Hot Sulphur Springs nixes idea of town marshal
A contentious and confrontational crowd showed up Thursday night, April 16, to the Hot Sulphur Springs Town Board meeting to express displeasure with the town’s plans to appoint former Grand County Undersheriff John Stein as the new town marshal.
The meeting started with a lengthy public comment period during which residents questioned town officials’ thinking regarding the possible creation of the position of either town marshal or code enforcement officer. The vast majority of those who made public comments spoke against the creation of the position, a few community residents spoke against the appointment of Stein to the position and fewer still spoke in favor of either creating the position or the appointment of Stein to fill the position.
Town resident Thad Scholl spoke early during the meeting.
“I personally do not believe we need a marshal or code enforcement officer,” Scholl said. “There are far more important things like roads and water rates.”
His sentiments were echoed by many who made public comments.
“I agree with Thad here on the position,” said George Davis. “I think we can spend the money better in-house without creating another layer of government. We need better drainage.”
Not everyone who spoke against the appointment was primarily concerned with monetary issues, though.
Bradley Ratchford was less circumspect .
“I have lived here for 22 years,” he said. “I have felt safe here for years, but I have not felt safe anymore since John Stein shot someone in the streets of Hot Sulphur. I’m afraid of this man coming to my house to enforce codes. And I know that’s what a lot of people around here are thinking even though they aren’t saying it.”
Ratchford was referencing an incident that occurred in April 2013 when Stein and his wife Heather Stein, an assistant district attorney, shot and killed Joshua Stevens during a physical struggle outside their home. The case was reviewed by the office of the District Attorney for the First Judicial District, which called the incident a case of self-defense.
Stein took a few moments during the public comments period to address issues directed at him. He pointed out that misinformation and rumors regarding the April 2013 incident continue to circulate, and that he was cleared by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in the shooting.
Stein also discussed the reasons for creating a town marshal position and the advantages of creating a marshal position over a pure code enforcement officer, specifically highlighting the availability of grants to law enforcement that are not available to code enforcement.
The issue entered the public forum recently as the Hot Sulphur Springs Town Board began considering the creation of the position and named Stein as the prime candidate.
Board members spoke at length about their desire to create the position, what they felt was a need in Hot Sulphur Springs for more vigorous code enforcement and detailing the town’s past efforts to improve code enforcement.
“I don’t think code enforcement has been effective, or applied equally,” said Board Member Hershal Deputy.
Previously Hot Sulphur Springs had contracted with the Granby Police Department to conduct code enforcement. Current Grand County Undersheriff Wayne Schafer had filled the role last year, under the auspices of the Granby PD.
As the board entered discussions regarding the marshal appointment, Mayor Bob McVay said, “I think it was overwhelmingly brought to our attention that the town is not in favor of a marshal and that the town is not in favor of a code enforcement officer.”
Board member Christine Lee said, “I like a neat town and I think the town needs a code enforcement officer, but I will vote with what the majority of constituents in town want.”
Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin was on hand during the meeting and answered a number of questions from the board regarding Hot Sulphur Springs possibly contracting with the Sherriff’s Office for code enforcement duties.
Schroetlin explained that Hot Sulphur Springs currently pays the Sheriff’s Office $6,214 annually for dispatch fees and the town is a part of the GCSO deputies regular patrolling duties. During 2014 Schroetlin said there were 275 calls from Hot Sulphur Springs totaling about 137 man hours for the Sheriff’s Office.
Schroetlin also pointed out that if the town created a marshal position, law enforcement responsibility for the community would fall under the authority of that position, regardless of how many hours per week the marshal would work. The board had been considering only a part-time marshal position.
The board took no action regarding the appointment of Stein or the creation of either a marshal or code enforcement officer’s position. Board members said they are still interested in improving code enforcement for the community and want to find a solution to that end.
The board set a future workshop for discussing the need for greater code enforcement in Hot Sulphur Springs and any possible solutions for Thursday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hot Sulphur Springs Town Hall. Community residents are invited to attend and provide their input.
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