It is with great honor that I am able to provide information on the Rogue Valley Heritage  District. Measure 15-164 will create this new district to insure funding for historical preservation which will allow 15 organizations and museums to be assured of their future, for the benefit of all our citizens.

These organizations range in size from Buncom Historical Society to Southern Oregon Historical Society. In between we have groups such as The Rogue Valley Genealogical Society, which provides valuable research facilities to allow our citizens to discover their heritage and history.

We have museums in our valley, such as Gold Hill Historical Society, Woodville Museum in Rogue River and the Eagle Point Museum. These small museums hold treasures from our local past, but they struggle to keep the doors open and the lights on, with reduced hours.

We get unique opportunities to explore our past, such as with the Hanley Farm and the Hanley home, a fully maintained historical home and working farm from the 1800s.

We can see and experience the excitement of railroads with the Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society, where preservation and restoration of rolling stock and engines are ongoing.

We have been able to attend lectures from noted historians, see traveling exhibits that contain artifacts from different times, and we can learn about our past by researching old photographs, maps, stories and much more at the SOHS research library. To research your own past, you have the Rogue Valley Genealogical Society.

And let’s not forget the many things our children are able to experience: from classes through our schools where children learn how life was in our recent past, through working with our local nonprofit organizations to assist in family development and to provide locations where children can see, touch and learn of their history.

And remember: Our history did not start when this area was settled by immigrants. Our valley has a rich history from very early times through the settling of Native Americans in our area. These parts of our past are also collected, preserved and stored for us and future generations to know by our local societies.

The voters of Jackson County in 1948 created the first operating levy that was used to create a very large collection of artifacts. Thousands of artifacts have been placed in storage, most not seeing the light of day in decades. These are our treasures, preserved and cared for by dedicated curators with experience in permanent preservation of the artifacts. Now is the opportunity we get to move these out of dark storage and into the light for all to experience.

As a result of this district, a five-member publicly elected board will represent our citizens to insure that all funds collected are spent in a way that supports these organizations, their basic operating costs and future abilities to expand hours, provide additional services and maintain and enhance faculties.

In addition to the need to create such a district to insure the preservation of our heritage in our county, this district will be able to award grants to organizations for historical preservation and programs, provide much-needed funding to protect what has been collected over many years and continue the ability to have a place for our residents to donate items of historical value for our children and our children's children, forever.

Tourism in our valley will benefit with the opportunities created with stable funding. Increased hours for museums, improved facilities and handicap access for all our visitors with better marketing of what each of the societies have to offer will impact our local economy.

The cost to us as a county, if we do nothing, is much more than the maximum 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value that is provided for under this measure. The failure of this measure places our artifacts, stories, pictures and programs at risk.

The value is in our millions of artifacts in current inventory, the expansion of tourism as related to museums and facilities, our children's historical programs and the ability of our residents to research their past, their surroundings and the future as told in a context of understanding our history here in our wonderful, culturally rich valley.

The amount of the funding request is small, the need is great, the value to our county substantial and the final reason is: It's worth It! Place your vote in favor of 15-164!

— Scott Henselman of Medford is chairman of the Our Heritage PAC.