Year in Review: May

*The county approved a $100,025 contract with 541 Water, Inc. to replace one of the two existing water treatment plants at Lake Selmac. At the same April 26 meeting, another contract worth $100,025 was approved, this time with CPI Acquisitions, LLC to execute ADA campsite upgrades at Indian Mary Park.
*Representatives from Southern Oregon Sanitation and Republic Services were in attendance at the April 26 Board of Josephine County Commissioners’ weekly business session to explain why the waste collection services need to raise rates for customers. A 5.54% rate increase was required, the need for which the companies attributed to factors like fuel costs, recycling cost increases and health care compensation for employees.
*The AllCare Medical Group’s clinic in the Illinois Valley added board-certified family nurse practitioner Kate Belfakih to its growing staff. Belfakih favors a holistic approach that incorporates a patient’s social, cultural, psychological and spiritual background and beliefs; while she also stays current on the best available science to ensure the highest level of care possible for her patients.
*A Mercedes Benz sedan and a white stretch limo, modified for off-road, were two of the 45 vehicles that roamed the area to help clean up the trash in the woods during the Gambler 500 event held in Cave Junction May 5-7. The 75 participants collected enough trash to fill four 30-yard dumpsters. In addition, 350 tires and tons of scrap metal, 25 vehicles that include two boats and a bus.
*Beloved fifth grade Lorna Byrne Middle School teacher Ms. Sally Clements retired from teaching after a 32-year career. In 1985, Clements began teaching with Helen Kauffman at the Dome School for preschool and kindergarten. Other stages of her career saw roles teaching kindergarten at Selma Elementary School; first and second grade at Evergreen Elementary School and distance learning for Three Rivers School District during the COVID-19 pandemic. A retirement party for Clements was planned at Jubilee Park Saturday, May 20.
*Southern Oregon Sanitation’s rate increase was passed at the Cave Junction City Council May 8. Despite the council’s concerns, the vote was unanimous because declining the rate increase would put them in violation of their waste management contract. Also at the meeting, 328 Hamilton Ave. was declared a nuisance.
*The Josephine County Budget Committee formed a plan to transfer $9,568,900 – 50% of the current fiscal year general fund revenue – to the Law Enforcement Fund. This drastic move forced by sheriff funding streams drying up forced across-the-board budget cuts for other county departments.
*After controversies regarding the local 4-H club restricting youth participants from wearing uniforms featuring religious symbols, the county commissioners condemned the organization, saying a “woke manifesto” was causing 4-H to go “downhill.”
*Oregon Department of Forestry warned residents that despite heavy rainfall and snow over the winter, fire season was expected to be normal. ODF Southwest Oregon District Public Information Officer Natalie Weber cautioned, ““It’s so important that people remember that this is such fire prone country and that fire is natural on this landscape. It’s that perfect environment for fires to spread.”
*Final budget cuts made by the JoCo Budget Committee totaled $2.1 million less than the budget’s first draft. This was achieved by reducing the General Fund Contingency for natural disaster response from 15% to 8%, saving over $650K, delaying sheriff vehicle depreciation charges, saving $269K, and moving the cost of the annual audit and postage from General Government to ISF relieving the General Fund, among multiple smaller, department – specific cuts. The budget declined to raise salaries for the county commissioners and sheriff to save additional money.
*On May 16, TRSD Board Members Susan Fischer-Maki and Jamie Wright lost their election bids. Fischer-Maki lost to Patrick J. Kelly, a longtime attorney who formerly served as the city attorney for Cave Junction – 4,297 votes (42.50%) to 5,779 votes (57.16%), while Wright lost to Nancy L. Reese, a former physical therapy aide and nutrition company senior manager – 4,514 votes (44.79%) to 5,535 votes (54.92%).

*The TRSD Budget Committee convened May 17 to review and adopt the 2023/24 budget. The district was projected to have $117 million in expenses for the upcoming fiscal year; 58% of that will be the operating expenses of the General Fund, which accounts for the salaries of 79% of district staff. 65% of the GF will go to employee salaries and employer costs, 22% to purchased services (student transportation, charter school payments, utilities, maintenance) and the remainder will go to supplies, capital expenditures, reserves and contingencies, etc. The district had over $10.8 mil worth of capital projects lined up.

*Southern Oregon Success Academy office manager Zandra Jansma was named 2023 Education Support Professional of the Year by the Oregon Department of Education. At the celebration for Jansma, School Superintendent Valenzuela said, “Zandra Jansma is one of the hardest working, most caring and dedicated members of the Three Rivers School District family.”

*After a two-year long hiatus, the IV Lions Club’s annual classic car show returned to Jubilee Park in Cave Junction Saturday, June 24. This family-friendly event featured a variety of older-model vehicles for viewers’ enjoyment, prizes for participants, and a raffle with a range of prizes for locals to enjoy.

*KXCJ-LP, the Valley’s very own community radio station, hired new DJ Rob Lark, under the name DJ Deep Fields, to host his show “Exploratorium” every Tuesday night from 8-10 p.m. Exploratorium represents the 23rd live show hosted by a local DJ.

*Main Street Cave Junction and the I.V. Chamber of Commerce planned the 75th birthday party for the city of Cave Junction held June 10 – the Jubilee Jamboree. This free family-friendly event at Jubilee Park featured live music, games and of course, birthday cake – cupcake style. Local music artists like Rosie Wittman, Dawna Crocker, Jarrett Moore and Oddspells were present to show some love for the city, and participants could play chicken poop bingo, carnival games, cornhole and join a pie-eating contest.

*On May 31, the commissioners voted to adopt the US 199 Corridor Plan into the county’s Transportation System Plan. ODOT spent several years developing the plan to improve safety on the highway, among the state of Oregon’s deadliest. Public Works Director Rob Brandes said that in addition to giving “ODOT kind of a road map to work down to try to pick off projects to improve 199 safety,” having it folded into the Transportation System Plan will make Josephine County more competitive for statewide infrastructure grants.

*At the May 24 county meeting, Sheriff Daniel announced he was supporting the formation of a law enforcement service district to fund his department. The sheriff said the sheriff’s office would be “absolutely decimated” without new funding. “I would have no Detectives Division other than what monies I have for JMET. So there would be a few detective positions there which are state-funded. I would have basically at this point, no patrol division at all. There would be zero hours of coverage.”