Aug. 18, 1905 incorporation day
Rifle residents were happy when they finally incorporated their town on Aug. 18, 1905.The incorporation didnt happen on the first try. In 1898, a group of Rifle residents had tried once before to incorporate. With a population of less than 270 people, 71 residents initially voted in favor of incorporation. However, that election was contested and deemed ineffective by the Colorado Supreme Court.Residents had to wait another seven years before trying again.
The July 7, 1905, issue of The Rifle Telegram reported that the Colorado Supreme Court modified the injunction against incorporation, which paved the way for a second election:There is now no obstacle to prevent the incorporation of Rifle, the story reported.An article in the Aug. 4, 1905, edition of the Telegram urged everyone to vote in favor of incorporation on Aug. 7: A crucial moment in the towns history has arrived. On next Monday, pursuant to the notice elsewhere in this paper, our citizens will again turn out and vote upon the question of incorporating the town of Rifle. This time there will be few, if any, dissenting votes. Our people appear to be unanimously in favor of the proposition and there is no likelihood of further hindrance and the proposition is carried. We rejoice at the prospect of future advancement and eagerly await the opening of the polls. Vote early and of all things DO NOT FAIL TO VOTE.The story predicts that incorporation would lead to growth and prosperity for Rifle:Mark our prediction when Rifle becomes incorporated there will be evidenced a continual, healthful and steady growth such as has never until now been possible.At the time of the second election, less than 650 people lived in Rifle. The vote passed, with 121 for, and one vote against:It is thought that the one vote was simply cast by mistake or as a joke, the Telegram reported.
Even though the election had been held and the results posted in Rifle, it still took a little more than a week to deliver the final papers to Denver, to designate Rifle an official town. The official filing date of Rifles incorporation is listed as Aug. 18, 1905, in the Colorado State Archives.Shortly thereafter, the first nominating convention took place to determine the new town fathers. George M. Howard was elected mayor. The other town trustees were Ed McLearn, Fred Munro, Louis Hoffmeister, J.E. Stauffer, W.J. LeRossignol and D.E. Eakins.The towns first order of business was all about water. Town fathers immediately went to work to drain the typhoid-producing swamp at Rifles railyards, purchase Beaver Creek water rights, and install water and sewer lines.
Its not a surprise water issues were first on Rifles agenda. The fire of 1902 practically leveled all of Rifles downtown. Because a town government wasnt in place, people were left to their own devices to combat the blaze, making it clear Rifle needed a fire protection system in place. A full-time police force was installed in 1905 and fire district in 1906.In 1963, the town of Rifle was designated a city and re-incorporated as a home-rule government with a city charter that is still currently in place. The difference between the designation of a town or city is based on population, according to Rifle City Attorney Lee Leavenworth. When a community incorporates, if the population is less than 2,000, it is designated as a town. If more than 2,000, it is considered a city. However, if a municipality becomes a home-rule municipality, it can call itself either a town or a city. Statutory towns or cities operate under state law while home-rule municipalities are generally governed by their charters.One hundred years after its incorporation, the city is led by Mayor Keith Lambert and a six-person City Council: Judy Builteman, Alan Lambert, Jeff Johnson, Jonathan Rice, Beth Bascom and Sandy Vaccaro. Times have changed: Not only can women vote, but three women are City Council members.The prediction made in the 1905 Telegram rings true in 2005 the city continues to see continued growth and development.Alan Lambert and Carrie Click contributed to this story.
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