So long, 2008

Budget obstacles lead our top 10 stories of the year

Posted 12/31/08

The Elbert Board of County Commissioners had its hands full recently when balancing the 2009 budget. The 2008 budget was tight, but not as tight as …

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So long, 2008

Budget obstacles lead our top 10 stories of the year


The Elbert Board of County Commissioners had its hands full recently when balancing the 2009 budget. The 2008 budget was tight, but not as tight as next year’s.

According to Commissioner John Metli, about $2 million had to be cut from the 2009 budget, leaving only $1,300 in the general fund to start 2009.

To balance the 2009 budget, the commissioners made some drastic changes. Each county department was asked to cut their hours and salaries by 10 percent and the old courthouse building’s hours were reduced. As of Jan. 1 the court house will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Each department took a significant budget cut and will have to work with less money than it had in 2008. Suzie Graeff, chairman of the board of county commissioners, said the board had a lot of options to reduce costs for 2009, but this was the best option for the county and employees with out any lay-offs.

In regard to the 10 percent cut in hours, the sheriff’s office will have a hard time cutting hours and keeping the necessary services needed in the county. Sheriff Bill Frangis said that even though this option is the least painful for most county employees, the plan the commissioners have developed is not a good working plan for public safety personnel.

“The plan they have come up with is really tailored to the county employees who are there Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he said. “When you have to start working people 24 hours a day seven days a week, how do you decrease your hours by 10 percent and still maintain your coverage.”

The county is on a hiring and spending freeze that will continue into 2009.

2- Walmart comes to Elbert County

After months of debate and preparation, construction of Walmart west of Elizabeth on Colo. 86 began in early September. The supercenter is part of a larger commercial development, the Shops at Wild Point.

The store is set to open in late summer of 2009 and will have sustainable features including light sensors on refrigeration units and sky-lights.

3- New faces on 2009 commissioner board

The 2008 county commissioner election was a race until the end, with the republicans as the winners.

Del Schwab grabbed 68 percent of the votes over Patty Sward for District 1. Hope Goetz, an incumbent, had 94 percent of the votes over Paul Heller for District 2. John Shipper, Republican, had 68 percent of the votes over Robert Thomasson for District 3.

More than 94 percent of Elbert County’s 13, 146 eligible voting residents cast their votes in the election. The polls were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 4. More than 7,000 voters mailed in their ballots.

Another issue on the 2008 election ballot was initiative 3A. The race was close but voters said no to the initiative with 52 percent of the votes, leaving 48 voting yes to 3A, a $1.2 million override measure for a 7.034 mil solution to add funding to the Elizabeth C-1 School District.

4- Hearing date for Scouts sooner rather than later

After months of debate, letters and meetings, the Boy Scouts will face the Elbert Board of County Commissioners Jan. 6. The meeting will address the special-use permit application for the construction on the Travis Shooting Facility and the Sporting Clays Course at Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Ranch.

Issues with the shooting ranges began in June 2008 after complaints from neighbors were brought to the Elbert County Planning commission.

Since then, the Boy Scouts have been accommodating to all requests made by Planning Director Robert Miller and ranch neighbors.

5- Construction of justice center under way

Groundbreaking on the highly anticipated justice center in Elbert County began June 16 and has since been progressing to a building that will bring the court system back to the county.

The building is between the sheriff’s office and the 911 building at 751 Ute St. in Kiowa.

The 12,000-square-foot building will house two courtrooms, judges chambers, district attorney’s office, probation office and a clerk’s office.

6- Stampede numbers break records

As with every year, the Elizabeth Stampede was a success, but 2008 brought in more attendees than ever.

Opening night in June brought in a record crowd of 2,200 for the first Professional Bull Riders event with Saturday’s rodeo roping in another record crowd of 1,300 people.

The annual Stampede parade also helped bring in 15,000 people to Elizabeth, which is not bad for a town of 1,500 residents.

7- Code adds funds to county

With the 2009 county budget tight, the sheriff’s office might help bring in some needed cash.

As of May 14, Elbert County drivers started following a new model traffic code approved by the Elbert Board of County Commissioners.

The purpose of the ordinance is to promote general public welfare and safety by enforcing reasonable and necessary traffic restrictions. It will allow the money from the traffic fine to go back to the county.

8- Bill cleans up titles

Property owners living in the potential 3-mile-wide toll road corridor felt some relief after House Bill 08-1007 was signed by Gov. Bill Ritter.

The bill, signed June 2, will clean up private property owners’ titles from previous documents filed on their titles by Prairie Falcon Parkway Express Co. It will void any authorized written notice, disclaimer of interest or map filed or recorded by a previous roll road or toll highway company.

9- New light in town

Elizabeth residents now have an extra stop on their way east out of town. A new traffic signal at the intersection of Colo. 86 and County Road 17 was up and running by November.

The signal is meant to improve northbound traffic turning left onto the highway from County Road 17 as well as traffic headed to and from Elizabeth Parks and Recreation.

10- Elizabeth host to race

Elbert County is a new member of the American Society Relay for Life organization. The debut race lasted from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. June 27-28 at the Elizabeth High School stadium with 29 registered teams and more than 300 participants.

The 12-hour event also had live music, booths and games and is expected to be an annual tradition in Elbert County.


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