County Clerk Issues Election Reminders


Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr reviews details of the many ballot versions that will be needed for this November's election with Elections Director Jami Goff.

With the November 4th General Election approaching, Fremont County Clerk and Recorder Katie Barr reports that citizens will find voting more convenient and secure than ever before.  Barr says that beginning the week of October 14th, mail ballots will be sent to all active, registered voters at the address on their voter registration.  To check or update your voter registration, visit www.GoVoteColorado.com.   After you fill out your mail ballot, you will sign the ballot envelope and return it by mail or at a ballot drop-off box.

To find the nearest ballot drop-off location in Fremont County, visit www.MyColoradoVote.com on the internet.   MyColoradoVote.com is a project by the bipartisan Colorado County Clerks Association to provide non-partisan, reliable information for our voters.

Voters wanting the in-person experience may visit any Voter Service and Polling Center in the county.  Barr says voters should think of these Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPC) as one-stop-shops.  You can update your address, request or replace a ballot, vote in-person, use accessible voting equipment or register to vote (through Election Day).  To find the nearest Voter Service and Polling Center location, you should also visit www.MyColoradoVote.com.

If you have any questions, contact the Fremont County Clerk’s Election Department at 719-276-7340.

The Fremont County Clerk’s Election Department offers these helpful hints for making sure your votes counts:

  1. After you have voted your ballot, place in the secrecy sleeve, then place in the return envelope and seal it.  Be sure to sign the outside of your ballot envelope.  A witness is not required unless you are unable to sign your name.
  2. You may drop off your ballot at any drop off location or return by mail.
  3. If you mail your ballot, place the correct postage one $0.49 stamp on the envelope and mail it in advance to ensure it arrives by 7:00 p.m. on November 4th.

Important Dates to remember:

  • September 20th – Overseas and military ballots mailed
  • October 14th – 17th – Clerks mail ballots to all registered voters
  • October 27th – Last day to register to vote on-line in order to receive a ballot by mail
  • November 4th – Ballots must be received by the Clerk no later than 7:00pm

County Clerk Barr reminds voters that you may utilize the VSPC (polling center) at the Fremont County Administration Building starting October 20th through Election Day.  The VSPC will be open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  The VSPC’s will be open on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

There will be two additional VSPC’s open on Election Day.  One will be located at Florence City Hall and the other at the Howard Volunteer Fire Department.  The Clerk’s Office will be open both Friday and Saturday, two weeks prior to the election for voting purposes only.

The Motor Vehicle Department and Recording Department will be closed on both Fridays and Saturdays prior to the election.  On November 4th, Election Day, the Clerk’s office will be open for election purposes only.  The Motor Vehicle Department and Recording Department will be closed on November 4th; Election Day as all staff is needed to ensure a smooth Election process for voters.  For additional information contact the Fremont County Clerk’s Election Department at 719-276-7340.

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Commissioners to Appoint Penrose Recreation Board

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners is seeking letters of interest from those who wish to serve as a Director on the Board of the Penrose Parks and Recreation District.

The Board of Commissioners has been informed that there are no duly-elected Directors of the Penrose Park and Recreation District at this time.  Therefore, the Board expects to appoint five persons to serve as Directors. According to state statute, the new Directors will have six months to organize and hold an election to duly elect Directors.

Interested persons shall be electors of the Penrose Parks and Recreation District who are at least 18 years old.  An elector of the District is a person who resides within the District, or pays taxes for property in the District, or owns property in the District, or is the civil partner or spouse of a person who owns property in the District.

Interested persons may submit a letter of interest, including qualifications, to the Fremont County Board of Commissioners, Room 105, 615 Macon Ave., Cañon City, Colorado, 81212, or e-mail to Commissioners@fremontco.com, or fax to (719) 276-7412.

Deadline for submittals is 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 11, 2014.

(The following article is an opinion piece written by District 3 County Commissioner Ed Norden on the Penrose Recreation District issue.  It appeared in the August 30 edition of the Canon City Daily Record:)

For the better part of the past two years, the Fremont County Commissioners have fielded complaints from Penrose area residents about management issues with the Penrose Park and Recreation District. Since county government and county boards of commissioners have no supervisory authority over special districts in the State of Colorado, we could only refer those residents to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs or relay those concerns to DOLA officials. As it turns out, DOLA has very little statutory authority over special districts in Colorado, which includes water districts, conservation districts, recreation districts, fire districts, etc.

This concern was debated recently among Colorado county commissioners participating in a discussion regarding the 2015 legislative agenda for Colorado Counties Inc (CCI). A western slope commissioner voiced concerns about a rogue fire district which is sitting on more than $1 million in reserves but not spending money to properly equip their volunteer firefighters. That commissioner also hit a brick wall in asking DOLA to step in and demand accountability. The message from the CCI discussion was clear.

First of all, boards of commissioners have no authority to step in and demand accountability of special districts and their boards. Secondly, DOLA may have rules and regulations that special districts are expected to follow, but DOLA has no enforcement authority other than withholding distribution of state dollars. The commissioners also agreed that no state agency should have supervisory authority over special districts. That ultimate control rests with the voters and taxpayers residing in that district.

This brings us back to the Penrose Park and Recreation District. The Penrose community is in turmoil over PPRD because a community activist started asking questions of the board and demanding accountability. Multiple issues have been raised and many of these echo the complaints the county commissioners have received the past two years.

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners was advised this week that because no elections were conducted by the Penrose Park and Recreation District during the past six years, DOLA and the State of Colorado view the district as having no duly-elected board members. DOLA further advises that one remedy under state law is that they could order the district dissolved. To avoid dissolution DOLA says the Board of County Commissioners could appoint an interim PPRD Board of Directors, which then would have to conduct its own election within six months.

Throughout this process, the Fremont County Board of County Commissioners has tried to direct complaints to the appropriate state agencies and to avoid getting directly involved. It needs to be stated again emphatically that the only role the commissioners will play now according to state law is to appoint a temporary Board of Directors so the PPRD can get back onto the path of self-governance. The commissioners set a deadline of 5 p.m. Sept. 11 for qualified electors of the Penrose Park and Recreation District to submit letters of interest from which we will appoint five interim board members.

In the weeks and months ahead, I encourage the local news media to be vigilant in monitoring these matters in Penrose. But the larger role belongs to the taxpaying citizens of Penrose. There are many questions that must be asked and answered. It’s imperative that Penrose residents get involved with PPRD now and moving forward. State officials monitor compliance with state laws and regulations, but it’s up to the voters who pay taxes to any special district to hold their elected officials accountable.  – - -Ed Norden

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Commissioners Refer Tabor de-Brucing Ballot Issue

The Fremont County Commissioners will go to the voters in November and ask for approval to lift Tabor revenue limits as the county continues to recover from the recession.    The ballot proposal comes with one year remaining on the eight year “Tabor Time-out” which Fremont County voters approved in 2007.  The 2007 ballot question gave Fremont County the authority to keep any property tax revenues in excess of Tabor growth and inflation calculations.    The question that the Commissioners referred to the ballot this November would remove Tabor revenue limits on both property taxes and sales taxes.

District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden said a fiscal analysis prepared by Finance and Budget Director Sunny Bryant shows that the county reaped the benefits of excess property taxes in only the first four years of the eight year Tabor timeout.   Since 2012 the county has seen no excess property tax revenue because the recession that hit in 2010 resulted in a significant drop in property values in the 2011 revaluation year.   The net effect over the first seven years of the Tabor timeout is a decrease of $456,000 in property tax revenues below the Tabor refund trigger point.

Norden said those numbers make it particularly tough as the county is just beginning to climb out of the recession at the same time the Tabor timeout will be ending.    He said that’s because under the Tabor amendment when revenues decline it establishes a new revenue base that the county has to work from the next year.   That means when Tabor allows the county to collect additional revenues based on population growth and inflation that revenue growth calculation is figured against that new lower revenue base amount.    Norden said the proof is in the property tax collection numbers.

He said the county collected $5.28 million in property taxes in 2008, the first year of the Tabor timeout.   Yet six years later in 2014 the county’s property tax collection this year totaled $5.32 million.   That’s an increase of just $46,000 in property tax revenue while the costs of delivering county services continue to escalate including fuel costs for road maintenance and Sheriff’s patrols and particularly the medical costs to operate the county jail.

Norden said voters already approved the de-Brucing of revenues for the Sheriff’s one percent sales tax approved last November.   Norden said he doubts the county will see a big jump in any excess property tax revenues that the county could keep in the next several years, but with sales tax revenues recovering there is hope that the county might make some revenue gains with the Royal Gorge Bridge reopening and with Christo’s Over the River art project coming in a couple of years.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said it’s important to note that the ballot language specifically states that the de-Brucing would not increase anyone’s taxes.   Bell said the first line of the ballot language clearly states, “With No Increase in the Current Tax Rate or Mill Levy Rate, Shall the County of Fremont be Authorized in 2015 and in Each Subsequent Year, to Retain, and Spend All Revenues….not Withstanding Limitations on Spending and Revenue in Applicable State Statutes”.     That means even if voters approve the measure Fremont County’s property tax mill levy will remain unchanged at 12.294 mills and the county’s sales tax will be unchanged at 2.5 percent.

The ballot language further calls out the intention to spend any excess revenues in particular on road maintenance as well as maintenance of all county facilities.

At Tuesday’s regular board meeting the Commissioners also approved an amendment to the Conditional Use Permit for the Holcim Corporation’s Coaldale Gypsum Quarry.   The amendment allows Holcim to expand trucking hours by an additional four hours.   Quarry trucking hours have been from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.   The new trucking hours will be from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m.   The number of daily truck trips will also be expanded from 20 trips per day to 32 truck trips daily.   Commissioner Norden remarked that the absence of any protests from neighbors in Coaldale to the expanded trucking hours is indicative of the work Holcim has done in cultivating good relations with the neighborhood in Coaldale.

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Regional Dispatch Center Secures Key Grant Funding

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has announced that the Combined Regional Communications Authority (CRCA) that local governments in Fremont County formed to consolidate dispatch operations has been awarded an Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant in the amount of $830,045.   The announcement was made by DOLA’s Executive Director Reeves Brown who indicated that the new public safety dispatch center was awarded the full amount of grant funding requested by the CRCA governing board.

Cañon City District Fire Chief Dave DelVecchio, the Chairman of the CRCA Board, said the $830,045 grant represents half of the cost of budget to develop the center with the other 50 percent coming from a cash match put together by the local entities.    The entities which make up the Communications Authority are the Fremont County E 9-1-1 Board, the City of Florence, the City of Cañon City, the Cañon City Fire Protection District, and Fremont County.

DelVecchio said the grant award puts CRCA in the best possible position to now accomplish the project with the primary goal to increase the level of public safety across Fremont County.   He said a single combined communications center will allow the agencies to implement the latest technology to assure quicker and more reliable response times to medical, fire, and law enforcement emergencies.

DelVecchio said the target date for getting the center operational on the 4th floor of the Fremont County Judicial Center is the spring of 2015.    He said architectural design and bid packages should be ready in early October with a 14-16 week construction period taking place later this fall.

DelVecchio said that some of the partners in the dispatch center will see operational costs decrease and others will see their costs increase but the primary beneficiaries will remain the citizens of Fremont County through the heightened emphasis on public safety and the safety of emergency responders.

Chief DelVecchio, Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker, and Fremont County Commissioner Ed Norden traveled to Durango on July 22nd to make a presentation to DOLA’s Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Advisory Committee in support of the grant application.   The $830,045 grant award comes from Colorado’s severance tax and mineral lease revenues.

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Monday Storm Pounds County Roads

Heavy rains and large hail poured across the foothills south of Canon City Monday afternoon. The rains caused heavy damage to Oak Creek Grade Road (CR 143) and on Evelyn Drive east of Dawson Ranch.

This photo was taken looking north on Oak Creek Grade where the pavement begins. The storm dumped tons of mud and debris on the county road. The flash flooding also left many private driveways and culverts damaged on Oak Creek Grade and Evelyn Drive. Fremont County Transportation Director Tony Adamic indicated it may take a week to make all the necessary repairs barring any more flooding.

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Colorado Springs-Fremont Tourism Connection Detailed

As a Fremont County rafting outfitter prepares to take over the reigns as President of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB), the Board of Commissioners were told of the importance of tourism ties across the region.    CCCVB Chief Executive Officer Doug Price gave a report at Tuesday’s Commissioners’ meeting.    Price used the occasion to announce that Andy Neinas, owner of Echo Canyon Rafting and 8-Mile Bar and Grill west of Cañon City, is the new incoming President of the CCCVB.

Neinas told the commissioners that it’s an imaginary line between Colorado Springs and Fremont County.   Neinas said “These things all work in harmony; we’re all part of something larger”.   Price said the Convention and Visitors Bureau considers Fremont County a very important part of a unique experience.    Price said CCCVB has 25 Fremont County members as marketing partners in the 2014 Visitors Guide for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.    Price added that the impacts caused by the Waldo Canyon, Black Forest, and Royal Gorge wildfires the previous two years strengthened the regional relationship as tourist attractions and tourism related businesses recognize even more how much they depend on each other.

District 3 County Commissioner Ed Norden provided an update at Tuesday’s meeting on the July 22nd grant application hearing in Durango for the proposed new regional dispatch center.   Norden said that he, Sheriff Jim Beicker, and Cañon City District Fire Chief Dave DelVecchio presented the application for an $830,000 Energy and Mineral Impact Grant to a Department of Local Affairs grants committee.   Norden said it’s important to note that in the days and hours leading up to the grant hearing the grant budget was amended to make sure enough money was available to renovate 4th floor space at the county’s Judicial Center and equip it with the most current technology.

Norden said as a result, the Board of Commissioners agreed to commit another $100,000 cash from the county’s recent Certificates of Participation financing beyond the $225,000 that the county previously committed.   Norden said the architects had adjusted some costs upward and money was added for contingency in the budget.    Norden said the county’s additional $100,000 kept the grant application at a 50 percent local match meaning another $100,000 was added to the grant application.    Norden said the Board of Commissioners do expect the $100,000 to be reimbursed once the dispatch center starts operating because the county had previously committed that money to be spent on other capitol needs.

Norden said the grant hearing presentation went very well and he’s confident that the grant will be awarded.

In other business Tuesday the Board of Commissioners:

  • Conducted a public hearing on the performance of the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Government’s (UAACOG) Housing Rehabilitation Program.   Program coordinator Erlin Trekell reported that 19 housing rehabilitation jobs had been performed under the low interest loan program with $179,370 spent on those housing projects.  Trekell said most of those program projects took place in Fremont and Teller Counties.  Trekell said the housing program will be operating again through the coming year;
  • Approved a Temporary Use Permit for the Penrose VFW to conduct a chili cook-off and bazaar on August 23rd utilizing the street frontage at 402 Broadway in front of the Penrose VFW Hall;
  • Approved a Conditional Use Permit for Bill Tezak of Colorado Quarries to operate a stockpile area and loadout facility associated with his mica white mine at Wellsville near the junction of County Roads 45 and 47.
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Airport Advisory Committee Vacancy

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners is accepting letters of interest from citizens willing to serve on the Fremont County Airport Advisory Committee.    The terms for three of the seven seats on the advisory committee expire on October 1st.    Those seats are now held by James Woolworth, Greg Tabuteau, and Jay Seavy.    All three are eligible for reappointment however Seavy indicated previously that he would not seek reappointment.    Each is for a three year term.

The Airport Advisory Committee reviews rules, regulations, and operating procedures at the airport,      serving in an advisory capacity to the airport manager and the Board of County Commissioners.

Anyone interested in serving on the Airport Advisory Committee should submit a letter explaining your interest in aviation, familiarity with operations and issues at the Fremont County Airport, and any other details on your background.    All letters should be mailed, e-mailed, or submitted in person no later than 4:00 p.m. Thursday, September 11th, to the Fremont County Commissioners Office, Room #106, 615 Macon Avenue in Cañon City.

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Applications Sought for Tourism Council Vacancy

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners is seeking letters of interest from Fremont County residents to fill a vacancy on the Fremont County Tourism Council (FCTC).   The Tourism Council develops and administers a Tourism Marketing Plan for Fremont County utilizing the proceeds from the Fremont County Lodging Tax.

Lloyd Harwood, a representative of the hotel industry, resigned from the board because he no longer works with a qualifying tourism business. His replacement will fulfill the term through January 1, 2017, and then will be eligible for reappointment to a three year term.

Employment or ownership in a local tourism-related business will be a determining factor in the appointment by the Commissioners. In particular, the Commissioners are seeking a representative of either the hotel or rafting industries, but all letters of interest are welcome.   Because Harwood represented the lodging business sector, letters of interest are particularly encouraged from motel, hotel, or campground operators.

FCTC members are required to attend monthly meetings as well as any special meetings as voted upon by the council.   Periodic attendance at other community meetings pertaining to tourism issues may also be necessary.    The position involves voluntary service with no compensation.

Letters of interest should include the applicant’s qualifications and should be addressed to the Fremont County Board of Commissioners, Room 105, Fremont County Administration Building, 615 Macon Avenue, Cañon City, CO 81212.   The deadline for letters is 4 p.m. Thursday, August 21st.

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Downpour Over Burn Scar Floods County Roads

Muddy ash from the Eight Mile wildfire burn scar pours across Fremont County Road 132 northeast of the Fremont County Airport on the evening of July 29th

A late afternoon downpour in the Penrose area also hit the burn scar of the Eight Mile wildfire that burnt over 500 acres in June. Black ash from the burn scar seven miles north into Phantom Canyon is seen flooding its way across Eight Mile Creek. County road crews spent the next couple of days repairing flash flood damage on CR 132

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Commissioners Pursue Grant for Pathfinder Design


The original master plan in 2005 depicted the suggested layout of structures on county property at Pathfinder Regional Park. The design grant being sought by the Commissioners will start work on specific designs for an Events Center and County Fair livestock facilities.

The Fremont County Commissioners are seeking grant funding to help finance final design work for several buildings at Pathfinder Regional Park that would eventually lead to the park serving as the location for the Fremont County Fair.   The Board of Commissioners approved an application to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs at their July 22nd meeting for a $43,250 Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant.   The grant amount represents 50 percent of the total cost of $86,497 for T.A. Duke & Associates of Colorado Springs to perform the design work.

After a request for proposals was circulated T.A. Duke came in with the lowest price to design the project.  Commission Chairman Tim Payne said the county is looking towards the day when all 4-H County Fair Buildings will be located at Pathfinder Park.    He said this design work is the first step in the process.  A community events center will be a key part of the project which is expected to attract year round use.

The county’s half of the design cost will come from the Conservation Trust Fund (lottery money).   The design work is only for the county’s portion of Pathfinder Park which is that property on the east side of the entryway.   The Pathfinder design work follows on the heels of expenditure by the Board of Commissioners in late June for a flood elevation engineering study.   The Board contracted with Atkins Engineering of Denver to conduct a hydrologic analysis and floodplain mapping service on the county property at Pathfinder Park near the confluence of Chandler Creek with the Arkansas River.   The county is spending $73,690 for the floodplain study.   The floodplain elevations must be confirmed before any buildings can actually be constructed under the new design plan.

Also at their July 22nd meeting the Commissioners approved a final plat for a three lot subdivision on vacant land next to the Canon Creek subdivision along Grandview Avenue.   The approval actually creates only one new lot with the three lots now comprised of 36.1 acres, 54.2 acres, and 13.4 acres.   Bill Balhiser explained that the owners are not developers.   He said “We’re just trying to get back some of the money we loaned on the Canon Creek project to begin with.”   Balhiser said dividing the property into three lots would make them easier to sell.   The Commissioners’ approval included a waiver for a turnaround at the end of Long’s Peak Street.   Balhiser said the neighbors didn’t want a turnaround there either.

In other business at the July 22nd meeting the Commissioners:

  • Voted to accept the annual audit report from John Cutler Associates.   County Finance Officer Sunny Bryant said the county received an unqualified report that everything in the county’s books is in good financial shape;
  • Approved a new hotel and restaurant liquor license for the Crossroads Bar & Grill at Crossroads indoor arena at Penrose.   Owner William Peetz will be able to serve once a food service license is also issued.   No scheduled opening date has been announced;
  • Approved the reappointments of Dan Brixey and Larry Brown to the Fremont County Building Code Board of Appeals.
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