Residents of Morrow County are being asked to give input about a new building planned for construction in Irrigon, which will house county services that are currently scattered around the northern part of the county.
The new building will be constructed on the site that now holds the county planning department, the justice court, and parole and probation. The existing building will be torn down, and the new one will house the current services, as well as the sheriff’s office, the juvenile department, veteran’s services, and some office space for the district attorney, county commissioners and other county officials.
County commissioners are in the process of holding town hall meetings to gather input from community members, asking what they want the building to look like, how big it should be, and what kind of growth they can anticipate.
County Commissioner Melissa Lindsay said the cost is still undetermined, but estimated it will come in somewhere between $4 million and $5 million for the entire project. Lindsay said the commissioners have not yet made a decision about how the project will be financed, but the money will likely come from one of the county’s two main sources — the general fund, or Strategic Investment Program (SIP) agreement funds that the county already has from contracts with wind power and other energy companies located in the county.
Lindsay said the county began looking at a completely new facility when, after a walk-through with a building inspector, they determined the building’s quality was not worth upgrading
“The planning department and the justice court really outgrew it,” she said.
She said at the first town hall on Tuesday in Boardman, about 15 people showed up. The next meetings are Monday, Aug. 27 at Heppner City Hall (111 N. Main St., Heppner), Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Ione American Legion Hall (325 W. Second St., Ione), and Thursday, Aug. 30 at Irrigon City Hall (500 N.E. Main Ave., Irrigon). All meetings are from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Lindsay said the offices will not immediately account for any new staff, but it’s something they’re considering, as they keep up with the expanding north end of the county, especially with growth from the port.
She said there is no official start date for the construction yet, but commissioners hope to get things started before the end of the year, weather permitting.
“We hoped to break ground going into this fall, but in order to engage the public with meetings, we had to delay it a little,” she said.
“As a commission, we agree we want to get it done as quickly as possible, and have a good, operating building for services in north county,” Lindsay said.