Editorial raised ‘good points’


Your editorial concerning the Sweet Home Economic Development Group/Oregon Jamboree raised a lot of good points and should create a matter of concern for the Sweet Home community.

I had the privilege of being mayor at the time SHEDG was created. We were able to build a team from the community to assess our opportunity for jobs creation in light of the spotted owl fiasco and the steady decline of the timber industry.

Pacific Power and Light had an office in town at the time with Mel Wagner as its manager. Mel came on board and PP&L provided a lady named Doris Johnston to act as facilitator. Mandy Cole of the U.S. Forest Service was another original member as well as several others connected to the timber industry as well as local businesses and local city government. Scott Proctor was another early and active member.

The goal was both simple and complex. First we had to identify possible industrial type property, see if the zoning would fit, determine if local infastructure such as water and sewer capability was enough, define the best selling points of the community as a whole, etc.

We knew going in that possibility of landing a huge employer was low. Even with rail access and the four-lane completion of Hwy 20, the lack of immediate access to Interstate 5 was a detriment.

The group worked long and hard in developing what we thought was the best plan and mission statement and over the subsequent years tried to keep selling Sweet Home as a good place to live and work.

The advent of the Oregon Jamboree was a good fit as a destination event that could provide an annual boost to the local economy. Marge Geil and Leslie Howe should always be remembered for their efforts in starting the first year of the Jamboree.

Many of these same folks worked as volunteers for many years for the Jamboree including Mel and his wife, me and my wife and several hundred other Sweet Home residents trying their best to put a good face on our community and make the event a success. In many ways we were successful and it always seemed a worthwhile thing to do.

Some things have changed. The Jamboree has morphed into more of a big business and, to me at least, has lost some of its appeal.

Your editorial pointed out some of these things, such as the secretive nature of many things. As you, I am interested in how they think that not sharing information is a good thing. I am interested in knowing how many people are both full and part time employees and what they are paid.

As a “nonprofit” status is attached to the Jamboree, I would think this would be public knowledge. I simply find it hard to believe that with the ticket prices, fees charged to vendors as well as taking a percentage of their sales, increased attendance each year, that they give a report that they lost money.

The Jamboree is still good for Sweet Home and while we don’t volunteer during the event as we used to, when asked we still do things such as count scrip tickets, stuff envelopes for ticket mailing, etc.

Businesses such as grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations see an upswing, and some school groups, through their hard work, use it as a fund-raiser; however, local law enforcement, as well as medical personnel, are being taxed more each year.

The Jamboree would not exist without the hundreds of volunteers that give so much of their time. The people in charge surely know this and should be more forthcoming with facts that are pertinent.

Either that or take it out from under the SHEDG umbrella and simply let it be known as The Oregon Jamboree, a for-profit business entity run by professionals.

I do not want to see it go away, but neither do I want to be fed a dose of “pap” that is an insult to my intelligence.

Dave Holley

Sweet Home