558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Crook Countyís 2013 district election will determine the fate of a school bond tax levy as well as a handful of contested races on several district boards. What follows is our candidate and bond levy endorsements.
Bond Measure 7-61
On this ballot, voters will decide whether or not to continue a tax levy in order to fund a new school to replace two aging ones and repair the remaining facilities.
Bond Measure 7-61 will extend a tax of $1.03 per $1,000 of assessed property value that originated in the mid-1990s and funded construction of Crook County High School. The bond would generate $33 million of which $18 million would be used to build a new school while the remaining $15 million would pay for much-needed school repairs throughout the Crook County School District.
We believe that voters should approve this measure. As we have frequently reported, Crooked River Elementary and Ochoco Elementary schools are well beyond their shelf life and repairs would cost a significant amount of money. To repair them only delays the inevitable, and leaves the school district at risk for an even greater expense down the road.
Furthermore, most economists agree that now is the optimal time to borrow money if you are trying to secure low payments. Interest rates are at historic lows, and the school district may not have a window for lower payments later.
As far as the impact to taxpayers goes, this bond would simply continue a tax that homeowners have paid for nearly two decades. If voters approve the bond now, the tax rate will go unchanged. To wait is to risk a higher tax later, which people will have an even tougher time accepting.
We believe this is a well-thought-out plan and the timing is perfect.
Vote yes on Measure 7-61.
Crook County School Board
Crook County residents have a clear choice when it comes to this yearís school board elections.
We urge voters to reelect Patti Norris to the board. Norris, 51, is being challenged by Ray Graves, 56, for the districtís Zone 3 position.
Norris has been board chairwoman for the past two years. She teaches business classes for Central Oregon Community College, and has been a resident of Crook County for the past 10 years. Norris has been on the school board for the past four years. However, her involvement goes back much further.
Norris is well- informed on the issues facing the Crook County School District and has a clear commitment to education. Not only is she currently on the school board, she is also on the library board, the higher education advisory council, and is actively involved with the Crook County Kids Club.
Vote Patti Norris for Crook County School Board Zone 3.
In the other contested board race, Mike Stuart, 68, Brad Peterson, 58, and Gwen Carr, 33, are all running for the Zone 5 position.
Although both Carr and Stuart are impressive candidates, we give the edge to Stuart who has spent 22 years in Oregon education.
Stuart began his career as an electronic technician. He went on to earn a degree in education from Oregon State University. Stuart taught vocational courses before earning his administrative certification and eventually becoming a principal in rural Moro County. His experience working with school boards as an administrator, as well as his knowledge of vocational issues should provide valuable insights to the Crook County School Board.
Carr, who runs a medical transcription business from her home has been involved on the facilities committee and has worked hard to support the districtís upcoming construction bond.
Carr is a highly-qualified candidate, and we hope that she remains involved with the Crook County School District and would consider another run at the School Board in the future. However, at this time, we believe that Stuartís experience and knowledge of rural school districts makes him uniquely qualified to serve on the board.
Vote Mike Stuart for Crook County School Board Zone 5.
Crook County Parks and Recreation District Board
In the race for Crook County Parks and Recreation District Board, Position 3, we believe the choice comes down to what gives the District the most bang for its buck.
Barb Pennington and Scott Smith are both quality candidates in our view, who each bring unique qualifications to the board.
Smith, who is the street supervisor for the City of Prineville, has made a career in the public sector and brings a wealth of knowledge to the table when it comes to infrastructure. As he pointed out, he has worked closely with the District on projects like the Ochoco Creek bike path remodel, and was involved with installation of other park infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Pennington brings four years of board experience to the table and knows first-hand what the position entails. She recently helped the board choose a new, larger district office, and has helped them develop budgets the past four years. We also believe her 20 years in the banking industry, some of which was in a managerial position, will serve the board well.
Itís a close call, but we believe Pennington is the right choice for the board at this juncture. The way we see it, electing her provides the best outcome for the Parks and Recreation District. If Pennington returns for another term, the District will still benefit from everything that Smith can offer in his City of Prineville capacity. On the other hand, if Smith were elected, we may lose the services of Pennington completely.
Vote Barb Pennington for Crook County District Board, Position 3.
Crook County Fire and Rescue Board
The Crook County Fire and Rescue Board race for Position 1 pits a long-time board member against an opponent with a wealth of fire service experience in other communities.
Keith Eager has spent the past 12 years on the Board and enjoys the work and the community service he provides in that role. Along with that experience, he serves as the human resources director at Contact Industries, lending him managerial expertise that likely helps the board as they navigate the Fire and Rescue budget and policy decisions.
Tom Kichenmaster clearly has a lot of experience. He has served in fire service for 22 years and has served on other related boards during his career in the Willamette Valley. We agree with him that his experience would help the board in their decision-making process.
For us, it comes down to who has the most experience specific to our fire district, and Eager clearly comes out ahead in that regard. With two able and experienced candidates to choose from, we feel that 12 years of experience in Crook Countyís Fire and Rescue District trumps Kichenmasterís experience elsewhere. We believe that Kichenmaster would be a good asset for the board, but not at the expense of losing Eager.
Vote Keith Eager for Crook County Fire and Rescue Board, Position 1.
Highland Subdivision Water District Board
The primary role of any water district board is to ensure the quality of the drinking water for that district. Wayne Rice and Tom Cooper, who are competing for Position 2 on the Highland Subdivision Water District Board, are clearly committed to that task.
Since taking over the board position less than a year ago, Rice has taken the time to attend classes and learn as much as he can about small residential water systems so he can, in his words, make his water district the best in Oregon. He has also rallied neighbors to get involved, and the efforts have resulted in a full candidate election slate for the district, a rarity for water districts.
While his efforts and results are praiseworthy, Cooper brings a level of expertise that is hard to ignore. He has spent the past 25 years as a professional plumber and currently owns Prineville-based U and I Plumbing. He believes every water district board needs a professional plumber at the table, and we canít help but agree. When it comes to supplying quality drinking water, we think a professional plumber is one of the best people you can have on your team.
Vote Tom Cooper for Highland Subdivision Water District, Position 2.