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Kiowa building with county offices opens

Samuel Elbert Building in Kiowa was former site of Bank of the West

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The grand opening of the Samuel Elbert Building at 440 Comanche St. in Kiowa, where some county offices are locating, brought together citizens, county employees and officials along with special guests from the Colorado state government.

The former Bank of the West building, purchased in June for $495,800, unofficially opened to the public Oct. 10 on the main (upper) level, where the DMV office is located.

During the Oct. 12 grand opening ceremony, Elbert County Commissioners Chris Richardson and Grant Thayer shared the front steps with three state officials: Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles Senior Director Mike Dixon and Operations Director for the Department of Revenue Tony Anderson.

Also up front were Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder, Elbert County Treasurer Rick Pettitt and County Manager Sam Albrecht.

After Richardson and Thayer jointly held a giant pair of scissors and cut the red ribbon spanning the steps to the entrance, Richardson gave the opening remarks to the crowd of nearly 50 attendees.

“Today isn't just about acquiring shiny new stuff, it's really about expanding and improving services to our citizens — establishing a one-stop shop for our most common citizen needs,” Richardson said.

“For that reason, we've dedicated this service center in honor of Samuel Hitt Elbert. He was a territorial secretary, governor, congressman and Supreme Court justice who dedicated his life to civil service.

“I can't think of a better way to honor our county's name sake than to put his name on this building.”

“This is our future,” Thayer said next, and named some of the new people and positions that have been or will be added to the county staff, including a road and bridge director, public works director, Albrecht and County Attorney Bart Greer.

“We're reorganizing and planning for the future,” Thayer concluded.

The secretary of state commended the county on its purchase of the building.

“I've seen counties spend a lot more money for a lot less space,” Williams said.

The facility has the only drive-through DMV in the state, and will eventually have kiosks in the entry to enable citizens to renew their vehicle tags 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The main level of the building also holds the county's elections, recording, treasurer and public trustee offices. Within the next nine months, the assessor's office is to move into the lower level.

In a telephone interview the day before the grand opening, Commissioner Danny Willcox offered his thoughts about the new government facility.

“I really believe it's the most convenient thing that's happened to this county in years,” Willcox said. “The way they have it configured for the DMV and treasurer, it's almost perfect for what we're trying to deliver.”

When county officials signed to purchase the building, they knew modifications and repairs would be par for the course. To date, approximately $10,000 has been spent on updates, according to Richardson.

A plan to add elevator access and install a wall of glass around the stairway will cost between $60,000 and $80,000, he said.

“Everybody in the county pitched in for the move,” Willcox said. “HR, IT, facilities, everybody chipping in on moving, it worked so well.”

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