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Police rescue woman from river near Stewart Park in Roseburg

Two Roseburg police officers dove into the Umpqua River Wednesday morning to rescue a woman who was drowning near the Stewart Park bridge.

A man called police just before 4 a.m. to report that he and a female friend had decided to go for a swim before the sun came up and that his friend, 24-year-old Brittany Rose Shepherd, quickly went into distress and wasn’t able to make it back to shore, according to a press release.

Roseburg Sgt. Jeff Eichenbusch and officers Dawson Batsch and Brandon Halter arrived at the scene and found the woman out in the middle of the river treading water — gasping, exhausted and unable to swim.

Batsch and Halter threw their gear aside and jumped into the water to rescue the woman. When the officers reached her, it was clear she was tired, cold, and was starting to sink below the surface of the water, according to police.

Batsch, who had previously worked as a lifeguard, was able to bring Shepherd back to shore where she received treatment from the Roseburg Fire Department.

Shepherd was taken to CHI Mercy Medical Center for treatment and is expected to be fine, police said.

Sgt. Daniel Allen, a spokesperson for the police department, said alcohol is believed to be a factor in the late-night swim.

Speakers encourage Sutherlin FFA students to do their best, influence others at leadership conference

If you have a belly button, you’re a leader.

That was among the messages speakers Rhett Laubach, of Oklahoma, and Bill Cordes, of Missouri, shared with FFA students in the Sutherlin High School gym on Wednesday as part of the 2021 Umpqua District FFA Leadership Conference.

The pair were among a handful of motivational speakers who traveled to schools around the county this week giving presentations for the conference.

Laubach asked the students to raise their hands if they thought they were a leader and then to raise their hands if they had a belly button.

“If you raised your hand for ‘I have a belly button,’ which you do so you raised your hand, the fact of the matter is your hand also should have also gone up when I asked the question of whether you were a leader,” he said.

Later he asked students to move from the bleachers to the floor and walk about. He’d call out a number then, and ask the students to form groups. When the number was five, they had to form in groups of five, for example. Those not in a right-sized group went back to the bleachers.

At the end, he said there are always a few people who will isolate themselves on purpose instead of becoming involved. He encouraged students not to do that in life.

“Are you self isolating yourself from opportunities that could literally be life-changing for you?” he said.

He also noted that some people had put friends out of their circles to reach the right number. Everyone has influence, he said, and one of the most powerful things leaders can do is help others stay in the game.

“How are you doing at being someone that helps other people get involved and stay involved?” he said.

In another room, Cordes asked students to envision one foot as a year and consider that the average person lives to 80. He told them they have a lot of time left and encouraged them to find the thing they’re passionate about.

“If you haven’t found your thing, this is your time to step up,” he said. For those uncertain what to do he counseled them to “do something, finding out what to do.”

Sophomore Jada Gary, Sutherlin FFA chapter sentinel, said she was learning a lot about being a leader. Gary wants to become a nurse, help people and become more present in her community.

Her main takeaway was, “Make the most of the opportunities presented to you,” she said.

Junior Hailey Blake wants to join the U.S. Air Force and become a respiratory nurse. She said her takeaway was about becoming an “influencer.”

“If you’re a good influence on others, it’s going to show and it’s going to become a positive influence around our community,” she said.

Mark Hopfer, a retired teacher from Days Creek, was the organizer for the event.

Hopfer said the presentation helps bring some kids out of their shells and gets them involved in activities that give them the power to be productive members of society, rather than sitting back and waiting for their welfare checks.

Some will go to college and others straight to the workforce. He hopes whatever they do, they do their best.

“We need garbage collectors as well as we need doctors. If you’re going to be a garbage collector, be the best darn garbage collector there is,” he said.

Eight more county residents dead as a result of COVID-19; toll climbs to 215

After a brief lull in positive and presumptive cases of coronavirus cases, the Douglas County COVID-19 Recovery Team reported a total of 163 new cases and eight deaths of county residents.

The team reported 90 cases Tuesday and 73 Wednesday, with four deaths confirmed each day. The deaths ranged in age between 43 and 95, and all eight of those victims were reportedly unvaccinated. Three of those deaths were previously dated and confirmed by the State of Oregon Vital Records division.

As of Wednesday, 67 county residents were hospitalized due to complications from the coronavirus, 45 locally and 22 out of the area, including one receiving specialized care out of the state. Of those hospitalized, 58 are reportedly were not fully vaccinated.

At CHI Mercy Medical Center, 11 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators and another 18 were receiving non-invasive breathing assistance. There are 12 COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit and six in the hospital’s progressive care unit. Thirty-four percent of all patients presently housed at Mercy are coronavirus cases.

In its Wednesday report, the team included a letter signed by 118 members of the Douglas County Independent Practitioners Association urging residents who have not yet begun or completed a vaccination to do so as the best protection available against COVID-19.

“There is nothing more disheartening than to see patients struggling with serious complications that could have been prevented,” the letter stated.

GETTING VACCINATEDThere are a number of available resources for those wishing to start or complete a COVID-19 vaccination, including the county’s COVID-19 hotline at 541-464-6500.

Aviva Health has a vaccination clinic located at 4221 NE Stephens St., Suite 101A available to anyone ages 12 and older, although those between the ages of 12-14 years old require parental or guardian consent to get the vaccine.

Effective Tuesday, Aviva Health began offering the Pfizer COVID-19 booster to certain groups of people at its vaccination clinic Monday through Friday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.

Boosters for those who received the two-dose Moderna or one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not yet been recommended by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

At this time, Cow Creek continues to offer COVID-19 tests at its mobile unit located across from the tribe’s main offices at 2360 NE Stephens St. Tests are available to anyone 18 or older. The tribe has made some changes as it pertains to its vaccination protocol:

  • All COVID-19 vaccinations through Cow Creek are now being administered at the public health site at Seven Feathers Casino Resort in the south parking lot. These vaccines will be administered by appointment only and to those 18 and older. An appointment can be made by calling 541-670-2949.
  • Effective Oct. 11, testing at both its Roseburg and Canyonville locations will be limited to Cow Creek Health and Wellness Center patients, tribal members, employees of the Cow Creek government offices and affiliated businesses. The Roseburg clinic is located a 2589 NW Edenbower Blvd and the Canyonville clinic at 480 Wartahoo Lane.

Residents living in coastal Douglas County can call the Lower Umpqua Hospital District’s COVID-19 center for vaccine information at 541-271-2175.

Veterans can contact the Roseburg VA Health Care System at 541-440-1000 to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Douglas County Senior Services can help seniors find testing and vaccine resources by calling 541-440-3677.


For the second consecutive week, three more Douglas County businesses were added to the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly workplace outbreak report, while another was returned to the “active” list.

Harbor Wholesale in Green joined the list with 13 new positive and presumptive cases, the most recent of which was reported Sept. 17. Umpqua Valley Ambulance of Roseburg had eight connected cases (last Sept. 16), and Kowloon’s Restaurant in Roseburg reportedly had five cases (Sept. 7). Fred Meyer in Roseburg returned to the active outbreak list with 11 cases, the most recent reported Sept. 21.

The following county businesses saw cases added to their already active outbreaks, according to the health authority:

  • Caddock Electronics, Glide (four new cases, most recent Sept. 18; 14 total cases)
  • Wildlife Safari, Winston (four, Sept. 12; 10 total)
  • Orenco Systems, Sutherlin (three, Sept. 21; 23 total)
  • C&D Lumber, Riddle (three, Sept. 8; eight total)
  • Umpqua Dairy, Roseburg (two, Sept. 17; 11 total)
  • Roseburg Forest Products Riddle engineered wood (two, Sept. 21; 42 total)
  • Roseburg Forest Products Dillard plywood (one, Sept. 10; 42 total)
  • Costco Wholesale, Roseburg (one, Sept. 11; 26 total)
  • Evergreen Family Medicine, Roseburg (one, Sept. 4; 26 total)
  • Walmart, Roseburg (one, Sept. 22; 18 total)
  • Sherm’s Thunderbird, Roseburg (one, Sept. 22; nine total)

Umpqua Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center saw eight new cases added to its current senior and aggregate living outbreak, doubling that facility’s total to 16 total cases. Chantele’s Loving Touch Memory Care in Sutherlin added one new case for a total of 24, and Ashley Manor in Roseburg — once considered resolved — returned to the active list with five new cases.

Adams House Assisted Living in Myrtle Creek, Bridgewood Rivers Assisted Living in Roseburg and The Pines at the Landing in Roseburg all were moved to the health authority’s resolved outbreak list.

Among Douglas County’s K-12 schools, there were a number of new cases reported throughout the county.

Milo Adventist Academy, which currently has the largest outbreak among schools in Douglas County, added two positive COVID-19 cases among students, raising that school’s total case count to 17 students and two staff or volunteers. Other Douglas County schools on the active list included:

  • Jo Lane Middle School, two students, one staff
  • Brockway Elementary, one staff
  • Oakland Elementary, one student
  • Fremont Middle School, four students
  • Roseburg Christian Academy, one student, one staff
  • Reedsport Community Charter School, two students
  • Winchester Elementary, two students
  • South Umpqua High School, two students
  • Roseburg High School, three students, one staff
  • Coffenberry Middle School, Myrtle Creek, one student

Any active outbreak requires 28 days from the last onset of a positive COVID-19 test for that entity to be moved to the “resolved” list. After 28 days on the resolved list with no new onsets, the outbreak is considered closed.