US flag

Notes from July 2, 2013 SOS Public Meeting

Here are the notes from the 7-2-13 meeting:

·       The meeting began with the reading of Amy Wels’ resignation letter:

To whom it may concern,

The time has come for me to say goodbye to the community that I have considered home for the past 11 years.  I did not choose the circumstances that have led to myself and my family relocating from Josephine County, the voters have, with the failure of the levy, my position was eliminated.

I have been employed by Josephine County for the past 11 years as a Juvenile Probation Officer, a job that I have loved throughout my tenure here.  I have worked closely with my colleagues in my agency, as well as community partners in order to serve the troubled youth in our community.  I work with children that most people choose to ignore:  sexually offending youth, drug-addicted kids, kids who steal and burglarize others.  I have been passionate about helping the youth and families I have worked with in order to try and improve their life outcomes.  I have seen some amazing things in my time here and I have at times felt honored to witness the transformation of these young human beings.

These last several years in our county have been horrific to witness, mainly because I lack any power to change the course of what this place has become.   A little over a year ago, we closed our detention and shelter program.  The youth served by these programs are a vulnerable population.  The Shelter youth came from horrific home environments where unspeakable things were done to them, the Shelter was just that, a safe place where the youth could live, be cared for and receive the services they so desperately need.  Many of those youth served in that program now live on the streets, many I have met with have been repeatedly victimized since the closure of the Shelter, their future is bleak. 

Closing the Detention Center has deeply affected the work that the Juvenile Department can do.  It is very difficult to convince delinquent youth to change their behaviors when there is no consequence available to them, and they know it.  By the generosity of Jackson County, we are allowed to rent three beds to house our youth, and we have for the most part kept those beds full, with kids waiting to enter should a vacancy occur.  I will say that one of the worst moments of my career in this county came when I was forced to choose between releasing an IV Methamphetamine homeless youth or an IV Heroin using youth, because we only had one bed available.  Under the current budget constraints, we cannot serve the most vulnerable youth in this community, and honestly part of me is relieved to be moving to a county that values the job that I do, in which such gut-wrenching decisions are unnecessary.

While living here, my husband and I have welcomed two beautiful daughters into our lives, the eldest will begin kindergarten in September.  The schools are not well-funded, nor do they seem to be supported by the majority of voters in this county.  Critical programs continue to be cut to the bone, making me grateful to again be taking my children away from this place.

One of the most embarrassing casualties of the last few years has been the state of our library system.  The closure of the library was truly unbelievable, and kudos to the director and volunteers that keep it open currently.  My family has always been huge supporters of libraries, my husband has even volunteered there over the last couple of years, but the library here is gasping for air and needs a permanent funding solution.  It is a critical component of a civilized society.

This community is losing doctors, highly trained law enforcement and professional people and currently seems to only attract professional transients.  This is no longer an enjoyable, nor a safe place to live.  The criminal justice system has been ravaged, and will be in a significantly worse place next year.  There are fantastic people trying to devise a solution, but their efforts have not yet been successful.  The answer is a simple one, if a community wishes to have basic services, those services must be paid for.  Of the 36 counties in this state, we pay the lowest rate for county services, this is ridiculous.  The naysayers point to “government waste” and their examples generally include state and federal issues, not local ones, I wonder if they need a basic civics lesson. Suing the government for logging rights is another ridiculous “answer”, not only do we not have the funds to pay for legal counsel to do this, it would take decades and the odds of a win a certainly not in our favor.  I am hopeful that the State Legislature will come up with a solution to fund basic services in this community, and their solution will likely be much more expensive than the last levy request, but something must be done.

Sincerely,

Amy E. Wels

Anyone who has been involved in the Juvenile Justice System realizes how great a loss Amy, her experience and passion, is to our community…

·       Multi-Tier Taxing District UPDATE (Kris WoodburnChris Mecca, Pat Fahey and Jay Meredith); Pat explained the basic concept of his committee—still in the infant stages, which consists basically of a jail and juvenile justice county-wide levy only; this will be one where we proceed forward with signatures so that it is the request from Josephine County citizens; it would be one where the jail would at capacity of its designed 262 beds and the juvenile center would also house its juvenile custody; the amount is still being determined; it was very clear that this concept would be a solid step, but still a building block, for our complete Criminal Justice System; the response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive; there are still many details to be worked out; briefly, it was discussed, the possibility of the city taking over the jail and it was difficult to find anyone in support of such a venture at this time; it was also mentioned how Deschutes County, the county who is currently operating under the concept of a multi-tier taxing district, is currently in the process of hiring 20 new patrol deputies; Sheriff Gilbertson is working on getting the Deschutes County Sheriff to address SOS and our community; PS. We have not seen Chris Mecca for awhile and I am beginning to worry… rumor has it he is being held captive by the Canadian Mounties for unknown reasons in Quebec…more to follow.

·       A representative from the New York Times, who is doing a story on our dilemma, was in attendance

·       Lottery Committee Address: Why July it is so important!

OPERATION: 20G (Cliff Thomason and Jay Meredith) Cliff and Jay gave a presentation on the urgency of our need to raise $20,000 by July 31, 2013, as it will take some time for the research project to become “airborne”;

Here are the key points of his presentation:

1.     We are partnering with the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance Foundation on the legal work

2.     There are other counties, such as Curry and Klamath that are interested in joining us and it is our hope that at least all of the O+C counties will join and support us

3.     This committee will be meeting regularly at Club Northwest, where Scott Draper has so graciously provided us a meeting spot (dates and times to be announced)

4.     We are asking you to please identify businesses and members in our community (not the FaheysSmith-Cohens or Marshaks) who would be willing to donate to this effort; last night, Holly Lidey kind of threw out a challenge to those present to donate $100! The following people donated $100: 1-Holly and Archie Lidey, 2-Dave Corsi, 3-Brian and Erin Mateja, 4-Krisand Amy Woodburn, 5-Syed and Rabina Ali, 6-Karl and Mimi Raskins, 7-Jim Ditmer, 8-Cheri Adkins, 9-Connie Roach and 10-Keith Heck and we instantly raised $1,000!!! Thank you! If you would like to donate, please do so by e-mailing Cliff at clifft9@gmail.com

5.     We are going to be holding 4 Lottery Fundraising Events in July, which will include a Breakfast at Applebees (Amber Garza/Brandi and Randy Bennetti/Shane Simon/Mark Gatlin), a Poker Night at the Wild River Brew Pub (Cliff Thomason), a 5K Walk/Run (Bill West) and a Wine Night (Holly Lidey/Liz Hirni/Felicia Cohen/Erin Mateja/Lisa Solomon); dates will be announced SOON!!!

6.     Cliff will be going to Curry County on July 10, 2013 to meet with them

7.     We talked about a full page ad in the Daily Courier which solicits donations for this committee (but we might consider a focus on advertising for events instead)

8.     We talked about the OP ED for the Lottery/how Stephen Campbell had written an editorial in the past in support of Lottery Fund reallocation, something that he might consider resurrecting

9.     We decided we would not be posting a fund drive barometer on the website

10.  Please help us with this effort! It is not our intention to take monies from the lottery, which now go towards our schools, and redirect them to public safety! PLEASE help!

·       Guardian Dinner  We thanked the Guardian Dinner Committee under the leadership of Shane Simon and his Wife, whose Committee included: Cheri AdkinsBrandi and Randy Bennetti , Amber Garza, and Mark Gatlin. It was an outstanding event and a great way to show those in the Criminal Justice System how much we appreciate them! Thank you!

·       Presentation on Voter Motivation by Jim Ditmer was well done! Jim gave us a flavor for how to present our subject matter to the community in a more digestible manner. He explained his success with the Merlin Sheriff’s Substation and will be a great asset for us to incorporate into our mission of a “Citizen-Voiced Plan to provide for a secure, stable and sustainable Josephine County.”

·       Efficiency Committee Question/Website Update (Gordon Edstrom) Gordon discussed the following regarding our website: 1) David Smith’s weekly articles are gaining rave revues—Victim’s Voices of Josephine County—don’t miss his 4TH article this week 2) number of site visits to date: 8,172! Outstanding! 3) There is a new poll—-please go to site and vote! 4) The Book Lore in Grants Pass has agreed to be the distribution point for our SOS T-Shirts. If you need one, here’s where you can go to buy one! They are still $6 each! 5) The Guardian Dinner Photos are up on the website! 6) Gordon also discussed the need for us to look at how we can be more efficient with what we have. He spoke of the response by Keith Heck regarding the combination of Dispatch Centers between the GPDPS and Sheriff’s Office and how any savings would help at this point (more to follow!)

·       Disorderly Property Rycke Brown gave a very succinct and insightful presentation on why it’s important to keep up property. “The neater we can make this town, the safer it will be.” It reminded some of us of the “broken window syndrome” and is a timely point of consideration given our current dilemma.

·       Knitting the Community Together  We spoke about the recent tragedy involving the senseless death of the 5 year old child. We discussed how impaired drivers left unattended is much like a stray bullet. We also discussed how personal verbal attacks on anyone would not be tolerated by SOS.

·       Lastly, it was suggested that we begin all future meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance. The group said it will be done… and so it shall!

WHAT SAY YOU?

www.securingoursafety.org

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

Leave a Reply