The Crook County Court on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to send a $35 million bond measure to voters in November to help pay for a new justice center and renovations to the historic courthouse.
The measure would allow the county to match a contribution in state funds secured through the legislature.
“We need a better, more functional courthouse for Crook County,” said Commissioner Brian Barney. “The current situation is unacceptable from a security perspective. It endangers public safety while directly damaging the fair administration of justice in our county. The longer we wait before acting, the worse the problem will get.”
John Eisler, assistant counsel for the county, said some of the details of the bond measure request haven’t been ironed out.
“We are still evaluating exactly which type(s) of debt instruments to issue,” he said.
The current Crook County Courthouse has served the community for 112 years, but the current courtroom space doesn’t work anymore for the growing community.
“Currently, many cases take years to resolve due to lack of available court space,” said Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting. “These delays negatively impact the district attorney’s office ability to successfully prosecute cases as memories fade and witnesses are unable to be located. For our victims of crime, these delays are unacceptable. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
But officials say they don’t want to forget the historic structure.
“It would be tragic to turn our back on our current beautiful but overburdened courthouse,” said Commissioner Jerry Brummer. “We believe it deserves to be refurbished to be a safe and structurally sound place for county offices to make the best use of our resources, honor our history and serve our shared sense of community.”