By editorial board • 

Realities cast a shadow on sunny report outlook

More than half of McMinnville single mothers live in poverty, along with their children. Let that statistic sink in for a moment.

It’s a fact easily overlooked in an analysis of McMinnville completed by Community Attributes Inc. Elliott Weiss, who oversaw the analysis for the Seattle company, certainly seemed eager to skim over it last week.

“I don’t want to harp on a small segment of the population that is disproportionately burdened by economic conditions,” he said during a public forum held May 29, adding, “It’s not that we will specifically craft goals around McMinnville single mothers.”

Struggling single mothers would probably like someone to harp on their disproportionate burdens occasionally. But Weiss had more positive aspects of McMinnville to discuss.

The city has a vibrant downtown and is ideally situated in wine country, giving it the potential to draw millions in tourism dollars, he asserted.

But we know that. And if one didn’t, it simply takes a quick Google search to learn of McMinnville’s many sunny observations.

What stands out most among the cheery tidbits is the fact that McMinnville remains a place where too many people live on — if not over — the edge of despair. Truly, some fairly grim realities are tucked away in folds of this report.

At $44,500 per year, McMinnville’s median household income is low for the region. The median household income in neighboring Polk County stands at $51,000, for example.

Approximately 20 percent of McMinnville residents live in poverty. The statistic on single mothers aside, that includes fully one-third of all families with children.

As always, numerous factors contribute to poverty, but one particularly disturbing reason in McMinnville is lack of education.

The analysis shows the community, compared with the region, witnesses fewer of its high school graduates go on to earn four-year degrees. If Lyndon Johnson was correct and “education is the only valid passport from poverty,” too many McMinnville students have been stranded at the dock.

Add to these problems a meager local housing market, where many residents can’t find, let alone afford, a basic apartment to rent.

McMinnville is a Norman Rockwell painting among Oregon’s smaller cities. Local residents and their leaders could go on and on about the wonderful elements about their community, and they do.

It sometimes seems as though McMinnville produces as much perky boosterism as it does wine. At least it has the virtue of being sincere, and largely true.
Yet the painting farmers some blemishes that can’t be ignored.

To be fair, civic leaders are working on issues like affordable housing, and those sorts of efforts always take time. Yet it is also fair to say analyses like the one shared last week accentuate the positive rather than run the risk of revoking McMinnville’s gee-whiz spirit.

That spirit eludes numerous people just trying to get by, people who don’t have futures as sparkling as McMinnville’s tourism industry. Maybe it’s time the community did craft some specific goals around people disproportionately burdened by economic conditions.

Comments

T.W.S.

If you cannot afford to maintain your own single lifestyle, you have NO business having a child out of wedlock placing them in the same, if not worse, burdensome destitute living/financial situation.

Mudstump

T.W.S. - Here's a news flash for you. Not all children are born out of wedlock. Husbands die or leave or serve in the military...or go to jail. For every child out there...there is a father and children without a father around should still be supported financially by him. Part of the problem is that we have a lot of men who don't support their kids.

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