Blair Bracken takes the reins of the New Ute Events Center in downtown Rifle |

Blair Bracken takes the reins of the New Ute Events Center in downtown Rifle

Mike McKibbin/Citizen Telegram file photo
Staff Photo |

Interior remodeling of the former Rifle Creek Theater is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 18, and the building will likely open as the New Ute Events Center shortly after, City Manager Matt Sturgeon recently told Rifle City Council.

And the events center now has a coordinator to help schedule events, parties, concerts and other uses of the historic structure, after Sturgeon transfered Parks and Recreation Special Events Coordinator Blair Bracken to the position.

“We definitely need a coordinator now, not only to oversee schedules and the like, but to get familiar with the equipment, order supplies, line up insurance and collect fees,” Sturgeon said. “Unfortunately, we just can’t afford to create a new position, so I’ve decided to reclassify Blair to this position. We have a very constrained budget going into next year, and I’m just not comfortable going out and hiring someone new.”

Sturgeon added Bracken is “very talented and I believe she will do a very fine job. I don’t want to suggest that we’re settling at all. I know Blair will do a fabulous job with this position.”

She will be paid a salary of $44,000 a year.

Bracken, 25, has been with the parks and recreation department since 2010 and has lived in the area most of her life.

“I think there’s so much opportunity with that venue,” Bracken said during an Oct. 14 interview. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to help get such a great thing going.”

Surgeon added that as the special events coordinator for the parks and recreation department, Bracken was involved in many city functions, such as the summer Centennial Parks concerts.

Along with the summer concerts, Bracken was in charge of the city’s Fall Festival and holiday tree lighting in Centennial Park, held in conjunction with Holly Days, a downtown business promotion event organized by The Citizen Telegram.

Bracken also has a performing arts background, with the ArtillumA Dance Co. and Boomtown Players, and has tentative plans for a grand opening featuring local performers and musicians.

“There’s so much local talent that needs to be showcased,” she said.

Bracken said it’s likely the events center will open after the first of the year. The 1940s-era building has been closed since August 2012.

Interior renovations are expected to cost the city around $2 million, while annual operations and maintenance of the building has been estimated at between $25,000 to $30,000.

Bracken will work with the New Ute Theatre Society, the community group that proposed the former movie theater be renovated for use as an events center. The NUTS group, as they call themselves, will continue to promote the events center, Sturgeon said, with Bracken handling the logistics of the events.

Bracken feels her young age can help her handle the duties of managing the events center.

“I know I’m young and it’s a great challenge for someone my age,” she said. “I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m a very driven individual. To be running a facility like this is really a dream come true. I watched Disney movies there when I was a kid, eating popcorn. I love it, I’m so excited about seeing other people enjoy those things as much as I did. I think it will be another gem for Rifle.”

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