Category Archives: SOS News

SOS Board comments on JoCo “Public Safety Fiscal Emergency” consideration

Here is a letter sent to the Josephine County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff today.  If you have an opinion on this topic, reach out to your Commissioners and provide your input as soon as possible as this issue is currently under consideration!

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Dear JoCo Commissioners and Sheriff,

We appreciate the ability to comment on this issue, as this is probably the most important discussion you will have in 2016.

The following are comments approved from the Board of Directors of Securing Our Safety (SOS), a local non-profit that has been working hard on solving this crisis ever since it began in the summer of 2012.  Please enter this letter into the record for your deliberations on this issue and let us know if you have any questions about these recommendations.

Continue reading SOS Board comments on JoCo “Public Safety Fiscal Emergency” consideration

SOS Board Comments on HJR 21 – The “$2 Bill”

May 30, 2015

Oregon House Revenue Committee Members
CC:  Oregon State Representatives and Senators

Re:  HJR 21 and Public Safety Fiscal Emergency in Josephine County

Dear State Representatives,

The Board of Directors of Securing Our Safety has approved this letter regarding HJR 21.  By now, you are all aware of the fiscal crisis that exists in Josephine County, Curry County, and to a lesser extent other counties in Oregon. In short, this crisis has been brought about by the gradual dissolution of the O&C agreement and its successor, the Secure Rural Schools Act, followed by the repeated failure of local attempts to increase property taxes to compensate. We need not review the history here, but for representatives and senators that are from the Metro and other areas of Oregon, what the rural O&C Counties have experienced in recent years would be the equivalent of the Federal Government saying Nike and Intel can no longer operate in Oregon.

It’s the results that are important: the drastic reduction in funding for vital public services, particularly public safety and criminal justice, in these O&C counties. The impact has been a dramatic increase in the negative impacts of crime, along with an equally dramatic reduction in the ability of the County public safety services to respond in a timely or effective way. Even in cities like Grants Pass, which have continued to fund their separate public safety services through city-level property tax levies, the results have been felt, since jail capacity and district attorney staffing have been cut significantly, our award winning County Juvenile Justice Shelter and Detention building has been closed, leaving offenders and at-risk youth back on the streets within days or hours.  Outside the City limits of Grants Pass, Josephine County currently has less law enforcement than third world countries and this is unacceptable.

Securing Our Safety (SOS) is a non-profit that formed in Josephine County in 2012. Our goal is to help our County identify solutions that will enable our community to provide and fund the services that are required for a “secure, stable, and sustainable Josephine County.”  We are composed of a diverse cross-section of community members, from public officials to business leaders, retired law enforcement officers to educators and parents, physicians and students and shopkeepers, concerned parents, and more. Continue reading SOS Board Comments on HJR 21 – The “$2 Bill”

Support Your Community

Support Your Community

Securing Our Safety was formed in the summer of 2012 in the wake of the Josephine County budget challenges (federal timber dollars going away) that shut down a large part of our County’s criminal justice and public safety system.  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 public safety situation facing the entire County is one of the largest public threats every resident of this County faces, whether you know it or not.  It doesn’t matter whether you think you can protect yourself, your family, and your belongings 24/7/365 because the fallout of our situation is affecting the safety of our roads, insurance rates, quality of life, and more.  The negative impact list goes on and on and this will eventually have an adverse effect on property values as well (if it hasn’t already).  Time is limited and we cannot afford to put our heads in the sand and wait for this situation to work itself out.

SOS is a volunteer based non-profit organization that 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 local government.  Our mission statement is “A Citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable, and sustainable Josephine County.”  SOS has been meeting on a weekly basis for almost two years now and has built up a large email list and volunteer list.  We have been working very hard to achieve our mission because our situation is a critical one and we cannot afford to sit back and wait it out.

Of course, a “citizen-voiced plan” starts with the input from citizens and that’s exactly where we began – collecting surveys and listening to input from Josephine County residents. Not only have we found out what you want out of our local public safety systems but we found out what funding solutions you desire.  It was clear we all want to restore our criminal justice services to not only where they were a few years ago but better.  A statistical survey amounts to about 400-500 people, but we collected close to 1200 surveys of Josephine County residents quickly after our organization came together.

As we charted the course of potential solutions, it quickly became clear that there is no single or easy solution to get us back on our feet.  It also became clear that this financial and safety crisis is not just a black and white financial issue.  At its heart our challenge is a trust issue between the citizens of our great county and the local government that represents us.  We set out not only to research potential solutions, but to follow the path charted by the voice of the people.  As we began working on all the solutions that were favored by your input, we also decided a series of educational and awareness events were necessary.  Thank you to so many of you that have joined our awareness events and keep your eye out for even more.

At a simple level, we have a hole in our County’s criminal justice system of at least $12 million per year due to dwindling “federal payments.”  We have a revenue problem, plain and simple.  There are of course folks out there who say that expenses need to be cut.  What many people don’t know is the County has been reducing its total workforce just about every year for the last 10 years…little is left to cut and now we have a public safety crisis because there are no employees left to provide certain safety services.  And the public safety crisis is affecting more than just the local public safety system as funds have been diverted from other programs over the many years of decline (such as the library system) to cover the County’s safety needs.

SOS is very proud of what the draft of the citizen voiced plan looks like today after much work and research.  However, some of the solutions in the works will take time to implement (years in some cases).  The citizen-voiced plan is an intentional mix of tax and non-tax solutions that will restore health to our County and our County’s public safety system and based on all the solutions favored by your input.

SOS Citizen Voiced Plan - Smaller Logo

It was clear that the portion of the solution coming from local funding (in other words local taxes) needed to be smaller than what has been proposed before. The levy we will vote on in May 2014 will provide about $7.6 million in annual funding and that’s only temporary for 5 years.  The levy rate of $1.19 is significantly more affordable than proposals we’ve voted in in recent years, and it’s a citizen generated initiative (not something proposed by the County).  Federal payments may or may not continue, but even if they do the current level is only about $4 million per year (and many think that won’t continue).  On County owned timber land, we expect to be able to sustain larger amounts of timber harvesting, contributing close to $0.5 million more per year to the bottom line.

The lottery initiative (see www.lotterylocalcontrol.com) was also born from our research and if successful will add at least $1-$2 million more per year to our County beyond what we’re receiving per year today in total (legal/appeal delays have moved that to 2016 and the funding would begin in 2017 if approved by vote).  The SOS Hard Rock Mining Committee is charting a path to some amazing local economic development opportunities (stay tuned) and those efforts could also translate directly into the County’s bottom line because the County owns significant mineral properties.  There are ways to significantly improve local economic conditions by pursuing mineral development efforts that do not affect our beautiful local natural environment, but again this is an area that will take years to develop.  SOS has also performed or assisted with research on programs that could result in service enhancements or preventative measures such as a medically assisted treatment facility (drug & crime prevention), the Sobering Center (is now its own non-profit organization), and a Justice Court study is in the works.

Even if every one of these measures or programs is successful (add it up!), it’s clear that we still need the local contribution that the May 2014 levy would provide to the system.  We are working on many fronts, and this vote will be the bridge that restores Josephine County to the path of health.  We will continue working on all these programs after May of 2014 but we’re in trouble without the passage of this levy.

If there’s one thing we could ask of you to support your community, it would be to cast a vote this May.  Nearly 50% of local registered voters have not cast a vote in recent elections.  And if you allowed us a second request, it would be get involved in the solution and join our meetings and/or email list to help us work together as a community to keep this a great place to live.  Please visit us at www.SecuringOurSafety.org.

Jay Meredith, President and Board Chair

Securing Our Safety

Thank You from SOS for a Great 2013!

SOS would like to thank everyone and all the businesses and organizations that helped us throughout 2013.  Collectively we have been successful in our research and education activities during 2013 in furthering the mission: “A citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable and sustainable Josephine County.”  SOS has collected the Citizens’ voices during 2012 and throughout 2013 through a major survey, through its website, and through nearly weekly public meetings and regular public or group presentations.  These efforts have served to help educate the public and have allowed us to collect input and develop a series of solutions that will achieve our mission.  Today we continue to work on implementing solutions but we should celebrate a successful 2013.

While successful in many aspects, we have much more work to do.  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—to reach out further—dissolving more and more shadows.  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 this past year, has not been in vain. It falls into a collective pool of HOPE which grows stronger each and every day.

We ARE making a difference!

2013 SOS Highlights include:

Numerous outreach efforts, media interviews, and public presentations:  SOS and its members appeared on KAJO, Jefferson Public Radio, The Bill Post Radio Show, and others.  We participated in many TV news interviews for local television stations.  SOS activities appeared numerous times in local and regional news articles.

Partnered with the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance Foundation to research, develop, and defend a potential statewide constitutional measure that would bring more decision making on Lottery income to local control where local leaders know best how to allocate those funds among schools, economic development, public safety, and natural resources / parks.  Please see the effort that began by the research of SOS here http://www.lotterylocalcontrol.com/  and here https://www.facebook.com/LotteryLocalControl.  SOS helped raise $30,000 in close to 6 weeks to get this balloon up in the air!  Many local organizations provided direct donations and helped fund this important project!

Events and outreach to educate the public and fund the initial needs of this lottery project included:

  • Applebee’s Pancake Breakfast
  • Major Garage Sale in the Daily Courier Lot
  • A Dinner/Poker Tournament Event
  • And who can forget the Pink Flocks?

flocks

http://securingoursafety.org/sos-achieves-fundraising-goal-and-makes-news-statewide/#more-2289

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Other outreach events during the year:

April 2013 – the Vehicle Pull up 7th Street!  OUR COMMUNITY PULLS TOGETHER!  http://web.thedailycourier.com/video/vidpage.html?v=042113Pull

April 2013 – “The Ball” event at Schmidt Family Vineyards

April 2013 – Walking For Justice!

Walking for Justice!

May 2013 – The Boatnik Parade!

March to May 2013:  Documented facts about the proposed three year Criminal Justice levy and made them available on the web:  Yes vs No margin on this vote increased by nearly 13% from last year!

June 2013 – The Criminal Justice Guardian Dinner & Appreciation Event

May 2013 – The Victims’ Forum – A MUST WATCH!  http://vp.telvue.com/player?height=300&id=T01550&noplaylistskin=1&video=154006&width=400

April to June 2013:  A Refunding Committee collected bottles & cans for recycling and to help spread the word about our safety challenges…money raised went right to the Sheriff’s office!

Refunding

September 2013 – The GREAT Debate at North Valley High

September through December 2013 – Outreach & Fundraising efforts for the CJ Skate Park, and to raise awareness of the impacts of crime and the lack of safety services in the Illinois Valley areas

October 2013 – Walk For Public Safety!

December 2013 – Dinner & Poker Event, All in For Safety!

Throughout 2013 – We were at the Growers Market with a booth/tent almost every week!

Throughout 2013 – Our fundraising efforts raised well over $40,000 in total and 100% of that either has gone or will go right to education, awareness, and public safety solutions because we are entirely a volunteer organization!

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Revised and launched a newer website, have you seen it?  http://securingoursafety.org/

Have you seen some of the crime stories we documented and their effects?  http://securingoursafety.org/victim-crime-stats/

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And last but certainly not least, the balloons are up in the air and starting to fly!

This is a “multi-pronged approach.”

Multi-Pronged Approach

The combined strategic plan is starting to come together, so stay tuned!

SOS Strategic Plan

Visit the individual committee pages on our site for regular project updates!

www.securingoursafety.org/ 

We ARE making a difference and thank you for your support in 2013! 

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WHAT SAY YOU?

www.securingoursafety.org

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