Feb 08

Stop! New Stop Signs Coming!

Posted on February 8, 2019 at 12:40 PM by Michael Churchill

There will soon be some significant changes for commuters who regularly drive along 16th Street here in Rifle. At the February 6th meeting of City Council, councilmembers voted unanimously to convert two major intersections into 4-way stops. The intersection of 16th and Whiteriver Avenue and the intersection of 16th and Birch will soon require drivers approaching from any direction to come to a complete stop before proceeding. 

The measure, put forth by Councilman Joe Elliott, was the result of input from City staff and citizens regarding the safety for both drivers and pedestrians and the congestion that occurs in those two areas. 

During Council workshop that evening, discussion centered on what was referred to as “rush hour”, the time before and after school where the students and staff are all heading to class. It was noted that the backups on 16th Street get extensive due, in part, to what was referred to as “hesitation traffic” where drivers coming down the hill on 16th Street heading west are reluctant to enter the intersection at Whiteriver due to difficult visibility.

 “This will allow people to enter the intersections with confidence that [opposing traffic] will stop,” stated Elliott. “It will improve safety and traffic flows.” 

Rifle citizen Melissa Burrows is an advocate for stop signs at these two intersections. Her drive to work entails going through both intersections every day.

“These intersections are complicated for adult drivers, not to mention our young drivers. This solution will help with everyone’s morning commute creating safer intersections and less congestion. Traffic will run more smoothly.”

According to Rifle City Planner Nathan Lindquist, at least two new residential developments are being added to the area around the 16th and Birch intersection. This increase in population will result in a significant uptick in traffic which also poses a greater risk for pedestrians. Students who take the school bus in the morning are picked up in the parking lot of the Mormon Church which is across 16th Street from the large residential area. As a result, students must cross 16th Street with no pedestrian crossing or stop sign to get to the bus. In the winter, this is often in the dark on icy roads.

There is similar concern for the 16th and Whiteriver area since the City Skate Park is located right near that corner. Children utilizing this amenity are a near constant.

 on weather conditions. Director of Public Works Brian Prunty and Chief of Police Tommy Klein want to assure citizens that there will be plenty of advance notice. Informational signs and flags will be posted in the weeks preceding the change. Electronic signs are already in place informing travelers on both north and southbound Whiteriver of the future 4-way stop.

 Updates on the progress of the project can be found on the City website, Rifleco.org, and on the City Facebook and Twitter pages.  

16th and Whiteriver16th and Birch

Jan 25

Meet Kelli Litzau, Rifle’s Newest Police Officer

Posted on January 25, 2019 at 10:15 AM by Michael Churchill

For the City of Rifle’s newest police officer, law enforcement is a family affair. Born an identical twin and raised in Southern California, Kelli Litzau always knew she wanted to be a police officer. She attended Mt. San Antonio College where she received an Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.  Kelli continued her education in California’s bay area where she met her husband, Timothy.  They added two boys to the mix, Owen and Cole, before relocating back to Tim’s home state of Colorado.
Following their lifelong dreams to become police officers, the Litzaus began their careers in law enforcement on the western slope. Tim recently celebrated five years as an officer with the City of Grand Junction. Kelli served two years as a civilian with the Grand Junction Police Department before accepting an officer position with the City of Carbondale. 
Kelli has a passion for taking impaired drivers off the road. Over the course of only one year (2018) while with the Carbondale Police Department, she had an amazing 35 DUI (driving while under the influence) arrests. Litzau says she looks forward to continuing her passion for drug and alcohol enforcement on the streets of Rifle as well as educating youth on the risks of drugs, alcohol and addiction in the Rifle school system. 
Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein was impressed with Kelli from the start. He gave her accolades for not only her DUI arrests, but her community service and bright personality.
“We are very excited to have her as part of the City of Rifle family,” stated Klein. It’s a sentiment echoed by Kelli’s fellow officers.  
“We are very happy to have her on board.  We are looking forward to sending her to Drug Recognition School this spring.  She has proven herself to be a very effective DUI enforcement officer,” commented Sergeant Kirk Wilson.
Given her skillset and sunny disposition there is no doubt she will be an asset to Rifle’s police force. So if you see her out and about, be sure to say hello and welcome her to Rifle. 

Rifle Rapport is a periodic column featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact Kathy Pototsky at 970-665-6420 or kpototsky@rifleco.org. 

Kelli Litzau
Jan 17

Rifle Police Department Hits the Big Time!

Posted on January 17, 2019 at 12:29 PM by Michael Churchill

It’s the holy grail of newsprint real estate: The front page of the Sunday New York Times. Arguably one of the most prestigious newspapers, the New York Times has nearly four million subscribers. Four million people opened their papers last Sunday and were greeted with a story and photos featuring our very own local officers. 

The focus of the article dealt with drug-sniffing police dogs being forced into retirement due to the legalization of marijuana here in Colorado and other states. Dogs that have been trained to locate marijuana can’t unlearn that skill and if they do, defense attorneys would certainly have course to argue that the dog had not “unlearned” the odor. Legally, that’s a problem since dogs alert officers to the possible presence of contraband. As Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein told the Times, “[a] dog can’t tell you, ‘hey I smell marijuana’ or ‘I smell meth’”. 

Rifle has just such a dog. Officer Tulo, a Yellow Labrador Retreiver, has been with the department for 8 years. He will retire in January due to his age and skillset which includes marijuana recognition. Two new dogs, Jax and Makai, are not being trained to alert on the odor of marijuana. 

Although other departments from around the country were featured in the story, Rifle was the main focus and the only department to have photos published. Corporal Garret Duncan, Officer Jared Bartunek and Chief Klein are all prominently featured and accompanied by gorgeous full-color photos. 

After the Times article was published, other media outlets including Fox News, Newsweek and the London Times also latched onto the story. Way to go Rifle Police Department! Or is it “Nationally Recognized Rifle Police Department”? 

Check out the Times article online at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/24/business/marijuana-legalization-police-dogs.html.

Rifle Rapport is a periodic column featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact Kathy Pototsky at 970-665-6420 or kpototsky@rifleco.org.