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Umpqua Community College has been converting the Flegel Center in downtown Roseburg into student housing, though concerns about levels of lead dust have delayed the actual move-in date.

Umpqua Community College does not have results from the lead dust testing at the Flegel Center, despite a Tuesday press release claiming that low levels of lead dust were found in the building that will be used for housing students.

“We do not have the results,” UCC Director of Communications & Marketing Tiffany Coleman said Wednesday. “UCC was notified, by the owner, of the results. We chose to communicate this information on our behalf — not the owner’s — as part of our ongoing effort to be transparent.”

A press release sent out by the college Tuesday stated, “Two small storage rooms on the first floor, both of which had been deemed as non-living quarters, tested positive for low levels of lead dust.” Coleman, who sent out the press release, said she has not seen any results to back up those statements.

The News-Review reached out to property manager Faith Construction on Oct. 2 and Wednesday to get the results of the environmental testing done at the old armory but has not received any information.

Coleman suggested the City of Roseburg may also have the results from the environmental testing. City Recorder Amy Sowa said the city does not have the results. An address for the property owner, Sweetwater Trust, led to a mailbox.

UCC President Debra Thatcher continuously claimed that safety is the college’s main concern in Tuesday’s press release, as well as during an Oct. 2 board meeting when the subject of lead dust was first discussed.

Thatcher could not be reached for comment and will be out of the office until Oct. 24, according to an automatic reply from her email account.

Lead dust testing was reportedly done at the Flegel Center after April Ehrlich, a reporter for Jefferson Public Radio, inquired about the possibility of lead dust contamination at the center. Ehrlich, who previously worked at The News-Review, reported in 2016 that former National Guard armories with indoor firing ranges were at risk for having dangerous levels of lead.

The News-Review asked UCC Athletic Director Craig Jackson during an interview in September about the possibility of lead dust being found in the building. Jackson said at the time all testing had been completed and the building was up to code.

The Oregon Military Department closed indoor firing ranges at Oregon armories in 2014 due to lead dust contamination.

The Flegel Center, which was used as an armory from 1914 until 1977, had a firing range in the basement of the drill hall.

The building was leased by the college to accommodate out-of-town male students. Most of those would be student athletes who could see cardiovascular problems, increased blood pressure, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems if exposed to toxic levels of lead dust.

Originally the move-in date was scheduled for Tuesday, but has been delayed indefinitely.

“The original goal was a lofty one — irrespective of the additional testing which, contrary to widespread belief, has not caused delays. It is too soon to commit to an exact move-in date,” Coleman said.

Students who were planning to move in to the building are staying with host families while attending UCC.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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