Apr 06

Meet Rifle’s New Police Officer (Uhernik)

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 10:35 AM by Michael Churchill

At first sight, Josh Uhernik looks like he walked straight off of the cover of a body building magazine. Physically imposing, you might be inclined to attribute certain stereotypes to him and assume that his personality is gruff, unsociable or swaggering. Or that his only interest is in the gym. You would be very, very wrong. 

Josh grew up in western Pennsylvania. He attended college in West Virginia receiving bachelor degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. Yep, you read that correctly. Josh Uhernik was a special education teacher. The job was extremely rewarding, but his last teaching job was in a very bad neighborhood. He noticed that his students had a very difficult time readjusting to school after the weekend.

“I was seeing firsthand how crimes were affecting my students. I thought that there must be something more I can do for these kids.”  That insight led Josh to decide that he could make a greater impact by becoming a police officer. In 2008, he was accepted into the police academy.

After working as an officer outside of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Josh decided that he needed a change. He had always wanted to live in Colorado and moved straight to Rifle, sight unseen. After working in both Aspen and Silt, he jumped when the opportunity arose to work in the town where he resides with his wife and three kids.

“I’ve had family and neighbors who have been victims of crimes so I really wanted to be able to patrol where I live,” he explained. “It is very rewarding being able to interact and protect the community and be a role model for kids. It’s great to know that you are making a difference. Working with smaller agencies is more family-like.” 

This dedication to kids and community began back in 2009 in Pennsylvania when he founded a junior police academy, Camp B.A.D.G.E. (https://www.facebook.com/CampBadge/). B.A.D.G.E. is an acronym for BRAVERY, ADAPTABILITY, DETERMINATION, GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION and EDUCATION.  The goal of the camp is to counter any bad publicity about police officers and create strong connections between officers and citizens. The camps, which have spread nationwide, focus on grades 3-9 which Josh explains is a great age to have some influence. Participants are taught the qualities which will make them good citizens or police officers. 

The camp is held in two separate sessions, each one week long. The kids get uniforms donated by Under Armour, 511 Tactical and Relentless Defender.  There are sessions of both physical fitness as well as classroom time. Topics range from gun safety and first aid to how to recognize dangerous situations. They often take field trips to the jail and gun range and have the opportunity to see helicopters and other police equipment. Graduates receive a certificate.

When Josh talks about Camp B.A.D.G.E. his entire face lights up. He gets a huge genuine smile and a twinkle in his eye.  You can tell that this is a labor of love and a great source of pride. He is hoping that he will have sessions in both Silt and Rifle this year. 

In his free time, he enjoys fishing, camping, working out and spending time with his family. It’s easy to see why he came to Rifle. His new family of Rifle police officers agree.

Officer Uhernik comes to our team with a great deal of law enforcement training and experience.  He has worked in law enforcement for over 11 years, beginning his career with agencies in Pennsylvania and most recently serving with the Silt Police Department where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  We are very fortunate to have him on board,” stated Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein.

When you see Josh Uhernik patrolling our city, be sure to say hello. He would love to meet you. But you may not want to challenge him to arm wrestle!

 Josh Uhernik

Rifle Rapport is a periodic article featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact City of Rifle Public 

Feb 20

City Seeking Name Suggestions for the New Pool Facility

Posted on February 20, 2020 at 2:14 PM by Michael Churchill

Do you have great ideas swimming around in your head? Then you may want to dive into this opportunity to make a splash! The City is soliciting naming suggestions for the new pool facility. The only restriction is that due to a recent resolution passed by City Council, City facilities can’t be named after people (they will still be honored by plaques in key locations). Hence, the Kathy Pototsky Bad Pool Pun Pool is sunk before submission. I may still try to float the idea, but will likely be told that my concept is shallow and that I should stay in my own lane. If you have deeper ideas and are buoyed by the thought of having your suggestion forever on a building, the simple stroke of a computer key may lead you to bubble to the top. Here is how to wade into the mix:

Suggestions must be e-mailed to Rifle Parks and Recreation Director, Tom Whitmore, at twhitmore@rifleco.org  by 8:23 p.m. on Friday, March 6th, 2020.

To submit a qualified entry;

1. The subject line of the e-mail must state the words “Pool Name:” followed by the suggested name. 

2. The body of the e-mail must include the name, address, and phone number of the person submitting the suggestion.

Rifle City Council will make the final determination on the name of the pool.   The decision will be announced the week of March 9th. 

So dip your toe in!  You may just submerge the competition! 

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

Nov 12

Meet Rifle’s New Community Service Officer (But you probably already know him!)

Posted on November 12, 2019 at 10:09 AM by Michael Churchill

If you were to take a survey around town, there is no doubt that most people have heard of Alan Lambert. But for as many people as you polled, you would get an equal number of answers as to how they know him. It’s hard to dispute that he may be one of the most interesting and diverse people in Rifle. Describing himself as having lived “too many different lifetimes”, there are few things Alan hasn’t done.

Professional journalist? Check. Country western dance instructor? Check. Rodeo Rider? Bus driver? Hunting guide? Check, check, check. And, of course, he lived in a cabin for three years with no running water, a 19th century wood burning cook stove and an outhouse. Presumably, this rugged period helped shape his mellow personality and quick wit. In fact, his sense of humor becomes evident when he describes what he refers to as the three stages of cabin living. 

“The first is ‘oh cool! I live here!’ The second is ‘why am I here?’ and the third is resignation-this is life”, Alan states with a chuckle and a gleam in his eye.

Growing up mostly in Conifer, Colorado, Alan’s curiosity and work ethic began at a young age. In 1976, he became the City of Conifer’s first Eagle Scout initiating a tree planting project. Many of the trees he planted are still there today. He attended the University of Northern Colorado earning an astounding three degrees (one in journalism, one in photo journalism and a third in industrial arts) as well as a teaching certificate. He funded his own education doing woodwork. 

Alan’s post college career began in journalism writing for newspapers in Winter Park and Fairplay before he put another degree to use becoming an industrial arts instructor at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey. Teaching everything from architectural drafting to mechanics, his students won first place in a graphic arts competition. Summers were spent working as a cowboy before he decided to pursue that full time becoming the Head Wrangler at Rocky Mountain National Park. 

A job at Coulter Lake is what brought Alan to Rifle and is where he pursued his woodworking career in earnest and met his future wife, Patty, at a dance club in Grand Junction. After leaving ranching, Alan did woodworking full time for 18 years. It was a skill he learned from his dad. He put in long hours working art shows and keeping up with demand. His creativity and business acumen led him to help found Midland Arts Company.

Never one to sit around, Alan got very involved in the Rifle community right from the beginning. He became a member of the chamber of commerce, eventually becoming president and spent time on many local boards.  While serving on the planning commission, he noticed some policies he thought needed to change. A run for City Council landed him a seat where he was re-elected three times and served 12 years. Alan was also one of the founding members of the Energy Advisory Board and has been involved with the Museum Board and the Senior Center Advisory board. Currently, he is serving as Board President for the Colorado River Fire Protection District.

“I was able to take the knowledge I learned from my time on City Council and apply it to the fire district,” he says. He is currently in the middle of a two year term serving in that capacity. 

After several part-time jobs to supplement his income, Alan applied for a position with the City of Rifle Parks and Recreation Department. He became an integral member of the City team handling everything from mowing the parks to general building maintenance. City employees knew they could count on Alan to fix just about anything and always have a positive disposition. He really seemed to care about his job and his colleagues.  So it wasn’t really a surprise that Alan threw his name in the hat when a position opened for Community Service Officer.

“I get the opportunity to use my brain instead of my back. It’s the challenges in life that keep you going. You always need positive challenges. Plus, I’m moving up in the world!” he jokes. “I can make a difference again in a different way. Many of the laws I approved while serving on City Council I can now make work.”

Helping people is second nature for Alan and these new responsibilities provide him plenty of chances.

“The other day I found a stolen vehicle that had been taken from an 83 year old lady in Grand Junction. The fact that she got her car back is one of the reasons I do this. Plus, the people I work with are phenomenal.” 

The sentiment seems to be mutual. According to Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein, “Alan is dedicated to Rifle. He is now part of the Rifle Police Department team and we could not be happier to have a member of our community that clearly cares about the quality of life and the direction of our City.  In addition to serving our community, he is an exceptional artist and his woodwork can be viewed at local craft fairs and at the Midland Arts Company.  Alan knows the history of our area and if you want to know about Rifle’s past, take a few moments to speak to him.”

When not at work, Alan has numerous hobbies including hunting, fishing and travel. He can often be seen in the summer on his pontoon boat up at Rifle Gap or Harvey Gap.  He and Patty have traveled all over Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. They are planning a trip to New Orleans in the spring.

Alan will now bring his diverse life experience to a new job enforcing the Rifle Municipal Code. His focus is on educating citizens about laws which may affect them. He can be seen on any given day walking or driving around town. If you see him, be sure to say “hi”. And if you have a minute, ask him for the story of how he met his wife or his tales of skiing backwards through groups of wealthy Texans on the slopes. His amiable nature will surely bring a smile to your face (even if he’s giving you a warning about shoveling your sidewalk!). 

Alan CSOAlan fishing

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