Grand County: bullets and ballots

Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene, chief deputy clerk Patty Brown and Secretary of State Wayne Williams outside a voter drop box in Hot Sulphur Springs.
Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene, chief deputy clerk Patty Brown and Secretary of State Wayne Williams outside a voter drop box in Hot Sulphur Springs.

Talk about the Wild West.

On July 4, 1883, four masked men gunned down Grand County’s clerk and recorder and two of its commissioners. One commissioner managed to get off a shot and killed an attacker. When the mask was removed, it turned out to be the third county commissioner.

The other suspected killers were believed to be the county sheriff, undersheriff and the undersheriff’s brother, although no one was tried for the crime.

What led to the attack was moving the county seat from Hot Sulphur Springs to Grand Lake the previous year. The commissioners who were ambushed supported the move; the commissioner with the mask wanted to stay in Hot Sulphur Springs. Several years after the shooting, the seat was moved back to Hot Sulphur Springs.

The current county clerk, Sara Rosene, provided that history when asked why Hot Sulphur Springs, pop. 639, was the county seat rather than, say, Granby, pop. 1,791.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ visited Hot Sulphur Springs last week when he met with the county clerk and checked out the election operation.

“It’s so nice to have the secretary of state here,” said Rosene, who has been the clerk for 25 years. “We’re so intertwined with that office.”

Rosene and Williams discussed the county’s five 24-hour drop boxes, which are intended to make it easier for its 10,500 active voters. The boxes are located in Frazier, Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulpur Springs and Kremmling. Although they cost money to install — the secretary of state is helping pay for the one in Frazier — they will save money in the long run because election judges don’t need to be hand collecting ballots, the clerk said.

She also noted that Grand County prints its own ballots, thanks to a “heavy duty” printer provided when Scott Gessler was secretary of state. It was intended so the county could print military and overseas ballots, but it worked so well the county began printing all its own ballots.

“It saves Grand County a whole lot of money,” Rosene said.