When news first emerged that the St. Charles Health Systems would build a new hospital in Prineville, it set off a domino effect.

In anticipation of the Pioneer Memorial Hospital building being vacated, discussions among county officials began regarding use of the hospital first as a new jail. The City of Prineville joined in, expressing interest in adding a criminal justice center to accompany the jail. In doing so, they could replace their aging police department building and 911 dispatch center, which a study concluded would not withstand a major earthquake.

Now comes news that county officials are looking at replacing the circuit court portion of the Crook County Courthouse. A new facility would likely provide a new space for courtrooms, something District Attorney Daina Vitolins said is sorely lacking, as well as circuit court and district attorney offices.

Commissioner Ken Fahlgren and Vitolins indicated that the vacant hospital site could potentially house those offices along with everything else local leaders are considering. Or, thanks to some anticipated state funding, they could build a new facility altogether.

With all of these needs in play, a new programming study planned that will determine what can fit in the vacated hospital, it is imperative that county and city officials weigh their options carefully and decide what is truly best for the community and all of the agencies that could benefit from use of the hospital site.

Perhaps some offices should occupy a newly constructed facility elsewhere. Maybe some of the proposed relocations can wait. More should come to light as the programming study concludes.

As local leaders weigh those options, it is also essential that citizens speak up and make their ideas and concerns known. During a recent city and county joint meeting, Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe stressed that multiple public forums will be held to give people the chance to weigh in on the multiple plans proposed.

The jail, police department, sheriff’s office, circuit court system, and jail all belong to and serve the citizens of the community. As such, citizens should not stand by on the sidelines and avoid adding their ideas and concerns.

Government officials are asking for input on your future law enforcement and criminal justice facilities. The public should be a part of the decision-making process. Stay tuned for public meeting dates and make a commitment to be involved.

Contract Publishing

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