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Predictions and non-news stories ...

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We all like predictions; to know what is going to happen in the future. Recently the Oregon Employment Department got into the act of prognosticating. In a report covering occupational employment, Employment Projections By Occupation, 2000-2001, the history of the three county region is discussed.
   The report begins with an explanation of the methodology used in making the forecasts. The report then presents 15 pages, each with lists of department job titles. Included with each job is the number of persons in that field today and how many are expected to be doing that work in ten years.
   Interestingly enough, the employment experts point out that in the past 10 years, 1990 to 2000, total payroll in the state grew by more than 350,000 (28%). During the next ten years, 2000 to 2010, expectations are for payroll employment to grow by only about half that; 12.5 percent or about 204,000 jobs.
   All occupational sectors except managers, clerical and blue-collar workers should see above-average growth, the report continues. However growth rates for the professional, technical and sales groups should be only about half of what they had been.
   That's all interesting, but the job lists are where the fun is. As could be expected, timber fallers and buckers are expected to take a hit; a minus 11 percent drop. Choker setters will stay about the same, dropping from the 13 in the region to 12 in the next ten years. The biggest drops, though, are not in the woods. A 100 percent decline in electrocardiograph technicians is forecast. Of course, according to the report, there is only one person working in that field in the region right now.
   It is interesting how one occupation can tie in with another. For example, in the three county region there are 191 police patrol officers. That number is expected to increase by 14.7 percent by 2010. The need for correction officers and jailers will jump by 44 percent, however.
   Closer to home, with 50 writers and editors, the prediction is for an increase of only 14 percent by 2010. Reporters, of which there are 39, will increase by 18 percent.
   Keep in mind, as the wise man once pointed out; figure lie and liars figure. The job title showing the greatest growth in the coming decade, according to the experts is in the field of graduate teaching assistants; a 200 percent jump. Of course it isn't quite as exciting when you learn the number employed in that field increases from one to three.
   and then there was the DARE story ..
   Interesting how small town politics work - and the part your local newspaper plays.
   The latest example is the future of the D.A.R.E. program. For some time, both locally and nationally, the value of the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program has been questioned. A short time ago, the member of the Prineville Police Department in charge of the program was told the city would no longer fund it. The city budget could no longer afford it. Believing in the value of the program in area schools, the officer talked with the county about funds.
   The county judge also believes in the value of having an officer accessible to kids. The issue was slated to be presented to the full county court at the next meeting. D.A.R.E., the officer was assured, would be funded.
   This turn of events would, the Central Oregonian editors decided, make an interesting little story. Let the parents and students know that the program would continue. Various people were interviewed and the story was written, but one question remained; would the sleek, red D.A.R.E. car go with the program? The car, a favorite of the younger set, was originally confiscated in a drug arrest and decorated with D.A.R.E. logos.
   County Judge Scott Cooper said he would find out. He called a city official and was assured in a phone call that the car would stay with the program. The only difference would be having the D.A.R.E. officer wearing a brown Sheriff's department uniform instead of the city's blue uniform.
   Just minutes before the story was placed in the lower corner of page one, the editor received another phone call from Judge Cooper. The city official had changed his mind; there would be sufficient funds budgeted for the program. The program and the car would stay with the city. The officer would wear city PD blue.
   Possibly that decision was made once the city official had time to consider. But just possibly, understanding the chasm that seems to exist in the distance between city hall and the courthouse, there is another force at work here; small town rivalry, small town politics. And then don't forget the power of the press, even with stories that never make it.