Local volunteer Edie Wilcox assists police – and much more

Sean C. Morgan

It’s pretty rare to attend any event in which the Sweet Home Police Department is involved throughout the year and not see Edie Wilcox.

With her longtime companion Steve Magnolia, Wilcox, 55, is a regular volunteer at the Public Safety Fair, Shop with a Cop, Downtown Trick or Treat and parades; and they help out behind the scenes with Peer Court, data entry and office work at the station.

“Where do I start with the two most dedicated volunteers I have?” Riley said. “Doesn’t matter what it is I ask. They’re willing to do it. They have a passion for the city of Sweet Home. They have a passion for the children, and they have a passion and pure love for our Police Department.

“And it doesn’t matter if it’s last minute notice or if they have lots of advance notice, they are always ready, willing and able to help. Both of them always have the most hours each year put in by any of my volunteers.”

Magnolia said their volunteerism started when Wilcox participated in the Sweet Home Police Department’s Citizens Academy. She recommended it to him and followed through.

“I’ve recommended it to people since I did it,” Magnolia said. “You learn so much about the Police Department. You learn how they function.”

“What the police actually do,” Wilcox added.Wilcox was born in Eureka, Calif. She came to Sweet Home when her parents, Bill and Pat Wilcox, who were from Sweet Home, returned in the early 1960s and her father took a job working on both dams.

She has lived in Sweet Home most of her life, with stops in Sisters, Bend and Albany.

Wilcox’s parents were active with the Elks, she said. “This is where I get my community involvement.”

She helped them set up booths for Sportsman’s Holiday and other community events.

Wilcox said she met Magnolia, a deejay on Tuesday Blues Day with KLOO radio in Corvallis, in 2007.

“I had a 1977 Olds Cutlass I was driving, and I wanted to get rid of it,” she said. She was listening to Magnolia’s program and heard him tell how he went to New York to pick up three Oldsmobiles. She called the station and left him a message.

He didn’t buy her car because it didn’t have a 350 in it, but they met.

She encountered him again after buying a guitar and visiting his music store in Albany. Her sister was learning to play harmonica, and Wilcox needed her guitar restrung.

“He now says I chased him until he caught me,” Wilcox said. They’ve been together since 2009.

Wilcox said her volunteerism really took off after a stint at the Assurant Call Center in Albany for about three years, she said. “A medical issue reared up. I didn’t recover from it.”

She went to school but was unable to finish, due to her medical issues, she said. “I saw the ad in The New Era for Citizens Academy. I knew Gina through Tim (Riley, a drummer and Gina’s husband).

“I thought, ‘I know somebody there – I’ll take it.’ It just shows the policing and procedures of the Police Department. We have officers come in and speak about what they do.”

She went on to take the Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens Academy as well.

Graduates of the Citizens Academy may be qualified to volunteer at the department, and since SHPD started providing citizens academies, it has developed a base of about 20 volunteers.

Magnolia and Wilcox were among the earliest.

In addition to her work with the police, Wilcox has been a city planning commissioner for more than three years, serving a year as chairwoman.

Wilcox and Magnolia served as volunteer stagehands for two years with the Oregon Jamboree.

She’s also involved in disaster preparedness and developed a related interest in ham radio, getting involved with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) Amateur Radio Relay League in Albany.

The group is set up to assist local emergency responders in the event of a disaster. It holds regular events to simulate and train for disasters.

She saw the group at the Veterans Day parade one year, Wilcox said. It took her a year to find them.

“I’ve always wanted to do emergency preparedness,” she said. “Because we live below two days.”

She asked a local official one day whether Sweet Home had a plan, and the city put her on its Hazard Mitigation Committee.

From there, she was soon involved with an emergency preparedness committee that includes local fire and police chiefs, public officials and citizens, who meet at the first of each month. She recently started training with the Linn County Citizens Emergency Response Team.

Wilcox is initiating a ham radio ARES group in Sweet Home next month, with classes beginning 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at Sweet Home Police Department, 1950 Main St. Call her at (541) 401-0188 for more information.

Outside of law enforcement and emergency preparedness, Wilcox is interested in economic development in Sweet Home. To that end, she has started working on a tourism video dedicated to showing “who we are” and “what we offer” in Sweet Home.

She is working with Jeff Silverman, who has done similar videos for Albany, Lebanon, Salem and

Tillamook. She is seeking funding and applying for grants to help pay for it.

Wilcox has two daughters, Maria Iberson and Kellie Pitts. She has two grandchildren, Malaki Easling, 14, and Hudson Pitts, 18 months.