Businesses are now voicing their support for Measure 5-234, which will be on the ballot in Columbia County this November. Three chambers of commerce in the county have decided to endorse the campaign to fund the jail for four years with 100 local beds.
Members of the South County Chamber, Clatskanie Chamber and Rainer Chamber include hundreds of businesses with a presence in the area. Both national companies and Mom-and-Pop shops are represented by these chamber organizations.
“Local businesses understand the need for a jail in the area. With a rash of burglaries in the area and no money to keep the offenders in jail when caught, we feel very vulnerable,” stated Chris Dahlgren, President of the Clatskanie Chamber and Owner of Discounts and Deals. “Having criminals released on the streets with no threat of punishment could easily be detrimental to businesses in the area. Increased theft and drug use will not bode well for my company and the other businesses in the county. We are willing to slightly increase our property taxes, if it means protection for our establishment and our community.”
“It is smart to continue our public safety investment. The taxpayers here already invested to build a modern jail facility at a cost of about 13 million only 15 years ago. That initial investment will go to waste if there is no money to keep the jail open and operational,” claimed Todd Stansbury, Owner of Sunshine Pizza in St. Helens.
Several community-based businesses have even showed support by contributing to the Keep Prisoners in Jail Campaign. Campaign contributors include, Teevin Bros. Land and Timber Co., Scappoose Sand and Gravel Co., ME Moore Construction, Pacific Stainless Products, Inc., Hudson Garbage, NW Natural and more.
The chambers and businesses join many local leaders in endorsing the operations levy. All the mayors and county commissioners have endorsed the campaign, as well as Senator Betsy Johnson, Representative Brad Witt, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson and District Attorney Steve Atchison.
Measure 5-234 calls for a 58-cent increase per thousand dollar assessed property value. It would raise the money needed for the deficit, funding the 100 most serious local offenders to be maintained at the only jail in the county. The levy would last 4 years then would have to be re-approved by the voters. Election day is November 5, 2013.