Papermill employee, school district booster and sports coach Willie Worman is convincing his fellow Siletz townspeople that they can and will take their town back.
It’s no mystery as to why a “take back” is needed in this small village up Highway 229 from Toledo. The town, in the eyes of many, is the crime capital of Lincoln County. It’s isolated, gets only infrequent patrols from an over-stretched sheriff’s department, has a high burglary and drug use rate and the landscaping around it’s city library is rife with used drug needles. Domestic violence is common as green grass and petty theft and public drunkness is a part of daily fare.
One day Willie Worman got fed up. He’s a childrens’ sport coach and while coaching his kids near the library, he looked over and saw the needles in the bushes. “That was it – I got good and fed up. I needed a change and so did the whole town,” Worman told News Lincoln County. He said he’s spent over two decades coaching kids and being a father figure to many more young, bright kids who he says have been tragically exposed to the dark-side underbelly of drugs, stealing, violence and other criminal behavior and events.
“I just knew I had to do something. So I reached out to my community, and my community reached out back to me. And so we’re off on a journey to take back our town.”
Worman has quite a group of fed up neighbors as well as citizens he never knew – citizens who have also had run-ins with “druggies and thieves” who make life hell in an otherwise bucolic country-setting with a beautiful river running through it.
Worman and his growing legion of Neighborhood Watchers have already made a difference. Violence is down. Drug deals are down. Thefts are down. “The criminal element that used to run Siletz knows that we’re watching their every move. And so they’ve taken their game elsewhere,” Worman told us. “But it took the town coming together, to be fed up together and to commit to do something together to restore our town’s livability and safety. And it’s working.”
To continue the progress a recent property tax increase approved by the voters will pay for increased regular Lincoln County Sheriff’s patrols – 80 hours a week. The department will hire additional staff and buy more patrol cars to dramatically increase law enforcement visibility throughout the Siletz Area since the new tax district is the same as the Siletz Fire District.
To get all this organized, Worman said they’re holding a big Siletz Town Hall Meeting” at the Siletz Library, Thursday night, June 2nd, 6pm. Members of the sheriff’s department will be there. Worman says their message will focus on cautioning citizens to not take the law into their own hands, but to observe suspicious or criminal behavior and pass that information along to the sheriff’s office. Worman says his Neighborhood Watch group has already assisted the sheriff’s office in providing information that enabled the arrest of several “bad actors” in the community – some related to drugs – others for theft and violence. Worman says his group is committed to working close and smart with law enforcement to make the community once again safe for everyone.
Worman says the Town Hall meeting Thursday night at the Siletz Library is open to any and all Siletz area citizens who want to restore safety and a higher quality of life to the Siletz Community. The meeting begins at 6.