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Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony held in honor of fallen law enforcement

Law enforcement officers, first responders and community members gathered Tuesday morning at the Douglas County Courthouse for a Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony in honor of Douglas County’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

The ceremony was held in honor of National Police Week, which falls yearly on the week of May 15 and was first proclaimed by president John F. Kennedy in 1962.

“It’s super important to honor our fallen and the people that have made the ultimate sacrifice for us,” said Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein. “A lot of pride and a lot of honor goes into this.”

During the ceremony, Klopfenstein, along with Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, placed wreaths next to the law enforcement memorial in front of the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse. A 21-gun salute, bagpipes and a radio broadcast also honored the fallen officers.

Six law enforcement officers in Douglas County have died in the line of duty since 1959. Roseburg Police Department patrolman Donald DeSues was killed in the 1959 Roseburg blast while directing traffic; three Douglas County Sheriff’s officers, Gerald Chirrick, Virgle Knight and Ronald Terwilliger, were killed in a 1985 helicopter crash; Deputy Sheriff Morris L. Taylor was shot in the line of duty in September 2002; and Deputy Sheriff Stanley “Allen” Burdic died in March 2021 as a result of complications from gunshot wounds he sustained in the line of duty in 1980.

“These men on this wall really paid the ultimate sacrifice and they did so in service of their community,” Brad O’Dell, a lieutenant with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said. “There are family members that are here today, and it’s important for us to remind them that we remember. However long ago their loss was, it wasn’t in vain, and we’ll always remember the service and sacrifice they made.”

County officials carry out court-ordered cleanup on Grange Road property

GREEN — Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Public Works and volunteer cleanup workers executed a court order early Wednesday morning to clean a property on the 4900 block of Southwest Grange Road in Green.

For years, the property has been home to a makeshift camp with upwards of a dozen people sleeping in vehicles and tents on the site. Residents, some of whom live just across the street, said that piles of trash, noise, fights, drug use, rodents and buckets with human waste were present at the site.

In April, a judge ruled in favor of a complaint filed by the county in January. The complaint stated that the individuals were violating county codes regarding trash, building codes and RVs. Individuals living at the site were given 30 days to clean and leave the site, otherwise the county would seek a court order to authorize a cleanup at the property owner’s expense.

That court order was granted Monday night, giving the county the go-ahead to “use such force and assistance as plaintiff and Douglas County Sheriff may deem reasonable” to clean the property.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Brad O’Dell said the individuals living on the site were given notice Tuesday of the upcoming cleanup. When deputies arrived at approximately 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, some of the occupants needed more time to move large vehicles and trailers off of the property.

“We gave them some additional time for them to gather some of their belongings and take them to a place that’s legal,” O’Dell said.

Cleanup began on the site approximately an hour later, with heavy equipment from Douglas County Public Works moving larger objects as volunteer cleanup workers picked up smaller items. A number of passers-by who drove past the cleanup effort made thumbs-up gestures and even applauded those working to clean the property.

“I’m very happy that they finally took action and our neighborhood is safe again,” one neighbor said, who refused to give her name for fear of backlash. “It feels good that we don’t have to listen to them all night long. It was horrible with cars going in and out at all hours.”

Neighbors rallied together about six months ago and started filing code violation after code violation for the property.

A neighborhood meeting scheduled for Thursday will go on as planned, as residents in the area hope to keep the area clean and work with law enforcement to keep it safe.

Joshua Shaklee, director of the Planning Department which oversees code enforcement in the county, said that the case against the property on Southwest Grange Road has been building for years, with multiple citations levied against the occupants. After mounting pressure from neighbors and worsening conditions at the site over the past year, he said, neighbors will finally have relief from the site which breached a number of code violations.

“As with all compliance, I try to put myself in the shoes of those neighbors,” Shaklee said. “We’re happy to get this done for the neighbors that have had to live with this.”

Oregon State Fire Marshal awards $18M in grants

The Oregon State Fire Marshal awarded $18 million in grants to community organizations to help improve wildfire resiliency using local programs and solutions.

Glide Rural Fire Protection District received $495,180, the highest amount awarded to any organization as part of the Community Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant.

Other Douglas County grant recipients were: Camas Valley Rural Fire District ($233,200), City of Elkton ($25,000), City of Reedsport ($145,000), Douglas Forest Protective Association ($200,000), Fair Oaks RFPD ($10,000), Glide Revitalization ($250,000), Phoenix School of Roseburg ($250,000), Sutherlin School District ($12,500), Sutherlin Water Control District ($45,000) and Tenmile Rural Fire District ($11,645).

In total 106 organizations were offered funding for projects ranging from defensible space programs, vegetation removal, community chipping programs, community education, equipment for vegetation removal and staff to support the programs.

“This grant will allow communities to create proactive, local solutions to lessen the impacts of wildfire,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “We know that wildfire can happen anywhere in Oregon. Investing in communities in all areas of our state will bring much-needed community risk reduction and resiliency projects and programs to life.”

The office of the state fire marshal received 161 applications for 269 projects for $44.5 million.

Applicants were scored through a diverse scoring committee with priority given to projects with: impact on high wildfire-risk regions, communities with high social vulnerability, those in and around the built environment, providing defensible space and community resiliency, protecting people and communities, and geographically diverse projects to ensure all areas of the state have resources to improve community wildfire risk reduction.