Saturday, December 11, 2010
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter visited Rifle on Thursday afternoon and praised the town’s elected officials and community leaders for their dedication to promote renewable energy and economic viability.
The governor’s visit focused on Rifle’s accomplishments through the statewide pilot program, the Sustainable Main Street Initiative, and new energy achievements as part of the Garfield-New Energy Communities Initiative.
Ritter launched the Sustainable Main Streets Initiative in April with the goal of helping small communities across Colorado revitalize their downtown cores, boost economic development and incorporate improved energy efficiency and technology into projects. The pilot program ends this month. It was led by the Colorado Department of Local Affair, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Governor’s Office.
Rifle benefited greatly through the initiative. The city has seen progress in several projects including plans for a Health and Wellness Center at the former Valley Lumber site, a Small Business Resource Center through a partnership between the library, the Rifle Economic Development Corp., the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center, the Downtown Development Authority and the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce.
Ritter said he chose Rifle as one of the four pilot communities because of the vision of the political and community leaders.
“Why is Rifle so interesting to me? It’s because it’s a place that has huge amounts of natural gas, fossil fuels, and it’s an area that has a lot of extractive industry going on. And yet, the political leadership and the community leadership is thinking about all sources of energy,” Ritter said. “There aren’t very many places in America that have relied so heavily on the extractive industry that have said, ‘Let’s diversify and look at solar. Let’s look at wind. Let’s look at geothermal,’ and ask questions about how we can participate in a clean energy economy.”