White deer comes back to Marcola.
MARCOLA - It was shaping up like a typical Friday assembly at Mohawk Junior-Senior High School.
Speeches by candidates for student offices. Awards for citizenship. A teacher's fond farewell.
But seventh-grader Corey Noteboom suspected something big could happen. It had to be that huge covered box - so big he could have climbed into it - sitting in the middle of the gym, opposite bleachers packed with students.
What was in it?
The lights went down, and science teacher Dustin Beck started a projector. There, in the sometimes washed-out footage of home video, a white deer wandered about, venturing into back yards and leaping fences and peeking from the trees.
If you live in Marcola, you know her story well.
The white doe was born in the area in 1994 and never left, becoming a fixture in both the landscape and the heart of the community. She grew so accustomed to the rural town, the story goes, that she'd wait by the side of the road for her turn to cross or let you walk right up to her.
"She was basically a symbol of Marcola," Noteboom, 13, said. "She was as nice as can be."
The town mourned, then, when the doe was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2000. Ironically, the same white coat that made her a beacon in the night contributed to her death, Beck said - it was a foggy, gray night, and her coat amounted to camouflage.
The doe wasn't a true albino but she was unusual nevertheless, and American Indians give sacred significance to such animals.
After some debate over who should take her remains, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, which represents the local Umpqua and Kalapuya tribes, agreed that the animal should stay with the district, Beck said.
A Grand Ronde representative couldn't be reached, but Beck said it was understood that the animal's preservation was to be respectful - it would be neither a trophy nor a mascot wheeled out at sporting events. Years passed and one failed taxidermy effort led to a second try, he said.
Which brought things to Friday, the assembly, and that huge covered box.
"It's been a couple years now since the white deer was hit," Beck said. As he spoke, the box glowed red, its covering illuminated by a light within. "It's time to welcome that deer home."
He pulled back the cover to reveal the white doe, encased in glass and lying in a comfortable but alert state.
After the applause died down, 23-year-old Brandon Mattox was among those to get a closer look.
Mattox and friends Jim Turpin, Jason Shaddon and Bill Graham are credited with saving the doe for preservation; they stood toe-to-toe with a state police officer, Mattox said, refusing to turn over the animal's remains until an agreement could be reached on ownership.
"It's cool to have something like that to be a part of the community," he said.
As opposed to becoming a fixture in, say, the school commons, the doe will be available at special community events, Beck said.
When Noteboom first saw the covered box, he had a feeling the white deer might be inside. He's glad he was right.
"It was pretty great to show her off and see how good of a job they did on her," he said.
Jordan Denouden, 13, a seventh-grader at Mohawk Junior-Senior High School, describes what it is like to see the white doe that roamed the area. Doe: White coat proved fatal on foggy night Continued from Page B1