Justice Building approved if hospital buys property

Justice building advocates (left to right) County Sheriff Fred Steen, county Juvenile Director John Lawrence, Undersheriff Steve Rogers and Enterprise Police Chief Wes Kilgore got the memorandum of understanding they sought Monday at the Wallowa County Health Care District board meeting. Photo by Rocky Wilson

If the Wallowa County Health Care District board actually purchases 15 acres of land to place a new hospital on at the proposed Lathrop site, up to one acre of that land will be set aside for the county's proposed Justice Building. After much discussion the board voted unanimously Monday morning to draft a memorandum of understanding to that end.

Board chairman Ed Jensen expressed concerns about making the agreement before the land was in the possession of the hospital board, but District Attorney Dan Ousley said that the agreement could be made contingent on the hospital board's purchase of the land from Wayne Lathrop.

Jensen said the hospital board was waiting on negotiations between the city of Enterprise and the county fair board concerning right-of-way for a road into the property before they buy the acreage.

The proposed Justice Building would house the county sheriff's department, Enterprise police department, county juvenile department and emergency manager's office. They would operate under one dispatcher, said County Sheriff Fred Steen.

A federal grant for about $800,000 has been received to build, bring in infrastructure and make roads to the Justice Building. The grant cannot be used for the purchase of land. The $80,000 match for the grant is already in place with communication equipment in the sheriff's department.

The 15 acres of property located west of Les Schwab Tires in northern Enterprise is zoned commercial industrial. Ousley said, "I am pretty sure it (the Justice Building) would be an outright use in that zone."

Wallowa County Undersheriff Steve Rogers suggested the possibility that the $11,000 NEPA study made on adjacent property for the Justice Building could be used by the hospital to save costs. "The federal government said we would likely take your study," said hospital CEO Larry Davy to Steen.

The hospital has negotiated a sales agreement with contingencies with Lathrop. Davy said that, though not written into the agreement, Lathrop has expressed approval of the Justice Building being placed on his land.

Steen said that the proposed Justice Building would be about 6,500 to 7,000 square feet in size and look like an office building. He added that the facility would include "a temporary holding cell, but not a lock down jail."

The hospital would be located on the southeastern portion of the 15 acres, said Davy, and the Justice Building on the southwestern portion of property closest to Golf Course Road.

Joining Ousley, Steen and Rogers in favor of the building were Enterprise Police Chief Wes Kilgore and county Juvenile Director John Lawrence.

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