The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Medford News 1972

City Matters: Top 1972 News Stories
    The two top news stories in Jackson County during 1972 concerned elections within the city of Medford--Downtown redevelopment and pornography. Of the top 10 stories only two were interwoven.
    The staff members of the Mail Tribune's news department were asked to select their choices for the top 10 stories of the year. Their top votes went to four different stories. Of the 20 news staff members voting, all of them placed the Medford downtown redevelopment issue among the top five news stories.
    Financial problems, the top 1971 news story in Jackson County, while still [in] evidence, was way down the list, with school financing ninth. The economy, leading vote-getter in 1970, slipped out of the top 10 list, but received one top-place vote.
Extremes in Weather
    The other top-rated story by one staff member was the weather. The year of 1972 proved to be one of the hottest and one of the coldest on record.
    The top vote-getters--downtown redevelopment and pornography--were followed by politics, 16 votes; Rogue Basin Project, 15; weather and Mercy Flights, 14 each; crime (forest fires and livestock shootings), 12; Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority and school financing, 11 each; and health problems and the increase in arrests of drinking drivers, 10 each.
    Medford's action program designed to protect the business district's position of leadership in the retail trade market got off the ground in July. A newly formed Urban Renewal Agency announced the direction in which it would work to accomplish a goal of the city--revitalization of the downtown area as the center of social and economic life of the community.
    Agency members, headed by Dewey Wilson, chairman, endorsed a program calling for construction of a modern, enclosed, air conditioned and landscaped shopping complex in the core area. The site was bounded by Riverside Avenue, Main, Jackson and Front streets.
Concluded Years of Study
    The agency's proposal concluded several years of studying what should be done to halt deterioration of the central business district. It also answered the ever-present threat of a regional shopping center locating on the periphery of the city, resulting in further deterioration of the downtown.
    A tax increment financial program was outlined which called for no additional property taxes on the citizens. Rather, taxes generated by the increased, or added, valuation resulting from the new construction would be used to pay for the project. The project called for a $9.4 million expenditure by the agency to acquire and ready the land for the developer, and an estimated $18 million cost to the developer.
    Agency members worked with Ernest W. Hahn, Inc., Hawthorne, Calif., as the prospective developer of the center, which would feature three major department stores as anchors.
    An election was scheduled on Nov. 7 at which residents were asked to approve issuance of $4.3 million general obligation bonds. The bonds would be used to initiate the project and were to be repaid by the agency from tax money generated by the project. Agency members guaranteed that property tax dollars would not be used to meet the indebtedness, but rather the bonds were a lending of the city's credit.
    Citizens groups organized to support and oppose the issue.
    Ballot Measure 58, authorizing the bonds for the project, was defeated by a 7,596 no to 5,691 yes vote.
Much-Debated Issue
    Pornography was a much-debated issue in Medford during the past 12 months. As a result of the public sentiment, the Medford City Council took steps to control or regulate dissemination of this material in the city.
    Early in the year, the council approved a business license fee of $2,000 annually for operators of adult bookstores and theaters.
    In May, a federal court suit was filed against city officials and the county by Alfred Rodrigues, Honolulu, Hawaii. He charged that his constitutional rights had been violated when the city denied him a building permit to locate an adult bookstore and theater in a zoning district that did not permit such uses. He also charged the city's new business license fee was unconstitutional.
    U.S. District Court Judge Otto R. Skopil ruled in September that the City of Medford had acted properly in denying the building permit.
    Rodrigues submitted preliminary plans for an adult center at 36 S. Riverside Ave. to the city's building department in late September.
    Medford Mayor William A. Singler asked the council to instruct two city departments to withhold pending permits until a recommendation had been received concerning provisions for special use or condition use permit procedures.
Ordinance Amendment
    On Oct. 14, the planning commission endorsed the zoning ordinance amendment that requires adult bookstores and theaters to have conditional use permits before locating in Medford. The city council approved the amendment Oct. 19, three days after a local group, Citizens Against Pornography, held an organizational meeting.
    Medford City Councilman Brad Morris headed the group, formed to oppose Rodrigues' intent to locate in Medford.
    The citizens group sponsored an initiative petition campaign, collected enough signatures to have a ballot measure against obscenity and pornography placed on a special election ballot Dec. 19. The measure failed by 40 votes, with 1,603 voting in favor and 1,643 voting against it. Opposing the passage was a citizens group, Medford Committee Against Obscenity and Censorship.
    Jackson County was in the state limelight as far as politics were concerned due to the state treasurer's race. One of the candidates during the primary was Don Stathos, Jacksonville. The Democrats' candidate, and winner at the fall election, was James Redden, Medford lawyer.
Commissioner Race
    Eight candidates appeared on the primary ballot for the single county commissioner post. Incumbent Rodney Keating won the GOP nomination by 34 votes, only to lose to Democrat Jon Deason in the fall. This will give the board a Democratic majority next year, possibly for the first time.
    County political parties organized--the moderates gaining control of the Republicans; the Democrats electing a 20-year-old college student as their chairman.
    Al Densmore, D, was elected assistant House leader.
Rogue Basin Project
    Activity at the Rogue Basin Project--three dams in Jackson County--increased during the year as Congress budgeted $25.6 million for the dams, including $100,000 for Applegate Dam. The $48.2 million contract for the Lost Creek Dam on the Rogue River was awarded in July by the Army Corps of Engineers to the Umpqua River Navigation Co., Eugene. At the year's end $64.7 million in contracts were under way at the dams.
    Opposition was voiced to the dams in March by Citizens League for Emergency Action on the Rogue (CLEAR) with several meetings held. CLEAR challenged the environmental impact statements and testified before Congressional appropriation committees in opposition to the project.
Cold and Hot
    Weather was much talked about during 1972. December's six degrees below zero didn't set a new low, [but] the three days it occurred did set a record since it was followed by a minimum of minus four degrees. It was the fourth year since weather service records started here that Medford had experienced subzero weather.
    However, Aug. 7's 109 degrees tied the all-time record high for Medford.
    Mercy Flights, Inc., non-profit air ambulance service, was victorious in its battle with the Federal Aviation Administration regarding its operation.
    In November Mercy Flights received the first non-profit air ambulance certificate issued by the FAA. The federal agency had attempted to classify Mercy Flights as an air taxi commercial operation, which would have forced curtailment of its service.
Fires, Livestock Shooting
    Crime was a newcomer to the major news story list for 1972. Arson fires in the county's forests and livestock shootings kept the Oregon State Police and forestry officials busy.
    During one of the fires in the Applegate, believed to have been set, a helicopter carrying water to the fire lines crashed, killing its pilot. Concerned residents and organizations offered a reward of more than $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
    The OSP investigated more than 40 livestock death cases in the area during the year. The loss to ranchers was substantial--eight shot in one herd, four at another time.
    During the year, Andrew Valachovic resigned as BCVSA manager, to be succeeded by Joel Wesselman, formerly of Salem. A financing plan and a series of meetings started for the proposed Forest-Gibbon Acres sewer service area and proved fruitless. The budget was passed on to the second attempt. However, a proposed tax base was later defeated.
    The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposed Jacksonville solve its overloaded sewage lagoon problems by hooking up with the BCVSA.
    Proposed legislation will be submitted to the state legislature to ease some of the authority's problems. One proposal would be to make it legal for counties to pay up to 50 percent of the fiscal aid to a county utility district providing its developments conform to the county land-use plans.
    Wesselman enters the new year by proposing his first major sewer service area, $500,000 development for the Midway area.
School Budgets
    School districts continued to experience difficulties in obtaining voter approval of budgets. Of the 10 school districts (one didn't vote on its budget), six passed on the first attempt. Medford district voters approved theirs on the third attempt.
    Pinehurst also approved a levy on the first attempt, but Medford district failed to establish a new tax base.
    Bond issues failed twice in each Central Point and Eagle Point district, but patrons of the Talent-Phoenix district approved theirs on the second try. Primary purpose of the bonds is to finance Talent and Phoenix elementary schools. Main structures at both were abandoned during the fall semester on recommendation of the State Board of Education, which described them as substandard and hazardous.
    Jackson County's Health Department during 1972 attempted to involve interested parties in enforcing the new sewage disposal ordinance.
    The rate of infectious hepatitis, an intestinal-borne disease, continued to spread, but the county, and more recently the cities, are helping to correct the situation.
    Concern was expressed during the summer when more than 150 cases of illness occurred after swimming at Willow Lake. Pollution problems caused posting of the Cantrall-Buckley swim area, the Applegate River and Hyatt Lake.   
    Dr. Albert Kearns joined the department as assistant public health officer, and restaurant inspection went on a full-time regular basis with the addition of a sanitarian aide and a sanitarian.
    The department established a social services section, and family planning services were remarkedly [sic] increased. A study on a proposed Primary Entry and Referral Center was completed in cooperation with the Jackson-Josephine Comprehensive Health Planning Council.
Drinking Driver
    The drinking driver made the news in Jackson County during 1972 as arrests by the eight law enforcement agencies here increased more than 60 percent over 1971.
    Traffic fatalities for the county were down four from 1971. Of the fatalities this year, 28½ percent had alcohol as a major contributing factor, down from 37½ percent last year.
    Arrests for driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor were up to more than 950 compared to the 592 arrests in the county last year.
Other Stories
    Eight other stories received more than one vote as major news happenings of the year.
    --Medford residents were visited by the first family of its sister city, Alba, Italy--Mayor and Mrs. Gianni Toppino. Bonds of friendship, goodwill and brotherhood were strengthened through the words, feelings and gifts exchanged by representatives of the two cities.
    --Unemployment in the county dropped from 8.2 percent in January to 5.4 percent in October. Construction included several apartment complexes, motels, a theater. However, the pear crop was small. Three television films were shot in the valley.
Jacksonville Problems
    --Jacksonville had further subdivision construction banned by an order from the DEQ until its sewage disposal facilities were expanded; a study of the lagoon is under way.
    --An attempted recall of Jacksonville Mayor John Sullivan failed--petitioners stated that Sullivan was opposed to city growth. The community's other troubles included leaks in the new water reservoir.
    --The Medford city government scene was busy. Highlights included passages of an ordinance pertaining to the control of dogs on public property; another establishing an outdoor burning permit system; failure to rescind a permit that allowed Shindo, a private school, to locate in a residential neighborhood, and a controversy involving the expense account reporting procedures followed by the mayor and councilmen.
Football Protest
    --Medford Senior High School's protest of Jack Peters, a Grants Pass High School football player, went all the way to Multnomah Circuit Court. GP was declared ineligible by the Oregon Activities Association, but the eligibility was restored by the court. Peters' residency requirements were questioned.
    --Parks also were in the news. Jackson County was given the Gold Ray Dam power house, and 29 acres along the Rogue River, by Pacific Power and Light Co. The Rogue River National Forest acquired Squaw Lakes. In Talent, a cooperative effort was developing the Lyn Newbry Park along Bear Creek. Included in its acreage was 32 acres, a gift from M. C. Lininger.
    --The senior citizens also made news as disagreement flared over the Rogue Valley Council of Aging's plans to use funds on hand as part of the local share for the proposed partially federally financed Neighborhood Building. A vote by ballot upheld the board's original decision, but a second senior citizens group was organized. Its members seek a building exclusively for use by the elderly.
    Several prominent businessmen died during 1972. Among them were former Mayor Jimmy Dunlevy, manager of the Rogue Valley Country Club; C. C. Hoover, known in recent years for his tree gift program; Chet Hubbard, Morris Leonard Sr. and Warren Hamlin, downtown business owners; Frank Glonning, Veterans Administration Domiciliary official and civic leader; and A. C. Allen, horticulturist and author.
Received One Vote
    Eleven other stories received one vote each. They include Ashland's retention of the controversial search and detain ordinance and the defeat of incumbent Mayor Charles McKeen; construction activities at Southern Oregon College; the Medford-Jackson County Airport, with Ron Fields being named manager in April and more recently the local effect of the emergency anti-hijacking order and violent deaths, including four murders.
    Area residents honored with awards and two employees of city government who retired were also among the vote-getting news stories. Dr. Cliff Cordy received the Hartman Cup award; Don Stathos received a national bicycling award; Glenn Jackson was honored on his 70th birthday; and Vernon Thorpe and Darrell Huson retired from city service. Thorpe was public works director; Huson was city recorder-treasurer.
    Crowded conditions at the Jackson County Jail and the need for a minimum security facility, the sale of food stamps at the post office, the helicopter launching of two boats at Crater Lake, the Jackson County Fairgrounds property controversy, the suit filed by breeders of game cocks, and accidental deaths (43, including six in plane crashes) rounded out the list of major news stories for 1972.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1972, page C1

Last revised April 27, 2010