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UCC board approves tuition, fee increases

WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College’s Board of Education unanimously approved tuition and fee increases during Wednesday’s meeting that will take effect Summer 2019.

UCC Chief Financial Officer Natalya Brown recommended an in-state tuition increase of $4 per credit hour. Currently, the tuition at UCC is $97 per credit, below the statewide average of $102.

Tuition at the community college in Winchester has increased every year since 2014. Tuition in 2008 was $63 per credit for in-state students.

Tuition for out-of-state and international students will also increase by 4 percent.

Board member Betty Tamm made a motion to increase the facility rental fees by up to 2 percent, more than the proposed 1 percent.

“That’s the one that doesn’t impact our students, so that’s the one to increase,” said board member Doris Lathrop during the discussion.

Making the motion to increase it “up to 2 percent” leaves it up to the discretion of college administrators, to find out how much the facility fee can increase and still remain competitive with other facilities in the area.

Other fees that will be increased will impact students. The student fee will increase by $1 per credit hour to help with tutoring, the online course fee will go up $5 per credit, and the instructional fee will increase by $3 per credit hour.

Brown said the online course fee has not increased since 2008.

The two-year college gets funds through property taxes, state allocated funds, tuition and fees, and miscellaneous revenue.

More than half of the school’s funding comes from the state, and just two percent from miscellaneous revenue. Tuition and fees make up 29 percent of the general fund and property taxes account for 17 percent of the general fund.

A delegation of 17 colleges asked the state for a $787 million budget. However, the proposed budget by the ways and means co-chairs was $590.6 million on March 7, a figure which could change before a final decision is made in the end of June.

This created a challenge for UCC as financial decisions need to be made before the state budget is released. The proposed budget would leave UCC with a $953,000 deficit in the first year of the next biennium and a $1,339,719 deficit the following year.

“Whatever action is taken will happen after our budget is approved,” board chair Steve Loosley said. “Us getting more (state funding), the odds are just not very good.”

The tuition increase is estimated to generate $258,228 in revenue, and the fee increase is expected to generate $180,000. UCC will also need to reduce expenses by $500,000.

“Next year, we’re going to have to look at other things,” Loosley said. “Next year, please bring us other options.”

Jenkins hammered by storm but preparing for another trip to Paradise

On Monday afternoon, Al Jenkins was beginning his third week without power since the snowstorm that hit the county in February. He’s been living in his camper since then, and he estimates the damage to his property will likely cost $30,000 to repair.

But Jenkins’s mind wasn’t on his own troubles.

He’s much more focused on the plight of about 3,000 Paradise residents still without homes following the deadly Camp Fire that began in November 2018. Jenkins has taken several trips down to dispense cash, camping supplies and food to the victims of that fire, some of whom escaped with no more than a car or even the clothes on their backs.

Jenkins had been staying in a camper outside his home on Callahan Ridge all that time. A power line fell on his porch, and he had just moved one car when he and a friend observed a tree leaning toward his other car.

“I said that tree’s leaning, and the guy that was there with me looked up and said yeah it is, that tree’s leaning. And then I heard a pop, pop, pop. We watched it fall. Like a minute later, it fell right on top of the car,” he said.

His vineyards escaped the storm unscathed, but his apple orchard was so damaged only a single tree remains. His barn was also damaged.

Notwithstanding his own challenges, Jenkins remains undeterred in his plan to return to the Paradise area at the end of the month, and he’s once again collecting donations.

He’s tried to see his own situation as an adventure.

“In some ways it’s been kind of fun. I don’t mean fun like going to a carnival fun, but it’s been a really interesting learning process,” he said.

And he said it’s nothing compared to what the Camp Fire victims have had to deal with.

“Their house is gone, their way of living’s gone, employment, if they had it, was gone. It’s just, everything’s gone,” he said.

Roseburg resident heading to Paradise to bring aid to Camp Fire refugees

Imagine all of Roseburg, and Green, burned to the ground. Houses, businesses, schools. And all the people who didn’t have family or connections somewhere else are left with nothing but maybe the family car, if they’re lucky, or the clothes on their back. Living under donated tarps in parking lots in a neighboring town.

On his California trips, Jenkins has found many people sleeping in tents and cars, even in the snow.

Most of the Paradise survivors are staying in neighboring communities of Oroville, Chico and Magalia. While there’s electrical power to the lots on which their Paradise homes used to sit, there’s no shelter. The water is contaminated and the sewer service isn’t repaired.

Those who were able to leave already have, Jenkins said. Those who remain generally don’t have insurance or support networks. If they have family and friends, they’re also from Paradise and are in the same boat they are.

They’re disproportionately the elderly, the mentally ill and people with limited income, he said. They aren’t able to rent or buy a new place to live.

There’s a church in Magalia that’s been feeding about 500 meals a day, but that community is about 17 miles uphill from the valley floor where most are staying.

The Red Cross shelter has shut down and two thirds of the other relief agencies and volunteers have left. The burden is now all on a few churches and a relief agency that ordinarily helps the chronically homeless.

“It’s beyond tragic. I can’t even think of the words, because it’s just depressing and it’s horrifying and it’s reality, and it’s down to the point now that the only help these folks are going to give them is what people can put together and take to them,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said on his next trip to California, he wants to bring camping gear like blankets, sleeping bags and camp stoves. He also needs nonperishable foods, gift cards and cash. He’s already got a few tents to bring down and doesn’t need any more. He has started the paperwork to create a 501©(3) nonprofit, and plans ultimately to expand his relief efforts to respond to other disasters.

To help out in the Paradise relief effort, contact Jenkins at 541-580-7707.

Public Works director gives preliminary report on storm cleanup at meeting

Two weeks ago Sunday, the Douglas County Public Works Department knew some snow was coming and thought crews were prepared with snow plows and other equipment. But there was no way they could have predicted the “snowmageddon” that was about to occur.

“What we didn’t know was with that snow was going to come down so many trees that it was going to be unfathomable. It crippled our system by 10 p.m.,” Douglas County Public Works Director Scott Adams said.

Adams gave a preliminary report Wednesday to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on the efforts that followed the storm as at least 137 crew members, including 49 public works employees and additional contractors, worked to clear the roads so county residents could get in and out and power company crews could reach downed lines.

Adams said they cut trees, helped people get home, and even removed power lines from semi-trucks after the storm hit.

“Our crews were out the first three days pretty much nonstop with hardly any sleep,” he said.

By Wednesday, they still weren’t able to get to Elkton, with state highways remaining blocked. The Oregon Department of Transportation had Highway 38 open Thursday. By Friday most roads had at least one lane open and by Saturday, 95 percent of the roads were open across the county, Adams said.

There’s still a lot of debris all over the county, and Adams said public works crews will be picking that up for another month or two.

So far, it’s taken in 540 tons of wood debris to transfer stations and more than 1,000 tons to the landfill. (On a related note, Dori John of Roseburg Disposal said the company collected 87.15 tons of tree materials deposited in its tree boxes in the first week after the storm.)

Adams expressed pride in the crews and contractors who jumped in and got to work. He also thanked the public for its support. He said county residents brought the crews breakfasts and dropped off doughnuts and pizzas at their houses, knowing they wouldn’t get home at mealtimes.

Commissioner Tim Freeman said a full briefing with other county departments and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will be held at a later time. He said the cleanup effort involved “a huge response by a lot of different people.”

He said he saw regular citizens helping each other out everywhere he went, and he complimented Commissioner Chris Boice, who he said helped everyone he could, even driving people in his Jeep to places they needed to go such as radio towers.

Boice said many decisions had to be made “on the fly,” and moved to delegate authority to Freeman to sign after-the-fact contracts for teams that helped with storm response. It was unanimously approved.

Boice said everyone needs to recognize deficiencies in their ability to handle prolonged periods without access to power, so they can be better prepared next time. That will lessen the burden on everyone, he said.

“If more people can be more self-sufficient during that time, it’s less people that we need to try to get out there and help,” he said.

He also cautioned drivers to continue to watch for fallen tree limbs. He said on a return trip from Elkton on Tuesday he had to stop to pull two large chunks of tree that fell on the highway. They hadn’t been there when he drove to Elkton, he said.