County of Crook

Crook County Computer and Education Center

Crook County covers 3,000 square miles in a rural, high desert and forest area of central Oregon with spotty broadband availability and the state’s highest unemployment rate following recent declines in forestry, tourism, and manufacturing. The County has partnered with a wide range of community organizations from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to plan and propose a new, 65-station computer learning center to be built in Prineville, the county seat. It will be open to the public more than 90 hours per week and will provide the county’s 25,000 residents with education, training and broadband access at a minimum speed of 10 Mbps, eventually reaching 100 Mbps. The Crook County Computer and Education Center project also plans to deploy a mobile lab with satellite connectivity and 12 mobile workstations to provide instruction and training to remote areas of the county.

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BTOP In Action
Image: Construction workers review the plans at the site of the new computer lea

On January 24, 2011, the County of Crook celebrated the groundbreaking for its new 65-station computer learning center. Representatives from Oregon State University, Central Oregon Community College, Crook County Court, and the Partnership to End Poverty joined county officials to announce the start of construction on the facility that will open in August 2011. In an area hurt by layoffs, the $3.9 million Oregon Open Campus project, funded by BTOP, will allow students to learn necessary computer skills, prepare for college, and better meet the qualifications for working in the local business community. Currently, a total of 87 students are taking community-college-level classes at a temporary facility. These classes cover a wide-range of topics including math basics, writing skills, and business fundamentals. Once the new public computer center is open, the County will offer a mix of community college, upper division university, and professional development/lifelong learning classes for the community. These classes provide community members with the opportunity to advance their education without having to travel out of the community.

In addition, the project used BTOP funds to purchase a 32-foot motor home that it will remodel and open as a mobile computer center. Beginning in summer 2011, instructors will travel to rural areas and teach local communities using the mobile lab’s 12 stations. This lab can also serve as a mobile headquarters for emergency management officials, if necessary. The county has hired six full-time staff as instructors and to run the day-to-day operations of the center and plans to hire additional instructors.

Last Updated: October 17, 2011

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