The Corvallis teenage who started a fire at the Chip Ross Park in September 2014 will soon meet with the residents in the area affected by the fire. The Benton County Juvenile Court has hired Neighbor to Neighbor, Inc., a mediation company based out of Salem, to facilitate the process between the victims and the teen. The fire destroyed more than 85 acres south of Chip Ross Park.
The teen admitted to having started the fire in January and received misdemeanor charges for reckless endangerment and reckless burning, and second degree criminal mischief charges. As part of sentencing the teen was required to attend mediation for restitution.
Neighbor to Neighbor acknowledges it could be a long process and recently contacted homeowners and others living in the area to schedule pre-mediation interviews. Those are set to take place between mid-November and early December. The group acknowledges this goes beyond their usual protocol, which is usually to have just one meeting with the victim and the juvenile offender. There are many victims in this case, so the process needed to be modified to allow each victim the opportunity to speak.
Nobody is sure yet if the mediation sessions will change the $300,000 in restitution the teen has been ordered to pay, but most are speculating that won’t be the case. The teen’s attorney has already pointed out he and his family will have a difficult time coming up with the money. Chances are there will be a payment plan put in place to handle the cost of the debt. Others are speculating that after the mediation sessions, the judge might reduce the restitution payment or that community service will be ordered in its place.