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March 20, 2013
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A lot of knowledge will be missed

There's a lot to be said for institutional knowledge and experience, in my mind.

The skills and abilities you develop and experience you gain if you stay in one place for a long time are usually pretty valuable. Not only to yourself, but to those who benefit from all you've gained and stored in memory.

It may be one of the few good things about growing older.

In the case of Rifle City Hall, there's a big hole when it comes to that knowledge, skills and experience that has recently walked out, or soon will walk out, the door for various reasons.

And I mean a lot of institutional knowledge and experience. Sixty-seven years to be exact. That's a lifetime for many people.

Add it up:

Mike Braaten, five years as government affairs coordinator, left in December to take a job on the Front Range.

Daryl Meisner, 39 years with Rifle Police Department, including 22 years as police chief, retired last July.

John Hier, nine years as city manager, will retire in May.

Aleks Briedis, 14 years as recreation director, will relocate to the Chicago area for family reasons in May.

Each held, or holds, a position of authority and oversight in how our tax dollars were spent. City councilmembers may get the attention - good and bad - when they make the big decisions. But it's people like Braaten, Meisner, Dyer and Briedis who provided the information and guidance to help them make what they felt were correct decisions.

(I won't mention the city attorney, who's the real Oz in these situations.)

Each of these men helped shape Rifle into the city it is now, some may say warts and all.

Braaten garnered thousands of dollars in grants for many projects and was a liaison between the city and the energy industry back when natural gas was booming in these parts.

Meisner oversaw the growth of Rifle's finest from a small town, Mayberry-esque department into what we have now, with well-trained and well-equipped, hard-working officers and detectives. I'm sure his successor, John Dyer, would agree.

Hier helped guide Rifle's commercial growth in recent years, including the arrival of Walmart and all the businesses that came with natural gas. He also kept the city going when its budget plummeted due to the recent recession. And he shepherded the city's new water treatment plant through some choppy waters last year.

Briedis can be proud of the excellent parks and recreation facilities Rifle has added since his arrival, but will leave before one of his top goals - a city recreation center - may become a reality in the near future. Still, the groundwork was laid during his time at City Hall.

Rifle's shelf of institutional knowledge is not totally bare, though.

Matt Sturgeon, with 11 years as city planner and assistant city manager, will be Hier's successor for at least the next three years. He's had a lot to do with how Rifle has developed, too, and is committed to the community.

Dyer brought 28 years of law enforcement experience with him when he signed on with the city last August. He's been met with welcome arms, at least from those who know him. Haven't heard what anyone put behind bars since he became Rifle's top cop might think. And I haven't seen any mass exodus of officers, which is another good sign.

Taking a different view of all this, you might say it might be time for some changes. Different faces, different views and different ideas can be positive, too. No one thinks exactly the same and sometimes you get in ruts. Not to say that happened with any of these gentlemen, but we'll see how issues and projects proceed once a few more management types join City Hall.

In the meantime, we should give a hearty thanks and well done to Messrs. Braaten, Meisner, Dyer and Briedis and wish them well as they take on new challenges.

They'll be missed and not forgotten. I just wish we could bottle all that institutional knowledge for those that follow.

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.


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The Post Independent Updated Mar 20, 2013 06:10PM Published Mar 20, 2013 06:09PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.