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3 Jefferson, Crook County money measures win approval — Jefferson Co. Jail levy by just 96 votes


(Update: Adding Crook County judge, Jefferson County schools superintendent comments; 509-J news release)

(Update: New Jefferson County ballot counts widen jail levy passage margin)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – On a light off-year election ballot, three large money measures gained approval from Crook and Jefferson County voters Tuesday night, one by a narrowest margin – 96 votes out of 5,340 cast.

That was Measure 16-99, the five-year Jefferson County Jail operating levy, which passed in final unofficial numbers with 2,718 yes votes (about 51%) to 2,622 opposed (49%).

In a Facebook post, Sheriff Marc Heckathorn thanked the community for supporting the levy, on behalf of the men and women of the sheriff’s office.

“Public safety is put at risk each time the levy comes up for a vote, and I sincerely hope we can create a strategic plan to pass a permanent measure over the next five years,” Heckathorn wrote. “The threat of losing nearly 80% of the jails operating funds every 3 or 5 years is no way to fund a critical component of public safety.”

Before the vote count was declared final and unofficial (pending the small number of ballots other counties might have received), the sheriff said, “I’m going with it passed until told otherwise.”

The measure has a maximum property tax rate of $1.69 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 30 cents from the current levy, which expires next year. The sheriff said the increase was needed to continue operating the jail at current levels.

Jefferson County School District 509-J also won approval of Measure 16-98, a $24 million bond measure to address health and safety issues, as well as to repair and update facilities, such as a new classroom building in Warm Springs and upgrades to the aging Madras High soccer facility. The vote was 1,807 in favor (58%) to 1,324 opposed (42%)

Superintendent Jay Mathisen said, “We are grateful to the voters of Jefferson County for investing in our students. With the passing of this bond measure, we can ensure that our students will continue to flourish in 509J schools for generations to come.”

Crook County voters gave strong approval, 65% (4,325 votes) to 35% (2,377 votes) to Measure 7-74, a $35 million bond measure to match state funds and build a new justice center, to meet the rising case count, as well as to restore the historic Crook County Courthouse.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford said he was thankful for the strong showing with 64% approval and that District Attorney Wade Whiting was "ecstatic" at the news, as the added courtroom space will address a backlog of cases.

As for the courthouse project, he said, "it's a building we need to protect," saying it could fall into disrepair "if we don't deal with it in a timely manner."

You can check the latest updates on these and other Oregon election results here:

News release from Jefferson County School District 509-J:

Jefferson County School District Voters Approve $24 Million Bond Measure 16-98

Jefferson County, Ore – Jefferson County School District voters have approved the passage of the district’s $24 million bond measure.

It has been nine years since the passage of the last bond measure in the Jefferson County School District. By the morning of November 3, approximately 1,870 of 3,211 votes were received in favor of the bond measure.

The approved bond measure is not estimated to increase the current tax rate due to savings from refinancing previously issued bonds and old bonds retiring. In addition, the district has qualified for a $4 million matching grant from the State of Oregon’s OSCIM program.

“Thank you, voters of the Jefferson County School District,” said Jefferson County School District Superintendent Dr. Jay Mathisen. “This proposed bond measure will allow the district to make critical health and safety improvements and upgrades to all of our schools. It will truly allow our students to flourish in 509J and get better every day.”

The $24 million bond measure will allow the school district to protect the community’s assets by improving the health, safety, and security in all of the district’s buildings, repairing and updating aging facilities and expanding vocational and early learning opportunities. The bond will also allow the district to make much needed improvements at the Madras High School Soccer Fields.

The district will be releasing information about the Citizen Oversight Committee in the coming weeks. This committee is an independent, volunteer, citizen-led committee established to oversee the use of bond funds. Jefferson County School District will plan to issue bonds in early 2022 with bond projects estimated to begin in the summer of 2022.

“This is a critical moment for the future of our district and for our students,” shared Laurie Danzuka, Jefferson County School District Board Chair. “The district will now be able to improve the health, safety and security for all students. We are beyond grateful for our community for believing in this bond measure and supporting our current and future students.”

For questions or more information about the Jefferson County School District Bond Measure 16-98, please visit

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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