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School board approves separation agreement with Gerry Washburn

The Roseburg School Board of Directors voted Monday afternoon to approve a separation agreement between the Roseburg School District and former superintendent Gerry Washburn at a board meeting held.

The board voted 5-1 to approve the agreement, with Howard Johnson as the only dissenting vote. Steve Patterson, Charles Lee, Micki Hall, Rod Cotton and chairman Joe Garcia all voted to approve the agreement. No details of the deal were released in the public meeting, which lasted long enough for the vote and was then adjourned by Chairman Garcia.

The agreement was discussed in executive session for close to a half-hour before the vote was taken.

Washburn has been employed with the Roseburg School District since 2015. He replaced Larry Parsons, who retired after a 43-year career in education.

Washburn, the former assistant superintendent at the Los Alamos School District, became embroiled in controversy in September 2017 when six volleyball players left the Roseburg High School volleyball team. They soon after filed formal complaints against former varsity head coach Danielle Haskett and assistant coach Kari Morrow alleging bullying and harassment by the coaches, allegations denied by Haskett.

During the resulting independent investigation, it was recommended that the superintendent delay involvement in future disputes until such time as they have progressed up the complaint procedure and problem-solving ladder.

The Board of Directors will begin a search for a new superintendent for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Robert Freeman, the former director of human resources for the district, is acting as interim superintendent until a permanent replacement can be found.

Last month, the school board passed a motion to put Washburn on administrative leave and to authorize legal counsel to negotiate the separation agreement pursuant to his contract, which includes payment of severance.

9-11 memorial service is personal for Roseburg man

For Tony D’Agnese of Roseburg, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on this day 17 years ago had a big impact on his life.

D’Agnese went to high school in Rockaway, New York, just a short distance from John F. Kennedy International Airport and in view of the World Trade Centers. His 47th birthday, on Sept. 11, 2001, left a lasting impression.

D’Agnese played in a marching band in high school with his good friend John Moran, a chief with the New York City Fire Department. Moran was one of six people who died in the attacks that D’Agnese knew from his time at St. Camillas Catholic Academy in Queens.

His goal is to keep the memories of those people alive, and decided several years ago to conduct a ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in front of CHI Mercy Medical Center every year to honor his friends and all the other first responders and civilians that died in the attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in the plane crash in Pennsylvania.

As the years have passed, the interest in the memorial service has dwindled, but D’Agnese said remembering is important to him.

“In one sense everyone has pretty much moved on with their lives, which is what you would want them to do, but I think it’s important that we remember and take the time,” D’Agnese said. “Like today, people chose to sacrifice a little of their Tuesday morning to remember the sacrifice made on that morning 17 years ago.”

Several members of the Roseburg Fire Department were at the memorial, including Lt. Ryan Travis, who was a relatively new firefighter at the time of the attacks, and was able to go to New York for some funerals. He saw the impact it had on the country.

“I think it’s important to remember what people sacrificed, not only the firefighters and other first responders, but the civilians that lost their lives, and how the country came together, civilians, military and everyone,” Travis said.

D’Agnese conducted his annual service at the 9/11 memorial with the flag at half-staff. He played several tunes on his trumpet, including the national anthem, Amazing Grace and ending with taps.

Governor Kate Brown ordered flags at all public institutions throughout Oregon to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Sept. 11 for Patriot Day.

Interim commissioner finalists interviewed

Two finalists for interim Douglas County commissioner were interviewed Monday at the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg. The winner will temporarily fill the Douglas County commissioner seat Gary Leif vacated when he became interim representative for state House District 2.

Chris Goodwin and Tim Allen are the finalists out of seven who originally applied for the interim position. Neither is running as a candidate in November. Either Goodwin or Allen will serve as interim until the end of the year, when an elected replacement will take over and hold the seat for four years.

On Monday, Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman asked Goodwin and Allen what they’d like to accomplish in the short time, about 3.5 months, they’d serve and how they’d deal with criticism from the public, among other things.

Both indicated their business interests wouldn’t get in the way of helping administer the county. Allen said he has a team in place so that he won’t have to spend a lot of time at his business, Tim Allen Equipment, and Goodwin said she has sold her SOCO Coffee business in Myrtle Creek.

Whoever gets the job will be expected to serve as liaison for about 10 of 30 county departments.

Goodwin, who sits on the Douglas County Parks Advisory Board said she’d be interested in working with the parks department and senior services, but that she didn’t have a strong preference. Allen said he’d be interested in working on employee management, conflict resolution and with facilities or vehicles.

Freeman said a huge question he had for the candidates was how they would deal with nastiness from members of the public attacking them for decisions they would make.

Allen said he makes decisions from the heart and follows an 80-20 rule.

“Regardless of what I’m doing, I can kind of guarantee that my goal is to get 80 percent of the people to agree with me, and 20 percent are not going to agree with me, and there’s nothing I can do about that,” he said.

Boice said he thought it would be more like 27 percent who would disagree.

“If you can get to 20, you’re doing pretty good,” he said.

Goodwin said the most controversial decision she’s had to make was when she was serving on the South Umpqua School Board when a school was being closed. She said some of her husband’s patients even called his office to say they wouldn’t see him anymore because of her decisions.

“When you’re doing what you believe to be the right thing, the principled thing, not everybody’s going to like what you’re doing. You just have to stand up against that. You have to be strong with that and courageous. I’m a mature woman now. It takes a lot to really push me over. I know how to conduct myself publicly,” she said.

Boice asked the candidates if they had a pet project or specific area they’d like to focus on.

Goodwin said her heart is really in helping small business owners solve their problems and interact with county government.

Allen said if he could do one thing, it would be to convince people to change their narrative about the county from a negative to a positive. He said positive talk brings positive results.

Freeman and Boice both said they were happy with the quality of the applicants. The commissioners are expected to make their selection Sept. 19.


Petrucci reaches plea deal on burglary charge

Former Douglas County Commissioner candidate Victor Petrucci has pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary as part of a plea deal reached with the Douglas County District Attorney.

Petrucci had been in a long-running battle against Douglas County government based on his allegations that leachate was pouring into a creek onto his property located downhill from the county landfill.

The burglary charge stems from a January incident in which he was accused of damaging an air conditioner while placing audio devices at the county’s solid waste department office on Chewaucan Lane in Roseburg. Two additional charges, illegal interception of communications and second-degree criminal mischief, were dropped under the plea deal.

The plea deal calls for Petrucci to receive 18 months probation and pay $142 in restitution. It also includes a stipulation that Petrucci will not enter onto the landfill property or fly drones over it. A separate criminal charge, for allegedly trespassing onto landfill property in April, has been dismissed as part of the agreement. Upon successful completion of probation, the burglary count will be dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor. The plea statement and order was filed in Douglas County Circuit Court Aug. 27.

Petrucci previously told The News-Review that the incident involving the audio devices was his effort to get to the truth about what he said was the county’s pollution problem. He said he was acting in the public interest.

County officials said Petrucci’s allegations that leachate is pouring onto his property are false. According to county officials there was a brief leachate spill in 2017, following the failure of a pump combined with heavy rains. They said the problem was quickly corrected.

The county used to collect its leachate in a series of treatment ponds, which were vulnerable to overflowing during heavy rains, but currently, it pumps its leachate into a large holding tank, then offloads it to trucks which transport for treatment by the Winston/Green Sanitary District.

Petrucci has said the April incident occurred while he and a surveyor were attempting to determine where the line is between his property and the county’s landfill property. He asserted he was on his own property when he was cited and released for trespass. In an April interview, the surveyor corroborated that he was surveying the property line at the time.

Petrucci was one of four candidates to unsuccessfully challenge Commissioner Tim Freeman in the May election. Petrucci garnered 4.59 percent of the vote in that race.

Petrucci did not return a call seeking comment Monday.