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Stars align for Butte Creek Mill rebuild

Actor Patrick Duffy, a longtime Eagle Point resident, has signed on to serve as advisory chairman of the effort to rebuild the landmark Butte Creek Mill.

Best known for his role as Bobby Ewing on the ‘80s-era CBS hit series “Dallas,” Duffy joins actor and musician Jim Belushi on the growing list of well-known supporters of the mill.

Since it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day 2015, the mill has been the focus of support from local businesses, regional officials and residents who miss being able to purchase their Butte Creek Mill favorites.

“I’ve called the Rogue Valley home for over 25 years so naturally the Butte Creek Mill holds a special place in my heart. It is a great honor to have the opportunity to help lead our community in the restoration of the cherished Mill,” Duffy said in a prepared statement.

While passersby seem regularly curious about what sometimes appears a lack of activity at the mill site, Maryanne Pitcher, executive director of the Butte Creek Mill Foundation, said the foundation was excited to see the steady progress being made in raising needed funds to rebuild the old mill. Construction will begin as soon as permits are issued. The timber framed structure will be raised in August and the anticipated completion date is early 2019.

Excavation work and plans for on-site efforts are also well underway, she said. Timber framing with be done by local timber framers, Treeborn Timbercraft. Nationally recognized Timber Framers Guild will arrive on site in early June and be onsite until August, when they raise the timber frame. (Corrected online)

Pitcher said reconstruction would likely come in ahead of schedule and under budget.

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“We have submitted plans to the city and we are waiting for our permit,” she said. “There is some work happening on site, mostly in terms of deconstruction and excavation this week to get ready for concrete work.

“We’ve raised about $900,000 so far and just received a $50,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. We have a little less in $500,000 in grants that are out pending, or we are waiting to hear about.”

Pitcher said, realistically, the project could still use another million dollars but that efforts were underway to solicit donations and apply for additional grant programs. A concert put on by Belushi and the Muskadine Blues Band, the repeat of a concert in May 2016 that raised over $70,000, is slated for Saturday, June 2, at Eagle Creek Estates. (Corrected online)

Pitcher said Belushi’s concert and Duffy’s support in serving as chair for the capital campaign are symbolic of the level of support and love the surrounding community has for the old mill.

“We have had an unbelievable amount of support and it continues every day,” she said. “We have a lot of people and organizations and business owners reaching out, asking about the project. Grant funders have contacted me to ask me to submit applications. People just love this project and they want to be part of it because they just believe in it.

“Folks from all over the state all have a story about the mill. We hear stories about pancake mix or the bran muffins or the flour. The mill’s reach is much bigger than Southern Oregon.”

She added, “We have a donor base of 5,000 e-mail addresses. People who send checks every month. The other day, we randomly received a $100 check from Illinois. We get checks like that all the time from people who are really wanting their pancake mix to come back soon.”

Pitcher said reconstruction was slated to see completion by summer 2019 and would likely occur sooner, with plans for a soft opening in February 2019 and a grand opening one month later. Unlike most non-profits, Pitcher said, the mill foundation wouldn’t need to seek ongoing support after the rebuild.

“It will be fully sustainable once it’s re-opened. We won’t be back for more funds and we will probably even be in a situation we will be able to give money back as a foundation,” she said.

“When you give a dollar to this cause, you can rest assured we won’t come back and ask for another dollar after this is done.”

Information about the Belushi concert and mill reconstruction are available online at buttecreekmill.com.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

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