McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: ‘Four corners of solitude’ a rallying point?

Mike McKibbin
McKibbin’s Scribblin’s
Mike McKibbin
Staff Photo |

For seemingly as long as I’ve lived here in Rifle, there’s always been The Sports Corner.

The longtime gathering hole was a downtown fixture, although I’m told some longtime residents didn’t necessarily have a favorable impression of the bar. I’d think that kind of comes with the territory, justified or not.

But just a little more than a week ago, a handwritten sign was taped to the front door, saying “The Sports Corner is closed. Thank you, Rifle, for many years” or something similar.

The Sports Corner is no more.

That also left a highly visible reminder of the state of Rifle’s economy, and it’s definitely not trending upward.

The buildings on all four corners of the Third Street and Railroad Avenue intersection, the most visited intersection in downtown Rifle, are now vacant.

Is there any more visible evidence of where things are at for local businesses? Yes, two of the former tenants of those buildings relocated to other locations in Rifle and are, for now, open for business. And a church uses one of the vacant buildings for Sunday services and other gatherings from time to time.

But the “four corners of solitude,” if you will, will no longer bring people inside their doors to shop, enjoy a beverage or get a tan. At least one of the Third Street restaurants has stopped serving dinner, too.

(By the way, the Winchester Night Club on White River Avenue is closed now, too.)

Shouldn’t this be a rallying cry to everyone in Rifle, to try to find something to start to turn things around?

At the Colorado Space Business Roundtable last week, I heard some encouraging words from some of the state’s largest employers, seemingly wanting to honestly reach out to small businesses in Rifle. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of the aerospace industry as one that a Rifle business could partner with to nurture and grow. My eyes were opened to the possibility, though.

Not everyone who was there seemed to have agreed. Two people who attended the four-hour gathering briefly met the other day, and the first thing they said about it was how the aerospace companies wanted them to travel to the Front Range. It seemed like they wanted to hear the opposite.

I didn’t expect Lockheed Martin would say they would relocate to the Garfield County Regional Airport. I did hear them say they would help a business or a potential worker. And those workers may not have to relocate, thanks to the wonders of telecommuting.

Seems like something to explore, right? It’s not a silver bullet to rid us of this economic monster that seems to have nested in Rifle, but maybe a light in the darkness for a few local businesses.

What some of our community leaders — and want-to-be city council members — might want to focus on is to find a way to make the “four corners of solitude” a hot spot for businesses and our community again.

I know Superman isn’t flying out of his Fortress of Solitude to rescue us, and the natural gas industry won’t save the day either.

The only people that can help us are us.

Will we?

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.

Editor’s note: All letter to the editor writers, take note. The next two weeks, Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, will be the last issues of The Citizen Telegram to print letters concerning the recreation center sales tax issue. To avoid any last-minute attacks, no such letters or guest columns will be printed in the Sept. 5 Citizen Telegram.

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