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Donations Keep Merlin Station Open

By Steven Sandberg

MERLIN, Ore. — As the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office continues to face major budget cuts, members of the community are trying to keep some services available.

Thanks to thousands of dollars in donations from the community, a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office substation is going to stay open and be able to provide some crucial services to the community of Merlin.

The substation on Acorn Street is staffed by volunteers and gives people in Merlin a location to make reports and find important forms. It was scheduled to be closed because of budget cuts to the sheriff’s office.

Hal Smith was a volunteer at the Merlin substation, and still remembers the day a boy was brought to its doorstep after a terrible explosion.

“I got a wastepaper basket and filled it up with water, and dumped it on him and dumped it on him and dumped it on him, until he EMTs came,” Smith recalls. Smith says if the substation and its volunteers hadn’t been there, that boy might not have had help.

When barbershop owner Erik Von Gottsegen found out, he began collecting donations from the community. In just a few days, they had already raised 2,000, which will keep the substation open for about 6 months. Von Gottsegen says it shows members of the community want to keep some kind of law enforcement presence, as patrols and deputies are cut in the sheriff’s office.

“This gives a message that we do care about law and order, that we are orderly, and we have a heart for each other,” Von Gottsegen says. “We may be individuals, but we’re a community-minded group.”

Hours at the substation have tentatively been scheduled for 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. If you would like to make a donation to help keep the sheriff’s office substation open, you can contact the organizers at the Merlin Barber Shop.