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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View This Issue
S ERVING THE S ILVERTON A REA S INCE 1880
50 C ENTS
A U NIQUE E DITION OF THE S TATESMAN J OURNAL
V OL . 136, N O . 46
W EDNESDAY , N OVEMBER 1, 2017
Expect Christmas tree Bracing for
prices to grow this year the opioid
Local, national leaders look
for new solutions to save lives
WHITNEY WOODWORTH STATESMAN JOURNAL
A helicopter picks up a bundle of Christmas trees during a harvest at Hupp Farms on Oct. 27 outside of Silverton, Ore.
The case of the "Grandpa Bandit" made Paige
Clarkson realize the addictive power of opioids.
When she first became a prosecutor, Clarkson, a
Marion County deputy district attorney, heroin- and
opioid-related crimes were relatively rare.
But 10 years ago, an older Oregon man started
robbing small, mom-and-pop pharmacies.
The man would hit pharmacies along the Inter-
state 5 corridor. He'd walk inside the business, go
straight to the drug counter, hold his hand in his jack-
et pocket like a weapon and demand all the pharma-
He gave his victims to the count of 10 to give him
all their painkillers. He robbed about seven pharma-
cies, including two in Marion County, before he was
With each robbery, he left a wake of traumatized
victims who thought they'd die if they didn't get him
the drugs fast enough, Clarkson said.
Upon his capture, the "Grandpa Bandit" readily
agreed to plead guilty to all charges against him.
Clarkson said he didn't match the typical drug user
seen in Marion County. He had an accomplished ca-
reer and a large family. He coached his grandchil-
dren's baseball games and owned several properties.
PHOTOS BY MOLLY J. SMITH / STATESMAN JOURNAL
See OPIOIDS, Page 2A
Producers say they might
not be able to catch up to
demand for several years
By the numbers
JONATHAN BACH STATESMAN JOURNAL
uAn average of three Oregonians die every week from a
prescription drug overdose.
Americans will pay more for pre-cut Christmas
trees this year as shortages deepen from the country's
top two producers, Oregon and North Carolina.
Joe Territo sells Oregon trees in San Jose, California.
But he’s becoming increasingly frustrated with rising
costs, from the trees to labor. Territo says the only fig-
ure going down is profit.
“It seems like every year, it’s harder and harder,”
Territo said. He expects to sell 6-foot Noble firs for
about $75 a piece this season, up from about $69 last
The problem is one of supply. Christmas tree grow-
ers are coming up short as their 2017 harvest enters its
critical period, with trees being shipped coast-to-coast
Around the time of the Great Recession, growers
had an oversupply of trees after planting too many in
the early 2000s. Subsequent low prices forced many
farmers out of the Christmas tree business, leaving oth-
er growers to tend to the market.
But now, with only so many trees to go around, re-
maining farmers can't keep up with demand — and they
might not catch up for years. It can take nine years be-
fore some trees are ready to be cut and sold.
Oregon farms harvest the most trees in the United
States, exporting them to places like Asia and Califor-
nia. Trees from North Carolina are generally shipped to
states east of the Mississippi River, such as Florida.
uThe most common prescription drugs involved in
Supply is tight
Casey Grogan is a manager at Silver Bells Tree
Farm, a few hundred acres outside Oregon's capital
city, Salem. He reckons the farm has received 20 times
its normal number of customer inquiries.
“We just have enough to supply the customers we’ve
been supplying, so we’re not able to help them,” Grogan
But Grogan is optimistic for fellow Oregonians who
should be able to find fresh fir trees. And there are
many u-cut tree farms.
"The people that are really gonna suffer from this, I
think, are going to be people in Southern California, Ari-
zona, Texas, places like that," he said.
Tim O’Connor, executive director of the National
uFrom 2012 to 2016, 66 opioid overdose deaths were
reported in Marion County.
uDuring the same time period, 15 overdose deaths were
reported in Polk County.
uIn 2013, one in four Oregonians received a prescription
for opioid medications.
Raul Sosa reaches out for the hook attached to a helicopter at
Hupp Farms. Oregon farms harvest the most Christmas trees
in the United States, exporting them to places like California,
Arizona and Nevada.
Christmas Tree Association, denies a shortage, but ac-
knowledges, “Supply is tight.”
“Everyone who wants a tree will be able to get one,”
Christmas tree farmers aren't so confident.
"Right now, there's a tree shortage. It's been coming
down the line for the last eight or 10 years, or so," said
Jason Hupp, who helps manage Hupp Farms near Sil-
ver Falls State Park in Oregon.
“So our biggest challenges are having enough trees
to supply customers and just getting phone calls after
phone calls after phone calls of people desperate for
trees that don’t exist,” he said.
One recent morning, a helicopter piloted by Terry
Harchenko swooped over Hupp Farms, snatching up
bundles of trees after Raul Sosa, a lone worker clad in
high-visibility orange, connected them to a hook on the
chopper's dangling line.
It's dangerous work — the hook could swing and
strike Sosa — but worker and pilot worked gracefully in
"It's like air ballet. It's crazy," Hupp said beforehand.
The helicopter dropped the heavy trees in a nearby
lot, where other workers pulled away ropes holding
them together. Many Hupp Farms trees will head down
See TREES, Page 2A
Silverton eyes pool, gas-tax measures
The Nov. 7 general election is less than a week away,
which means that voters who haven’t mailed their bal-
lots but want to ensure their vote counts should plan on
dropping them off at one of Marion County’s drop sites.
Marion County has a number of official sites to turn
in ballots, including a 24-hour curbside drop box in Sil-
verton, located in the parking lot at Lewis and S 1st
streets. Ballots must be in by 8 p.m. Election Day. Mar-
ion County Clerk Bill Burgess advises voters who turn
in ballots after Oct. 31to use a drop box in lieu of mailing
Silverton has two measures on the ballot: one to fund
operations of the municipal swimming pool; one to de-
cide whether the city should issue a 2-cent per gallon
gas tax for street infrastructure maintenance and im-
If approved, the five-year operating levy for the Sil-
verton Pool calls for a $275,000 annual tax, $1,375,000
total, to pay for operations and maintenance. It would
replace a 2013 levy that is scheduled to expire June 30,
The estimated tax to property owners is 37 cents per
$1,000 assessed value; the tax bill for a home with an
assessed value of $200,000 is estimated at $73.18 per
year. The tax revenue would mirror that of the expiring
2013 measure, which also levied $1,375,000 over five
The gas tax is similar to one passed by Stayton last
spring. Silverton’s would authorize 2 cents tax per gal-
lon of motor vehicle fuel, levied on each gallon sold
within the city.
If passed, it would go into effect Jan. 1. Revenue gen-
erated from the tax would be used for street construc-
tion, reconstruction, repairs and operations.
Online at SilvertonAppeal.com
JUSTIN MUCH APPEAL TRIBUNE
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Life in the Valley.................4A
Printed on recycled paper
uIn 2015, Oregon ranked #2 among states for non-medical
use of pain relievers.
SILVERTON APPEAL TRIBUNE
Marion County announced that Commissioner Ja-
net Carlson has been appointed to represent Oregon
on the National Association of Counties (NACo) Jus-
tice and Public Safety Policy Steering Committee.
The committee makes policy recommendations
and advocates on issues pertaining to criminal jus-
tice and public safety on behalf of counties across
the United States.
Carlson is a past president of the
Association of Oregon Counties and
currently serves on the NACo Board
of Directors. As a commissioner, she
focuses on public safety and health
care, serving as chair of both the Mar-
ion County Public Safety Coordinating
Council and Willamette Valley Com-
munity Health Board of Directors.
She was instrumental in launching
the Marion County Reentry Initiative which re-
ceived a NACo Achievement Award in 2015.
“Marion County has been recognized as a leader
for our collaborative and innovative public safety
programs that aim to comprehensively and holisti-
cally address public safety needs,” Carlson said.
“While accountability remains a foundation of public
safety, we also need to consider factors like poverty,
addiction, and mental health issues that influence
successful rehabilitation and reintegration into our
“I’m looking forward to learning from commis-
sioners across the country who have faced similar
issues, as well as share successful programs Marion
County has created.”
Carlson was elected to the Board of Commission-
ers in November 2002 and re-elected in 2006, 2010,
Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials to-
gether to advocate with a collective voice on national
policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership
skills, pursue transformational county solutions, en-
rich the public's understanding of county govern-
ment, and exercise leadership in public service. NA-
Co represents America’s 3,069 county governments.