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      ABOUT CLEAR CREEK COUNTY

Clear Creek County is located west of Denver, mainly along I-70.  Its 396 square miles range from an elevation of 6,880 feet to the heights of four peaks higher than 14,000 feet.  The County Seat is the Town of Georgetown.  Other municipalities are the City of Idaho Springs and Towns of Empire and Silver Plume, all located on the I-70 corridor.  Unincorporated communities include Dumont/Downieville/Lawson, St. Mary’s, York Gulch, Floyd Hill, and parts of Evergreen.  There are two distinct parts of the County:  the Clear Creek Valley and areas surrounding it, and the southeastern area more typical of foothill ranching areas (although it is now a residential area) whose focus is more toward the Evergreen community (a large unincorporated area partly in Clear Creek and partly in Jefferson Counties).

Historically, the primary industry in Clear Creek County was gold and silver mining.  Today, the County is home to one of the world’s premier molybdenum mines, but tourism and recreation drive its economy.  Over 72% of the County is public lands, primarily in the Arapaho & Roosevelt and Pike & San Isabel National Forests and Mount Evans and James Peak Wilderness Areas.   The Loveland Ski Area on the east side of the Continental Divide is a long-time favorite of locals and Front Range visitors, usually the first Colorado ski area to open each season.  Echo Mountain, the second ski resort in the County, was originally open from 1960-1975 as Squaw Pass Ski Area. After closing in 1975, it changed ownership a couple of times and laid dormant until 2005 when it was resurrected as Echo Mountain Park with a sole focus on terrain parks.   In 2012, it changed hands again and became a private ski race training facility, then eventually opened to the public in 2015.  Unfortunately, a successful year wasn't enough to cover the high costs of operating a ski resort and it fell into bankruptcy in February of 2016.  In October 2016, Echo Mountain changed ownership once again with a renewed vision for the area to broaden its appeal and offer a close, affordable option for snow sports and outdoors enthusiasts in Colorado's rapidly growing front range.  The County also has two scenic byways.   

The County’s population in 2013 was 9,031 (est., US Census Bureau), with the largest population residing in unincorporated areas.  The population is a typical amalgam of cultures, and includes a mixture of multi-generation families and new ones.  The median age is 40; over 40% of the population over age 25 has a college degree; median household income is $51,000 (all data, 2010 census).  The County is served by a single school district, with three elementary schools (one a charter; located in Evergreen, Georgetown and Idaho Springs) and a combined middle & high school (Floyd Hill).  Some students in the Evergreen area attend Jefferson County schools.  Red Rocks Community College is just a few miles away, in Jefferson County, with numerous other advanced educational institutions throughout the Denver metropolitan area.

Clear Creek County hosts I-70 running westward from Denver into the mountains and beyond.  Residents and visitors have easy access to the amenities of the metropolitan area, including education institutions, cultural centers, Denver International Airport, and professional sports—to include numerous recreational opportunities within the County itself.   


      Local History

Clear Creek County sits on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, some 3,000 feet above Denver.  Clear Creek (originally known as Vasquez fork) held the flakes of gold which drew miners to the mountains early in 1859.  Gold and silver mining would be the first draw to the area followed quickly by tourists interested in the high peaks and cool air of the area around the Continental Divide.

Towns soon developed with Georgetown outgrowing rival Idaho Springs to claim the county seat.  The silver mines of Silver Plume created a booming miner’s community while Empire balanced gold mining with its growing role as gateway to Berthoud Pass and the Middle Park area of central Colorado.  By the mid-1880’s the county’s population topped 7,800, only to drop to 2,100 by the 1930’s as the economics of hard metal mining quieted the hammers and drills.

The county’s resurgence came as tourists continued to travel to the mountains, fueled by the growth of state and later federal highway systems.  While the railroad left the county during the Depression, automobile travel picked up and kept the county alive.  The growth of the skiing industry after World War II added a new and valued industry as Berthoud Pass and Loveland Ski Area began to draw skiers as well as travelers that would drive through the county on the way to areas in Summit and Grand counties. The production of steel during World War II also spurred development of the county’s large molybdenum reserves.

By the 1950’s people were beginning to realize the value of the historic structures throughout the county.  The older residential and commercial structures soon took on a new value, creating another industry: cultural tourism. 

Information about historic Clear Creek County is available at http://www.historicidahosprings.com/ and http://www.historicgeorgetown.org/. 


      Family Living

Residents can enjoy a variety of housing options, including multi-million dollar estates, expansive ranches, single family homes and condominiums.   

In addition to the schools, residents can take advantage of the Clear Creek County Library District, which includes libraries located in Georgetown and Idaho Springs, with access to statewide collections.  More information about the Library District may be viewed on its website:  http://www2.youseemore.com/clearcreeklibrary/ .  A recreation special district provides baseball fields and basketball and tennis courts at various locations; it also operates a recreation center with a swimming pool and gymnasium/weight room facilities in Idaho Springs,   http://www.clearcreekrecreation.com/ .   

Because of its rich heritage, historic societies are active in Idaho Springs, Silver Plume and Georgetown.   Outdoor recreation – skiing, fly fishing, bicycling, and hiking predominant among them – is central to the lives of many of our residents.  Much more information about living in Clear Creek County is available on the Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau website, http://www.clearcreekcounty.org. 

There is a primary care clinic in Idaho Springs, opened July 2017; and, there are numerous medical offices and urgent care facilities in neighboring Evergreen.  Major medical facilities are available in the Denver metropolitan area.  Emergency medical services are provided by the County’s Emergency Medical Services department and, in the Evergreen area, by the Evergreen Fire Protection District.


      COUNTY GOVERNMENT

Clear Creek County is organized under the Colorado statutes.  Clear Creek County government is comprised of about 200 full-time employees.  Its Board of County Commissioners (“Board”) constitutes the legislative and policy body, with one member serving as the Chairman of the Board, typically rotating annually.  The elective officers include the three Commissioners, Assessor, Clerk & Recorder, Coroner, Sheriff, Surveyor and Treasurer.  They are all elected on a partisan basis for four-year terms.  The Commissioners are limited to two consecutive four-year terms.  The County is part of the 5th Judicial District (composed of Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit Counties) and the District Attorney for that district is also elected.  The County and District Judges are appointed by the Governor and subsequently confirmed by elections. 

County Service Departments

The elected officials of Clear Creek County are shown below in brief.


Board of County Commissioners:
  The Board is the chief policy-making body.  It serves in administrative, legislative and quasi-judicial capacities.  It has the responsibility to hire both the County Manager and the County Attorney. 


Other Elected Officials:

            The Assessor is responsible for implementing Colorado statutes relating to the valuation of real and personal property in the County.

            The Clerk and Recorder serves as clerk to the Board and is responsible for all aspects of clerk and recorder operations required by law, including maintaining the official records, running elections, voter registration, and automobile registration.

            The Coroner establishes the cause and manner of death in all Coroner-reportable cases.  This is a part-time job.

            The Sheriff is responsible for creating a sense of safety and security in unincorporated areas, enforces state laws and county ordinances, and operates the only detention facility in the County.

            The Surveyor has limited statutory duties.  He is authorized to perform surveying work for the County when requested by the County.  This is a part-time job.

            The Treasurer is responsible for billing, collecting and distributing property taxes and for the County’s cash flow and investments.  By statute, the Treasurer also is the Public Trustee, administering mortgages. 


County Services:
 

A comprehensive list of the County departments is on the County’s website at http://www.co.clear-creek.co.us/.  The departments are typical of a small county: 


County Goals & Objectives

The Board has adopted a Mission Statement, “To provide effective, efficient services while fostering sustainable economic growth to enhance our mountain lifestyle.” 

2017 Annual Report:  http://www.co.clear-creek.co.us/DocumentCenter/View/8163