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Financially Strapped Curry County May Have To Close Jail

Curry County Courthouse.
Curry County
Curry County Courthouse.

This week, Curry County voters rejected a property tax levy to fund their jail. KLCC checked in with the soon-to-be-new sheriff to find out what's next for the troubled southwest Oregon County.

Curry County Courthouse.
Credit Curry County
Curry County Jail

Lieutenant John Ward will take over as sheriff of Curry County next month. Current Sheriff John Bishop has taken a new job in Salem. Tuesday, voters said no to a 1.6 million dollar property tax levy. The turnout was less than 50 percent.  

Ward: "It's not a good outlook. Let me tell you that."

Ward says this was not the first time they asked voters to fund county law enforcement and failed. But it was the first time they made it a jail-bed only levy. That worked for Lane County last year. Curry County voters rejected it 57 to 42 percent. Ward says the public safety crisis is acute.

Ward: "We've been told by our commissioners that as of June 30th, we pretty much run out of money. So we're looking at possibly shutting the jail down."

That could happen by or before next June. Curry County is not alone among Oregon's timber counties facing public safety crises.


Copyright 2014 KLCC

Rachael McDonald is KLCC's All Things Considered host. She also reports on a variety of topics including local government, education, and breaking news.