Douglas County government saw some changes in 2018, including the formation of an independent transportation district and the acquisition of an RV park at Winchester Bay.
Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman delivered the annual State of the County address Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg. Together, they offered a window into what the county government accomplished last year, from how many birth certificates were recorded last year (555) to how many separate events were held at the county fairgrounds last year (271).
Joshua Shaklee replaced Keith Cubic, who had been the longest standing county employee with more than 47 years working on county planning before his retirement last year.
Last year also saw the early retirement of County Assessor Roger Hartman, and the election of Heather Coffel to replace him.
Freeman said the County Clerk’s Office registered more than 2,500 new voters last year. In addition to all the birth certificates issued in 2018, the Clerk’s Office recorded 6,714 death certificates and 707 marriage licenses, but no divorces.
“I’m happy to say Douglas County marries people. If you want a divorce, you’ve got to go to the state of Oregon. They do that,” Freeman said.
Freeman said the District Attorney’s Office reviewed 4,850 cases and assisted 623 new crime victims.
The county continued its contract with a nonprofit organization to manage public health, and that organization has been conducting drive-through flu clinics — a procedure that would enable them to rapidly administer vaccinations during an epidemic, Freeman said.
Boice reported that more than 183,000 people attended those events at the fairgrounds, and they reinvested about $4 million into the local economy. The fairgrounds also went back to a five-day fair. In the coming year, Boice said, Douglas Hall at the fairgrounds will be renovated.
Boice also lauded the Douglas County Museum for being named in the top ten on the list of the Top 100 Best Fan-Favorite Destinations in Oregon. The list was created by the company that owns Oregon Business magazine.
He said it’s too bad that many county residents drive past the museum every day without ever having been there.
“If you haven’t, and you’re on that list, you need to go check it out. It’s fantastic. They’ve really done a great job with the museum,” he said.
He also noted that the Umpqua River Lighthouse is now open seven days a week and is getting a new paint job. The Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum’s revenue increased last year because it was open more hours, Boice said. The lighthouse museum made 18th on the Fan-Favorite list.
Boice said the big topic of conversation for the Parks Department this year was the acquisition of the RV park formerly known as Discovery Point and now known as Umpqua Dunes RV Park.
“That continues to be a tremendous asset and a good move for the Douglas County Parks Department. It’s performing beyond expectations as far as revenues,” he said.
He also said the county has been able to speed up the RV park’s renovations because of increased revenues there, and it’s expecting to receive a $400,000 grant for the project.
Overall, the Parks Department had more than 37,000 camping nights reserved at its parks in 2018 and 5,353 annual parking passes were sold. The crab dock at Winchester Bay was also improved, and a new playground installed at River Forks Park.
The Solid Waste Department dealt with changes to the global recycling market that led to a reduction last year in the types of recyclables Douglas County now takes at its landfill and transfer stations. Boice said county officials also discovered that the landfill has a longer lifespan than previously thought.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office patrol division responded to more than 60,000 calls for service last year and made 3,140 arrests. Search and Rescue’s 100 volunteers responded to 106 missions, nearly double the average of 60 missions per year, Boice said.
Freeman reported that the efforts of the Association of O&C Counties, of which he is the president, successfully lobbied for policy changes that led to more than $1 million in additional timber revenues for the county budget.
Boice said the county continues to spend out of its reserves, and its 2019 goal is to continue finding new ways to provide essential services to the county. He cited the city of Roseburg reopening the former main branch of the Douglas County Library System and the passage of library districts in Reedsport and Drain as examples of how services have continued despite changes.
“You’ll notice the services haven’t gone away. They’re still here, they’re just being provided differently,” he said.