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County government hears first reading of ordinance to retain public health authority

The Douglas County government will likely continue to maintain authority over public health services in Douglas County.

In November, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners had approved an ordinance that would have transferred the public health authority to the Oregon Health Authority. The commissioners Wednesday held the first reading of an ordinance that would rescind that order. A second reading of the ordinance will be held March 27, at which time the commissioners are expected to vote on it.

If the ordinance is approved, the end result would be that the county would continue to provide public health services using the same unique model it has been using in recent years, in which the services have been privatized and the county contracts with the nonprofit Douglas Public Health Network to oversee them. The nonprofit subcontracts with organizations like the Umpqua Community Health Center to provide services like immunizations and reproductive health.

Commissioner Tim Freeman praised the Douglas Public Health Network’s work Wednesday.

“They’ve been doing a fantastic job. The Oregon Health Authority recently did a triennial review of all their programs and it came back fantastic,” Freeman said.

The county first began its move toward privatizing health services in 2014, when it dropped its mental health department and transferred its mental health authority over to the state. The nonprofit Community Health Alliance was quickly formed to provide mental health services. Today, those services are provided by Adapt. The county planned to offload its public health authority to the state later in 2014, but backed off following strong public opposition and a negative reaction from the state.

In 2015, after Freeman took office and a report was completed by former Community Cancer Director Mel Cheney, the county moved instead to retain the public health authority and privatize public health services. Roseburg pediatrician Bob Dannenhoffer, who has a long history of promoting health care reform, was brought in as the public health administrator, becoming the county’s sole public health employee. He remains in that post and also heads the Douglas Public Health Network.

Local choirs take the stage at Douglas Invitational Choir Festival

The Rose Theater was filled with music from eight different choirs during Wednesday’s Douglas Invitational Choir Festival Program held at Roseburg High School.

“There was a lot of enthusiastic singing,” adjudicator Donna Spicer said. “Sometimes choirs are timid, but today the choirs sounded more mature and many of them did quite well. It’s just fun to hear the kids singing enthusiastically.”

Roseburg High School’s concert choir started the festival at 9 a.m. and the school’s Cantamus choir closed at 1:30 p.m.

After a Sililiza by Roseburg Cantamus, adjudicator Debra Gaddis said, “I just want more.”

RHS Cantamus — Sililiza

“I’m really proud of their character,” said Julie Cherry, the school’s choir director. “They could’ve given up because we lost a week of preparation because of the snow, or they could kick it into high gear and they chose the second option. It’s incredible.”

The school’s choir program partnered with Hannah Abercrombie, Douglas High School’s choir director, to bring the high school’s festival to Roseburg.

For many of the smaller schools in Douglas County, it serves as a qualifier for the statewide competition hosted by the Oregon School Activities Association.

Sutherlin had two choirs in the competition while the other competing schools were Yoncalla, Douglas, Glide and Bandon.

“Overall the atmosphere was very positive,” Cherry said. “It was more about the music and less about competition.”

While smaller choirs tried to qualify, others were just there for feedback or to get comments from the adjudicators. Roseburg’s choir hopes to qualify for the state competition during an April 10 performance in Medford.

Gaddis, Spicer and Karen Gibbs were the adjudicators, providing feedback to the choirs following their performances and scoring them for competition.

“There was a lot of excellent music,” Gaddis said. “Obviously there’s good teaching in the school. Despite missing a week of school for the most part they did well.”

MSullivan / MICHAEL SULLIVAN/The News-Review  

Regal Maintenance Contractors owner Zach Iachini demonstrates Thursday how he utilizes a drone equipped with a video camera in the contracting business he established earlier this year Thursday in Roseburg.

Uber officially open for business in Roseburg

After months of uncertainty, Uber is open for business in Roseburg.

The city received an Operator’s License Application from the ride-hailing company on Wednesday, after a revised city ordinance setting rules for the company went into effect the same day.

A representative for Lyft, another ride-hailing service, is currently in the process of completing the company’s application, according to a press release from Amy Sowa, the city recorder, who led negotiations with the company.

Uber’s registration comes seven months after Roseburg City Council passed an ordinance allowing ride-hailing services to operate in town.

Shortly after the ordinance passed in August, Uber and Lyft said they wouldn’t come to Roseburg unless the city became part of the service area of Eugene or Medford. Roseburg’s background check requirements for drivers were too stringent for the companies, which consider themselves “second chance” companies — the companies’ internal background checks extend no more than seven years into a driver’s past.

That prompted city staff to renegotiate with the ride-hailing services. In February, the city passed a revised ordinance, which matched Medford’s ordinance and aligned Roseburg’s background check with the companies’ seven-year maximum.

In order for a driver for Uber, Lyft or any other transportation network company to legally provide vehicle-for-hire services, each driver must sign up with the company and apply to be approved for a separate for-hire permit, according to the city press release.

Roseburg’s local taxi company, Sunshine Taxi, also has a new smartphone app allowing riders to hail drivers.

Vehicle-for-hire driver permit applications are available through the city at

People who have additional questions can contact City Recorder Amy Sowa by email at, or by calling 541-492-6866.