Rifle’s new city manager excited to begin moving projects along
Coming to Rifle from way up in the northwest town of Skagway, Alaska, new Rifle City Manager Scott Hahn is looking forward to a new opportunity in northwest Colorado.
Hahn said he has lived in Colorado for 27 years and has family in the Salida-area and the Front Range.
While he was in Alaska, he would frequently visit a small ranch he owned in Salida.
“Whenever I had the chance, I would come back,” he said. “I’ve been touring Colorado since the ’60s and I know the area quite well. I could probably write a pretty good map from memory.”
Hahn grew up in Iowa and received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado and his master’s degree from the University of Colorado, Denver.
He previously worked as a town administrator for Erie, was town manager in Hayden and city administrator before moving out of state and becoming the borough manager for the town of Skagway in Alaska.
At a special meeting of Rifle City Council last month, Hahn’s contract was approved by council. The minimum two-year contract carries an annual salary of $140,000.
His official start date was July 23.
“I like the western heritage of Rifle a great deal, and everybody seems friendly” he said. “In my preliminary research on the council, although they don’t always agree, they know how to be civil. That is not always the case.”
He said Rifle has changed a great deal since he was last in town and added that the infrastructure is “top-notch.”
Hahn joins Rifle after what has been an arduous search to replace long-time former city manager Matt Sturgeon.
Rifle’s initial replacement, Jim Nichols, lasted just three months, costing the city $36,000 in a separation agreement, and setting the replacement process back several months.
Hahn joins Rifle more than a year after Sturgeon’s departure from the city in the summer of 2017.
“[Sturgeon] basically grew up here and obviously was successful, and when you change from that, right or wrong, it can be a difficult transition,” Hahn explained. “Right now I just feel like a dry sponge in a big pool of water. I’m just trying to soak up as much as I can.”
He said he’s excited to get involved with staff and move projects along throughout the city.
Hahn said he’s worked on pool projects in the past and that’s definitely one project he’s looking forward to.
After being approved by voters, Rifle’s Art Dague Pool renovation project came in way over budget in the spring as city staff decided to move forward with revised base plan.
Hahn also sees the Colorado River as an asset for the entire community and wants to find a way to intertwine the city and the river more.
Rifle recently opened a new boat ramp in 2017 in town off the Colorado River after receiving funding from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“I’m coming in at a good spot,” he said. “I will be looking to provide more services for new people.”
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