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ABOUT SOS

Securing Our Safety is a non-profit, citizen-led organization dedicated to the mission of providing for a secure, stable, and sustainable future for Josephine County, Oregon.

Since 2012, Josephine County has had minimal funding for criminal justice operations, due to the loss of federal subsidies for former timber-producing counties and the failure to pass a local property tax levy to replace this revenue.  SOS was formed by local business owners, community leaders, parents, retirees, and other concerned citizens to explore any and all ideas that might help address the County’s long-term needs. The initial focus has been primarily focused on finding sustainable sources of funding and/or cost savings to restore criminal justice services. More broadly, SOS has explored a broad range of potential solutions to make Josephine County a safer, more stable, more sustainable community, to build the alliances across disparate community groups, and to seek to restore trust and communication between local citizens and their elected officials and other public servants.

If you would like to join SOS, have questions or concerns, or would simply like more information about our organization and the local issues we are working to address, please feel free to contact us.

We’re always looking for volunteers to help in many ways – please leave us a suggestion HERE if you are interested in joining SOS meetings or participating on any of the SOS teams.

Even as we speak, there are children and adults out there in our County, our World, our Home, who are being offended. Children who are being forced to do unspeakable things without any end in sight. Elderly who no longer have the mental capacities to realize the abuse upon them… They seek the light of Justice for protection, yet ours burns faint. Thank you for making that light burn brighter. Thank you for giving them hope. Every act, every cent you have given, every moment of your time you have sacrificed away from your family, has not been in vain. It falls into a collective pool of HOPE which grows stronger each and every day.

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Special Message from the SOS Board 9-14-14:

SOS – Our Time Is Now!

Dear SOS Members,

As we’ve discussed in recent meetings, time is of the essence in finding safety solutions for Josephine County.  Our Criminal Justice System was devastated in 2012 with the lower amount of federal (timber) funding to support local services and without an extension of the much smaller federal amounts we’ve received in the last couple years we’re facing another cliff in July of 2015.  The system is in rough shape now, and is set for another cut of nearly 50% next summer unless we come together as a community and implement some funding solutions.

It takes a long time to make a major change in funding for local services and thanks our hard work for a little more than two years we’re right on the edge of successes in many ways.  Our volunteers have contributed thousands of hours of work in the many areas we’re focusing on to bring health back to JoCo.  But we need your help financially in a few ways where we’re bringing in professional help that’s not available by volunteer support of our members.  Among many other projects, we’re assisting with some professional polling to make sure the next local measure is what the community wants, we have some more legal and other technical research to do for the statewide ballot measure that would reallocate lottery dollars to Counties, and we’re busy reaching out to the community at various events to bring the community together.

We’re asking right now that you consider a small tax deductible donation to SOS. Even $10 per member would get us to where we need to be without holding extra fundraisers over the next year (other than what we already have planned).  If everyone on our list donated just $10 we would be set until our planned fundraisers over the next 6 months.

The time is now to support the troops that keep us safe at home.  Please consider an online donation at http://securingoursafety.org/join-sos/ or by mail:

Securing Our Safety
PO Box 2626
Grants Pass, OR 97528

Thank you for your help in restoring safety services to our community!

SECURING OUR SAFETY

MISSION: “A citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable and sustainable Josephine County.”

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Want to join the SOS email list?  Send an email to:   SecuringOurSafety@gmail.com

Please also visit THIS PAGE for more information about becoming a member or making  online donations to SOS.

Our calendar of events and meetings can be found HERE.

FRANK-N-STENE

SOS Meeting Notes – November 25, 2014

We hope you all had a wonderful and blessed THANKSGIVING!  Thank you for your dedication towards making Josephine County, our home, SAFE.

Our next meeting is Tuesday, December 2, 2014, at the Newman United Methodist Church in Grants Pass located at 132 NE “B” Street in Grants Pass from 5:15 PM to 6:15 PM.

NOTES from the last meeting on November 25th, 2014:

FBI Crime Stats:

Archie provided some food for thought regarding the most recent Crime Stats from FBI for Oregon Cities 2013.

David Smith analyzed said stats and made the following remarks:

Some quick calculations based on this spreadsheet. I’ve taken cities above 5,000 population (just because at a certain small size, one crime is enough to make the crime rate per capita look high, and I needed a cutoff somewhere), and ranked crime rates per 1000 population. There are 66 cities in this list with more than 5000 people.

Here are some interesting factoids:

– In terms of violent crime per capita in 2013, GP ranks #15 out of the 66 cities in Oregon with population over 5,000 (Medford is #1)

– In property crime, GP ranks #3 (Seaside is #1)

Where GP ranks on specific crimes:

– Murder & non-negligent homicide #14 – but the top 7 are all small cities with only 1 or (in the case of K Falls) 2 murders; among cities over 25,000, GP is #6 (of 21). (Gresham is #1)

– Rape (revised definition): #11 (Newport is #1; Medford is #4)

– Robbery: #9 (Gresham is #1, followed by Portland)

– Agg assault: #19 (Medford is #1)

– Burglary: #1

– Larceny: #4 (Seaside is #1; Medford is #3)

– Motor vehicle theft: #1

– Arson: #5 (Milton-Freewater is #1; Medford is #2)

GP’s violent crimes per capita were nearly two and a half times the statewide median. Our property crime rate was even worse – 266% of the statewide median.

Note that in only two categories is GP better than the worst 25% of Oregon cities in terms of crime per capita – and that’s only with murder and aggravated assault (where the numbers in any given year are likely to be small, and thus easily skewed by one or two cases). In most categories, GP is in the top 15%, and in all too many we are in the top handful of cities in all of Oregon in terms of both violent and (even more so) property crime.

Small city, big-city crime, for sure.

Note too that these stats are, presumably, just for the city of GP – not for Josephine County. GP is, of course, where we have law enforcement on the streets. Many, if not most, crimes in JoCo outside the city limits are not reported, much less prosecuted. So these statistics likely understate the problem for JoCo as a whole.

Food for thought.

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WE CAN DO THIS!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try one more time.”

Thomas Edison

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SOS Sponsor Report - Jennifer Essick

  • This committee met after the regularly scheduled SOS meeting; members included Colene Martin, Brian Pendleton, Jacki Holcomb, Kim Gasperson, Jay Meredith, and Archie Lidey
  • Sponsor COUNT TBA
  • This committee shall be working on the FORM for our Sponsors
  • OUR Goal is to get every business to fly our SOS placard
  • Attached is a photo of Frank N Stene’s Monster Growler’s located at 950 SW 6TH Street in Grants Pass (541-450-3980), flying the SOS business placard, where one can sample and fill a Growler with a beer from of one of many local breweries! Try the Nikasi Wunderbier Kolsch…
  • If you would like to join this committee, please e-mail Jennifer @ etopps_08@hotmail.com

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SOS Meeting Notes – November 18, 2014

Our next meeting shall be Tuesday, November 25, 2014 from 5:15-6:15 PM at the Wild River Brew Pub!

Here are the notes from last week’s meeting {Thank you Holly Lidey for preparing them!}:

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Are the Federal O+C Funds going to come again?

Cherryl Walker

In the upper left corner of a handout provided by Cherryl, it showed what Josephine County has received since 2008.  We have 40 days left in this year with no money in sight!

Senator Wyden’s Bill – the House has said that they will not pass it.  There is too short of a time period to get something done in Cheryl’s opinion. There will be new members of Congress after this 40 days is up.  The prospect for money for this next fiscal year is probably zero at this point.

The commissioners start their next budget hearings in February 2015 as a county.  We are looking at what services we could cut, what we could combine, staffing, etc. And…EVERYTHING is on the table at this point and it is not pretty! We have committed 2.5 million dollars to public safety.  This money has been turned over to the public safety committee, but they have had meetings and decided that they will not make the decision on where it should go. They want the commissioners to decide.  The budget needs to be prepared for June as if May’s Levy does not pass.  We need to be prepared to know what it will look like if the Levy does not pass.  It will affect every department, but it will definitely affect public safety.  Some of the other departments survive on grants, fees, and rental fees.  Cheryl’s outlook is if we do not get any O & C fund this year we will have a harder time getting any funds in future years!

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MAT-C Committee

Nancy Yonally/Marilane Jorgenson/Dr. Felica Cohen

  • Dr. Steven Rotter MAT-C Medical Director

Nancy Yonally  reported:

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SOS Meeting Notes – November 4, 2014

Good Evening SOS!

Here are the notes from last Tuesday Night’s Meeting (ELECTION NIGHT):

November 4, 2014

  • We have many projects in the SOS works. I am very confident that by May 2015, we should have a solid foundation for our: citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable and sustainable Josephine County.”

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SOS Sponsor Report Jennifer Essick

  • In conjunction with the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce, we shall be forming another committee which shall aggressively seek out all of our business partners and unite them under one umbrella. Thus far, the people who have stepped up for this committee include: Jennifer Essick, Brian Pendleton, Colene MartinJacki Halcomb, Nadine Patel and Kim Gasperson
  • Our GOAL is simple: unite all businesses in Grants Pass under one umbrella promoting unity and local shopping
  • It is our intention to move forward by getting businesses to support SOS by allowing us to display their respective electronic logos on our site as well as displaying a small yellow laminated placard in their store window
  • OUR future intention, once all of the businesses have been laced together, is to then pass the torch from SOS to our very competent Chamber of Commerce
  • We will have SOS sponsored events at businesses throughout the county encouraging unity, local business and outreach
  • We shall have a “Josephine County First” spirit resonate throughout the community
  • If you would like to join this committee, please e-mail Jennifer @ etopps_08@hotmail.com

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SOS Casino Night Fundraiser Awareness Event!

Growing Heroin Problem

FrankWe reported on the growing heroin problem back in January of this year.  ( previous article ) So, have things gotten better? No.

Latest statistics from Stephen Campbell at the DA’s office show that the problem is only increasing.

2014 January through September:  143 cases. (Already another 13% over last year)
2013:  127 cases (410% increase over previous year.  That’s a Heroin case EVERY 3 DAYS)
2012:  31 cases (61% increase over the previous year)
2011:  19 cases

So this year we’ve already exceeded last year’s huge heroin case load by another 13%.  That puts us on track to end the year with at least 170 heroin cases, or a heroin case about every other day.

That will be a 33% increase over last year and 895% increase since 2011, before the justice levy failed.

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Casino Night

SOS Meeting Notes – October 14, 2014

Good Afternoon SOS!

NOTE: The regularly scheduled Tuesday SOS meeting on October 21st will not be held as planned. Instead, it will be held on Thursday, October 23rd at the Evergreen Room at Taprock from 6-8pm.

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What does the Dollar bill mean inside of our Tax Bills?

Connie Roach

Tax bills this month contained a dollar bill chart showing the distribution of the taxes to be collected for 2014.  Josephine County takes in $61 million in tax money for all the taxing districts within the county.

For every dollar collected, Josephine County keeps 8.2 cents to run all of county government (including Public Safety). The rest of the money goes to the other taxing districts such as the cities of Grants Pass & Cave Junction, the school districts, the rural fire protection districts (Illinois Valley, Williams, Wolf Creek & Applegate), RCC, etc.

Because not everyone is in every district within the county, you can’t make a comparison between an individual tax bill and the distribution. Tax rates range from approximately $12.50 in the City of Grants Pass to a low of about $6 for rural residents who are not in a fire protection district. The distribution formula is set by state law to see that all districts get a share of the taxes collected based on their own “permanent rate” and any bonds or levies that have been approved by the voters.

The County does the collection for all the other taxing districts and the taxing districts do not pay the County any kind of administration fee for this service.

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Casino Night Felita Short

  • Purpose of Casino Night: AWARENESS of our Criminal Justice System plight; to get others in our community involved; to raise money
  • We still have tickets!
  • $50 admission includes admission, food and a chance at some awesome donated prizes!!!
  • Tickets available at the Chamber of Commerce, at our website: www.securingoursafety.org and at our SOS meeting!
  • Mark Gatlin is dealing at one of the BLACKJACK tables
  • Poker has a $500 gift certificate top prize (for use at any business in Josephine County)
  • Casino has at least 15 great prizes!

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Casino Night

SOS Meeting Notes – October 7, 2014

Good Morning SOS!

Our next meeting is:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014,  5:15pm to 6:15pm

Location: Newman United Methodist Church, 132 NE “B” Street in Grants Pass 

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Meeting NOTES:

SOS Sponsor Report Jennifer Essick

  • Weekly success report
  • SOS Emblems (Cliff Thomason) We have 100 of them!
  • New additions include: Cary’s of Oregon, E Street Express, Roger’s Rods
  • If YOU have a business or know of a business who would like to join our unified effort in making our home safe, please contact Jennifer @ etopps_08@hotmail.com
  • NUMBER OF SOS Business SPONSORS:
  • 70

Chris Bydenburgh Saga

What Happened this Weekend?

Chris lives in West Jones Creek area, less than two miles outside of Grants Pass. There are several nuisance drug houses in his neighborhood, which are becoming increasingly aggressive. Unfortunately, they go, for the most part, unchecked due to a lack of law enforcement.

In the past two months, two Search Warrants have been served: one by the City of Grants Pass, where numerous stolen vehicles were recovered, and another by the Oregon State Police SWAT Team. The drug traffic has quieted down immediately after the Search Warrant service, but picks up again days later.

Last Friday night, Chris’ saga began with a neighbor screaming, and the situation escalated to gun shots. Chris called OSP. OSP said they wouldn’t respond because the parties were separated (not in close conflict). A girl could be heard screaming and shots were fired. Chris said that the neighbors had AR15s and both auto and semi-auto guns. Chris has called 911 this past weekend several times and they wouldn’t help. He called 911 repeatedly. Finally OSP Troopers from Medford and Douglas County responded.

Chris and other neighbors were incensed when, after the Troopers finally arrested one male, who was apparently in some type of drug-induced psychosis, they warned him about false reporting, claiming there were never any shots fired.

As Chris was telling his tale, his neighbor called and said the same man who had been arrested Friday night, was now on her property with a knife threatening her and telling her to mind her own business and never call the “cops” again. Chris said the State Police refuse to respond to a trespass incident. He said they don’t want to get involved in something already going on.

What are Chris and his daughter to do?

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SOS Meeting Notes – September 30, 2014

Good Evening SOS!

Our next meeting is:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014,  5:15pm to 6:15pm

Location:  Wild River Brew Pub, 533 NE F Street, Grants Pass

So as I prepare to write notes from last Tuesday’s meeting, I have just received a text message from one of our newest SOS members who live in the West Jones Creek area, just outside of the Grants Pass city limits, informing me that the Oregon State Police had just arrived. He wrote: “The woman has stopped screaming and gunfire and yelling has also stopped…”

He had frantically called me earlier, reporting how several neighbors were exchanging gunfire in the dark, with a person who was obviously under the influence of some type of drug. “Did anyone get hit?” I wondered.

He reported that the Sheriff’s Office was unable to respond, they are closed and he reported that the Oregon State Police said they did not have the manpower to intervene in a gunfight, especially in that area, in the dark, where the friendlies and the aggressors appear to be mixed amongst one another.

I would not want to go up there.

Again, this isn’t Redwood Highway, Mile Post 19. This is just outside Grants Pass.

In the last two months, two Search Warrants for drugs and stolen property have been served at different residences up in that area. One Search Warrant was actually served by the City of Grants Pass, chasing stolen property from the city out into the rural county (4 stolen vehicles were recovered) and the most recent by the Oregon State Police Swat Team.

My heart went out/goes out to people in these situations. God Bless the Oregon State Police for showing up.

This is just one Friday Night example in Josephine County of why we as a united group are doing what we are doing.

New Text Just In: “Sound like a stand-off. Maybe waiting for SWAT. Hard to tell. I think he yelled F#@! OSP! The guy is very high and not too bright!”

What can we do?

Exactly what we have been doing.

Figuring out long term funding solutions for our Criminal Justice System.

SOS MISSION

“A citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable and sustainable Josephine County.”

Get involved!

Do what you can when you can to help!

This is our community.

MEETING NOTES:

SOS Sponsor Report Jennifer Essick

  • Weekly success report
  • SOS Emblems (Cliff Thomason)
  • If YOU have a business or know of a business who would like to join our unified effort in making our home safe, please contact Jennifer @ etopps_08@hotmail.com
  • NUMBER OF SOS SPONSORS: 57

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SOS WALK (4)

SOS Meeting Notes – September 23, 2014

Again, another great informative and productive meeting! Thank you!

Our next meeting:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014,  5:15pm to 6:15pm

Location:  Wild River Brew Pub, 533 NE F Street, Grants Pass

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Here are the Meeting Notes:

SOS Sponsor Report Jennifer Essick

  • SOS Emblems were presented and well received (Cliff Thomason)
  • We are going to add: www.securingoursaefty.org at the bottom, otherwise, we shall move forward with the laminated emblems ($1.50 each) which we shall provide for all of our business partners
  • If YOU have a business or know of a business who would like to join our unified effort in making our home safe, please contact Jennifer @ etopps_08@hotmail.com
  • CURRENT NUMBER OF SOS Business SPONSORS: 57

Chris Blydenburgh Story

Chris told his story of recent victimization.

It is as follows in substance:

I live in rural Josephine County, not far outside of the Grants Pass city limits in my dream house. It is my home. Recently, my son was outside when a man on a 4-wheeler came onto our property. My son challenged him, not realizing that the man on the 4-wheeler had a gun on his right side. The man was totally disrespectful and pulled the gun on my son. He basically said for him to back off and that he would ride wherever he wanted to.

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SOS Meeting Notes – September 16, 2014

Great meeting Tuesday Night!

Here are the NOTES for September 16, 2014:

SOS Sponsor Report Jennifer Essick

  • Weekly success report
  • If YOU have a business or know of a business who would like to join our unified effort in making our home safe, please contact Jennifer @ etopps_08@hotmail.com
  •  

NUMBER OF SOS Business SPONSORS:

___57___

Per the Invitation of SOS Timber Committee Captain Jim Frick, Link Phillippi, co-owner of Perpetua Forest Products (his wife is Jennifer Phillipi) spoke about their mill and the importance of Federal timber for survival of timber economy in State of Oregon.

The following is a summary of Link’s presentation, in substance:

  • We have been focused over the past year on re-opening our mill. It involved updating our sawmill. We realize that jobs are important. When you create jobs in a community, you create taxpayers.

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