A bomb threat to the Jefferson County Courthouse on Monday disrupted work for most county employees, who evacuated both the courthouse and the annex as the Sheriff's Office and Madras Police Department conducted a search.
>One of 28 courthouses threatened
According to County Clerk Kathy Marston, the male caller called her office between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. Marston immediately called the city police, the county administrator, and then the district attorney.
When Marston contacted County Administrator Jeff Rasmussen she said, "He was out of the building at a meeting; he said to tell everybody they could evacuate and go home."
The courthouse and annex were evacuated until about 3:45 p.m., when police gave the all clear, and some returned to work.
District Attorney Steve Leriche said that there was a court proceeding taking place at the time, but the entire courthouse was evacuated.
"It was disruptive," he said, noting that many departments sent their employees home.
According to Oregon State Police, who are investigating the incident, the bomb threat was one of 18 across the state, all called in from about 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The calls were made to 28 county courthouses, including Crook, Deschutes, Grant and Morrow counties, as well as the Oregon Public Service Building in Salem, which houses the OSP headquarters. No suspicious objects were found.
During the local evacuation, Sheriff Jim Adkins and Rasmussen were at a board meeting in Condon for the new Frontier Regional 911 Agency, which serves Jefferson County.
When he got the call, Adkins said that he was seated next to the Sherman County sheriff, who also got a call saying a bomb threat had been called in for the Sherman County Courthouse.
The meeting was held in the Gillam County Courthouse, which was also the object of a bomb threat. The Gillam County sheriff was at a meeting in Salem, so Adkins assisted the sheriff's business manager with the evacuation and search of that courthouse.
"Everything went fine," he said, referring to both locations. "Our deputies and the Madras police cooperated with the search effort."
In a press release, Oregon State Police noted that the threats were similar to a series of threats on Nov. 15 in Washington, where there were about eight reports, and on Nov. 2 in Nebraska, where there were about nine reports. All reports were unfounded.
Anyone with information on the bomb threats should call the Sheriff's Office at 541-475-6520, the Madras Police Department at 541-475-2424, or Oregon State Police at 541-388-6300.