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Oregon State Legislature approves $10 million for Roseburg health college

Roseburg’s medical college is one step closer to being built after the Oregon State Legislature approved $10 million in state lottery bonding for the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center.

Oregonians for Rural Health and its coalition partners announced the state bonding, which will help fund construction costs, on Tuesday.

George Fox University will provide the academic and administrative structure of the college. The college will offer advanced degrees in multiple allied and mental health fields.

“Healthcare is vital to our local communities and the region. The demand for healthcare has steadily grown over the years and along with it the need for skilled providers. Southern and rural Oregon face growing allied and mental health workforce shortages that pose serious healthcare access issues,” said Kelly Morgan, CHI Mercy Health CEO and co-chair of the Oregonians for Rural Health. “Building the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center will provide a regional pipeline of skilled healthcare providers to better ensure access to services.”

Oregonians for Rural Health was trying to obtain $15 to 20 million in funding from the Legislature.

Representatives from the organization and George Fox identified a property in the area of Northwest Stewart Parkway, Renann Sreet and Northwest Edenbower Boulevard to build the college, which would be close to medical facilities and the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The Roseburg VA Medical Center provided testimony to the Oregon State Legislature, indicating many of its allied health positions are difficult to fill.

“Local hospitals and the VA have struggled with job vacancies that make it impossible to keep up with demand,” State Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Winston, said. “The college will help provide the healthcare professionals needed to ensure our communities and veterans have access to care. This includes providing accelerated programs to veterans with active military medical service to get degrees and practice in civilian settings and at VA facilities. Investing in healthcare creates good paying jobs, supports local employers, and makes the area a better place to live.”

Heard and Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, campaigned for the state funding request.

The City of Roseburg agreed to loan up to $10 million to help establish the college when city councilors entered into a memorandum of understanding during a May 14 meeting.

The city would apply for a special public works fund loan or another funding mechanism to finance the $10 million, according to city documents. City funding would be contingent upon state funding and the creation of a long-term building lease with George Fox University.

In April, the city agreed to support the project with at least $400,000 in abated systems development charges.

Teens bake with freshly picked blueberries and cherries

Blueberry and cherry pie were on the menu Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley.

Teen campers picked blueberries at Haven Blueberry Farm in Umpqua on Monday and ventured to Kruse Farms on Tuesday to pick cherries.

“My mom thought it’d be really cool,” 11-year-old Alexander Williams said. “I like the outdoors and I didn’t know what the camp was.”

The camp, called Bounty of the Umpqua, was described online as “We will go out to the fields and groves of this beautiful land and we will harvest the bounty that Mother Nature has bestowed upon our slice of the North West. We will then take the fruit of our labor and bring it back to the Club’s kitchen to bake at 360 delectably delightful degrees and then we will kick back and enjoy the scrumdiliumcious summer treats, as we think how lucky we are to live here.”

Several of the campers said they had no idea what the camp would be when they showed up.

“I didn’t know when it says Mother Nature what it meant, so I thought it would be an adventure,” Alexander said. “But then (Education Director Marcus Vela) told us what we were going to do. And I haven’t tried it before, but it’s been really fun.”

Jaiden Adams, 11, said she first thought it would be an art camp, but was excited to learn it included baking.

“I just like baking things and doing fun stuff,” Jaiden said. “When I bake with my mom I like to make cakes and bigger things.”

She also likes baking cookies by herself and helping her grandmother can peaches and cherries, and making strawberry and blackberry jams.

Vela said his favorite part of the camp was sharing the experience of going to pick fresh fruit and seeing the local harvests in the Umpqua Valley.

On the last day of the camp, the teens transformed their freshly picked produce into pies by using their own recipes.

“I’ve never made a single pie,” 11-year-old camper Christoper Clark said on Tuesday.

His fellow campers Shaeli Sikes, 12, and Gabe Simmons, 14, had some experience making pies. Shaeli said the hardest part was making the pie crust, while Gabe thought waiting for the pie to cool down was tougher.

Bounty of the Umpqua is one of several culinary camps offered by the Boys & Girls Club this summer.

“I want them to do some citizen science,” Vela said, adding that adjusting recipes or temperatures is just like chemistry.

Firework safety encourage during 4th of July

A Fourth of July celebration wouldn’t be complete without fireworks, but people are encouraged to keep it legal and keep it safe.

“I want to remind all Oregonians that consumer legal fireworks can only be purchased from Oregon permitted fireworks retailers and stands,” State Fire Marshal Jim Walker said in a press release. “And, regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Fire risk in Oregon is already high, and as the weeks go by that risk will only increase, so there is no room for error in fireworks safety.”

Between 2013-2018 there were 1,264 reported fireworks-related fires, resulting in one death, 26 injuries and more than $3.5 million in property damage, according to the state fire marshal’s office. This does not include incidents on federal and other state lands.

The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire was started by a teen tossing a firecracker in the Columbia River Gorge and grew to nearly 50,000 acres.

If you purchase legal fireworks the Oregon State Fire Marshal encourages people to practice the four Bs of safe use: Be prepared, be safe, be responsible, and be aware.

This includes keeping water nearby, keeping children and pets away from fireworks, never relighting duds, soaking fireworks in water after 15-20 minutes before disposal, and only using legal fireworks in legal places.

Oregon law prohibits possession and sale of any firework that flies into the air or travels horizontally for more than 12 feet, without a permit. Fireworks commonly known as bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon.

For those celebrating on public lands, fireworks and exploding targets are off limits.

Fireworks are banned on national forests at all times, regardless of weather conditions. Fireworks are also prohibited on other public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Oregon State Parks and most county and city parks. Violators can be subject to a maximum penalty of $5,000 and up to six months in jail. Additionally, anyone who starts a wildfire can be held responsible for the suppression costs.

According to a recent study, Oregon is the second most dangerous state in the nation on July 4, based on wildfire and highway road accidents.