Hamilton polling place may close

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In other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed a letter of support for The Memorial Hospital's funding request to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

• Approved a bid for Randy Sloan, with High Desert Ranch, to farm hay on county land south of Craig. Sloan, who submitted the high bid, will pay the county $2,555 a year for three years to farm the land.

• Heard legal advisement from County Attorney Kathleen Taylor on maintaining county rights of way and also the county's ongoing financial claim against the city of Steamboat Springs for cleanup at the Steamboat Transit site in Craig. Commissioner Tom Gray said he could not provide more information on the topics after the meeting.

• Tabled whether to move a public hearing date to review the certificate of designation for Elk Springs Recycle and Recovery. The Colorado Attorney General's Office is suing the facility for improperly managing hazardous waste, but its court date recently was continued until July 28.

• Amended an approved bid for Road and Bridge Department water tanks to allow officials to purchase bigger tanks. The new tanks will have a 4,000-gallon capacity instead of 3,500 gallons and will cost $1,000 more apiece. That puts the acquisition $250 more than budget, but Department Manager Linda DeRose said the county came in less than budget on other items and will not need a supplemental budget request.

• Approved a bid for a Road and Bridge tractor/mower from Wagner Equipment Co. for $53,506. It was the low bid of three submitted.

• Signed a lease on behalf of the Museum of Northwest Colorado for a natural gas well in Yuma County.

— About 15 miles south of Craig, Stephanie Jeffcoat, 33, has orchestrated elections in Hamilton for about eight years.

That may be over for the experienced election judge.

The Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office is under direction from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office to make sure its polling places meet U.S. Department of Justice access criteria, said Lila Herod, chief deputy clerk and recorder.

Unfortunately, Herod told the Moffat County Commission at its Tuesday meeting, the Hamilton polling place likely will not meet access standards on the new Department of Justice access survey form.

The form includes specific standards for parking spaces, building entrances and interiors for all polling places.

Many of the access codes are to ensure handicapped residents are able to cast their vote, Herod said.

If improvements at the Hamilton polling place cost too much, and the county can't get any grant funding, it may have to shut the polling pace down.

"It's surprising how expensive all those projects are," Herod said.

"We've been lucky we have the grants to do other ones," she added, referring to $21,000 spent on the Dinosaur and Maybell polling places in recent years, which paid for handicap ramps and other projects.

Colorado mandates a polling place remains open for every precinct with at least 150 registered voters. As opposed to Maybell and Dinosaur, Hamilton is under that cutoff, with 118 registered.

The time of year puts the county in a little crunch, Herod said, because polling places have to be set two months before votes take place, which means any improvements in Hamilton need to be done before Aug. 6, which is 60 days before the Nov. 4 general election.

However, Herod plans to let Hamilton residents vote there for the Aug. 12 primary.

There is nowhere else in Hamilton that would meet space requirements, Herod added.

If the Hamilton polling place were shut down, residents there would have three options to vote in the future.

They could either register as permanent mail-in voters, vote on absentee ballots or drive to Craig.

Jeffcoat doesn't relish any of those options, but she said the writing has been on the wall for several years.

"We've discussed (shutting the Hamilton polling place down) just about every time an election comes up," Jeffcoat said. "It's a bummer to see it go. We just don't have the numbers to keep it going."

She added she would drive to Craig to vote, if it comes to that.

"To me, it would lose something if I just mailed it in," Jeffcoat said. "When you cast your vote, it should mean something. It'd be like mailing a bill."

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