From Dire Straits: Where There is a Will, We’ll Find a Way

From Dire Straits: Where There is a Will, We

For many years, physical conditions at the original Huerfano County Courthouse, the seat of Colorado’s 3rd Judicial District, had been in dire straits. While the historic courthouse building, constructed in 1904, is a grand architectural beauty, its usefulness for carrying out the county’s growing judicial needs had long since expired. Physical deteriorations, along with severe health and safety concerns, had become desperate.

Among the many deficiencies and problems were a serious lack of needed space, security, and confidentiality issues. “There were no separate circulation zones to protect victims and/or witnesses,” noted retired Chief Judge Claude Appel. Court Executive Bob Kreiman described major building complications, such as water leaks, electrical power problems, environmental concerns, heating and cooling difficulties, and poor air quality. “Parts of the historic building were deteriorating, with pieces of the exterior disintegrating and falling off,” he noted. Paying for the improvements necessary to adequately provide for the county’s judicial needs seemed impossible for the economical challenged rural community in Huerfano.

However, the insight and will of dedicated grassroots advocates including Judge Appel, Bob Kreiman, and Tom Franklin, Head of Court and Facilities Planning, came to the rescue with an entrepreneurial vision. The team helped plant the seed for the State of Colorado’s “Underfunded Courthouse Facility Cash Fund,” which, in 2014, was enacted by the state’s General Assembly. This fund helped provide the first step in the long process of constructing the new Huerfano County Judicial Center, which officially opened in January 2021. Between the early vision and the grand opening (held on August 6, 2021, due to public opening delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic), were many hurdles and major steps, all of which had to fall nicely in place to realize the vision. Today, the new Huerfano County Judicial Center is open for business. It is a new, proud building, befitting the dedication and follow-through by the individuals who imagined it, supported the vision, and committed themselves to making it a reality.

“We worked on this new courthouse with lots of folks for about a decade. I am so happy we got it built. It’s magnificent!!” – Retired Chief Judge Claude Appel

Development Steps from Dream to Reality

  • 2014 – Underfunded Courthouse Facility Cash Fund established
  • 2014 – Grant received from the Underfunded program for the master plan by Anderson Hallas Architects
  • 2014 – Colorado Judicial Facility Space Needs Assessment completed by State Judicial Facilities
  • 2015 – Huerfano County Judicial Center Master Planning Report completed by Anderson Hallas Architects
  • 2017–2018 – Public informational meetings held for Proposed Ballot Issue 1A, the One-Cent Sales Tax Initiative
  • November 2018 – Ballot Issue 1A approved by constituents of Huerfano County
  • 2019 – Design of the new courthouse begun by Anderson Hallas Architects
  • 2019 – Construction is begun by Gerald H. Phipps Construction
  • January 2021 – Construction completed
  • August 6, 2021 – Official ribbon cutting ceremony held