Residents from two Cascade Locks neighborhoods are meeting on March 19 to plan a summer block party and kickoff a new crime prevention program.
That meeting at 7 p.m. in the city administration building was arranged by Community Resource Officer Aaron Jubitz at the request of citizens who live south of Forest Lane in the vicinity of Lewis, Riverview and Walnut streets. Jubitz labeled those sectors as Zones 10 and 11 on a map that was drawn up last year to analyze crime trends within the city.
Within the two zones, Jubitz identified theft and car prowls as the two top problems. However, in those areas, and throughout the town, residents shared concerns at a series of meetings last summer about the high rate of drug usage among both adults and juveniles. According to state statistics, methamphetamine use among adults alone rose 500 percent between 1997 and 1999. In addition, a disproportionate number of youth from the rural town are showing up in the county’s teen court for first offenses involving alcohol or drugs.
“I want to empower the citizens because, ultimately, the responsibility falls on them to find solutions to challenges within their community,” Jubitz said.
Other concerns expressed by residents were the need for better traffic and nuisance ordinance enforcement, more healthy activities for youth and better surveillance of homes while commuters are away during the daytime hours.
The upcoming organizational meeting to find solutions for those challenges was scheduled after Jubitz was approached by residents from the two zones. They were interested in establishing the first Neighbor to Neighbor Program, an action Jubitz would like to see community members within all 16 Cascade Locks zones take to create a safer, more livable environment.
During the March 19 meeting, a guest speaker will also provide an overview of the nation’s new Homeland Security effort and how citizens can prepare their families for emergencies. That is only one of the many topics that Jubitz hopes are discussed in ongoing sessions. He said there is no end to the list of educational subjects that can be shared, including everything from lessons about land-use regulations to landscaping designs.
“Developing a Community Action Plan for Cascade Locks has been the highlight of my career,” said Jubitz.
He said the Neighbor to Neighbor Program allows residents to proactively build relationships by planning street cleanups, holiday gatherings, barbecues, and sporting competitions. Once acquainted with each other, Jubitz said citizens will be more likely to keep an eye on each others’ homes and communicate about suspicious activities.
Last year, Jubitz was hired to spend 10 hours per week working on Cascade Locks’ law enforcement issues. He has been paid for those services from a $400,000 Drug Free Communities Grant that was awarded to The Cascade Locks Interested in Kids Coalition (CLIK) in the spring of 2002.
That group of volunteers obtained the federal funding that will be disbursed over a four year period to battle against the growing use drugs and alcohol among both adults and teens. CLIK, which is headed by Lynae Hansen, a city employee and child advocate, is working to strengthen area families.
To date, the organization has arranged a variety of social outings for youth — including sternwheeler cruises — and set up regular anger management and parenting classes. The City Council also stepped forward in 2001 to send a clear message to drug traffickers that they were not going to tolerate these illicit activities. They declared the entire urban area a “Drug-Free Zone” and posted warning signs at both ends of town. The new code cuts off travel for 90 days within the municipality to any resident or visitor arrested on “probable cause” for use, sale or possession of illicit substances.
“The tireless efforts of the community at large have made this process a worthwhile and rewarding one,” said Jubitz.