Oregon Governor Tina Kotek visited both Jefferson and Crook counties Wednesday. Topics discussed during a press conference in Prineville included housing, homelessness and the drought.
Kotek says she stopped at Culver first to discuss agriculture in Jefferson County before heading to Madras.
She then went to Crook County for a roundtable discussion on homelessness, mental health and addiction.
“The crisis related to fentanyl is significantly impacting the community,” said Kotek. “The ability to treat individuals with a fentanyl addiction is very challenging because of the nature of that addiction. We talked about the need for more services for young people. Youth services. You are very fortunate to have Rimrock here and Rimrock residential, but we are really lacking in youth mental health support around the state.”
The ongoing drought was also a significant topic of discussion in both counties. She sees the action taken in Central Oregon as a model.
“Not knowing how much water you are going to have,” Kotek said. “Not knowing what you can plant. When you can plant, it is very hard to plan for the future. I do think the irrigation districts in the entire Deschutes Basin area are doing very smart things around new pipeline projects and better irrigation systems to conserve water. As a state, I want to support that. As governor, I want to say that is where we need to go. I don’t want to lose any more farmers to other states or just going out of business completely because we have a water issue.”
Kotek also discussed the nursing shortage and inequities in health care and said fixing that gap is a top priority.