New look for Rifle City Council chamber
City makes final touches to meeting room, bringing the audiovisuals up to date and making it more inviting to the public
A plan years in the making is finally taking shape at City Hall in Rifle.
Completed in October 1983, much of the building has remained untouched for nearly 40 years, including the audio system.
City Manager Scott Hahn, Community Access Multimedia Manager Michael Churchill and City Clerk Kristy Doll came up with the idea.
Doll said that two years ago when they were working on the 2019 budget, it was identified that the city council chamber needed some upgrades, specifically audio and visual changes.
“It was pretty outdated, and people in the back of the room were having a hard time hearing, so we thought it was important to make those changes,” Doll said.
The upgrade costs of $22,000 for the system was put in the 2019 budget, and most of the equipment was purchased in November of last year.
“When we were talking about this in 2018, Scott (Hahn) was hoping that we could not only make the council chambers more usable, but he wanted it to become more approachable,” Churchill said.
“It was pretty dated before, a lot of it really felt like the ’80s.”
Doll said the opportunity to install the new equipment, remove old chalkboards and change the paint color didn’t happen last year. The recent public closure of City Hall allowed workers to complete nearly all of the project except a few final touches, including pictures for the walls and a city logo for behind the dais.
“While we are not actually having meetings in the council chambers we thought it would be a good opportunity to make a mess in there and do the audiovisual upgrades along with some cosmetic upgrades as well,” Doll said.
The top priority and cornerstone of the project was addressing the live audio capabilities, replacing the old system, which included two audio systems, one of which was a room system, and the other broadcast audio system that the television station used.
The new system is a one-on-one system that gives each person on the council, the staff and public desks their own microphone, and adds an assisted hearing system to help the city facility become more Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
“You can actually bring your own earbuds, or we have earbuds to hook you into the feed, you can actually hear what’s coming out of the mics,” Churchill said.
“The system also makes it easier for us as a staff when we are televising it, because the system has a mixing system called IntelliMix. It pretty much mixes the mics itself intelligently and it does a really great job, so that only one or two feeds are on at any given time.”
Both Churchill and Doll agreed the new system couldn’t have come at a better time with the stay at home order in effect since mid-March.
“It was pretty fortunate that we had this plan in place, and all the equipment purchased, because this has been very beneficial for us to have as we move to these electronic meetings,” Doll said.
The council has been doing virtual meetings with the mayor and a few staff members in the chambers and the rest of the council and public logging in through Zoom Webinar.
Churchill added that city policy requires the council meetings to be based out of the chambers; with a few extra pieces of equipment they were able to link the room into a Zoom meeting so everyone could hear.
“It was really great timing so we could tie that in. It has already been helpful in this new world we are in,” Churchill said.
Other upgrades include new desks for the staff and public, along with chairs for the audience. The project came in under budget at roughly $17,438; future work may include upgrading the councilors dais.
Churchill added that he installed some wiring for future changes that may come in the years ahead. A new system that will be able to show the roll call and the votes are on the screen instead of just the usual verbal method has been delayed due to COVID-19.
“In conjunction with the audiovisual updates, there is going to be an upgraded agenda management system, which is called civic clerk,” Doll said, “I think the public will like it. There will be a nice interface for them.”
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