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Protesters gather outside Roseburg school board meeting, board does not address high school mascot

The Roseburg High School mascot has been a topic of contention within the community for several months, but the Roseburg Public School board of directors did not discuss or take any action on the issue during Wednesday’s meeting.

Public comments that were shared with board secretary Janet Kischel prior to the meeting were not read aloud during the meeting, but instead given to the directors.

“Given our meeting circumstances in the extreme, we did accept public comments and those have been printed out and given to each of the board members,” school board chair Rebecca Larson said. “If you sent something in, please know that we did get those and received those and we’ll go through those. Please know that we are listening.”

Prior to the meeting, more than a dozen people met in front of the high school and held up signs protesting the use of the Indians mascot, less than a month after a similar protest on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Jennifer Singleton, who has spoken out in favor of keeping the mascot, said she was surprised the topic wasn’t brought up at the meeting. Singleton added that she hoped people interested in the mascot topic tuned in for the meeting to learn what was going on in the school district.

The school district received seven letters prior to the meeting, which were obtained by The News-Review via a public records request.

Pretty Deer Eagleman, a representative and board member of the national Native American Guardian Association, was the only one writing in favor of keeping the mascot and added a letter from the organization.

The other six letters asking for the mascot to be retired.

“No matter whether the intentions are or were meant to be ‘honouring’ or ‘noble,’ I do not believe that ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE should be used as a mascot,” RHS alumnus Trina Johnson wrote.

Owen Bascom, 14, also wrote to the board expressing that the people who want to keep the mascot are white, not native. “What if I was in your stands and had to listen to the opposing teams chant ‘Let’s beat the Indians!’ or yell ‘Indians suck!’ Is that safe for me or any Native student who attends your school?,” he wrote. “Your racism cannot be contained in Roseburg either. This could happen at your away games as well.”

The school board meeting was live streamed via YouTube. Board members met at the Rose Theatre at the high school, while no public was allowed to adhere to the strict guidelines set by the state because of the high COVID-19 case counts in Douglas County.

The board continues to meet in person to show solidarity with the teachers who continue to work in the classroom.

School board vice chair Steve Patterson and director Rodney Cotton were excused from the meeting.

During the meeting, the school board approved the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year — which is set to start on Aug. 30 and end on June 9 for students, with Roseburg High School graduation scheduled for June 4.

The board also expressed interest in a Public Employees Retirement System pension bonding proposal for up to 4.5% maximum interest cost.

A report from the building and sites committee talked about an upcoming bond, marketing for the bond, and placing an agriculture building on the Roseburg High School campus.

The board agreed to put a bond measure on the ballot in May 2022, although it did not take an official vote on the matter.

“We need to ensure that the next bond measure passes,” board member Howard Johnson said. “We cannot push it further down the road, because our buildings and our facilities are falling further and further behind of what would be an acceptable standard for our students to be educated in.”

A bond measure for $1.27 per $1,000 of assessed property value — an estimated $94 million in total — on the May 2020 ballot failed by a narrow margin.

Rose School student Shervon Madison received student recognition. She is the first to receive student recognition this school year by the board.

The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 14 at the Roseburg High School Rose Theatre.

Myrtle Creek businesses help community celebrate St. Patrick's Day

MYRTLE CREEK — School buses, log trucks and passenger cars blared their horns and waved as Scooby-Doo, donning a slightly askew Irish top hat, greeted them near the center of downtown Wednesday.

The easily spooked crime-fighting dog was helping promote the city as part of Myrtle Creek’s inaugural St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

“Scoob,” as his sidekick Shaggy would call him, was helping draw interest to the downtown Myrtle Creek event, which was designed not only to bring the community together, but to help generate interest in the town from people from other communities.

The event was the brainchild of the Myrtle Creek Visitors Association, formerly known as the “Bring ‘Em In” committee.

“We are planning to do something every month this year,” said Henry Stevens, an association member who served as the chairperson for Wednesday’s event. “They won’t all be exactly like this. We’re just trying to draw interest to our town.”

Myrtle Creek has long been known for such events as the South Douglas Rodeo (held on the third weekend of every June), its Summer Festival at the end of July and the ever popular Timber Truckers Light Parade, held annually in December to kick off the holiday season.

This year, especially as the hopes of escaping the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers are eager to hold monthly events.

“They’ve been trying their hardest,” said Carol Olson, owner of Homestead Furniture and Gifts and a former Myrtle Creek Chamber of Commerce president. “They have some big plans.”

Olson’s store was one of many that participated in a prize giveaway as a part of the celebration. In all, 17 businesses made donations for a raffle held Wednesday. While many donations were business specific, nearly a third consisted of gift certificates to local restaurants, to be used when restaurants are once again allowed to open.

“The gift certificates to the restaurants were a really big deal,” Olson said. “They really need us right now.”

The event kicked off at noon Wednesday, and picked up steam once schools let out for the day. Several toddlers posed for photos with Scooby-Doo — as did some adults — and got to talk to officers from the Myrtle Creek Police Department, including Chief Jonathan Brewster, detective Kevin Taggart and officer Matthew Kennedy, as well as Mayor Matthew Hald.

Lonnie Rainville, also a member of the visitors association board and Community Director for the City of Myrtle Creek, will be in charge of Myrtle Creek’s next planned event: a business-to-business Easter celebration planned for April.

13 new COVID-19 cases as Umpqua Dairy and Roseburg Forest Products locations join outbreak list

The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 13 new cases Wednesday.

Twelve county residents are currently hospitalized with the disease, seven locally and five out of the area.

Seniors 65 and older are currently eligible to receive vaccines.

The Roseburg VA Medical Center is holding vaccine clinics on its Roseburg campus as well as at other locations it manages, including the Eugene VA Health Care Center, Brookings VA Clinic and North Bend VA Clinic.

The VA, which receives vaccines from the federal government and is on a slightly different schedule than those receiving vaccines from the state, is currently vaccinating senior veterans, veterans in congregate living, homeless veterans and veterans who are essential workers. It will expand vaccine distribution to veterans with high-risk medical conditions, regardless of age, once all interested senior veterans have been scheduled for a vaccination.

Veterans who meet the criteria and are enrolled at the VA can call 541-440-1000 to let their regular care providers know they want a vaccine.

Veterans who complete an online form at va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine will be called for an appointment.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority reported 239 new cases and three new deaths Wednesday.

Statewide, the health authority reported 1,363,311 first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the state.

In Douglas County, 27,244 first and second doses have been administered to 18,989 people. Of those, 8,671 have been fully vaccinated.

New outbreaks were reported at Douglas County businesses including Umpqua Dairy Products and Roseburg Forest Products plants, according to the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly outbreak report.

The Umpqua Dairy outbreak has five cases, the most recent reported March 10.

The state first reported March 11 on cases at four Roseburg Forest Products operations.

Roseburg Forest Products Riddle Plywood has five cases, the most recent reported March 13.

Roseburg Forest Products Dillard Lumber has 14 cases, the most recent reported March 13.

Roseburg Forest Products Dillard Plywood has 10 cases, the most recent reported March 5.

Roseburg Forest Products Dillard Composites has nine cases, the most recent reported March 1.

SouthRiver Community Health Center in Winston added no new cases, remaining at 10. The most recent case was reported Feb. 18.

307 Labor, formerly Servpro of Douglas County, in Sutherlin has no new cases, remaining at 12. The most recent was reported Feb. 28.

Swanson Group Manufacturing in Glendale has 35 cases in its outbreak. That’s one more than last week. Its most recent case was reported March 4.

Keller Lumber in Roseburg added no new cases, remaining at 21. The most recent was reported March 1.

The Roseburg VA Medical Center added no new cases, remaining at nine. The most recent was reported Feb. 18.

On the health authority’s list of nursing homes with current outbreaks are two Douglas County facilities.

Rose Haven Nursing Center has had no new cases but did have two new deaths, bringing the death toll to four in its 57 case outbreak.

Umpqua Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation Center added no new cases, remaining at 13.