Commissioners host open houses

Courthouse tours also available

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— Voters have several upcoming opportunities to educate themselves about a November ballot issue.

Routt County commissioners are hosting an open house tonight in Oak Creek and subsequent open houses in other parts of the county to introduce residents to plans for a new court facility.

The commissioners want to provide residents with enough information to make an informed decision about the proposed judicial facility. The county is asking voters to support a building referendum for the $17.2 million project.

The bond issue, which asks voters to pick up $10.2 million of the project's costs, was officially placed on the ballot last week.

The open houses allow people to examine a model of the court facility and provide them with an informal setting in which to ask questions.

"We really hope that citizens will make it to one of these open houses," County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

The first open house runs from 6 to 9 p.m. today at the South Routt Community Center in Oak Creek. Subsequent 6 to 9 p.m. open houses fall on Thursday at the Moonhill School House in North Routt, Monday, Sept. 23 at Hayden Town Hall and Monday, Sept. 30 in the commissioners' hearing room in the courthouse annex.

People who cannot attend one of the evening open houses can attend a 12 to 1:30 p.m. open house Monday, Sept. 30 in the commissioners' hearing room.

"We want people to understand what this is all about," County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.

If the bond issue passed Nov. 5, the county would use about one third of its reserves to cover $6.2 million of the project costs.

The 52,000-square-foot building would cost $12.8 million.

A 127-space parking garage behind the courthouse and courthouse annex adds $2.9 million in addition to $1.5 million for the land.

Supporters of the new judicial facility, Routt Citizens for Safe Courts, have organized tours of the current courtrooms. People who wish to participate should contact the organization at 846-7766 or e-mail safecourts@springsips.com.

Court administrator Evan Herman said only one person has taken advantage of the offer. Personal tours are offered Tuesdays at 9 a.m. through September and October.

"For anybody who has an interest and wants to see it firsthand, I'm happy to do it," he said.

A tour takes about 15 minutes, he said.

Commissioners have tried to eliminate one of the excuses that might keep Steamboat residents away from the Sept. 30 open house.

People worried about missing Monday Night Football can keep one eye on the Denver Broncos and the other on the commissioners.

The television in the room adjacent to the commissioners' hearing room will be tuned to the football game, Stahoviak said.

"So if (anyone's) wondering about missing the game, they can still watch it," she said.

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