Spent last Tuesday night on special duty, acting as an Associated Press writer to cover the Rio Blanco County elections for the state media, and a heck of a night it was. I’ve done it before and it isn’t really any fun, but it is always interesting to see the work being done.
I have done the same work in Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas and Arizona over a lot of years, and it has been different every time in every location, the worst having been in those places — particularly in the early ’70s and ’80s — before all the kinks were worked out of the vote-counting machines and the ballots basically had to be hand counted.
It was not uncommon to be there well into the morning before all the counts were done — once as late as 10:30 a.m.
A couple sure things were observed in the office of Nancy Amick, the Rio Blanco County Clerk, on Tuesday night, and those two most notable things are that security is kept tight, and that the ladies who work for her put in one heck of a busy day (and night) as the last souls left her office with the ballot count complete at 11:30 p.m.
The big glitch — or delay — in the Rio Blanco County process is the necessary wait for the votes from Rangely to arrive in Meeker.
The voting closed at 7 p.m. as usual, but security measures and paperwork take a long time before those ballots can be sent out the door from the clerk’s satellite office in Rangely. This year they left the Rangely office at around 8 p.m. and arrived in Meeker at 9:10 p.m.
There were more ballots than initially expected, so the count took longer than expected after another hill of paperwork and seals were broken and all the security measures and state directives were followed.
The final tally was handed to me about 11:20 p.m., then I had to call the Associated Press in California to report for the third and last time what amounted to the last, complete ballot count.
Then I had to fill out another form for AP and fax that into the Denver office, where tallies were collected from each of Colorado’s counties, reporting only the contested races.
Rio Blanco had three contested races that the AP cared about — all Republican. They wanted to know about the race between Scott R. Tipton and David Cox for the race for the U.S. House, District 3. Tipton handily won with a 1,030-429 Rio Blanco edge.
They wanted to know about the GOP race for governor, which was won statewide by Bob Beauprez.
However, in Rio Blanco County, the results were Tom Tancredo with 422 votes, Bob Beauprez with 382 votes, Mike Kopp with 336 county votes and Scott Gessler with 267 votes.
The third race was the GOP nod for the State Board of Education from Congressional District 3. This race was close all three times the county clerk’s office released updates — never more than three votes apart. Barbara Ann Smith squeaked through Rio Blanco County voters by a 549-546 margin.
But anyway, the ladies who assisted in the county clerk’s office were mighty relieved — no, downright happy — when they were released from duty to go home.
They put in a long grueling day and they were flat tuckered out. But they should be graciously thanked because they did a heck of a job on what has to be probably the second longest work day of the year, second only to general election day in November.
Terrific job, ladies. Thank you for your work!
I must admit that while it is a lot of work to cover all of the events associated with Range Call, it is also a fun time of year, spreading the Fourth of July out over a three-day period; four days if you county the demolition derby that was already held on Saturday night followed by a barn dance.
There is such a wide variety of events.
This week, the fun actually begins tonight with the Meeker Pageant, which sees local actors re-enact the Meeker Massacre, which certainly has a local slant that may be quite surprising to those who attend.
While there are hundreds of people from Meeker who attend each year, it is an event that every Rio Blanco County resident, Meeker-area resident and even visitors should see at least once.
It is a well-portrayed bit of history, acted out with the help of several local area residents, and it should be of interest to all people, especially those who live in Rio Blanco County and Colorado.
Tonight’s events will start at 7 with the pageant beginning at dusk, which falls about 9 p.m.
Everyone loves a parade, and the 10 a.m. parade on Friday is no exception as area businesses, groups and individuals take part on Main Street. Local non-profit groups will be set up on the courthouse lawn offering refreshments, activities and information about their groups.
There will be a barbecue at noon, a three-on-three basketball tournament, a re-enactment of the robbery of the Meeker Bank taking place downtown, then the Range Call Ranch Rodeo begins at 5 p.m., followed by the Rodeo Rough Stock Showdown.
The fireworks will begin at dark, then the day’s activities will wrap up with the Range Call Barn Dance after the fireworks. The dance will feature “Country Music Project” at the indoor arena at the fairgrounds.
On Saturday, beginning at 7 a.m., will be the Save the Track fundraiser walk-a-thon on the high school track, which will be the benefactor of funds raised through the walk-a-thon.
At 9 a.m. is one of my favorites from last year. Anyone can join in the Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot, held at the Meeker Sportsman’s Club range, located on the east side of Highway 13, 2.2 miles south of the intersection of highways 13 and 64.
The Rio Blanco County Historical Society has another interesting event with the Milk Creek Battle Site Tours beginning at 10 a.m., and the tours are followed at 2 p.m. at the fairgrounds by the Range Call Rodeo Rough Stock Showdown.
The main entertainment event of Range Call sees the gates open at 5 p.m. at the fairgrounds with Chris Cagle and his band following concert-opening Damsel. The music will begin at 7 p.m.
Events wrap after the concert, again, with a barn dance in the indoor area at the fairgrounds, again featuring “Country Music Project.”
There certainly is something for everyone of all ages. See y’all out there at the activities.
For those in Rangely who don’t want to make the trip across the county on July 4, there are plenty of activities, including an impressive fireworks display right at Kenney Reservoir.
There should certainly be something of interest for the kids of all ages to do this weekend all around Rio Blanco County while celebrating the birth of our nation.
There will be fun, food, history, entertainment and two great fireworks displays.
It couldn’t get any better, particularly if the weather hold out over the weekend, when we all celebrate our nation’s 238th birthday.
Happy Independence Day. That is something to think about…