Gold Hill residents say not all is quiet

GOLD HILL — Officials who touted the city's peace after disbanding its police department heard from a few citizens with different views at Thursday's City Council meeting.

Mayor Dan Morris and council members Jan Fish and Gus Wolf stated in recent news stories that they'd received no complaints of an increase in crime since the town's police department closed its doors in June.

Sheriff Mike Winters, accompanied by Undersheriff Rod Countryman — a former Gold Hill police chief who lives in the city — attended July's council meeting to assure residents that "Gold Hill isn't going to go to the wolves," he said.

"We will make sure people are safe," Winters said in July.

Crime reports show a window was broken at the Washington Mutual Bank and Sweeds Machinery Inc. was robbed and vandalized last week. Earlier this week a man was beaten in the downtown area. Jackson County sheriff's deputies are investigating the crimes.

Everyone agrees that deputies have increased patrols in Gold Hill. And residents know to call 9-1-1 for serious criminal activity. But they are unsure whom to call when it comes to dealing with problems such as rowdy parties, teen vandalism, speeding drivers and other lesser offenses. Although these problems may not rise to the level of murder or mayhem, they are troubling, residents insist.

"I know this is not a life or death issue," said former Councilwoman Gloria Eilefson. "But I don't want you to think everything is all rosy."

Eilefson said she wasn't trying to imply crime didn't occur when former Police Chief Dean Muchow was in charge.

"But it is happening now. And I don't know who to call. I don't want to call you guys (council members) at home at 10:30 at night," Eilefson said.

Although the city and the sheriff's department have yet to reach a contract agreement, residents can call the county's non-emergency dispatch line to report crimes, Winters said Friday.

"Depending on what it is and what our workload is, we'll handle things in the order they come in," Winters said.

Loraine Parks, wife of former Councilman Tom Daily, echoed Eilefson's concerns, saying there appears to be an "unruly atmosphere" in town.

"(Some people) are drinking hard liquor and throwing bottles around the street," she said.

Parks added that she thinks recent rowdiness has increased chivalry in some.

"More people are escorting ladies home," she said.

Speeding seems to have increased on Highway 234, although that has been a typical problem for the area, Eilefson said.

Councilman Scott Baker said he'd seen sheriff's deputies citing speeders on Highway 234.

"They do write tickets on 234," Baker said.

Wolf suggested the city request the sheriff's department post a digital speed reader board on the highway.

Winters said he'll seriously consider doing so, once the city makes its request.

"We put it all over," Winters said. "I'm sure we can put one out there at some point. The best thing that Gold Hill can do right now is be patient."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

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