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Rifle Chamber awards community members

The Rifle community celebrated its own last Saturday, as leaders from the western Garfield County town’s top organizations cheered for one another at this year’s local chamber of commerce annual dinner.

Your Chamber serving the Colorado River Valley (formerly the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce) hosted its annual dinner and awards at the Rifle-Garfield County Airport May 11, as several key organizations and community members were honored for the work they did in 2018.

Among the winners on Saturday was the New Ute Theater Society (N.U.T.S.), which served as a somewhat unconventional choice for nonprofit organization of the year, for their work isn’t necessarily feeding hungry families or rehabilitating troubled teens.

However, its work in reestablishing the Ute Theatre as a legitimate concert hall has been enjoyed by many people in Rifle and the surrounding communities, and is clearly appreciated.

“Other nonprofits do wonderful work, but nothing like this has been recognized by the city before,” said Helen Rogers, chair of N.U.T.S. “I think to bring more culture and arts into the community is important as well.”

N.U.T.S. formed in the spring of 2010 as it set out to help rebuild one of Rifle’s most treasured landmarks, the Ute Theater.

After a renovation project was completed in 2017, which included new lighting, retractable seating and more, the Ute reopened and continues to be run by N.U.T.S. It has since been the site of high school proms, quinceaneras, music concerts and a variety of other different shows and conferences.

N.U.T.S. has been behind the scenes for each and every one.

“We were a group of people that wanted to see the Ute succeed and do well in the downtown area,” Rogers said. “It’s really brought in all kinds of people from the Western Slope and Denver.”

Alpine Bank’s Jay Rickstrew, who also serves as the president of the Garfield Re-2 School Board, was honored with the final award of the night as he was named the Oran B. Harmon Person of the Year.

“[To win an award like this] You have to have a lot of great people behind you to make that happen,” he explained.

Rickstrew and his family moved to Rifle in 1996 and would go on to call the town home for 20 plus years and counting.

“Rifle is just a great place to raise a family,” he said. “We came to the town new to the area, and the town just embraced us.”

azorn@citizentelegram.com


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