Our Community and District
Crook County is located in the geographic center of Oregon in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a population of approximately 21,000. The county was originally part of Wasco County, but separated in 1882. Crook County was named after General George Crook. Nestled in an ancient volcanic basin, the rim rock plateaus lend their scenic beauty to an extraordinary backdrop. While Prineville is its only incorporated city, the county also includes the smaller communities of Powell Butte, Paulina, and Post.
The City of Prineville was established in 1868 by Barney Prine, who settled on the banks of the Crooked River where he opened a blacksmith shop and a store/saloon. Prineville was the primary place of trade in Central Oregon until 1911. Saturated in a rich historical atmosphere, Prineville is a recreational playground that has managed to keep its friendly, small town character and appeal. It is a truly beautiful place to live and work. Prineville is the oldest community in Central Oregon, and was one of the first incorporated cities in Oregon.
Apple and Facebook have reshaped the business climate with a high-tech presence in Crook County by building data centers in Prineville. The ample and reliable electricity infrastructure, tax benefits, and climate have drawn these companies to Prineville.
Prineville’s origins are tied to the land in agriculture, forest products, the railroad, and manufacturing. Community leaders are united in their efforts to grow and diversify Crook County’s economic base, assuring long-term vitality through the creation of family-wage jobs. Les Schwab Distribution Center and Crook County School District are the top two employers in terms of number of employees.
Prineville has a rich history of logging and wood products and is known for its well-trained blue collar workforce. However, employment is concentrated in several major areas: wood products, Les Schwab, healthcare, and local government. Several ground transport companies provide excellent service and rates for transport to and from major markets. Outside the manufacturing and distribution sectors, agriculture still plays an important economic and cultural role for residents of the town and Crook County. New destination resorts offer another form of tourism and revenue for the county.
Another attractive aspect of doing business in Prineville is the low cost and abundance of industrial lands. Prineville boasts over 2,000 acres of affordable industrial land, much of it ready for development. With large tracts of land also available, and a large supply of electric power, companies with big power requirements may consider Prineville for relocation or expansion. With an enterprise zone and a renewable energy zone in place, Crook County offers tax incentives to qualifying companies to help offset the cost of doing business. Other state programs are also available, including the Strategic Investment Program, which offers income tax abatement.
As part of Central Oregon, Prineville offers many recreational activities for the outdoor enthusiast. It is geographically located near several waterways and reservoirs, as well as mountains and many other natural landscapes that provide the opportunity for outdoor activity year-round. The beautiful Painted Hills of Mitchell and the magnificent Smith Rock State Park are just a couple of must-see attractions in this area. Some of the activities residents and visitors of Prineville enjoy are: fishing, hunting, boating, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, camping, rock climbing, horseback riding, and rock hounding. Prineville also has a strong agricultural heritage that adds its own flair to community events. One popular attraction is a traditional live cattle drive, right down the main commerce area of town. This kicks off the “Crooked River Roundup,” a popular yearly rodeo event. There is also an annual fair and horse race, as well as several other rodeo events throughout the year.
The Crook County School District is one of several public school districts located in Central Oregon. The District serves the Prineville, Powell Butte, Paulina, and Post communities. It currently has an enrollment of approximately 2,950 students. The District consists of one high school, one middle school (grades 6-8), three in-town elementary schools (grades K-5), two rural schools that serve students K-8 in Paulina and in Brothers, one alternative high school, and other alternative programs.
The District sponsors a “place-based” charter school located in Powell Butte, which serves students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. “Place-based” means that a focus of cultural and ecological education is integrated into its curriculum. This charter has been operating since the 2010-2011 school year, and current enrollment is 186 students.
Crook County High School offers a variety of dual-enrollment and AP courses that offer students the opportunity to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. The District also offers professional technical programs, fine arts, and foreign language.
The Crook County School District is served by the High Desert Educational Service District (HDESD). HDESD is a regional support system that links school districts in Central Oregon to state and national education resources. Its programs help districts minimize duplication of services, preserve their local budgets and receive special programs that might otherwise be unavailable to them. HDESD partners with Bend/La Pine School District, Crook County School District, Redmond School District, Sisters School District, and Jefferson County School District.
High Desert Christian Academy (HDCA) is a private Christian school in Prineville which serves grades preschool through 12.
Central Oregon Community College (COCC) is the oldest two-year college in Oregon. COCC offers two-year associate degrees, transfer/lower division programs, career and technical education degrees and certificates, developmental courses, continuing education and community learning classes, industry-specific training programs, and business management assistance. The College’s main campus is located in nearby Bend, with additional campuses throughout the region. In addition, a Manufacturing and Applied Technology Center (MATC) is located on its Redmond campus, just 17 miles from Prineville.
COCC Crook County Open Campus is a 12,300 square-foot state-of-the-art facility in Prineville which opened in 2011. It includes seven flexible multi-purpose classrooms and a large teaching kitchen, as well as public computer stations. Classes focus on work force development, expanded options for high school students, basic skills and college preparation, college credit classes, and community learning. The Campus partners with other universities in Oregon to offer upper-division courses through distance learning. COCC partners with Oregon State University and opened a new OSU-Cascades campus in Bend in 2016, and is currently in the planning and development phase for an expansion onto an adjacent 46-acre site.