News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Where is Sisters Country?

Call it “the Sisters area” or go for “Sisters Country,” a successful marketing tagline rolled out by the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce a while back. I like calling it Sisters Country. Our home. Where we live and work and play. Where the heck is it, exactly?

Bill Bartlett mentioned in last week’s issue of The Nugget that it might be defined by the borders of Sisters School District. I respectfully disagree. Wherever The Nugget covers news and community? That’s Sisters Country, and it most definitely includes Camp Sherman, Suttle Lake, and environs. The term Sisters Country is big enough to encompass our neighbors in Jefferson County, zip code 97730, and Black Butte School District.

Speaking of boundaries: Did you know that Sisters Parks & Recreation District (SPRD) and Sisters School District (SSD) do not share the same borders? Some local parents might not realize that, until they go in to sign up for SPRD camps — only to discover that their family’s address is considered part of Redmond’s parks and rec. Even if you’re an active part of the Sisters community and your kids attend school here, you might not fall under SPRD’s rubric. Out-of-district people can still participate; it costs more.

I asked Jennifer Holland, SPRD’s executive director, what’s up with that. “This is a very common question,” she assured me. “Sisters Park & Recreation District is called a ‘special district.’ We have our own district lines that, while are similar to SSD, are not the same.”

Apparently it’s often seen in special districts, including the one Holland worked for before moving to Sisters (Willamalane over in Springfield). SPRD’s boundaries were determined back in 1998, when the special district formation was on the ballot for voters to approve.

“Many factors go into deciding the district boundaries including needs for services and who is likely to support the measure,” Holland said. “As you know, Central Oregon has changed a lot in the last 20-plus years, so what was true then may not be true today.”

To change district lines, SPRD would need to float a ballot measure to “annex” specific areas. Those specific areas would then be subject to SPRD-supporting property taxes. “There have been conversations with myself and the board on the potential need for this, as there are pocket neighborhoods who are in the SSD boundaries but not ours,” Holland explained.

“Future steps remain to be seen,” she said. “However, I do believe it will be a topic during our next strategic planning process.”

The board of SPRD cannot, alas, tell us where exactly Sisters Country is. Maybe we should put that question on the ballot, too. But who would get to vote on it? Only the residents of 97759? Or the wider swath of Sisters Country?

That was a joke, folks. That’s not a ballotable issue. So I’ll just keep using the term in an inclusive and vague kinda way. Shout-out to my friends in 97730!


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