Citizen Spotlight: Judy Builteman dove into community building in Rifle | PostIndependent.com
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Citizen Spotlight: Judy Builteman dove into community building in Rifle

Amanda H. Miller
Citizen Telegram Contributor
Judy Builteman of Rifle quickly got involved in helping Rifle grow as a community, after she moved to the area from California in 1986.
Mike McKibbin/Citizen Telegram |

Judy Builteman dove into the Rifle community as soon as she moved to the area, quickly becoming a leader in the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, earning a spot on City Council and now leading the Rifle Historical Society.

Her deep involvement fell in line with her quick affection for the community she didn’t discover until her children were grown.

Builteman, now 67, lived in San Bernadino, Calif. before she moved to Rifle in 1986.



“California was not impressing me anymore,” she said. “It was starting to get really crowded at the time.”

She came out to Rifle a few times to hunt with her future husband, Jim.



“I went into Miller’s Dry Goods and they just treated me like I’d lived in Rifle all my life,” Builteman said. “Everyone was so friendly. I just kind of fell in love with the town.”

She and Jim moved to Rifle, made a home and got married. Jim died this fall.

Builteman worked with Nielson’s, Inc. as an administrative assistant because she had the credentials to work for a government contractor. Nielson’s was hired to clean up uranium mill tailings. The company had a hard time finding someone who was licensed and bonded to clean the facility, so Builteman was an assistant by day and provided janitorial services at night. That was how she came to start her own business, Colorado Handyman.

“I just got really involved with the community really quickly,” she said.

She volunteered at the chamber’s hunter’s tent and got to know a lot of the movers and shakers in the area. Before long, she was elected to the chamber board of directors and was a founding member of the Chamber Ambassadors.

“We were trying to put Rifle on the map, encourage businesses to grow and to move to Rifle,” Builteman said. “We wanted to rally the little city to help it stay alive and start growing.”

She was appointed to the City Council to fill a vacancy and then ran and served two terms.

“We laid out 10- and 20-year plans,” she said. “I feel really, really good about all we did, because I’m starting to see a lot of that come to fruition.”

While on the council in the mid-1990s, Builteman said she was keen to get a big box store to move to the area. The city owned land on the south side of the interstate and tried to give it away to Lowe’s or Cabella’s or Target.

“They all turned it down – every one of them,” she said.

So, the city sold the land to a developer. A few years later, Walmart came to town and things have grown up a lot around the retailer.

Builteman started to get tired of the hard labor involved with cleaning and maintaining local office buildings and shut down her Colorado Handyman business to start working for Walmart after it opened. She retired this year after 10 years of training associates.

While the growth on the south side of town around Walmart has been “a blessing,” Builteman said she was surprised to see the growth threaten some of Rifle’s most historic structures.

“I didn’t want to see that happen because I love this little town,” she said.

She formed the Rifle Historical Society in 2005, the city’s centennial year. After she helped coordinate the centennial celebration, she asked City Council if it could fund the new society with the $3,500 remaining in the celebration budget. That’s how it got started.

The society has worked to help preserve historic buildings like the Ute Theater and to support the Rifle Creek Museum.

Builteman said there have been times when she felt overcommitted, but she has always loved being deeply involved with the Rifle community.

Now, she has started stepping back from some of her leadership roles.

“I just figure we need to work on getting some of the youngsters involved,” Builteman said.


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