The Roseburg City Council met in the council chambers on S.E. Douglas Avenue in Roseburg at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11, 2024. All nine council members were present: Larry Rich, David Mohr, Kylee Rummel, Andrea Zielinski, Shelley Briggs Lossley, Tom Michalek, Ellen Porter, Patrice Sipos, and Ruth Smith.

After the pledge of allegiance, roll call, and mayor reports, Mayor of Roseburg Larry Rich asked if there were any ward reports. 

Ward Three Councilor Tom Michalek raised his hand and reported on U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s town hall meeting at Umpqua Community College on Saturday evening, March 2, 2024. 

“Shelly and I attended the presentation by Jeff Merkley out at UCC and it was pretty interesting,” Michalek began. 

“One of the subjects that came up was the Winchester Dam and there were people who spoke out against it. And then Senator Merkley asked for a show of hands in the audience there were probably about 100 people there and almost everybody raised their hands in opposition. And then he asked who was in favor of leaving it [in place], and about two people raised their hands.”

Roseburg City Councilman Tom Michalek

Curiously, an article published in the March 3, 2024 Roseburg News-Review claimed, in direct contradiction to Councilor Michalek’s eye-witness account, that there were only 40 people in in Merkley’s audience. 

Furthermore the article failed to mention that Senator Merkley asked the audience for a show of hands to see who was in favor of removing them dam, as well as the fact that, according to Michalek, “almost everybody” in the room wanted the dam removed. 

This is yet another example of the media blackout imposed on county residents by the Rupert Murdoch of Douglas County – Patrick Markham, owner of the News-Review, and four local radio stations.

The News-Review report neglected to mention that one of the people in Merkley’s audience was a property owner in the Winchester Water Control District, the group that owns the illegal, dangerous, condemned, and uninsurable 134-year-old dam. He demanded to know why the Winchester Dam was still standing and when it would be removed.

He told the Senator, “The Winchester Dam impedes access to 160 miles of high-quality habitat for spring Chinook, fall Chinook, summer steelhead, winter steelhead, cutthroat trout, and Pacific Lamprey, as well as Oregon Coast Coho which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.”

It is important for readers to understand that the News-Review isn’t telling them the whole story. 

This newspaper is owned by Patrick Markham ­– the Rupert Murdock of Douglas County – who also owns four local radio stations and more business in Douglas County than any other individual, including restaurants, travel agencies, apartment complexes, auto repair shops, real estate brokerages, Brooke Communications, and Lotus Media. 

Markham’s partner in some of these businesses is Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice.

This means that most people in Douglas County are only exposed to the information Patrick Markham and his county commissioner cronies want them to hear. And much of the “news” that Markham’s radio stations and newspaper broadcast is tailored to accommodate the needs of his Markham’s business partner, Commissioner Boice.

Patrick Markham and his partner Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boyce don’t want the Winchester Dam removed. They don’t want fishing tourism to raise wages in Douglas County – for that would mean they would have to pay their employees more money. Markham and Brice are proud of the fact that Douglas County has the lowest wages of any county in this part of Oregon. 

Additionally, they are unconcerned about the health and safety of the downstream residents. 

Markham and Boice are unconcerned that the Winchester Dam, which is made of hundreds of pieces of creosote treated lumber and pressure treated lumber, is leaching copper, chromium, and arsenic, fifty feet upstream from the drinking water intake for 37,700 people – one out of three Douglas County residents. 

They are unconcerned that the Winchester Dam was condemned 48 years ago and is rated a “high hazard,” meaning the Oregon Water Resource Department expects “loss of life” when the crumbling 450-foot dam collapses. 

Patrick Markham: the man who censors your news.

Folks in Douglas County know that can’t believe what they read in their local newspaper, the Roseburg News-Review. And so they’re forced to seek alternative news sources to get the rest of the story.

That’s why we’re here. Get the facts:

And click here so send a letter to agencies and elected officials demanding the removal of Winchester Dam.