Gold Hill - Is it time to reinvent yourself?

Gold Hill, a typical small town, 1,100 people, 0.7 square miles, 448 acres, a quaint place with its share of small-town characters, a town with a proud history going back to the 1800s, a gold mining town, founded by hardy, independent people, a small city.

In the 25-plus years I have been a resident of Jackson County, I have followed the ups and downs of Gold Hill, one of the most heavily covered cities in the county (when things go awry, as they have many times over the years). The most recent example was the election earlier this month, in which no candidates ran for mayor and a number of City Council seats. I have not heard whether any of the write-in candidates have stepped up and accepted those positions yet.

Is it time for Gold Hill residents to ask themselves some hard questions? I think so.

In today's reality can a city of 1,100 people really be viable? Can small cities compete with larger cities for competent city management, provide the services people expect from city government, and engage citizen involvement at a level that will fill elected positions?

Gold Hill, maybe it is time to collectively answer those questions for yourself. The cost of operating a city keeps increasing, providing duplicated services available from the county, such as planning, police protection, management and more. Can you continue to be a city when you can't find people to serve in your elected offices?

I think the answer is no. Maybe it is time to regroup, rethink what you want as a community. You could solve some of your difficulties, as well as save some tax dollars, by unincorporating and letting the existing county government supply some of your duplicated services, such as planning, law enforcement, zoning, building inspection, street and road maintenance, etc.

Issues would need to be resolved with the county with respect to infrastructure, water and sewer systems and so forth, but those are not insurmountable tasks. Your fire protection is already provided by a special taxing district, so that would not be an issue.

If you are concerned about losing your part-time police protection, maybe an arrangement could be made with the county sheriff, where you form a police protection special taxing district that would provide the additional funds to county government for dedicated sheriff's patrols (maybe a sheriff's sub-station in Gold Hill).

This may sound like a radical idea, but is it any more radical than having a city that cannot function because its citizens can no longer give of their unpaid time and effort at the expense of their families and their own health and welfare?

Residents of Gold Hill, the solution is in your hands. I hope you take my musings as they are intended. Not as a slight, but as a hope for better days to come for my friends and neighbors.

Doug LaFeve lives in Medford.

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