Driving through Prineville, you might’ve noticed the framework of a building starting to tower over the others. The long-awaited structure is a symbol of the growing population and a step forward for the justice system.
Crook County officials broke ground on the new justice center last summer.
The new, state-of-the-art building will consolidate a number of departments in the 68,850-square-foot space.
“Crook County is one of the fastest growing counties in Oregon, so it’s put pressure on us,” said Crook County Commissioner Brian Barney.
He said the growing population is part of the reason they decided to pursue a study in 2017, assessing the needs of the community. The results showed that their needs were outgrowing the current spaces, in which departments are spread among a few buildings in town.
“It will house the court system, the circuit court system, the district attorney’s office. It has a few state offices that will be in there, like the public defense will have a couple of rooms, our juvenile department in Crook County will be in the facility, and then the sheriff’s office will be in there,” Barney added.
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Of course, some of those functions are moving out of the historic courthouse building built in 1909. Its tall tower is a defining image for Prineville.
But a new future remains in store.
“We will go in and do some work to the to the courthouse and and do some seismic improvements for it,” Barney said. “The administration of the county would go back in the courthouse and hopefully we can, you know, get rid of a few of the older buildings that we have that are costing us a lot of money to maintain and sell them, consolidate.”
Barney said the smaller courthouse created security concerns.
“Everyone was so scrunched in there…it was only 23,000 square feet,” he said. “We were trying to make security better. The inmates were right in the same elevator that the jurors would be, and walking up the stairs together.”
They hope the larger space will more than enough to meet the needs of the county for years to come.
“I’m pleased, and I think things look good for Crook County now and in the future,” Barney added.
The project comes after Crook County voters approved a $35 million bond in 2021.
Commissioner Barney expects the new justice center to open in spring 2024.