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Things to come, and go

The new year: From new traffic lights to school closures, here's what to look for in 2005

From staff reports

While most folks are still remembering the auld lang syne of 2004, we're looking ahead to what 2005 has to offer.

This is by no means a complete list, but here's a few things we know are coming ' or going ' in the new year:

COMING IN 2005

Santana?

With the 5,900-seat Lithia Amphitheater in Central Point on schedule to open by early summer, can music lovers look forward to seeing more name acts?

Well, yes. Expo Director Chris Borovansky says you might see the likes of a Dave Matthews, but don't expect The Rolling Stones.

— A sold-out house could gross &

36;250,000, which means few commercial limits. But some bands won't play a venue with noise limits. The Lithia has a limit of 95 decibels at the sound board (the same as Britt's, although the board is twice as far from the stage, allowing much louder music).

Borovansky sees shows by the likes of Santana, Van Morrison, Toby Keith, Alicia Keys, Nelly.

Inquiries are being made about Bob Dylan.

A new ballfield.

The Harry & David Baseball Park, a 1,500-seat stadium, will be built in phases at the site of Medford's planned 132-acre sports park on Highway 99 between South Stage Road and Lowry Lane. Under construction, the project is being managed by the Medford Youth Baseball Society and is funded by &

36;2.3 million from the county's sale of the Miles Field property to Wal-Mart. The baseball society hopes to have enough work completed by the spring to play ball.

A Home Depot?

Perhaps, if appeals against a zoning change allowing the 103,000-square-foot retailer at the Fern Valley Road interchange in Phoenix aren't successful. Then the project could break ground as early as this spring, according to Home Depot's regional real estate manager, Brian Cannard.

The Oregon Department of Transportation plans to appeal the zoning change because it believes the intersection already is failing and can't handle the traffic a Home Depot would bring.

Speaking of big-box stores, Wal-Mart is still appealing denials of its proposed supercenters in Central Point and Medford.

Another parking garage.

Drivers will have a whole new parking structure available in downtown Medford in August. The &

36;7.7 million Evergreen building, under construction at Main and Fir streets, will be five stories and contain 412 spaces. Over the next six years, three other buildings will be built on the lot for residential, commercial and office space.

A roundabout ' well, almost.

Work will begin in 2005 on Medford's first roundabout, located at the intersection of Highland Drive and Siskiyou Boulevard. The &

36;750,000 project will have one 18-foot-wide travel lane with a counter-clockwise traffic flow. Pedestrian walkways will be marked and the center island raised. Bicyclists may travel in the roundabout with traffic or use the wide multi-use path, shared with pedestrians. The design will be finished in July with project completion targeted for mid-2006.

Two new traffic signals in Talent.

The Oregon Department of Transportation's &

36;6.4 million project on Highway 99 between Rapp and Colver roads in Talent will begin this year. The intersection at Colver and Suncrest roads will be realigned, and traffic signals will be installed there and at Rapp Road. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring and be completed by summer 2006.

Three new libraries.

Brand new library buildings in Central Point, Gold Hill and Prospect will open this year as part of a &

36;38.9 million bond measure approved in 2000. Groundbreaking for the new Talent library and the Shady Cove library remodeling project also will begin in 2005.

Changes at the airport.

The first phase of the three-year, &

36;35 million terminal expansion at the Medford airport is slated to get under way this summer.

Airport Director Bern Case says final architect and engineer selections will be made in January and contracts signed in February. The project will boost terminal space to more than 100,000 square feet and add vehicle parking and tarmac space for airplane parking. There will be at least five gates with loading bridges, compared to one at present.

Amy's Kitchen.

The Northern California organic frozen-food manufacturer should have permits in hand and begin preliminary work this spring on two buildings for its frozen and dry food lines.

The 200,000-square-foot operation will be built on 50 acres recently purchased by the company at Whetstone Park in White City and employ about 200 people.

New asphalt.

Interstate 5 between Ashland and Medford will be paved beginning late spring or early summer.

Shoulder work began in 2004 in preparation for the &

36;12 million project, which will provide a new surface and repair bridges over Bear Creek between the north Ashland exit and the south Medford exit. This will be the first time this portion of the interstate has been resurfaced since it was constructed in the early 1960s.

Signs of another championship golf course.

Rogue Valley Manor's 18-hole, par-72 golf course off North Phoenix Road is under construction and expected to open in spring 2006 on orchard land formerly owned by Naumes Inc. Another championship golf course is proposed for Ashland, but the developer wants a piece of public property that environmentalists say should be preserved for wildlife habitat.

Rogue Community College expansion.

The college hopes to open its Table Rock campus in September.

The former Tyco building, near the intersection of Table Rock and Antelope roads, will house classrooms, labs and offices for programs in diesel technology, construction, fire science and public safety. Adroit Construction Inc., of Ashland, already is at work on the &

36;6.5 million remodeling project, which is funded in part by a bond levy voters passed in November.

The much-debated new First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville.

Foundation work began on the First Presbyterian Church's expansion project in August. The congregation is still raising money for the three new buildings, with an aggregate footprint of 18,163 square feet.

The church weathered a decade of litigation from a citizens group called Friends of Jacksonville who objected to the expansion's proximity to a residential neighborhood in Pheasant Meadows.

A new bridge in Rogue River.

The &

36;10 million Depot Street bridge is expected to open this fall. Once built, the 550-ton, 300-foot bridge will be pulled into its final location 25 feet downstream over the Rogue River with the use of hydraulic jacks. The tied-arch structure will replace the 50-year-old, 434-foot-long, two-lane bridge, which is nearing the end of its capacity to handle increasing traffic flow or the stress of severe flooding.

GOING IN 2005

Kay-Bee Toys.

One of the Rogue Valley Mall's original 1986 tenants will close its doors about Jan. 24. More than a dozen employees worked at the upper level location, one of more than 800 stores operated by KB Toys Inc. of Pittsfield, Mass., during the chain's heyday. The staff will be reduced to about half a dozen during its final weeks of operation. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2004 and announced in November that it would close 238 stores nationwide.

Another Ashland elementary school.

Lincoln Elementary School in Ashland will close in June. District officials said tightening budgets and dropping enrollment at Ashland schools necessitate the closure, the second in two years. Ashland's Briscoe Elementary closed in June 2003. The Ashland School Board initially planned to close Lincoln in 2004, but had funds to give it a year's reprieve to lessen disruption for elementary students throughout the district.

Ruch Elementary ' maybe.

The Medford School Board will decide this spring whether to shutter Ruch Elementary School to save money. Enrollment at the little school has dropped roughly 44 percent since 1998. Ruch residents are studying ways to make their school viable by boosting enrollment or bringing in additional funds.

The Southern Oregon Historical Society's presence in downtown Medford.

The society is moving its administrative offices out of its downtown Medford History Center early this year.

In addition to cutting costs by moving to its Jacksonville museums, it will allow administrators to work more closely with its museums and programs at nearby Hanley Farm, said SOHS director John Enders.

Construction of a city-owned parking structure in downtown Medford, and proposed subsequent commercial development phases, will add a notch to the city?s skyline. This digital composite photograph shows the work in progress. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven