(Steve Uffelman, Mayor of Prineville)
Beginning in 1985, Steve Uffelman has served on Prineville’s City Council for nearly 30 years. This year marks his fifth term as Mayor, and he shared with us how and why Prineville is growing and what makes the city one of the strongest communities in Central Oregon.
What do you want readers to know most about Prineville?
Prineville is a business-friendly town and much more progressive than our reputation tells. We are committed to building environmentally responsible city infrastructure with a focus on natural resource stewardship, as the underpinning because it’s our best way of creating sustainable and low cost means of preparing for our future. Our nationally recognized wastewater treatment facility, the Crooked River Wetland Complex, recycled water golf course, and aquafer storage projects illustrate those efforts. Prineville is proud of diversifying our local economy with the Data Center industry [however]we have also continued to work on retaining, growing, and reinventing existing businesses, especially the resource-based businesses such as agriculture and forest products. Prineville is now ‘where the future meets the frontier’. The city lives within its means, so we are financially strong with a long-range focus.
What makes Prineville’s community so strong?
Prineville is community. We have deep roots. Most of our leadership is vested in Prineville and has lived in the community for [several]years with a lot of multigenerational families actively engaged. While close knit, we are welcoming. My family and I were newcomers 37 years ago and anxious about being accepted as being from the outside. Prineville is like most other towns which welcome newcomers into the community. When we demonstrate we want to become a part of the community rather than outsiders trying to change something imported from another culture. Prineville does embrace change and welcomes new opportunity; however, we are mindful of our history and culture which makes us unique.
What do you attribute the population growth in Prineville to?
Prineville has a history of blue-collar jobs and great work ethic. Because of that, coupled with the infrastructure and tax abatements we can offer as a city, industry is attracted to Prineville. They bring good, family wage, benefited, full time jobs. That coupled with the lower cost of living and sense of community is attracting people to Prineville. In many ways, Prineville resembles the way Bend was [several]years ago. Seniors like the Prineville area because of the lower costs with access to services in neighboring towns. Younger citizens are discovering the attributes we have for outdoor activities, healthy lifestyles, and ever-increasing family wage jobs.
What three things are a ‘must do’ for visitors to Prineville in the summertime?
Prineville is the gateway to the Ochoco Mountains which draws several campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The Crooked River Roundup draws thousands to Prineville along with the horse races. Also, there are two great reservoirs: Prineville Reservoir and Ochoco Reservoir which draw people for fishing and water sports.
What are your plans after your tenure as mayor?
My plans after being mayor are to retire, though I have failed at retiring multiple times.
What sets Prineville apart from other cities in Central Oregon?
Each of the larger towns in Central Oregon have unique characteristics, the combination of which makes us a larger community. Sisters focuses on arts, such as quilting and antiques. Redmond has the airport and developing industrial area as well as opportunity for housing. Bend has a recreation focus with medical specialties. Prineville focuses on industrial development while continuing to wear ranching and farming ties. Prineville is innovative in infrastructure development. Madras needs to be mentioned for having a strong diversity with Native American and Hispanic ties. Madras has great farming as well as a state penal institution. Collectively we all provide a wealth of opportunity for growth and development both internally and externally.