Political Upsets, a Mysterious Disappearance, Floods,
Gas Shortages Plagued 1974
Mail Tribune Staff Lists Year's Top Stories
By Peggyann Hutchinson
Mai Tribune Staff Writer
Politics was the top news story during 1974, according to a poll of staff members of the Mail Tribune's news department.
It was far ahead of the next important story of the year--the January flood and related problems with the weather.
The staff members of the news department were asked to select their choices for the top 10 stories of the year. Only politics and the flood received votes from all staff members voting.
Politics continued throughout the year, while many persons in December have nearly forgotten about the extensive damage done during the January flood in the Applegate Valley and the city of Ashland.
Ashland, the county's second largest city with a population of more than 14,000, was without water for several days as efforts were made to restore the city's damaged water system.
At the height of the storm the Applegate River crested at a record high. Damage in the county exceeded $5 million.
Political news in 1974 started early. By the March deadline for filing, a record 16 persons were seeking two positions on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners; four others were seeking the sheriff's position.
The Republican winner in the primary for sheriff--Duane Franklin--was later ruled ineligible due to the Secretary of State's interpretation of the election residency law. However, the Jackson County Republican Central Committee named him its candidate, and he went on to win the November general election.
Two long-time incumbents--both Republicans--lost in the fall election. Congressman John R. Dellenback lost to Eugene builder James Weaver, and State Sen. Lynn Newbry lost to Lenn Hannon, Ashland, by 48 votes.
Former Medford Mayor William Singler formed his own party--Pioneer Party--and sought a position on the board of commissioners.
Another major item of local political news was the victory of S. J. (Benny) Fagone, Medford mailman, for Medford mayor--winning his position by write-ins.
Dimly remembered in December was the third major story of the year--the energy crisis. The odd-even days at the gas pumps were things of the past.
Close behind it in importance, according to the news staffers, was the economy. A slow lumber market closed a number of mills, pushing the unemployed to 9.6 percent. Unemployed in the county never dropped below 6 percent during the year.
Fifth major story was the disappearance of the Richard Cowden family of White City from their campsite near Copper Sept. 1. Extensive searches and investigation by Oregon State Police have discovered no traces of Cowden, 28, and his wife, Belinda, 22, or their children, David, 5, and Melissa, five months.
The other news events this year which rated in the top 10 were:
--Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority's growth, with expansion plans announced, resulting in opposition in some areas.
--Although Jackson County voters failed to approve a proposed home rule charter in May, the county government approved a record $22 million budget and expanded its interests in several new directions. Massive expansion of the planning staff and legal responsibilities, planning for a new justice center, first-ever labor negotiations, and proposed limits on firearms discharge occupied county commissioners' hours during the year.
--Mt. Ashland ski area, in financial problems, was taken over by a non-profit organization.
--Jackson County Fairgrounds hassle is settled with county purchasing land for its relocation to a site near Central Point, and
--The Rogue Basin Project sees construction funds approved by Congress for all three dams--Lost Creek, now 62 percent complete on the Rogue River; Elk Creek, for which embankment material is being stockpiled; and Applegate, for which $1 million was budgeted for land acquisition.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 29, 1974, page C1
Last revised April 27, 2010