the Forest Service:
   After telling us last week that Bend, Redmond and Prineville were all being considered for the headquarters office for the combined Ochoco/Deschutes National Forest, you turn around this week and say Prineville is not longer in the running based on discussions with community leaders in the three cities and employees of the two forests.
   I get the feeling Prineville was only mentioned to make it appear that there was an effort to make a fair choice. Consider these points:
   First, Prineville certainly needs the jobs more than Deschutes County communities. We have a much higher level of unemployment and this decision will only add to the problem.
   Second, I don't pretend to know the factors involved in the decision, but it would certainly seem to me that office space and housing must be cheaper in Prineville.
   Third, do you understand that removing 50 jobs from Prineville is a very significant cut in our total work force but probably won't be noticed in Deschutes County?
   Fourth, you are not just removing jobs from Prineville; you will be removing key members of our community leadership. The Forest Service employees have been exceptional civic leaders. They have participated eagerly in nearly every aspect of this community and when we have such a limited number of people able to donate their time, their loss will be significant.
   We encourage you to keep Prineville in the deliberation process.
   To Crook County Citizens:
   The taskforce working on the initial phases of creating a marketable identity (or a brand) for Crook County and the redevelopment of the city is off to a great start. Working under the name of Our Town, the committee has selected Donna Mohan, the Prineville/Crook County Chamber of Commerce president, as the chairman.
   Sub-committees are working on combining the best parts of all the previous redevelopment efforts into one document to bring forward. Another group is preparing a survey to determine how the community envisions itself, where we expect it to go along with a few other useful pieces of information. Watch for that survey in the Central Oregonian and in other locations in a few weeks.
   We believe the efforts of the Our Town committee are essential to the future health of this community and urge any interested residents to participate in the process. For information about future meetings contact the Chamber of Commerce.
   Welcome to Prineville:
   We are excited to see two new businesses make significant investments in the Prineville economy.
   The Panda Chinese restaurant has certainly made its mark on North Main Street next to Ochoco Creek. It's obvious that Ying and Ming Wei Zhu see a great future in our community and were willing to spend great deal of money to build a very attractive new building complete with a beautiful fountain. It is certainly a great addition to the community. Initial feedback on the food is also very positive, too. We wish you success with your new business.
   Also now open in Prineville's east Third Street is the new BiMart Membership Discount Store. Owned and operated by a Northwest company, BiMart marks the first significant department store to be built in Prineville since RiteAid (then PayLess Drugs) opened in Prineville nearly 10 years ago. BiMart should give Prineville shoppers another reason to shop at home. We thank the BiMart Company for having the insight to invest in central Oregon's fastest growing community.
   To the 8,205:
   It's exciting to see the attention our population sign near the airport has been getting recently. The number has gone up twice in the last year and now sits at 8,205. Of course, as always seems to happen, Prineville's growth has been questioned because the people-counters at Portland State University have allegedly not kept up with the increases accurately. The error was found when the census numbers were recently compiled and it was discovered their numbers were off.
   I wonder why they have trouble counting a little place like Prineville and not the sprawling Deschutes County communities?
   To registered voters:
   The choices may not be for any of the glamorous jobs like President or Governor, but the ballots you received in the mail are just as important. They represent a remarkable group of people who have generally spent their own money to campaign for a job that pays nothing and takes time away from their families and jobs. These people are the ultimate volunteers.
   They will be making decisions about how your children will be educated, how your loved ones will be buried and how your home will be protected from fire. What could be more important?
   As of yesterday, fewer than 10 percent of us had taken the time to fill out these important ballots and drop them in the mail or into a ballot box. It only takes a couple of minutes. The voting deadline is Tuesday, March 13. Lets have a big turnout.
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