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Douglas County court nullifies key Jordan Cove Energy Project permit

The future of the Jordan Cove Energy Project was called into question Wednesday after a Douglas County judge nullified a key permit for the project.

Ruling in favor of lawsuit petitioners, Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Johnson reversed the county’s decision to grant extensions to the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline for its conditional land use permit on a 7-mile stretch of county forestland near Camas Valley. The pipeline would run through 229 miles of Southern Oregon from Malin to the planned Jordan Cove export terminal in Coos Bay. It would cross 64 miles of land in Douglas County.

Four petitioners sued the county in February, after it granted its seventh one-year extension to the permit on Dec. 8, 2017. The permit was originally approved on Dec. 10, 2009.

In her decision, Johnson said the gas company, Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, LP, failed to meet two conditions of the permit. Construction had to begin within two years of the permit being issued, and the project needed approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Johnson said the county violated the law by issuing a permit extension on Dec. 20, 2016 — and again on Dec. 8, 2017 — after the permit expired on Dec. 10, 2016. Additionally, on March 11, 2016, FERC denied the pipeline’s application, stating there was “little or no evidence of need” for the project.

Johnson’s decision nullifies all previous county conditional land use permits for the pipeline, including one issued on Dec. 11, 2018, by Joshua Shaklee, the new county planning director. Several other permits for the Jordan Cove Project are currently being reviewed by the State of Oregon and federal agencies.

Opponents of the project saw the decision as a major victory.

“The court’s decision is validating and offers landowners vindication that the land use process means something,” said Stacy McLaughlin in a press release. McLaughlin is a local landowner and the chief petitioner on the lawsuit. “Without the seven mile stretch in Douglas County, the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline cannot connect to the proposed Jordan Cove terminal in Coos Bay, essentially leaving it dead in the water.”

County Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman were not available for comment when the story broke Wednesday night. Tamara Osborne, a county spokeswoman, issued a statement from the county at 3 o'clock Thursday.

"The Douglas County Board of Commissioners and Planning Department officials are currently reviewing the recent court decision by Judge Johnson to better understand the inferences of the ruling," read the county statement. "At this time, the County has no further actions to take."

Michael Hinrichs, a spokesman for the Jordan Cove Project, said the company has been "working on both the litigation and administrative tracks for some time now."

"We are now examining yesterday's court decision and considering all options, including appeal," Hinrichs said. "We are also looking at the administrative option of filing for a new permit. Any suggestion that we are out of option is misleading."

Francis Eatherington, another local landowner and petitioner on the lawsuit, said the county had been “rubber stamping” a project that would damage the county’s valuable environment. The pipeline would traverse more than 400 rivers and streams in the state and require clearing of forestland in its path.

Proponents of the project argue that it would bring jobs to an economically depressed region. The project will create 6,000 temporary construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs to maintain the pipeline and export terminal, according to the project’s website.

“This project is nothing more than how to burn more fossil fuels and exasperate our climate problems,” Eatherington said. “We’re going to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure in order to use this toxic climate gas for the next 50 years? Why? Can’t we put those billions of dollars into renewable energy technology instead?”

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

STEAM museum at Brockway Elementary

WINSTON — Brockway Elementary School entertained students and families on Tuesday evening with interactive science, technology, engineering, art and math displays at its first ever STEAM Night.

“We have done math nights and reading nights in the past, but we wanted to give parents a new way to enjoy some time with their family and get some hands-on learning,” said Brockway Elementary Principal Kerry Dwight.

Sponsored and funded by the Brockway parents’ group, East Coast company Mobile Ed Productions turned the school’s gymnasium into a portable, hands-on science museum. On its website, the company’s goal is “incorporating art to bring the right-brain into traditional scientific thinking.”

Exhibits included one-of-a-kind pinball machine — which teaches about gravity, addition, subtraction and positive and negative numbers through classic pinball gameplay — a build-an-arch that uses large foam blocks to show how a keystone works, a 3D printer, a programmable robot similar to the NASA Discovery robot on Mars, a music maker that requires students to communicate and work together to create their own music and a line-tracking robot.

“This is a museum designed for hands-on learning,” said presenter Scott Dodson. “They might be able to code for the first time; its a simple code, programing a car that looks like a remote control car, but they are coding it, programing it.”

The school also added its own activities. Students used directional coding blocks to move a Cubetto Educational Coding Robot around a map. Second-graders made playable arcade games out of cardboard and other household items. One classroom turned out the lights and used tinfoil sculptures and flashlights to show how the science and art of shadows.

“It’s not about being a scientist anymore, it’s about being a STEAMist,” Dodson said. “What’s a STEAMist? All these skills together. It’s a combination — and that is what the next-gen school agendas are all about.”

Tablets were available to explore different apps and websites dedicated to STEAM education. They also included adaptive role-playing games that require math to play. Many of the resources the school featured, like the Cubetto robot and tablets, are included in its day-to-day lessons. Staff also handed out flyers with additional information and resources that could be used at home.

“They are learning how to do problem-solving without a lot of instruction from us but from their own prior knowledge. They are using what they already know and putting it to work,” said third-grade teacher Amber Roberts. “Most of us can do what we are told to do, however, when you ask them to do something they want to do and that they are making their own solution for, they do it a lot better and get more out of it.”

Kids were provided a passport to take to all five areas to be stamped. Once filled, those passports were entered into a drawing for STEAM related prizes.

“Anytime we can get kids’ hands working on things and them having fun doing it is beneficial and educational,” Dwight said. “It makes school fun.”

MSullivan / MICHAEL SULLIVAN/News-Review photos/ 

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Hanson's Jewelers, an institution, nears closure after 58 years

With the death of jeweler Frank Bartley in February, Hanson Jewelers will shutter its doors at the end of the day Saturday.

Bartley’s wife, Jeredith Bartley, said she can’t keep the business running without her husband.

“It meant the world to both of us. It was many, many years of hard work, but that time comes to an end,” Jeredith Bartley said.

The store was founded by Jeredith Bartley’s brother, Alf Hanson, in 1960 in Myrtle Creek. The Bartleys joined the business in 1982 when they decided to leave code-breaking and were looking for a new challenge.

“Most days I get to work by 5 a.m. and I don’t leave until after five in the afternoon. Early mornings give me time to focus on my craft,” Frank Bartley told The News-Review in 2005. “I hate leaving earlier because I just love what I do. I look forward to going to the store every day.”

Frank Bartley traveled to Antwerp, Belgium, twice a year to buy diamonds directly from the cutters. He also went to the Tucson Gem Show every year to buy colored gemstones and to find out which stones and what colors were going to be the hot sellers.

The Roseburg store at 709 SE Jackson St., opened in 2001 with a motto of “everything you’d expect to find in a jewelry store,” including a fully equipped repair shop and a goldsmith. The Myrtle Creek store closed in 2006.

“It was a full-service jewelry store here, which there’s never enough of,” Jeredith Bartley said. “Everything from watch batteries to diamonds. Those are kind of hard to come by sometimes. I’m just very sad. Going to miss it. I enjoyed our time here.”