ROSEBURG — Umpqua Community College purchased three buildings in downtown Roseburg for nearly $2 million, which will be converted into student housing and community learning space.
“Roseburg has already enjoyed the benefits of having students living downtown which provides the opportunity for them to shop at local businesses and volunteer for events,” UCC President Rachel Pokrandt. “We believe almost 100 additional students will continue to help with economic and cultural vibrancy as well as ensure our students have somewhere to live while they learn.”
The college is purchasing Hawk’s Nest, a building formerly known as the Flegel Center or armory, on Southeast Oak Avenue, the old Newberry’s department store in the 700 block of Southeast Jackson Street and the old post office on the corner of Southeast Cass Street and Southeast Stephens Street.
The three buildings have a total footprint of 62,000 square feet, according to a press release from the college, and will provide housing for nearly 100 students.
“There is a lot of buzz in the state about workforce housing. Over 70% of UCC students hold a job and many of those are full-time. If you’ve gone out to eat, gone to the grocery store, had your car serviced or grabbed a coffee any time recently you’ve probably been served by a UCC student,” Pokrandt said. “Student housing is workforce housing.”
The college has been renting Hawk’s Nest since 2019 and has now purchased the building. The old post office building is currently unoccupied.
Roseburg City Manager Nikki Messenger said, “Downtown is full of life right now, with thriving new and older businesses. The presence of students downtown will add value to what the city has done to support economic success for our downtown businesses.”
Constructions to upgrade the Hawk’s Nest and remodel the other two buildings will begin in the summer and will be done in phases for the next few years, according to the college.
The college also owns Hawks Landing, a building off Northeast Stephens Street, that houses 45 students and has been occupied since 2021.
“The college has been a great steward of public funds over the past few years, and we are proud to be in a position to invest in the college and the community in this way,” UCC board chair Steve Loosley said.
The purchases are part of the college’s strategic plan that aims to grow programming by ensuring local students, and those from out of the area, have a place to live, work and learn.
“UCC will increase opportunity for all students and the community to thrive intellectually and economically by removing barriers to success,” the plan said. Increasing housing is one of five steps to increase opportunity.
Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing weekly series, Our People, which focuses on the community members who make Douglas County unique. If you know somebody who would be a good fit for a profile, please send a tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WINSTON — On April 11, Jeremiah Longbrake had to get rid of some excess energy.
The 9-year-old had just gotten to his grandmother’s house in a far west area of Winston, near Tenmile, and started his afternoon playing in the backyard.
He bounced on the trampoline, swung on the swing hanging from a large tree and headed down to the small creek that runs through his grandmother’s property.
Looking down at the water, he noticed a small object — he thought it was a plastic container of some sort — and reached with a stick to try to push it out of the creek.
After retrieving the object, which was dark brown, the size of two fists and featuring distinctive grooves running through the “rock,” he brought it inside to his mother, Megan Johnson.
“He brought it up here and I thought it was a piece of petrified wood or something,” Johnson said. “Then I got to looking at it more and it just looked odd.”
Johnson decided to post it on Facebook — she has an enthusiasm for rocks, and has “rockhounding” friends in her circle — to see if they could help identifying it.
“I figured I’d throw it out there to see if anybody had any ideas,” Johnson said. “And a half a day later, 12, 13 people were commenting on there, ‘That looks like a tooth.’”
After reaching out to archeologists and anthropologists across the state, Johnson finally found her answer after being referred to the Museum of Natural and Cultural history in Eugene. Pat O’Grady, a staff archeologist at the museum, replied excitedly to share the news: Jeremiah had just found a fragment of a tooth from a mammoth.
“Everybody thought it was fake,” Jeremiah said when asked about the reactions from his friends at school. “It felt very interesting and exciting.”
Mammoths went extinct in Oregon approximately 10,000 years ago, and their teeth can be identified through their signature banded appearance, which come from the enamel, interspersed with dentin.
“I was just shocked,” said Rhonda Johnson, Jeremiah’s grandmother who has lived on the property for 31 years. “But it was exciting.”
The tooth could have come from anywhere, but likely broke off of the banks of the small creek upstream and made its way to the backyard where Jeremiah saw it. Megan Johnson said that Jeremiah’s always looking for something unique in the outdoors, so if anybody was going to find it, it was going to be him.
“We’re always out and about looking around,” Megan Johnson said. “He’s got the eye.”
Jeremiah doesn’t know what he’s going to do with the tooth just yet. O’Grady, at the museum, requested a dime-sized sample to be used as a specimen for testing purposes at the museum’s collection. Jeremiah hopes to send a piece big enough for testing, but after that, he’s not sure whether he’ll keep it as a memento or donate it to a local museum.
Megan Johnson grew up in the same house as a child, playing in the same backyard, and exploring the same creek where Jeremiah found the tooth fragment. She’s happy that her children are able to make their own discoveries in that same little creek west of Winston.
“It’s an absolute blessing,” Johnson said. “They get to experience the same magic that I experienced when I was a kid. This is where my fascination with rocks started, but to have my son find something way, way, infinitely cooler than the little white rocks I used to pick up, it’s definitely, definitely awesome.”
A federal appeals court ruled to upheld the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon and northwest California, after Oregon-based timber company Murphy sued the federal government over a 2017 expansion of the monument. Murphy argued it interfered with laws requiring the government to set aside land for timber production.
In its Monday ruling, the 9th Circuit Court said the Oregon and California Lands Act, known as the O&C Act, doesn’t say all these forest lands should be used for timber production. They added the law also includes directives to protect watersheds and provide recreational opportunities.
“In rejecting Murphy’s lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit today definitively concluded that conserving O&C Lands for their ecological values is consistent with the law,” said Susan Jane Brown, senior attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center in a press release. “Confirming BLM’s discretion to manage the O&C Lands for conservation values is essential to ensuring these lands will continue to provide ecosystem services for future generations.”
This ruling affirms the decision from a federal judge in 2019, who noted that, while the expansion would protect an additional 40,000 acres of O&C lands from logging, the original monument already covers 23,000 acres of O&C lands.
One of the three appellate judges in the decision, Richard Tallman, dissented, saying the president’s ability to protect federal lands shouldn’t allow them to subvert the will of Congress — which passed the O&C Act — by prohibiting logging.
“Although we strongly disagree with the majority’s ruling that the Proclamation does not violate the O&C Act, Judge Tallman’s dissent signals that this Ninth Circuit Court ruling will not be the last word on this long-running dispute,” Association of O&C Counties Executive Director Doug Robertson said. “We also look forward to a decision in our case challenging the current Resource Management Plan for the O&C lands in the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is an issue that is essential to O&C Counties. We knew when we first filed suit, that it may ultimately have to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. We appreciate Judge Tallman highlighting the significance of O&C lands for the Counties and communities in which they are located, as well as the national significance of Presidential abuses of power under the Antiquities Act.”
Tallman said the antiquities act, which allowed the president to designate national monuments, has increasingly been expanded without restriction.
“I am troubled by the President’s overt attempt to circumvent the balance struck by Congress and the majority’s haste in labeling that attempt with the imprimatur of law,” he said in the dissenting opinion.
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was created in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton, as a way to protect the rich biodiversity in the region. The monument lies at the intersection of the Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountain ranges.
Near the end of his term, President Barack Obama expanded the monument to cover a total of over 100,000 acres.