The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Sweet Home is a place of peace and plenty


May 29, 2019

Every so often we hear or see comments about how terrible our town has become – often in context of how great it once was.

It’s a place where two people have been shot and killed in the past couple of weeks. It’s a place where thefts seem common, where the homeless are seemingly everywhere, where drug dealers and users live on every block and a lot of kids can’t seem to graduate – or so go the complaints.

Two homicides in two weeks is just crazy. Whole town’s going down the proverbial you-know-what.

But stop. Think about this a minute.

Not everyone feels this way, of course, but some folks find it hard not to in light of current events. We see and hear former residents condemn Sweet Home – they could never raise their families here.

Let’s get a little perspective.

Several years ago we had two fatal fires, which happened within hours of each other.

We can count on exactly no hands the number of other times multiple simultaneous fires have killed local residents in the past 20 years.

Things happen. And when things happen, even rare things, they can sometimes happen in a rather short time frame.

On social media or in casual conversation, it’s easy to get caught up in emotional diatribes, to recall things the way we want to rather than actual reality.

Here are some facts: Sweet Home has a fairly low violent crime rate. It’s lower than every big city in our state. It’s similar to other small towns – sure, maybe not compared to Lake Oswego or Silverton, but we also have a lot less money flowing through our cash registers than those kinds of cities.

Our property crime rate tends in recent years to the higher side of average, but a large number of us go years without ever even dealing with a theft at all. Some local people have never been a theft victim.

Car thefts: Police tell us that nearly every theft from a vehicle in Sweet Home is from an unlocked rig. Often, someone has left cash, wallets, electronics and firearms in the vehicle in plain sight. It’s one of the most preventable crimes. Yes, we ought to be able to leave our cars unlocked, but that’s not reality anywhere.

Contrary to popular belief, our crime rates are generally around the middle of the pack for Oregon. .

Crime does not, in fact, ruin this town. Two homicides occurring within a couple of weeks of each other are certainly unusual. But that’s because they rarely happen. We could go years without seeing another – just like we have in the past.

Education: Of course it could be improved, because it involves hundreds of human beings who aren’t perfect. But no, statistically, it’s not that bad. Any families who actually show an interest in their children’s education will find a good education for their children. We know many local high school graduates who have gone on to success in college and beyond. They didn’t seem particularly hindered by the fact that Latin or forensics aren’t offered at Sweet Home High School.

On the other hand, we have generations of families in whose lives educational achievement has not been a high priority. If you fit in this category and want change, you can help your kids succeed. You can help fix whatever problems our local education system might have. Of course, not every kid will do well in school even if you do show that interest, but a lot more will.

The homeless: Yes, we’ve got a lot and the numbers have increased in recent years. But they’re not unusual either. Been to California? That state has discovered exactly how to grow homeless populations. It isn’t about opening warming shelters. It’s really about land use practices that drive up the cost of housing and economic policies that drive up wages and lock out low-skilled labor.

Sound familiar? Oregon has been doubling down on the policies of big sister California to ensure ever-increasing divisions between the haves and the have nots – all in the name of helping the have-nots.

As a result, the homeless are everywhere in most of our cities – except maybe Lake Oswego.

And for those who have thought it or said as much – you are wrong: Homelessness does not necessarily equal more murders.

Our town is not crap, to use the more polite version of a term we sometimes hear. Sweet Home is an average community with similar problems to others like us around our state.

We know many residents who came here with plans to stick around a couple of years and move on. But we all stayed. Because we like it.

We enjoy the natural beauty, the can-do spirit that manifests itself when needed, the people who work to make our town better.

Sweet Home is a great place with the same relatively low crime rate that afflicts most of the rest of our country. Crime rates were double in the 1980s what they are now.

So here’s a suggestion to the naysayers: Have some pride. This town looks better than it did a decade ago. The Oregon Jamboree looks like it’s righting itself and the very fact that it exists, not to mention for nearly three decades, is an amazing accomplishment for a town this size. For an outsider, seeing it for the first time, it’s quite impressive.

We live in a time of peace and plenty. The vast majority of us go to sleep with a roof over our heads, our bellies full, our cell phones charging on the nightstand, 500 channels on our giant TVs, an X-Box on our entertainment center, a personal computer on our desk, most of the knowledge of man at our fingertips and so much more – what could only be counted as luxuries even just a few decades ago.

Despite two incredibly violent crimes this month, we still live in a time of peace and plenty right here in Sweet Home.

Go post that on the social media. And lock your car.


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