Ringing in a new year for Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Ringing in a new year for Rifle

(Left to right) Shooters Grill staffers Ashlee Saenz
Christopher Mullen / Post Independent |

As we start the new year, it’s not only a time to set goals but also to reflect back on what has happened over the past year.

The following are some of the top stories by The Citizen Telegram in 2014, in no particular order.

Shooters Cafe & Grill

A story broken by the Post Independent in June about a small local restaurant called “Shooters” in a city named “Rifle” about waitresses who pack heat on the job received national attention throughout the year by local, national and international media. Owned by Lauren and Jayson Boebert of Rifle, the media attention sent business sales soaring and drew in tourists from around the nation. The restaurant claimed it was simply practicing its Second Amendment rights and that it was not a marketing gimmick.

Death of NC Chief Chris Sadler

Residents, first responders and law enforcement personnel from around Garfield County turned out for the funeral of Police Chief Chris Sadler, who died unexpectedly on March 15, 2014, of an apparent heart attack. He was 52.

Sadler had worked for the New Castle Police Department since 1995, first as a reserve officer and the last 12 years the department’s chief. Sadler was remembered for his sense of humor, compassion, patience and integrity.

Rifle man wins $90 million Powerball

It didn’t take long for the buzz around town to determine that Rifle resident, Al George, had purchased the winning $90 million Powerball ticket in August. George, a Rifle High School graduate and former employee of Rifle Towing, purchased the ticket at the Kum & Go convenience store in north Rifle. The store received a $50,000 check from Colorado Lottery officials for selling the ticket. George claimed his winning ticket at the Colorado Lottery claims center in Grand Junction.

New Ute Events Center opens

After several years of planning by the city and the New Ute Theatre Society (NUTS), the doors opened in May to what is now called the “New Ute Events Center” on East Fourth Street and has since been the site of numerous local events and activities. The city purchased the building in 2011 and renovation work, that included grant money from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District, along with city and other funds, totaled about $1.6 million. The building received the 2014 Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence in August in the category of “Best Adaptive Reuse and Rehabilitation.”

City breaks ground on new water treatment plant

For more than six years, the city of Rifle has been talking about building a new water treatment plant. In December, they finally broke ground at the four-acre site at 100 Hospital Hill Road, just north of Highway 6 & 24. Planning for the treatment plant began in 2006 after a 3/4-cent sales tax referendum was passed by resident in November 2012 to pay back loans associated with the project. However, in June, bids came in $8 million to $11 million over the anticipated construction costs and the city chose to go with a “sole-source” approach, allowing the general contractor to also act as the construction manager.

The new Rifle Regional Water Purification Facility, which will eventually replace the Graham Mesa and Beaver Creek water treatment plants, is expected to take about 18-24 months to complete.

Grand River Health starts expansion project

The hospital started an $18 million expansion project in late summer, that is expected to be done in two phases that will add an “Anti-Aging” institute and women’s health services on the third floor of its main building in the first phase and two new surgery suites and supports services in the second phase. The expansion will add more physicians and create approximately 20 more jobs. Construction is being done by FCI Construction out of Grand Junction and the majority of the workers employed are from the local area.

The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by early 2015.

New Castle opens new pedestrian bridge and trail

It’s been talked about for years, but the town finally achieved its goal of bridging the gap, literally, between the north and south ends of town with a trail that runs from the Apple Tree Mobile Home Park on the south, along the bank of the Colorado River and connecting to a new pedestrian bridge crossing the river to the north side of town.

An official dedication ceremony was held in December for the “Flat Tops Bridge” and “Talbott Trail,” which was attended by more than 200 residents and government officials.

The bridge was built by Gould Construction. Glenn Woods, an Apple Tree resident and City Market employee, led the procession across the bridge after the dedication. Woods had been walking to work for nearly 18 years along the highway and overpass bridge used by vehicles.

Rifle Bears go to state championship

They didn’t win, but they still had a great season in 2014, going all the way to the Colorado Class 3A football state championship game at the end of November. The team went up against Pueblo East at the Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo, but lost 30-14 in the end. Nevertheless, it was the second time in three years they reached the state championship game. Nearly 300 people gathered at the New Ute Events Center to watch the game, which was streamed live on a movie-sized large screen.

NC top gun pilot killed in crash

About 900 people attended a funeral service at Rifle High School for Air Force F-16 fighter pilot Capt. William “Pyro” DuBois, who died Dec. 1 when his jet crashed in Jordan early in a flight that was to be an attack on ISIS targets. The 30-year-old New Castle native and 2003 graduate of Rifle High School, received military honors that included a fly-by of F-16s from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. DuBois was a member of the 77th Fighter Squadron and had been deployed in October. He had twice been named the top fighter pilot in his class and was also an F-16 flight instructor, flight lead and combat commander. Flags flew at half-staff in both Rifle and New Castle in honor of Capt. DuBois.

Rifle writer published in latest Chicken Soup book

Elizabeth Veldboom was five years old when she saw two angels on each side of her younger sister’s crib. Her sister, Rachel, had been diagnosed with a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a potentially deadly disease for babies. Veldboom described the angels as having “big feet and big wings” and said they were “forms of light.” Elizabeth told her mother, Robin, about what she’d seen and when they heard about a call out for submissions to the latest “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched By an Angel,” the mother/daughter team decided to submit their story. It was included in the book under a chapter called, “Breath of the Heavenly.” Veldboom did a book-signing at the Rifle Branch library in September, where copies of the book are also available.

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