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PSU's population research center releases report, which also notes that Madras' growth was slowest in county.

TERESA JACKSON/MADRAS PIONEER - Culver has added 31 new homes in the past year and a half. It was the fastest-growing city in Jefferson County in 2019, according to Portland State University estimates.
Culver and Metolius are the fastest growing cities in Jefferson County, according to new population data.

Portland State University's population research center released its annual report Friday, Nov. 15.

Culver and Metolius grew by 85 and 75 people, respectively, to 825 and 1,555, percentage jumps of 11.5% and 6%.

Madras, on the other hand, had the slowest growth among cities in Central Oregon, growing less than 1%, from 6,345 to 6,380. Jefferson County remained slightly larger by population than Crook County, 23,840 to 23,440, but the margin from last year narrowed.

Culver added 26 new homes in 2018 and another five in the first six months of 2019, according to city manager and recorder Donna McCormack.

Mayor Nancy Diaz said she couldn't think of anything the city has done to promote growth.

"Culver has always had a wonderful school district, which attracts families," she said.

"Culver has pretty much affordable housing, more so than Redmond or Bend," she said, which makes the city attractive to commuters.

The city is working on a wastewater project. Diaz said that didn't necessarily cause growth, "but we needed to look at how the growth is going to affect the ponds and sewer lines and stuff like that. And then we've been working on the streets through grant funding."

Diaz said not everyone is thrilled that the city is gaining people.

"They don't want to see it grow at all, but growth is inevitable," she said. "I've told people that it's a wonderful city, and it's going to grow because it's a wonderful city."

Metolius has seen an influx of new houses, too.

"The Development of Roy Hearts and Havilah Estates have been very busy in the past two years," said Clerk James Stratton in an email. "There have been over 40 houses built and more are planned. ...  It appears that the homes are selling and others are being rented."

"The affordability and location of Metolius in Jefferson County is quite appealing," Stratton added. "Our City Council recognizes this growth and building, that they want to assist and offer incentives for more growth."

Mayor Carl Elliott thinks growth is good for Metolius because "you get different ideals, different suggestions."

He thinks affordable lots have attracted developers, and he said the city is working with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council to bring in more affordable housing. The city also has some property it would like to see developed, and annexed 4 acres into the city limits in hopes of bringing more people into the city, Elliott said.

The Madras City Council has taken a number of steps to encourage growth, including lowering systems development charges. It recently adopted a Housing Urban Renewal District to provide incentives for builders in areas of the city with vacant land.

The study revealed that Crook County was the second-fastest growing county in Oregon between July 2018 and July 2019. The county's population grew from 22,710 to 23,440, a 3.2% year-over-year increase. Only Morrow County, with a 6.7% increase, grew more during the year. Deschutes County was third fastest, its population increasing 2.1% from 188,980 to 193,000.

In addition, Prineville is ranked the 38th fastest growing city in Oregon during the same time period. The community gained 210 people, rising from 10,010 to 10,220, a jump of 2.02%. Bend ranked one spot higher, with its population growing 2.05%, from 89,505 to 91,385. Several other Central Oregon cities showed strong growth over the year: Sisters ranked seventh with 8.71% growth and Redmond 12th, with 4.61% growth.

La Pine also added 66 people to 1,900, a 3.3% jump.

The fastest growing city by percentage was Boardman, which saw a population increase of 17.82%, from 3,690 to 4,490. Portland gained the most people by number change, adding 8,360 people. Bend ranked third, adding 1,880 people. The top three cities by population remain Portland, Eugene and Salem. Bend is the seventh largest city in Oregon.

Population data shows that newcomers continue to flock to Oregon, with the statewide population rising by more than 41,000 in the last year — and 400,000 in a decade. Nearly half of the state's growth occurred in the Portland metro region. Multnomah County added nearly 8,500 people between 2018 and 2019, while Washington County grew by about 7,100 and Clackamas County increased by almost 4,000.

Overall, the Beaver State is on track for 1% population growth this year, with the state's populace now topping 4.2 million.

"These estimates are based on fluctuations in the numbers of housing units, persons residing in group quarter facilities, births and deaths, students enrolled in public school, persons employed, Medicare enrollees, state and federal tax exemptions, Oregon driver license holders as well as other administrative data that are symptomatic of population change," according to PSU.

The boomtown effect isn't felt everywhere equally. Shrinking rural counties include Wheeler, Wallowa, Union, Sherman, Lake, Harney and Grant, though the total lost citizenry for those counties was less than 200 people.

PSU says 86% of the state's growth came from net migration — think moving trucks and a fresh start — while the rest was due to, cue the baby rattle, a special delivery from the stork.

PSU will finalize the numbers for the period between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019 on Dec. 15.

Pamplin Media Group reporters compiled this report.

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