Crook County’s Prineville is dramatically larger than Jefferson County’s Culver School District, but residents in each are reaping the benefits life in a relatively small town can bring.
In Prineville’s case, the community’s only movie theater remains open, while in Culver work has begun on badly needed changes to the community’s schools. In each, local residents opened their pocketbooks to make change happen.
Prineville, population just over 9,200, is home to the Pine Theater, the only movie theater within 20 miles. Owned by the Mehrabi family for the last six years, it was in danger of closing as the digital age threatened to make its old-fashioned 35 mm projection system obsolete.
Just over a year ago, theater owners began a fundraising effort that culminated in the switch to digital last fall. Nearly 300 families, businesses and individuals contributed to the effort in just a few months, and in early May, the horseshoes honoring donors were laid in front of the building.
Culver School District’s 3,500 residents, some 1,300 of whom live in the city of Culver, went about things a bit differently.
Their elementary, middle and high schools share a common campus, and all three needed work. Most critically, two wings in the elementary school will be replaced, and the elementary and high schools will get new boilers. All three schools will benefit from upgrades and refurbishing.
It took three tries, but last fall voters in the Culver district approved taxing themselves for the badly needed projects. Even then, it was a squeaker — a mere five votes provided the margin of victory.
Yet no matter how slim the margin, the community benefits. Its children — it leads the state with children under age 5 as a percentage of population — will be safer in the new elementary wings than they were in the old, and keeping schools warm in winter will be doable for years to come. Meanwhile in Prineville, young and old will continue to have a richer night life available than if the Pine Theater had closed.
In both, citizens recognized the need and stepped up to fill it. They’re to be congratulated.