You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Efforts to restore Willis House continue despite recent funding setback

Local nonprofits continue to make progress on rehabilitation for Roseburg’s historic Willis House, despite a recent setback.

Two weeks ago, the Downtown Roseburg Association and NeighborWorks Umpqua, the housing and community development nonprofit that owns the property, were notified they didn’t receive a $200,000 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for renovations.

But Nick Noyes, spokesman for NeighborWorks, said the nonprofit is committed to fully restoring the house and is still pursuing large grants. The nonprofit plans to use the building for employee offices.

The yellow, two-story house located downtown on Southeast Rose Street was built in 1874 by William R. Willis, who served as Douglas County’s first justice of the peace and on the Roseburg City Council as mayor and as a city councilor.

The city moved its offices to the house until 1973 after the 1959 Roseburg blast damaged City Hall.

Despite being on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the city-owned house was left vacant in 2012 and fell into disrepair.

Between 2012 and 2017 police made frequent stops to patrol the house’s adjacent gazebo, which was used by homeless people seeking shelter. Trespassers broke into the house in 2016, racking up $22,300 in damage costs. City staff had to declare an emergency to immediately cover the costs of hiring a hazmat-certified cleaner.

After several private-buyer offers fell through, NeighborWorks bought the house from the city in 2017 for $137,500. Since then, the nonprofit has been working with local groups to secure funding for repairs.

NeighborWorks is currently working to restore the front porch and porch roof. That project is funded by a $10,000 facade grant from the City of Roseburg and another $3,000 grant in partnership with the City of Roseburg through the Oregon Heritage All-Star Community Grant Program.

NeighborWorks expects the full renovations will cost $440,000, according to Noyes.

“We are also completing second-floor interior work this spring so that the first employees from NeighborWorks Umpqua and Umpqua Community Property Management can occupy the building,” Noyes said in an email.

While NeighborWorks and the DRA didn’t receive the $200,000 Park and Recreation grant through the Oregon Main Street program, the nonprofit is waiting on another $200,000 grant from the National Parks Service.

In March, the Roseburg City Council authorized city staff to apply for the Park Service’s Historic Revitalization Subgrant program. Along with other projects included in the application, the grant would be $750,000.

“While we were not awarded the Oregon Main Street revitalization grant, there is still hope with our second grant application,” Noyes said.

Kuri Gill, a spokeswoman for the state Parks and Recreation Department, said the Willis House didn’t get the Oregon Main Street grant because there were questions about the phasing of the renovations and sources of matching funds.

“Some other of the applications had the full matching funds in place,” Gill said. “It is a competitive grant program, so, unfortunately, we can’t award it to everyone. We wish we could. We hope that Roseburg does apply for this program in the future if it gets funded again, and also for our other grant programs.”

Noyes said even if NeighborWorks doesn’t receive the Parks Service grant, the nonprofit will continue pursuing funding through historic preservation grants until all the renovations are complete.

“It is a very important project for us,” he said.

Local Native American history brought to foreground in social studies courses

Students in Oakland Elementary School’s fourth grade classrooms are part of a Native American tribe during their social science studies, with their teacher as the chief.

Starting in the 2019-20 school year there will be a statewide curriculum on Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes as part of tribal history/shared history.

On Tuesday, groups of about eight students formed bands, named a spokesperson and created a symbol.

The spokespeople then got to participate in tribal meetings where they discussed important issues, such as the lunch menu and extra recess.

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians created curriculum, with the help of Education Northwest, which was piloted at three school districts in Douglas County this year — South Umpqua, Oakland and Roseburg.

As part of the curriculum, the students learned about how native governments work in a hands-on way.

Oakland teachers Sarah Henry-Patt and Rose Abbey were both excited to receive the instructional materials.

“No textbook from a national source is going to tell you about Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes,” Henry-Patt said. “I’ve always had to piece together my curriculum, but I’ve always taught Native American history because it’s so important to teach students about the rich history in our area.”

Cow Creek Tribe Education Support Specialist Sandy Henry said state and local materials will complement each other.

Senate Bill 13 was signed into law during the 2017 legislative session. It called upon the Oregon Department of Education to develop a curriculum relating to the Native American experience in Oregon, including tribal history, tribal sovereignty, culture, treaty rights, government, socioeconomic experiences, and current events.

In May 2018, Education Northwest signed a contract with the state to assist in creating curriculum and assessment tools for Essential Understanding of Oregon’s American Indians which will be taught to fourth, eighth and tenth graders. The curriculum will align with state standards in English, arts, science, math, social science and physical education and health.

An advisory committee was formed with representatives from each of the nine tribes and began drafting the essential understandings.

“There is a very focused thought process with Indian tribes that this is an opportunity to tell an accurate story of indigenous people,” Henry said.

While the statewide curriculum will focus on all nine confederated tribes, Cow Creek also developed its own curriculum to expand on the statewide curriculum.

“It makes sense to me. You wouldn’t live in Rome and never bother to study Romans,” said Juliana Marez, who is in charge of American Indian Education at Roseburg Public Schools. “Oregon history didn’t start a few hundred years ago, it’s thousands of years old. That rich history, those cultures that have been here from time immemorial, those are cultures that are stepping forward and saying, ‘This is what we know and this is what we’ve learned by living in this space for thousands of years.’

“They have the opportunity to share that knowledge and help craft that curriculum so that all the kids get to know what was the name of that mountain over there before it was relabeled after some Army general or whatever,” Marez said. “What was the original name of it and what does it mean for the people who have lived here for thousands of years?”

Curriculum for fourth graders will focus on an overview, first contact and an introduction to the Cow Creek tribe. Eighth graders will focus heavily on treaties while tenth graders will learn about tribal sovereignty, the constitution and elected officials by the tribe.

Sarah Thompson-Moore, who is a member of the tribe, created three illustrations that are included in the curriculum. The images show a plank house, a camas root gathering and a village scene.

Henry said the local tribe plans to facilitate and problem solve as the curriculum is implemented. They also plan to make the Cow Creek educational material available in Douglas County and beyond.

Teachers will have the opportunity to get trained through professional learning opportunities on the new curriculum, prior to the start of the next school year.

As of Oct. 1, 2018, there were 14,408 total students enrolled in Douglas County public schools of which 248 were reported as American Indian/Alaskan Native, according to Chelsea Duncan, a district spokeswoman. As of April 16, Roseburg Public Schools had 74 students who checked only Native American on their registration forms, but Marez said those students represent 23 different tribes. School registration forms with more than one box checked were not counted in either tally.

Decades after their deaths, 13 veterans memorialized in last of three ceremonies

Thirteen Navy and Air Force veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War were honored Thursday at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex. It was the last of three days of services for 28 veterans whose remains were forgotten on a shelf for decades at a local mortuary.

The remains were rediscovered through the research of Douglas County Veterans Forum member Carol Hunt and retired Roseburg National Cemetery technician Gigi Grimes Shannon. It’s one of the largest groups of unclaimed veterans remains ever to have been recovered in the state.

Their efforts concluded with all the veterans receiving memorials with full military honors. It also wound up reuniting the remains of three of the veterans with their loved ones. One of those veterans, Ulysses Brown, turned out to have been a member of the Karuk Tribe of Northern California. Following the ceremony, Patriot Guard Riders planned to transport Brown’s ashes and a folded flag to California so he could be restored to his tribe. Brown’s sister had searched for him for decades but sadly died a few years before his ashes were rediscovered. A member of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Ryan Bouchard, accepted Brown’s flag on behalf of the Karuk Tribe at Thursday’s ceremony.

Also attending Thursday’s ceremony were Nancy Gile, the daughter of veteran Robert “Red” Young, who served in the years between World War II and the Korean War and died of a heart attack in 1982. Gile’s sister Vonnie Davis, brother David Young, and other relatives also attended.

Gile told The News-Review last month the funeral director at Chapel of the Firs promised her mother he would spread her father’s ashes. Gile was horrified to learn that his remains had instead sat on a shelf for four decades before being rediscovered.

On Thursday, Gile accepted a folded flag for her father.

“It was amazing,” she said of the service afterward. “It helps give us closure again. It was beautiful.”

The family plans to scatter Young’s ashes at a meadow near Lemolo Lake, where he had fond memories of hunting with his father.

Accepting the flag for 11 veterans Thursday was Douglas County Veterans Service Office Director Mary Newman-Keyes, who was named official next-of-kin for all whose families could not be identified. Newman-Keyes delivered the obituary for all the veterans, mostly pieced together from old obituaries.

John Allread served in the Navy from April 1942 to February 1944 during World War II. He was born Feb. 18, 1923 in Montana and in March 1963 married LaVerne Baker. He moved to Roseburg in 1975 and then to Sutherlin. He was a member of the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans and the VFW in Roseburg. He died May 15, 1985, at age 62.

James Eades served in the Navy during World War II. There was no obituary they could find, Newman-Keyes said.

“I’m really sad about that. We just looked hard and couldn’t find anything,” she said.

Raymond Lomas served in the Navy from June 1943 to June 1945, during World War II. He was born Dec. 13, 1913 in Massachusetts. In 1943 he married Ellen Beasley in Arizona. He lived in Coos Bay, then moved to Roseburg. He was a member of the Catholic Church. He died Oct. 21, 1984, at age 70.

Robert Pendergast served in the Navy from May 1943 to January 1946, during World War II. He was born Dec. 7, 1925 in Oklahoma. He moved from California to Douglas County and was a member of the Catholic Church and was a retired plasterer. He died July 24, 1978, at age 52. Survivors included a son Robert and a daughter Mary Lynn.

Lawrence Peterson served in the Navy from August 1943 to April 1946, during World War II. He was born Aug. 19, 1917 and married Maxine in August 1940 in Illinois. He died Dec. 25, 1982, at age 65.

George Teply served in the Navy from September 1942 to February 1946, during World War II. He was born March 11, 1911 in New York City. He retired in 1963 from Pacific Power and Light and was a storekeeper and accountant. He died Feb. 10, 1979, at age 67.

Louis Weigert served in the Navy from December 1943 to March 1945, during World War II. He was born June 28, 1912 and lived in Canyonville. He died May 7, 1987, at age 64.

Albert Withers served in the Navy from August 1942 to November 1945, during World War II. He was born June 12, 1908 in Wisconsin. He died July 21, 1987, at age 80.

Robert Young served in the Navy from 1947 to 1949 in between World War II and the Korean War. Young was born Oct 5, 1929 in Klamath Falls. He and his wife Ruth lived in Oakland where they were members of the Oakland Church of Christ. He died July 4, 1982, at age 52.

Ulysses Brown served in the Air Force from May 1948 to July 1952 during the Korean War. He was born Nov. 25, 1928 in California, and was a member of the Karuk Tribe.

“We contacted them and they told us his sister had been looking for him for years. Unfortunately, she died four years ago. Other family members have requested that he be returned to the family to be buried in the tribal cemetery,” Newman-Keyes said. Brown died Nov. 15, 2000, at age 72.

Joseph Jacobs served in the Air Force from November 1954 to November 1955, during the Korean War. He was born March 12, 1929. He died Oct. 27, 1994, at age 65.

Leonard Rhodes served in the Air Force from June 1950 to June 1954, during the Korean War. He was born on April 25, 1926 in Idaho and married his wife Evelyn in February 1978 in Vancouver. He died Aug. 17, 1997, at age 71.

Charles Johnson served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was born June 12, 1946 and died Sept. 9, 1999, at age 53.

As she had for all three services, Newman-Keyes spoke about a dream her friend Kim Jasper had in which many veterans were standing around laughing and having a good time in a “waiting” room across from the Veterans Service Office. Newman-Keyes was stunned, since this was the room where a committee was planning to place the veterans’ remains for storage until the memorial service had been held, but her friend at that time knew nothing about the project.

Jasper, an Air Force veteran herself, attended Thursday’s memorial. She said afterward she doesn’t know whether her dream was a premonition, but it’s nice to think that it was and that the veterans are now at peace.

Hunt said at the end of the final service she felt a great sense of relief about the conclusion to the project she started.

“It’s been a very emotional ride this week,” Hunt said. She said she’s pretty tough, but found herself choked up several times this week.

“I’m happy that we’ve got Mr. Brown going back to his tribe. That’s the third family that we’ve connected and we’re looking for more to come, and we’ll be ready,” she said.

Roseburg school bus filmed going wrong way on I-5 on-ramp

A Roseburg resident posted a video on Facebook around noon Thursday showing a school bus making a U-turn on a local Interstate 5 on-ramp to go against the flow of traffic.

The bus is operated by First Student, a company contracted by Roseburg Public Schools to handle transportation needs of the district. A First Student spokesperson said the company and driver take full responsibility.

“The driver is a long-term employee and has a strong driving record,” according to a First Student spokesperson. “Certainly it was a mistake and the driver has been disciplined and is certainly undergoing retraining right now.”

Roseburg Public Schools released a statement that read, “Roseburg Public Schools takes the safety of students very seriously and feels confident that First Student will work to ensure this type of incident does not happen again.”

Interim Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Lee Paterson said he is aware of the video and is not happy about the incident, but said the bus company is handling the investigation.

The school district entered into a five-year contract with the bus company starting on July 1, 2016. The school board unanimously approved a 3% increase in rate, which is the minimum under the contract, during the May 8 board meeting.