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New County Commissioner Brian Barney comes from a background in agriculture, law enforcement and health care with hopes of improving the county

JASON CHANEY - Brian Barney, who was appointed to serve as Crook County Commissioner, is eager to get to work and focus on such local issues as affordable housing and job creation.

Brian Barney does not consider himself a politician.

"I am not the type of person who wants to go out there and advertise and ask for money and do that type of thing," he said.

Instead, the newly appointed Crook County Commissioner is eager to dive in and get to work.

Barney was chosen by Crook County Judge Seth Crawford and Commissioner Jerry Brummer to join the three-member county court over nine other applicants. Crawford said his vast experience in multiple fields and his historic knowledge of Crook County set him apart.

Born in Pioneer Memorial Hospital and raised on the Upper Crooked River, Barney is a fourth generation member of the Stearns family and attended public school in Prineville. He is currently 62 years old and is married with two children and four grandchildren.

After finishing high school, Barney attended Central Oregon Community College and began working for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Department. He earned a BPST certification from the Oregon Police Academy in Monmouth and at the age of 19 went to work as a deputy sheriff in Deschutes County.

Barney held that job for several years and served as a reserve deputy in Crook County but later opted to explore other professions.

"I worked as a private investigator for a little while," he said. "Then I came back to farming. For the last 35 years or so, I have been farming."

Over the years, the amount of land Barney has farmed just east of Prineville has fluctuated, reaching as many as 1,600 acres. But as time marched on, he began to take on more responsibilities and projects that caused him to scale back his farming efforts.

He served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT on the Prineville Fire Department for approximately 11 years and volunteered on the USDA Farm Service Agency committee and the Farmers' Home Administration board, administering federal USDA programs. He has served on the Crook County 4-H/FFA Livestock Sale Committee, Crook-Wheeler County Farm Bureau, and the Central Oregon Agriculture Research Center Advisory Council as well.

In addition, for the past 21 years, he has served on the Pioneer Memorial Hospital Board as a board member, vice chairman and chairman. Since 2014, he has also served on the Strategic Planning Committee for St. Charles Health Systems.

Also, Barney has served on the Ochoco Irrigation District Board for the past 16 years, working collaboratively with local, state, and federal agencies, conservation groups and others on a Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Project, and on the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security and Jobs Act of 2014.

"I like to stay busy," Barney said.

During all of his years of farming and public service, Barney had always considered running for a public office. But given all of his many responsibilities, he never pulled the trigger — until now.

"I have a passion and love for the county and Prineville," he said of his decision to apply for the commissioner opening. "I want to see the county through and maintain the good county that it is and the growth that it has."

Barney expressed an interest in bringing more affordable housing to the community as well as more jobs to help stabilize the local economy.

"I remember as a kid when there were sawmills in all sorts of locations in the city," he said. "There was a gas station on every corner, and supermarkets, car lots and tractor companies – a lot of things we don't have today. So to some degree, I would like to see some of that activity come back to the community."

Sworn in on Monday morning, Barney described his first day as a bit of a whirlwind. The next day was a bit better and then on Wednesday, he participated in his first County Court meeting.

"I am honored to be a Crook County Commissioner so I may serve the people of our community," he said. "I look forward to working with Judge Crawford and Commissioner Brummer to maintain our quality of life in Crook County."

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