*But you may already know him from somewhere else entirely!
The connection between music and math has been intriguing scientists and philosophers for millennia. From the ancient Chinese to the more contemporary “Baby Mozart” products, there is increasing acknowledgement that abilities to perform either one well may enhance capabilities in the other. The new Information Technology (IT) Director for the City of Rifle seems to personify that theory.
Kelly Thompson is not only taking over the IT helm, but he is also the Music Director and conductor for Symphony in the Valley. Both careers go back many years for Thompson. He has lived out west most of his life and received his degree in Music Education and Performance from Colorado State University. He has called Rifle home since 1993 and taught music and band at several area schools. He lives here with his wife Jeanette and their two children Michael, 17 and Reagan 12.
In 2001, he joined Symphony in the Valley as a musician. Though primarily a trumpet player, Thompson can “technically play all of the instruments”. At the time, there were no openings for a trumpet player, so he focused on percussion. In the fall of 2013 he was hired to be the Director. Kelly brought a fresh perspective to the symphony. He did away with the set numbers of performers allowed in the various sections of the orchestra.
“It’s a community orchestra so we let people come and play,” emphasized Thompson. The group is comprised of about 60 members from cities as far away as Grand Junction and Aspen. They are all volunteers and many are former band directors and teachers.
So how did he get involved with computers? That ability goes back to the beginning of the home computer phenomenon when he was a young child. Thompson’s father was a school superintendent in Crawford, Nebraska. He attended a meeting where the Apple 2 computer was being shown and ended up purchasing one for the school. Though Kelly’s memories are vague, his father tells him that Kelly used to be taken out of his own classes to help when there were problems or issues with the new Apple 2. As home computing increased in popularity, he began doing IT work for friends.
This “hobby” eventually led him to start an IT business called Thompson Computer Services. He ran the business for twelve years which was very time-consuming. He realized he didn’t have much time for music or camping and boating with his family. Hence, when the opening arose, he jumped at the opportunity to work for Garfield County as an IT Specialist. In 2016 he was hired as a Systems Administrator II for the City.
It’s actually an exciting time, technologically speaking, to come aboard. Rifle has been transitioning to a virtual computer system for the past several years. With virtual computing, there is no computer sitting in front of you. All of the “virtual desktops” are run from centralized servers. Thompson explains that this allows IT to fix problems or install new software without leaving their office. But not everything is “moving to the cloud”.
“The biggest thing on our plate right now are the MDTs for the police department. MDT is an abbreviation for Mobile Data Terminal. We were almost 100% virtualized, now we’re going back to physical units,” chuckles Thompson. Basically, the MDTs are computers that the officers can utilize in the field. They will allow our police to do everything from run warrant checks to write reports without going all the way back to the office. Kelly estimates it will likely take most of the rest of this year to get them fully up and running.
Meanwhile, the symphony is also gearing up for a busy season. The holiday production of Nutcracker at the North Pole played earlier this month in both New Castle and Rifle and February brings Symphony Swing. For more information on the symphony or to buy tickets, please visit sitv.org.
So congratulations to Kelly Thompson on his promotion to IT Director. It appears the City found a pitch-perfect employee.