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Early shoppers keep the cash registers ringing on Black Friday

Shoppers hit the stores early Friday morning in Roseburg, as the Black Friday rush began in the darkness. Many lined up outside of stores in heavy rain to get in early and take advantage of some of the big discounts being offered.

Some stores opened on Thanksgiving night. JCPenney in the Garden Valley Center opened at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and store clerks said they had steady business throughout the day. It was not uncommon to see discounts of 40, 50 or 60 percent and even some as high as 80 percent, to attract shoppers into the store.

Phil Tyler of Roseburg was at JCPenney on Thursday evening doing some early shopping with his family. He said he doesn’t normally come out on Thanksgiving to shop.

“But I made the mistake of getting a newspaper,” Tyler said. “It was the women’s boot sale that brought us out. My wife and daughter are over there hitting that stack pretty hard.”

Tiffany Wells of Roseburg doesn’t shop online and likes to do her buying inside the store. It was her first time shopping on Thanksgiving.

“I’ve always been against it. I strongly believe stores shouldn’t be open because it should be a family holiday and people should be at home with their families,” Wells said. “But we found a good deal on fuzzy blankets.”

Fred Meyer’s half-price sock and underwear sale brought big crowds at 5 a.m. Friday morning with baskets filled with the discounted items and a hubbub that almost caused a traffic jam.

“My biggest thing with Fred Meyer is to come and try to find socks,” said Leo Rincon. “I normally get them for my girls, because my kids play sports.”

Rob Davis of Oakland started his shopping Thursday night at Walmart and then hit Fred Meyer early Friday morning.

“I do online, but I do both, and I like to go to the store and spend time with my girlfriend,” he said. “And I like to watch the people.”

The store had big discounts on TVs and other electronics, and shoppers could find large discounts in other departments throughout the store, including toys.

Ashley Moss found a toy for her daughter at a large discount, and that’s what brought her in. But she also does some online shopping. Moss doesn’t like the idea of stores being open on Thanksgiving.

“No, I’m kind of against that,” she said.

Brandon Carr said he came early on Black Friday — arriving right after 4 a.m. — and spent about an hour waiting for the store to open at 5 a.m. Carr said he just wanted to see if it was as crazy as he had been told.

“Everybody always talks about it, so I thought, ‘I’m going to have to check it out,’” he said. “There are some huge bargains if you can grab them in time, but I like online better. I can lay in bed and do it.”

About 25 customers were lined up outside of the Sportsman’s Warehouse for its opening at 6 a.m. Friday morning. More waited in their vehicles in the parking lot in the downpour.

The store, located near the Roseburg Marketplace, had some inviting discounts that attracted Bob Free of Sutherlin to show up early for electric smokers listed at almost half-price.

“This is for a club, the Oregon Coast Anglers Association, which is out of Winchester Bay, and this will become a raffle item at a fundraiser,” Free said. “This is our first time ever shopping early on Black Friday, and in a sense, we’re doing it for others.”

ShopperTrak, an adviser to retailers and shopping centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia, said Black Friday is expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year.

The company also said that last year, not only was the traffic decline in stores cut in half from previous years, there was a year-over-year increase in sales per shopper of more than three percent.

That indicates that shoppers are still flocking to brick-and-mortar stores and making purchases when they get there, the company said.

District to patch leaking boiler at Eastwood Elementary

The hot water boiler heating system at Eastwood Elementary has been leaking since mid-October, forcing the school to use an older backup system to heat classrooms as the weather gets colder.

The leaking boiler was installed in the 1960s and the original boiler was installed in the 1950s, according to Tracy Grauf, physical plant manager with Roseburg Public Schools. The older boiler has been able to heat classrooms to 60 degrees, but some classrooms far away from the boiler system brought in space heaters to stay warm.

At a Building and Sites Committee meeting Wednesday, committee members decided to patch the leak instead of beginning the process of installing a new boiler system.

Leaking boilers are a common issue throughout the district, because schools are using the original systems from the 50s and 60s when the schools were constructed. As the boilers continue to operate past their typical 40-year lifespan, the committee said it plans to seek grant funding to replace boilers throughout the district.

“It’s just steel, and it will obviously rust,” Grauf said. “With the steam pressure it will get little cuts, and eventually it eats out the seals and starts to leak.”

Grauf said the boiler at Roseburg High School is starting to leak too.

“We have old systems in every school,” said Committee Chairman Steve Patterson during the committee meeting.

Grauf said maintenance staff check the electronic preventative maintenance system to make sure the boilers are functioning optimally every week.

The routine maintenance patchwork on the boiler at Eastwood will cost between $3,000 and $5,000, according to Grauf.

“If we wanted to scrap that and go to a new modern system, we’re probably somewhere between $170,000 to $200,000,” he said.

The district is hoping to receive grant funding to construct seismic upgrades at Eastwood Elementary like those still underway at Green Elementary School.

Grauf said it’s possible the upgrades would require the temporary removal of the boiler at Eastwood.

If the boiler has to be deconstructed and removed, the district may want to install a new boiler system instead of paying for the labor to reinstall the old system.

The district will continue to provide temporary fixes to leaking boilers as issues arise in the meantime, Grauf said.

Strong winds leave hundreds without power in Douglas County

Close to 500 Douglas County residents lost power Thursday before it was eventually restored later that night, according to the Douglas Electric Cooperative.

The outage was first reported around noon when the electric company said approximately 350 residents in the Melrose, Sutherlin and Oakland areas were without power.

Todd Munsey, the company’s spokesman, said strong winds were likely to blame for the blackout. Wind gusts at the Roseburg Regional Airport reached 25 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

By 2 p.m., Munsey said power had been restored to approximately 350 residents in the Melrose area, but about 130 residents in the Oakland and Yoncalla area still were without power. A few hours later, the 81 residents who had lost power on Hogan Road in Oakland had their power restored, but crews continued to work in the Yoncalla area.

By 5:45 p.m., power had been completely restored.

“I’d like to thank all ... our crews for working safely and our members for their patience and understanding,” Munsey said in a press release.

Munsey encouraged residents still without power to call 888-420-8826.

“It’s unfortunate that of all days, this is happening on Thanksgiving Day,” Munsey said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and hope everyone is spending quality time with family and friends.”

Last year, residents in the Tyee area lost power as they were getting ready or their Thanksgiving feast. That outage was the result of a tree that reportedly fell onto a power line and knocked out power for about 180 residents.

However, Douglas County residents weren’t the only ones to have their power go out during this year’s Thanksgiving holiday. More than 400 Salem and east Marion County residents lost power, while at least 1,000 lost power in the Portland area, according to various news reports. But none seemed to be as widespread as the outage in Florence, where as many as 4,500 people lost power after heavy rains and strong winds surged inland.