Her life in the Valley of Riches

Dan and I received a nice surprise when Jessica LaBerge, the central and south-central regional coordinator for Governor Tina Kotek came to Cave Junction and the Illinois Valley News Office Oct. 4.for a visit. Councilor Jean Ann and John Miles took her on a tour of the town. She visited locations such as City Hall and the Illinois Valley Community Development Organization before coming to our office.
It was refreshing to have a representative visit our rural area to find out what needs the town has that the state could help us with. LaBerge, who lives in Southern Oregon near Hugo, really seemed to understand the uniqueness of the I.V.
You can be assured that Dan and I expressed how we have very smart and determined people in our Valley and how beautiful it was from the Oregon Caves to the forests and rivers and why it was worth the investment. We took turns expressing our concerns, with mine being lack of housing, food insecurities, transportation, childcare and limited Head Start hours. Dan spoke of the need for investment in our airport, a hotel, emergency preparedness, increased job opportunities, upgrading infrastructure to enable shovel ready locations for businesses to expand or relocate to the Valley and the need to close the county islands within the city of Cave Junction.
Dan and I also shared how the closure of Hwy. 199 during the Smith River Complex fires created a hardship for our local businesses due to the decrease of travelers through the Valley.
LaBerge told us that one of the issues that Oregon legislators are focused on is Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, and how there is a debate about whether to fix the measure. If proposals were to pass, along with banning the use of hard drugs in public places and making fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin illegal, the latest proposals would also require addiction treatment, rather than having it be voluntary, and would increase penalties against drug dealing.
LaBerge also explained which areas that Governor Kotek’s administration has identified as being priorities – early and elementary education, housing and homelessness and mental health and addiction. The issues the governor lists as priorities are definitely concerns in our neck of the woods.
Although we discussed lots of problems it was nice to be able to share some of the Valley’s grassroots efforts such as the future development of I.V. HOPE Village, the efforts of Main Street Cave Junction trying to beautify downtown and the work by the Park & Rec Commission for Jubilee Park .
Lately, I have noticed a lot of complaining on Facebook about how people are parking rundown looking RVs near the library and how unsightly it is and why we should not feed unhoused people. I really wish people would get more involved in local government instead of just complaining on Facebook. I attended the Cave Junction City Council meeting Monday and there were only a handful of people in the audience and not one person there expressed what to do about RVs parked by the library. The city council meets the second Monday of the month at City Hall and you can fill out a comment card to speak on issues for three minutes. Here’s a quick quiz: Can you tell me where City Hall is located? You can also express your opinions by writing a letter to the editor to the Illinois Valley News and email it to laura@theivnews.com.
Thank you for reading and enjoy this week’s paper!