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Decorating a grand building

A variety of businesses, organizations, and individuals pooled their time, money, and effort to spruce up the Crook County Courthouse for the holidays

by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN -

For more than a century, the Crook County Courthouse has endured as the centerpiece of the Prineville community.
   With that in mind, multiple organizations throughout the community felt it fitting to sink more effort this year into dressing up the historic building for the holiday season.
   “She’s a grand building. I call her my 104-year-old girlfriend,” said Jim Brinkley of the Crook County Maintenance Department. “I think it’s time to spruce her up a little bit.”
   In recent years, County staff members have decorated the Courthouse and surrounding property by lighting the massive evergreen trees that adorn the front lawn while the Crook County Garden Club has accented the prominent front stairway with potted trees and a large juniper wreath overhead.
   This year, the Garden Club staples remain along with the lighted trees, but the décor doesn’t end there. Large, colorful gift-box replicas lie beneath one of the trees and lighted metal arches stretch over the sidewalk leading to the Courthouse staircase while a festive centerpiece occupies the historic concrete fountain.
   Multiple local businesses pitched in during this portion of the decorating process, including Allan Clark Tree Service, Agee Iron Works, Fab Tech, and Stephen’s Heating and Cooling.
   A closer look at the display reveals hundreds of hand-crafted snowmen and jingle bells dangling from tree branches. The ornaments come courtesy of the children from Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) in partnership with After the Bell and the Crook County Kids Club.
   “They had a blast putting them together,” said Shannon Kirkbride, BBBS community outreach and event coordinator. “They got to come up with their own faces, pick out the scarves – just completely decorate their snowmen.”
   Some of the children have since taken time to scour the Courthouse property and locate their work.
   The escalated decoration effort was spawned primarily by the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, who sought to heighten the festivities following the Lighted Christmas Parade. In particular, they wanted to more prominently feature Santa Claus, who meets with children for a conversation and photo.
   To that end, Chamber Marketing Committee member Joe Becker said they approached the County Maintenance Department and BBBS regarding their vision for the Courthouse property.
   “They kind of ran with it,” Becker said. “From our perspective, they went above and beyond what we were anticipating having at the Courthouse for decorations, so we were very appreciative.”
   Santa conducted his visits on the staircase landing just outside the massive front doors of the building, in full view of everybody enjoying the festivities. Meanwhile a long line of eager children waited their turn under the lighted arches as free-standing heaters and hot chocolate beverages helped keep them warm. Alongside the line, a movie played on the side of the Crook County Open Campus Bitmobile and the Crook County High School jazz choir entertained people with Christmas carols.
   “We tried to have other things going on, so they weren’t simply standing in line waiting,” Becker said.
   Now that the decorating has concluded and Santa has made his post-parade stop, Brinkley has already begun thinking about what they will do next year. He would like to add more lights to the tree, and perhaps include a big screen for showing movies. Simply put, he wants to build on a promising start.
   “All of the organizations got along really well,” Brinkley said. “I just thought it worked out great.”