A wolf in sheep's clothing


Last updated 8/8/2023 at 9:55am

This proposed “cold weather shelter” at 192 W. Barclay Dr. is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and will become a magnet for vagrancy to our small town — “build it and they will come; enable it, fund it, and it will grow.” Here in Sisters, we do not have large indigenous need, and we are not prepared for the increased influx.

There had been no transparency nor meaningful public input until a group called private meetings at the fire house community center on August 1. The City has hidden behind a new state law to jam through this project without a process or public input. The takeaway here is just because you can do something does not mean you have to do it or should do it. The City staff works for the citizens, and should be exclusively aware of our concerns, and should be protecting the quality of life and safety of its citizens.

The applicant, Luis Blanchard, was supposed to attend the August 1 meeting, but did not show up. Did he cancel because of the crowd, because he thinks City staff is going to approve this project on August 9, or because he thought he had such a compelling letter to the editor coming out August 2 in The Nugget?

Since it appears that the City is not going to immediately disqualify the applicant, there should be full public disclosure. Before being allowed to receive approval they should prove that they are competent as an operator and qualify under the state law they were trying to slip into town on under the radar. Under these terms they do not qualify.

The application states that there are police, transportation, and medical resources in Sisters; there are not. For example, Sisters’ medical facilities are private and are not walk-in urgent care, and we do not have a hospital in town. The sheriff’s station is by contract, small, only staffed Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and closed on the weekends.

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What about all of the homes near 192 W. Barclay that the application states do not exist within the allowable distance? How do we compensate the industrial and commercial business owners on Barclay for the impact of this facility? These buildings are a major investment providing livelihoods and employment.

What date was their 501(c)(3) fully approved and EIN issued? I do not believe the applicant has been around long enough to qualify under the status they are seeking.

How much are the non-profit’s officers / BoD compensated? What is the ratio of overhead/salaries to funds available to provide benefits? Present tax returns; to be a “high rated” nonprofit it must have an audit.

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How are the taxpayers going to be reimbursed for the added cost impact from a 20- to 40-bed facility?

What protocols are in place to handle the problem cases that are beyond the “most vulnerable in our community,” meaning the drug addicted, criminal, or mentally ill that are always a part of the equation and will be attracted from out of the area to this magnet?

Who do our citizens call when one of the shelter’s “guests” are in town, at a school, or in a neighborhood intoxicated, loitering, stealing, or having a mental breakdown? How many kids walk home by themselves from school or to town for lunch? Welcome to Portland, Salem, and San Francisco.

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Deception is everywhere. For example, the applicant’s representatives at the August 1 meeting said it was a 20-bed facility, but Luis Blanchard’s letter says it’s a 40-bed; they say its only for cold weather but Blanchard states heat and smoke — if you add cold, hot, and smoke, that is all year in Sisters.

The truth is the applicant and City have no plan nor the resources for the impact. The applicant does not meet some basic terms of the program, and this whole subject should moot. It is a mystery why the City has not turned them down already.

A small, privately funded shelter should get organized, trained, and funded to handle the small need that is locally generated and we should not allow the City staff and the applicant to create a magnet to our town.

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