Crook County offices outgrow the courthouse

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: February 10. 2007 5:00AM PST

The same feature that defines downtown Prineville – its century-old courthouse – is causing headaches for a county administration in need of room to grow.

The Crook County Courthouse currently accommodates departments ranging from planning and building to the district attorney’s office and Crook County Circuit Court.

All of those branches are at capacity in their current spaces and are struggling to find space for their ever-increasing paperwork, Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said.

“With the growth of the county, we’re reaching the point where we’re beginning to feel a couple of tensions,” Cooper said.

Cooper added that there is no office space for an additional assistant district attorney or circuit court judge.

“That is a high priority, getting a fourth circuit judge, because of the increase in caseload that is anticipated to come with the installation of the Madras prison,” he said.

“With judges come staff and with judges come files, and we’re pretty well maxed out on that space in the courthouse now.”

The county commission is looking at several options for expanding the administration’s available space. In addition to the courthouse, county offices occupy 13 other buildings in Prineville, Cooper said.

County officials are currently negotiating with the Crook-Deschutes Education Service District about sharing space in a potential new building next to the Crook County School District facilities on the east end of town.

If that happened, the Family Resource Center, a branch of the Crook County Commission on Children and Families, could rent space from the ESD and the county’s mental health services could move into the Family Resource area. Both departments are located within a few blocks of the courthouse.

“That frees up an entire building to the west of the courthouse which could be renovated for other use,” Cooper said.

He added that the Crook County Circuit Court should be high on a state list of courts needing new facilities because the current building is “old, doesn’t have good security (and) doesn’t meet modern seismic standards.”

For now, the county court is planning to hire a space planner to create a five-year plan for reorganizing the county departments.

“We just keep squeezing – we’re not planning to do any major construction immediately, but we’re starting to think about what are we going to do,” Cooper said. “We’re thinking about growth just like everyone else in Prineville is thinking about growth.”

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