Just over a month from the planned public unveiling of the New Ute Events Center in downtown Rifle, the woman picked to manage and book acts in the remodeled facility has submitted her resignation.
Blair Bracken, promoted from the Rifle Parks and Recreation Department last October to be the cultural and special events manager for the city, resigned effective Friday, April 18, according to City Manager Matt Sturgeon. Bracken was to help schedule events, parties, concerts and other uses of the historic structure.
“There’s a lot I haven’t seen or done and I’m still young, with no family,” Bracken said. “I really want to travel and see different places. I was born and raised as an only child, was home schooled, so I’m ready to get out into the world.”
But the decision was a tough one to make, she added.
“I’ve been so blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had in this community,” Bracken said. “It’s grown me personally, and I’m still passionate about this community and the [events center].”
Sturgeon said, via email, that the city is advertising to fill the position, and was confident a qualified person would quickly be found.
“We will miss Blair and her passion for and commitment to the community,” Sturgeon wrote. “I speak for the entire city when I say we wish her all the best in her next endeavor. She’s a talented person that brought a lot to the Rifle team.”
As far as plans to get the former Ute Theater open, Sturgeon wrote the city was still working with the contractor, PNCI Construction of Grand Junction, to close out the approximate $2 million project.
“We need to order and receive additional furniture and supplies and we need to get folks trained on the [audio visual], stage and lighting systems,” he continued. “Once we start to feel comfortable with the facility and can promise a first-rate experience, we will begin rolling it out to the public.”
A “rehearsal” is planned for the evening of May 23, Sturgeon added, where the New Ute Theatre Society, a nonprofit group that helped the city through the building acquisition and remodeling process, and the city will open the facility to the public “to see and experience all the Ute has to offer. It’s a fabulous venue that the city is excited to share with the region.”
It is hoped the center will increase business and tourism in Rifle and western Garfield County by offering a space to gather and present diverse, affordable and quality cultural programming.
The center includes amenities such as on-site sound and lighting equipment, stage and changing rooms, table or bleacher-style audience seating and a vendor area. The city plans to rent the facility on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The 1940s-era building has been closed since August 2012.
Bracken, who will be 26 next week, was to have been paid a salary of around $44,000 a year and had been with the parks and recreation department since 2010. Along with the summer concerts in Centennial Park, Bracken was in charge of the city’s Fall Festival and holiday tree lighting in Centennial Park.
Before she takes off to see the world, Bracken said she plans to work for a time at the Grand River Cafe in the Grand River Hospital and Medical Center.
“Colorado and Rifle will always be my home,” she stated. “And I think the Ute will be a fantastic thing for the community, once it’s running efficiently.”