A look back at the Crook County Jail as we move forward
As I look back on the history of jails in Crook County with the help of Francis Juris, Steve Lent and many others, the first jail was a standalone building behind what is now the Neat Repeat on the site of the senior center.
The jail was located on that site for a short time before a second jail was opened on Second Street near what used to be Doc's cleaners at Second and Main. In 1885, a more secure jail was built, constructed with brick-and-mortar and attached to the old wooden courthouse. Although thought to be more secure, in 1905 there was a jail break; however, that jail served its purpose until the present courthouse was built in 1909 and the jail was located in the basement within the sheriff's office.
In 1956, a new city hall was built with a small space in the building dedicated as additional jail space and called the east wing, which housed 10 additional inmates.
I remember as a kid growing up in Prineville after visiting the fire department at city hall and walking by the east jail door visiting with the "guests" as they gathered around the jail bar door soaking up the sun and smoking, as I continued walking to the Ochoco Inn and running around the halls before crossing the street to Bank Drug for a malt at the soda fountain.
Sometime around 1968, the current fire department was built and the fire department space in city hall was modified as maximum security jail space with an area that housed 16 male inmates, and the east wing then housed adult females, work release inmates and juveniles, which drew closure of the courthouse jail.
The current jail remains at the same location today and houses 16 adult males. In 1999, a state jail inspector advised that by 2004 the aging jail needed to be "shut down, razed or remodeled." In 2001, Crook County started renting beds from Jefferson County, which today has grown to 25 beds.
Over the years, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to build a new jail, and in June of 2015 community leaders asked Von Thompson and Mike O'Herron to co-chair a volunteer citizens group to research the possible need for a new local jail. From the list of 60 potential participants, more than 30 community advocates attended the orientation meetings and agreed to participate in the project.
In 2016, the architectural and design firm of DLR Group from Seattle was retained to design a facility with visual aids and cost estimates in preparation for the November 2016 election. After extensive research, DLR projected the total jail construction to cost approximately $17 million.
After more than a year of research, study and discussion the 21 remaining committee members reached a consensus and agreed to advocate for a $10 million bond request to build a minimum 70-bed facility to replace our jail of only 16 beds and 25 rental beds in Jefferson County. While the committee realized $10 million wouldn't cover the cost, this was the amount they felt the citizens would support and the additional funds would need to be from other sources.
Many thanks to the committee for all the hard work and all the citizens of Crook County who supported the community in the November 2016 election by voting to approving the $10 million bond to build a new standalone jail, the first since before 1885.
Since the first of the year, the jail project kicked into high gear with design development and securing the financing with both general obligation bond and the full faith and credit bond. The county hired DA Davidson firm to secure the bonds.
The county's finances were reviewed and rated by Standard and Poor, one of the nation's three leading financial research and analysis companies. Crook County received a rating of AA- . Consideration of the rating and over 500 pages for counsel to review describing the county's revenue sources, key personnel, and the lack of pending legal challenges, economic resources and financial management all reflected the market's confidence in Crook County.
With this, DA Davidson was successful in selling $10 million in general obligation bonds for a premium and raised an additional $1,530,945.90. The lower the interest rates, the greater the confidence and so the county has every reason to believe that the election estimates will be very accurate.
We were also successful in selling $3 million in full faith and credit obligations for a premium and raised an additional $635,000 to be paid with the savings from renting jail space in Jefferson County and the sheriff's budget. Thanks to Jeff Wilson and Eric Blaine of the Crook County Counsel Department, Kathy Gray, county treasurer, and their staffs who were instrumental in securing the funding for the project.
The county elected to use the construction manager/general contractor through the CM/GC process, and Kirby-Nagelhout was selected and Jerry Milstead was hired as project manager for Crook County. Design development has continued moving forward with weekly design and selection meetings.
As with any construction project, issues arise that can cause setbacks and revisions in the scope of the work. Geotechnical engineering of the site discovered the possibility of soil liquefaction in the event of an earthquake and specified aggregate piers to comply with seismic requirements.
In consideration of the additional cost associated with the aggregate piers, we revised the jail design from a two story to a one story. This decision not only had immediate but long-term financial savings by eliminating both the building costs and expense of maintaining unoccupied building space.
I would also like to express my gratitude to Sheriff John Gautney and all the other personnel from the Crook County Sheriff's Office for their valuable expertise and insight for this project.
We have reached the construction document phase with final plans out in October and project costs to follow. The jail will have a total of 30,000 square feet; jail administration 3,800 square feet; jail support (including kitchen, laundry, medical, programs, jail commander/supervisors office, vehicle sally and booking) 13,000 square feet; jail housing (including housing and outdoor recreation) 14,000 square feet. Our new corrections center will be an 86-bed facility consisting of 23 double cells and 10 quad cells.
Site construction is in full force. Existing structures on the project site have been demolished and the debris removed. The site is secured, and Dunham Street is closed between First and Second streets. The City of Prineville is generously providing the off-site water and sewer relocation as their contribution to the jail project.
SMAF Construction, of Prineville, is presently rerouting the water and sewer services out of the construction site. We will begin installing aggregate piers mid-month, and construction of the building will begin in the later part of October.
I am excited to see our new jail come to life. The Groundbreaking Ceremony is Thursday, Sept. 7 beginning at 10 a.m. with a barbecue to follow at Pioneer Park. Hope to see you there.
Brian Barney serves the local community as a Crook County commissioner. He can be reached at 541-447-6555.