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Roseburg High School's mascot will continue to be Indians

Roseburg High School will continue to use Indians as its mascot, despite the majority of school board members voting to change the name during Wednesday’s meeting.

School district policy states that mascots — or a facility’s name — can only be changed by unanimous board approval after two readings of a proposal. The board voted 5-1 to respectfully retire the mascot.

A policy that required unanimous vote for a facility name change has been around since 1982. The mascot name was added to this policy in 2020, when the school district revised several school policies.

Charles Lee was the lone board member who voted to keep the mascot.

“In Roseburg, we have the Indian name. We have a long history of that, we have a community that’s not just nostalgic about the name of the team but actually identifies with that name,” Lee said.

Marcia Jacques, a community member, spoke to the board ahead of the decision and asked them not to rush into changing the mascot, because it would change the culture in the town.

“What you do today will affect generations of this community,” she said. “Not to mention the students that have graduated RHS. We are a strong community and have roots that have grown deep by people living here in Douglas County.”

Lee said he looked at the research documents presented to the board and found they did not support the broad claims made that would justify a need to change the name.

Board member Micki Hall said when she was a teacher she found that the harm of symbols, names and racism impacted teaching.

Prior to the vote, community member Mandie Pritchard addressed the board by saying, “The real issue is and always has been race, and the long existing racial climate in Roseburg High School that has been detrimental to countless students. Individually, and through a collective vote, you — our elected school board members — will either take a stand to begin to address the racial climate in RHS, or continue to shield your eyes and ears to the numerous first-hand accounts former students and staff have presented thus far in writing and in person, as well as the empirical evidence and research that clearly states the harmful effects an Indian mascot has on native and indigenous youth.”

The school board collected background information, conducted a survey and held a work session about the mascot name, but had not taken any official action until Wednesday’s board meeting.

After the board announced its final decision, part of the crowd cheered while others expressed their displeasure.

Michael Rondeau, CEO of the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe, said in a statement Thursday, "The Cow Creek Tribe is appreciative that students, staff and the Roseburg school board went through the process of considering options. The process of sincere thought is important and the Tribe is respectful of how everyone involved worked to their conclusion."

Hall asked what the board will do regarding its strategic plan and policies surrounding equity. One of the key components in the school district’s strategic plan is that everyone feels safe, seen, heard and respected.

Board chair Rebecca Larson said those topics would require further discussion at a later date.

The mascot name has been brought up several times throughout the history of the school.

The most recent discussion around changing the mascot started when 2002 Roseburg High School alumnus Jessica Bascom started a petition to change it during the summer of 2020, which has received more than 7,000 signatures to date. 

Supporters of the mascot, and those in favor of retiring it held protests before the start of the board meeting outside Roseburg High School.

Roseburg Police Officer Tyler Vancil, who serves as the school resource officer at the high school, was present for the board meeting as tensions between the two parties rose. Although words were exchanged, there were no physical altercations or arrests.

Tiger Team brings vaccines to Douglas County's rural communities

If you can’t drive into town to get vaccinated for COVID-19, the six members of the Douglas County Tiger Team are making sure the vaccines get to you.

The Tiger Team holds small pop-up vaccine clinics at businesses, farms, fire stations and other locations all over the county.

On Tuesday, the team worked with Coles Valley Vineyard in Umpqua to hold a pop-up clinic for migrant workers there.

The team also planned to hold clinics at the fire departments in Camas Valley and Tenmile this week, as well as one in Scottsburg next week.

Tiger Team Leader Michael Hansen said the clinics are a key element in helping the whole community reach herd immunity and move past the pandemic.

“We need to be able to go out and reach out to these outlying areas and provide this service. If we didn’t do that, there’s a lot of people in Douglas County that would not get vaccinated,” Hansen said.

To date, the team has held pop-up clinics in Glendale, Azalea, Days Creek, Milo, Tiller and Toketee.

At many locations they will wind up going back twice, administering second shots to those who get the Moderna vaccine and then getting some new takers and, if needed, going back for that group’s second shots.

Hansen spent 45 years in the fire service, in Central Point, Medford and Roseburg. He is a former chief of Douglas County Fire District No. 2.

And prior to the pandemic, he was retired.

But that ended when he was asked to serve on the Douglas Public Health Network’s epidemiology team.

As an epidemiologist, he has performed case investigations and traced contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Then he agreed to take on the leadership of the Tiger Team.

Many of those who come for vaccinations don’t have transportation to get to the larger towns for a vaccine.

Every clinic is a little bit different, Hansen said. Participation has varied widely, with turnout ranging from five to 93 people.

“You’re really not sure what you’re going to get. You hope for the best and be happy if you get close to it,” he said.

Hansen believes the rural clinics, combined with the successful mass vaccinations at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, along with all the other clinics and pharmacies providing vaccines will get county residents to herd immunity.

“We’re getting there, and I’m pretty optimistic about it,” he said.

He said members of the rural areas the team visits are happy to see them.

“They are excited. They are overwhelmed that we’re actually going out to them. So they’re very pleased about that,” he said.

A few come by who are reluctant to be vaccinated. Most of the fear involves needles, so Hansen said he recommends they choose the vaccine that only requires one dose.

“You get the Johnson & Johnson, it’s only one time,” he said.

Sometimes he has to remind people worried about the vaccine that they had lots of vaccinations growing up as children.

He expects reluctance to decrease as people see that the vaccines haven’t harmed anyone they know.

“Now that their neighbors, their friends have all gotten it, nobody’s started growing a third ear or anything like that, they might reach out and get it,” he said.

The Tiger Team label refers to a small group of handpicked experts who go about solving problems. The first and possibly most famous example of a Tiger Team was NASA’s Apollo 13 lunar mission team.

The other members of the team include Stephanie Griggs, who is bilingual and works on logistics; Rob Gandy, logistics; and Mitchell Kilkenny and Bonnie Durick, vaccinator assistants who draw the vaccines and get the syringes ready for the vaccinator and then fill out vaccination cards. After each event, the paperwork is brought to the sixth member, Annie Dannenhoffer, who inputs the data and enters the information into the state system.

The team was pulled together by Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman, Douglas Public Health Network Director Teresa Mutschler and Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer, who is the husband of Annie Dannenhoffer.

It is supported in its mission by Umpqua Valley Ambulance, which provides a certified vaccinator and medical assistant for each event.

At Tuesday’s event, which drew mainly Spanish-speaking participants, Coles Valley Vineyard provided additional translators.

Most participants at the pop-up clinics prefer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they only have to take the shot once, Hansen said.

On Tuesday morning, the team had already given 25 people shots, and just six requested Moderna, Hansen said.

No appointments are necessary for the popup clinics, and it’s not required that participants live in the community.

Hansen recommended rural residents keep checking the Douglas Public Health Network’s website for information about upcoming clinics in their area. Those without internet access can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline at 541-464-6550.

“We’re going to keep going until the need is no longer there,” Hansen said.

Douglas County commissioners ask governor to reconsider moving other counties to extreme risk

Douglas County will move down to the moderate risk level for COVID-19 Friday, with some easing of restrictions on local businesses.

But the Douglas County Board of Commissioners signed a letter Tuesday to Gov. Kate Brown voicing solidarity with the 15 counties that are about to be bumped up to extreme risk, creating more restrictions for businesses in those counties.

The governor announced the new restrictions Tuesday, citing an increase in cases and hospitalizations statewide.

The commissioners joined a coalition of 76 other county commissioners, judges and the president of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, who asked the governor to reconsider her plans.

The letter acknowledged the problem of rising hospitalizations but also said it’s also important to keep restaurants open across the state.

“The virus continues to take a grave toll on our local economies with restaurants representing one of the key cornerstones fueling connectivity, hope, and mental health for our residents. These are the places we break bread, share inspiration, and encourage one another and the COVID crisis has stripped us of these life essentials,” the letter said.

The Douglas County commissioners said they also disagree with the governor’s decision to announce new risk level assessments weekly rather than every other week.

“The change would create even more uncertainty and employment woes for our already struggling businesses and their employees,” the commissioners said in a written statement Wednesday.

The Tuesday letter said the time has come to allow communities to move forward.

“Our people understand the risks associated with COVID and our businesses have proven their ability to adhere to the highest expectations in safety, sanitation, and air quality. It is no coincidence Oregon has not seen one instance of a super spreader event tied to our hospitality industry,” the letter said.

The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 11 new cases Wednesday.

Eleven county residents are hospitalized with COVID-19, seven locally and four out of the area.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 888 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths Wednesday.

To date, 40.2% of Oregonians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, and 27.2% have been fully vaccinated.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,543,640 first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 1,257,015 first and second doses of Moderna and 93,001 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

In Douglas County, 29.3% of residents have received at least one dose and a total of 55,950 doses have been given to 32,858 people. To date, 25,351 people have been fully vaccinated, having received either one dose of Johnson & Johnson or two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

It was another quiet week for Douglas County in the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly outbreak list published Wednesday.

No Douglas County nursing homes were listed with active outbreaks.

Roseburg Forest Products Dillard Composites had three new cases bringing its total to 13. That workplace outbreak began April 13, with the most recent case reported April 16.

Roseburg Forest Products Dillard Plywood had no new cases in its outbreak, leaving its total at 17. That outbreak began March 11, with the most recent case reported on April 7.

Costco had no new cases this week in its nine case outbreak. That outbreak began April 6, with the most recent case reported on April 11.

There were no new school outbreaks in the weekly report. However, data was collected only through Sunday. On Wednesday, Roseburg Public Schools announced a positive COVID-19 case at Eastwood Elementary School.

Aviva Health will hold a vaccination event in Drain on Thursday.

The event will run from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Thursday at the Drain Civic Center, 205 West “A” Avenue.

The event is open to anyone 16 or older, and walk-ins are welcome.

The Douglas Public Health Network announced it will begin a new #itsyourturn social media and advertising campaign this week encouraging everyone 16 and older to get vaccinated.

“Everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and we want people to know they are eligible and that we have vaccine available. Having the majority of our residents vaccinated is the surest road to getting back the sense of normalcy and freedom that we all miss and want,” Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer said in a press release.

To get vaccinated, you can send an email to vaccines@douglaspublichealthnetwork.org, call your primary health care provider, ask for a referral, contact your pharmacy or sign up for one of the vaccination clinics offered through the health network, Douglas County, Aviva Health or the rural clinics run by the Douglas County Tiger Team.

More information is also available at the Douglas County COVID-19 Hotline at 541-464-6550. Or seniors can call Douglas County Senior Services at 541-440-3677.

Coastal residents can call the Lower Umpqua Hospital District COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center at 541-271-2175.

Members of the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians can call 541-672-9405 or log onto https://www.cowcreek-nsn.gov/public-health/.

Veterans can contact the Roseburg VA Medical Center at 541-440-1000 or log onto https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/.