>Portland State University study shows only Deschutes County experienced more rapid growth through 2007

   Crook County was the second fastest-growing county in the state from July 2000 to July 2007, according to a study by the Population Research Center at Portland State University (PSU). The county came in at an estimated 34.9 percent of growth during the seven-year period, just behind Deschutes County at 39.4 percent.
   PSU researchers estimated Crook County's population at 25,885 last July, a boost in 6,703 residents from the projected 19,300 in 2000.
   The study also found that Crook County grew from approximately 24,525 residents in 2006 to the 25,885 last year, a gain of 5 percent.
   However, these figures differ from the actual U.S. Census Bureau projections for 2000 to 2007.
   The bureau estimated that the county grew from the 2000 census count of 19,184 to 22,906 last July, an addition of 3,722 residents or 19.4 percent.
   For the 2006 to 2007 period, the bureau found that the county had grown from an estimated 22,527 residents to 22,906, a change of 2 percent.
   Crook County Judge Scott Cooper speculates that the discrepancy between the two agencies' estimates is due to differences in methodology.
   "Discrepancies are pretty common, and the figures tend to get exaggerated in high-growth areas," he said. "We won't know for sure until the official census comes out in 2010."
   If these statistics tell anything, however, it is that Crook County has grown astronomically compared with other counties around the state, where growth has remained slow.
   The PSU study estimated that in the seven-year time period, Lake County only grew by 1.9 percent, Curry by 1.6 percent and Wheeler by 1.5 percent. Most other counties remained in the zero to 15 percent range.
   Cooper attributes the county's rapid growth to its proximity to Bend, the region's largest population center.
   "There's a spillover effect to Prineville," he said. "People will venture further afield to get a better deal."
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