Saxtonville: But wait, there's more...

Over at Loaded Orygun, they did some digging around public records - and managed to uncover new information in the Saxtonville tale.

On Friday, the Oregonian confirmed that Ron Saxton and his farm partners did actually house humans in the corrugated tin shed on the farm.

"But the (workers) were happy to have a place to be able to cook and have a place to sleep and be able to take a shower and such," [said James Thomas, one of Saxton's partners.]

Digging into the records (and going beyond the OSHA filings that the Oregonian looked into), Loaded Orygun found that the building was never approved for human habitation by Polk County

But there's a more basic standard required of any building used as farm labor housing: it has to be some kind of occupancy fit for dwelling, i.e, someplace people can inhabit. If the building isn't fit for humans to live in, it could never have legally been used for housing. ...

The classification of the buildings is done by assessors for the county, and I asked whether a property classed as a farm building could be considered something habitable by humans, i.e., a "dwelling." [Permit specialist Dina] Gibson said no. ...

Polk County's records go all the way back to at least 1978, according to Loaded, which predates Saxton's ownership in 1984. Summarizing it all up:

Having digested all that information, I attempted to restate back to Gibson what I thought she had told me: when assessors reviewed that property, they found it to be a farm building and not a dwelling suitable for people to live in. For that property to subsequently have been used as a dwelling, improvements would need to have been made to the property in order to convert it. For that to happen, an application for making those improvements would have to have been filed and approved by the Planning Division, and permits issued for the conversion. And as far as Polk County Planning is concerned, no applications were received, no permits issued. Gibson responded affirmatively to all points. And finally I asked, "are there any other county offices where this kind of process could have happened?" "No, it all comes through us," was her reply.

And so, Loaded Orygun concludes, either Saxton either illegally made renovations to the building - or it was housing humans in a building that was unfit for people to live in.

So what now, Ron? You've admitted you were part of a farm with a migrant labor camp. Your partners have admitted that the building we've all been looking at was the one where the workers were housed. And now the county where your farm is located is saying that the building was not fit for housing, and no requests to upgrade it to a human dwelling were ever received. That means one of two things: 1) The building was upgraded, illegally and without review; or 2) The building was never upgraded to be fit for humans to live in.

Which is it?

Read the rest. Discuss over there.


connect with blueoregon