On Wednesday, Oct. 4, the Board of Josephine County Commissioners approved an ordinance to amend the public intoxication section of the Josephine County Code during their weekly business session, held at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
There was some confusion among meeting attendees about what the changes pertained to. Unlike what several community members suggested, the amendment would not make public intoxication rules stricter or increase penalties for violations of the code. Rather, hard drugs such as methamphetamine and psilocybin were added to the definition of intoxicants, broadening its scope from alcoholic beverages to “any substance that significantly affects reasoning ability or the ordinary use of bodily senses.”
Caffeine, sugar and tobacco are all noted in the ordinance as substances that would not be considered intoxicants. In addition, “Nothing in this ordinance prohibits the temporary possession of open containers for the purpose of recycling or waste disposal, or the transport of open containers in an area of the vehicle not normally occupied by the driver or passengers.”
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger expressed disappointment over the Grants Pass City Council’s decision not to opt into the ordinance, while the city of Cave Junction did.
“I know this is not going to solve all the problems that we have with intoxication within Josephine County but it’s another tool and I’m very saddened that the city of Grants Pass, who has so much problems when you look at the overdoses and you look at the amount of people that have been resuscitated with Narcan and that city council has agreed to opt out,” remarked the board chair. “That saddens me.”
“We have a lot of (drug use) going on in a lot of public spaces in the city of Grants Pass, as we all know,” Commissioner Dan DeYoung added. He also criticized the Grants Pass City Council for inaction on curbing drug activity: “I have some concern for our neighbors to the north and what their thinking is to not take this on as just another step. Sometimes these things have to be done in steps.”
DeYoung went on to estimate that 90% of homelessness “began with drugs.”
With that, the board voted 2-0 to adopt the code amendments. Commissioner John West was not in attendance.
Earlier in the meeting, longtime county employees were recognized for their service:
David Goggen – Public Works, 15 years; Orlando Garcia – Public Works, five years; Kyle Krishner – Public Works, five years; Adam Saponi – Public Works, five years; Adam Johnson – Public Works, five years; Patrick Monteo – Transit, five years; Tamara Martin – Recreation Director, five years; and Jason Roberts – Public Information Officer, five years.
Of the honorees, only Martin was in attendance at the auditorium. Later in the meeting, she was called to the podium to detail a $1 million property transaction between the county and Dogooders Properties, LLC, managed by Dutch Bros CEO Travis Boersma, for property adjoining to the JoCo Fairgrounds.
“These lots that are next to the fairgrounds are actually really fantastic opportunities twofold,” Martin said. “Number one, it protects our asset with the Flying Lark and has the ability for any potential buyer to come in and expand whatever their vision might be but if not it’s a phenomenal addition to the fairgrounds, to the master plan and really some goals that we have for that side of the fairgrounds as well. So I really encourage you to consider this and I’m thrilled that it is something that is moving forward.”
JoCo Legal Counsel Wally Hicks was asked by DeYoung to explain that the funds for this purchase were derived from the county’s property reserve fund, which can only be used for property transactions and renovations. DeYoung wanted to make sure citizens knew it was money that was specifically earmarked for real estate and this could not legally be used for other purposes, such as funding law enforcement.
The property acquisition was unanimously approved by the commissioners.