. Then enough came in to cover the other fifth-grade class. Eventually, enough funds were raised to purchase new books for all the kids in the school.

With hundreds of Facebook friends DeGroot cast a wide net, and around 60 or 70 people came forward to donate. Some sponsored one student and others sponsored multiple kids. Some people donated $100. A college friend of DeGroot’s who teaches overseas was so moved by the idea that she donated $1,000.

DeGroot ultimately raised a little over $2,000 to purchase about 650 books for the 280 or so students enrolled at Sunnyslope. Teachers throughout the school passed around Scholastic Book magazines to allow each student to decide how to spend his or her $7. Many students were able to order two or three books each.

“It was a nice change to see social media used in a proactive and positive way and just to see the generosity of spirit,” DeGroot said.

Before the holiday break, teachers unpacked boxes of books and began handing them out.

One of DeGroot’s students, Liam McCallister, had ordered “Old Yeller,” “101 Ho Ho Holiday Jokes” and “Lone Stars.”

“They seemed like a fun thing to read,” he said, adding that it felt “awesome” to be able to choose his own books.

Fellow fifth-grader Cadence Denny was particularly excited to receive “Magic Kitten.”

“I like cats,” she said, explaining that the new book will join her collection at home.

Sunnyslope Principal Don Schrader said the donations were greatly appreciated.

“Anytime you have something like that at our school, it’s great,” he said.

DeGroot, who is in her fifth year of teaching in Douglas County and previously taught in Wisconsin, wanted to ensure that her students continued to read over the winter break. She knows not all children have the same access to books, and she wanted to make sure her students received a special gift for the holidays.

“I think every kid deserves a good book and that opportunity to read,” she said.

Don and Sally Kruse honored posthumously by Oregon Farm Bureau

The late Don and Sally Kruse from Kruse Farms in Roseburg were honored at the 86th Oregon Farm Bureau annual meeting earlier this month in Salem.

OFB President Sharon Waterman presented the OFB Memorial Award to the family of the longtime Farm Bureau members.

The award was accepted by Evan Kruse, the couple’s grandson and outgoing president of the Farm Bureau. Don Kruse passed away on May 13 at the age of 87.

“In the Farm Bureau family, we remember grassroots leaders who’ve inspired us with their dedication, integrity, and heart. We’re proud to honor Don and Sally Kruse, longtime members of Douglas County Farm Bureau, to recognize their many years of outstanding service in their lifetimes,” Waterman said.

Don was raised on a family farm in Roseburg that was established in 1923 by his father, H.B. Kruse.

Kruse Farms grew from 15 acres into 500 acres raising 60 different crops and orchards, along with its farm market.

Don Kruse served as president for the Farm Bureau and many other leadership roles in the county.

Shelley Wetherell of Umpqua, a long time member, was also honored at the event with the Farm Bureau Top Hand Award and also the 2018 County Farm Bureau Woman of the Year Award.

“It’s vital to the preservation and success of farming and ranching in Douglas County that the Farm Bureau continue to promote the importance of agriculture within our community,” Wetherell said.

Wetherell is known for sharing her understanding of Oregon’s complex land use policy and organized Farm Bureau members to testify before the Douglas County Commissioners in hearings involving a Rural Open Space designation and Rural Transition Zoning classifications.

Kruse Farms is located northwest of Roseburg and has been growing produce in the area since 1923.

Ninth Circuit OKs early appeal in climate case

A federal appeals court appears to have dealt a blow to a youth-led climate lawsuit against the government.

In an order issued Wednesday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a government petition to appeal the case before it goes to trial.

The case had been scheduled for trial in Eugene beginning in late October, but proceedings have been suspended while the government tries to get it thrown out of court.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision comes more than a month after District Court Judge Ann Aiken certified the case for interlocutory appeal.

Alex Loznak, one of the 21 plaintiffs in the case, said he remains optimistic despite Wednesday’s decision.

“It could have been worse,” Loznak said, adding that the court could have ruled to dismiss the lawsuit.

“I still believe in the underlying legal theory of the case,” he said.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs — 21 youths between the ages of 11 and 22 — on Thursday filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Eugene requesting that proceedings be restarted.

Chief Judge Sidney Thomas and Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon supported the government’s petition. Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland wrote a dissent that criticized the majority’s decision.

Julia Olson, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said Thursday in a statement that the three-judge “panel had an obligation to assess independently both the order of the district court and whether interlocutory appeal was appropriate. Only the dissenting judge did that analysis in her reasoned opinion.

“The bottom line is, this case is ready for trial, and should not be held up by further appeals,” Olson said. “The government has used the power of their office and the depth of taxpayer coffers to waste precious time and resources to avoid trial in this case, and now the court has capitulated with little scrutiny. This case deserves rigorous analysis based on the evidence introduced in court. Our youth plaintiffs did not receive that consideration in this majority opinion.”

The court case stems from a 2015 lawsuit filed in federal court in Eugene by attorneys representing the youth plaintiffs, six of whom are from Eugene.

The suit alleges the government has for decades ignored the dangers associated with the burning of fossil fuels while permitting and encouraging their use. It alleges constitutional violations and seeks a court order directing the government to put in place a national plan that works to stabilize the climate.

The government repeatedly has objected to using the court to set climate policy, and also has asserted the plaintiffs lack of standing to sue. The 9th Circuit already has dismissed three petitions seeking the case’s dismissal, while the Supreme Court has twice declined to intervene.

Roseburg Forest Products expects lawsuit to affirm water rights in California

A senior vice president with Roseburg Forest Products said Wednesday his company, embroiled in a water war with the “Weed 9,” expects its water rights to be upheld in court.

Stuart Gray, senior vice president and general counsel for the company, released an identical statement it did on Dec. 18 in response to picketing at its Springfield offices.

About 50 residents from Weed, California, say a nearly century-old judgment guarantees the northern California community water rights to at least some of Beaughan Springs. Roseburg Forest Products maintains that it has absolute rights to the water from the springs.

Last year, the company took the city of Weed, the Weed 9 and another advocacy group to court to have a judge decide who has ultimate water rights.

Gray said in the statement that the company bought the Beaughan Spring and the water rights in 1983, but it is working with the city while it works out its water needs.

“The lawsuit at issue simply seeks to eliminate challenges to such ownership; the litigation seeks no monetary compensation from any party,” Gray said. “The legal process to affirm that ownership is lengthy and complex.”

Members of the Weed 9 group consider the lawsut a SLAPP — Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation — and a way to inhibit their First Amendment rights, an allegation that the company denies.

“The City and Roseburg have a signed water lease agreement to ensure supply while the City seeks alternative sources to replace the small portion of the City’s water supply that the Beaughan Springs agreement represents,” Gray said.