Nelson Harvey
Citizen Telegram Contributor
Rifle, CO Colorado

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November 21, 2012
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After 5 years, Braaten to step down from Rifle post

Rifle's government affairs coordinator of five years is leaving his post in December to take a job with the Front Range city of Littleton.

Mike Braaten will become Littleton's deputy city manager early next year, and he said the job will involve many of the same responsibilities he took on during his time in Rifle.

"It will involve seeking grants, acquisition and management, community relations, and state government relations," he said. "My wife has also been commuting to Grand Junction for the last year for work, and has been interested in moving back to the Front Range."

During his time in Rifle, Braaten secured and managed many grants for the city, including an $806,000 federal transportation planning grant and grants for several renewable energy projects.

He also worked with a coalition of city government officials from across the state to increase the share of federal mineral lease payments granted to local governments. Such payments are meant to offset the impacts of oil and gas drilling.

"We were able to make the formula more favorable to the communities where the natural gas is coming from," he said.

Braaten also instituted the Rifle Bucks program, an effort to boost the local economy by issuing currency that could be used only at local businesses during the holiday shopping season.

Yet Braaten said he is most proud of advocating for Rifle at the state level.

"A lot of what we've done is being able to increase people's knowledge of Rifle on the Front Range, obtain some notoriety for the community and everything they are doing," he said.

As registered lobbyist, Braaten once worked for the Colorado Municipal League, a group that lobbies state government on behalf of local interests.

And according to Rifle City Manager John Hier, inter-governmental relations was an area where Braaten excelled.

"He was very good at being a liaison between the city and other forms of government," Hier said. "He has done a terrific job for the city."

Hier said he will meet soon with the Rifle City Council to discuss replacing Braaten, who was paid close to $90,000 per year by the city.

"I think its going to be a bit of a task to find someone with the same qualifications," Hier said.

Although he looks forward to getting back to the Front Range, Braaten said he will miss Rifle's small-town atmosphere, as well as the access to nature that living here provides.

"We'll still have that, it will just be a little bit longer of a drive," he said.

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 21, 2012 05:41PM Published Nov 21, 2012 05:40PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.