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High Schools to Debate Financial Issues

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GRANT PASS, Ore. — Josephine County’s financial issue has been a problem for years. Adults have debated what to do, but a solution hasn’t stuck.

Now, they are turning to high schoolers who could hold the answers in their arguments.

“You can have evidence but evidence isn’t good unless you know what you’re talking about and explain it,” said Corinne Biencourt.

Students from four Southern Oregon debate teams know what they’re talking about.

“Particularly at home I’ve been doing online research mostly,” said Biencourt.

They haven’t just researched it; they’ve lived it.

“The certain ways it’s going to benefit us and if it goes this way, how will it benefit us, and the reasons why it needs to go this,” said Lauren Ward-Brown.

“This is probably the smallest most, concise debate I’ve ever done, normally it’s on worldly problems,” said Corinne Biencourt.

Students from four high schools in O&C counties have prepared arguments on four topics: using the National Guard to protect the residents of cash strapped counties; who’s to blame and which federal agency should be sued by Southern Oregon counties; the possibility of a multi-tier tax district; and the value of natural resources like timber and minerals.

“Both sides of the arguments are going to be discussed, two of the topics were requested by Securing our Safety to be debated and the consequences of that are maybe the agenda we are working on, the students will tell us it’s not the right agenda or it’s the right agenda but let’s refrain the arguments,” explained Matthew Eldridge.

Securing our Safety is hosting the event and several Southern Oregon leaders have confirmed they’ll be there to hear what these teens have to say.

“That’s pretty exciting to have them actually have them listening to us, because most people will just throw you to the side. They are just crazy right now so it feels like it’s kind of important,” remarked Lauren Ward-Brown.

The public is also invited – and included in the debate – through questions they pose.

“The coaches are going to field the questions and ask the questions during the cross examination,” said Matthew Eldridge.

“I think it’s really cool because any idea is a step forward and everyone should have the opportunity to put their ideas out there,” said Corinne Biencourt.

The great debate on securing our safety takes place Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. at North Valley High School. The public is invited for the debate and a free BBQ lunch.

Sharon Ko contributed to this report.