One battle is over, but others remain ...
After receiving letters from the Congressional delegation, the US Forest Service has decided not the continue with plans to merge the two central Oregon national forests.Everyone wins ...
On Monday, Forest Service Supervisor Leslie Weldon recommended to her superiors, with the support and concurrence of the Regional Forester and Chief, that the Forest Supervisor position for the Ochoco National Forest be reestablished in Prineville.
The decision comes after a remarkable effort by the Forest Service officials, Prineville community leaders and our Congressional delegation. We may look at this decision as a victory for Prineville, but I think it was much more than that - it was a victory for everyone involved.
It was a victory for the Forest Service because they could see, after careful examination, that combining the two forests into one entity was not necessarily the most efficient way to save the taxpayers money and manage the two diverse forests.
It was a victory for Senators Smith and Wyden and Congressman Walden because they were able to help our community, which has been suffering recent economic setbacks.
And it was a victory for Prineville because we will retain our valuable friends and neighbors at the Forest Service plus we'll continue to have our forest run locally, not from Deschutes County.
There were many other good things that came from this community effort to retain the Forest Service office in Prineville, but in my estimation the most positive was that Prineville has made a great new friend in Forest Service Supervisor Leslie Weldon. Faced with untold pressures from all sides she handled herself in a refined and professional manner at all times.
I heard Weldon speak on several occasions, sat in meetings with her and met personally with her. I have developed a great respect her skills and honesty. Speaking with her after the announcement on Wednesday, I told her I hoped she would stay involved with our community - she assured me she would.
Family Resource Center
For several years community leaders have been talking about building a Human Services Building or "Family Resource Center" in Prineville. The idea behind the "Center" is to combine 14 local service agencies and programs into one facility to provide a broad variety of services to Crook County residents.
Bringing together the variety of community support organizations into one building makes a great deal of sense. It will allow the agencies to provide more quality services on ever-limited budgets. Families in need of services won't have to go to several locations to get needed services and more importantly they won't have the stigma often associated with just entering one of these services offices - the process will be more private and anonymous.
Through the years, the idea for such facility has been bounced around to a variety of possible locations. Earlier this year the new county court came up with the best plan we've heard. They wanted to buy the buildings directly across Third Street from the courthouse. The plan calls for tearing down the buildings facing Third between Court and Dunham streets and build a new two-story 21,000 square foot building on that site creating a campus of government and service buildings.
The total price tag for the project is $4.2 million. The county would be responsible for buying the land and site development, which is tagged at about $500,000, with funds coming from a sale of other county lands. All the parts of that transaction have been arranged. That leaves $3.7 million to come from federal appropriation.
To get the federal funding we need the help of our Congressional delegation - this is where you come in. Obviously Crook County is not the only county vying for a piece of the federal appropriations pie. Our delegation has requests from other constituents plus they have to compete against the delegations from 49 other states. One of the best ways to get their attention and also support them in an effort to get this funding is to write letters, call, fax or send email saying you support the Crook County "Family Resource Center" and that our community needs the facility.
The funding process will start in September so we encourage you to quickly communicate with your Congressional delegation at any of the addresses below or bring your letter to the Crook County Court or to us at the Central Oregonian. Your letter doesn't have to be eloquent; it just needs to be in their hands.
FOr addresses of our representatives, return to the main page and look under