Polk County is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The county contains 745 square miles and stretches from the Willamette River on the east to the Coast Range on the west. The county is within an hour's drive of the Pacific Ocean. The Circuit Court of Polk County resides in the City of Dallas, the county seat. Dallas has an estimated population of 15,000; representing approximately one fourth of the county's population. This community was settled in the 1840's and incorporated in 1874. The city features many historic buildings, including the Polk County Courthouse which was built in 1898.
Polk County has three primary population centers: West Salem, Dallas, and Monmouth/Independence. The county is bordered by the counties of: Yamhill, Lincoln, Benton, and Marion. The county includes the portion of the City of Salem west of the Willamette River. This portion, known as 'West Salem' comprises approximately one-half of Polk County's population; and is the fastest growing community in the area.
The remaining one fourth of Polk county's population lives in the Monmouth/Independence area. Located approximately 15 miles southeast of Dallas, Monmouth is the home of Western Oregon University. Independence is an incorporated city, whose boundary touches that of Monmouth. A substantial portion of the county's employment is involved with state government or higher education. Polk County saw a 25.92% increase in population growth from 1990 to 2000.
In addition to resolving disputes (adjudication) and making a record of the actions and resolutions, the Polk County Circuit Court offers several programs to assist citizens. The programs include family court facilitation and help, arbitration, mediation and treatment court. These programs are designed to resolve disputes in a less adversarial manner and, if appropriate, without a jury or bench trial.