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Black Mountain plan expected by end of July
RUMFORD -- Andy Shepard, president of Maine Winter Sports Center, said he hopes to a have a plan in place to sustain Black Mountain of Maine by the end of the month.
Speaking Thursday to more than 100 people in the Black Mountain ski lodge, Shepard said that since the announcement a couple weeks ago that MWSC is backing away from the mountain at the end of the month, "We've been singlarly focused on trying to find a sustainable transition every since that point and hoping that the community would step up and recognize the importance of Black Mountain to Maine, to the region, to young alpine skiers, young families and to the Nordic skiing community."
"And I have to say that the last two weeks have been absolutely remarkable, inspiring, humbling. As of this morning, we're at $75,000 in our $150,000 campaign. Donations have been coming in from around the country. They been coming in from former skiers, from families throughout the Rumford area, people who have never even been to Rumford but were inspired by what this community represents. The business community has stepped up in a big way," he said.
"I'm actually confident, giving the direction that this fundraising challenge is going, that we'll have a solution by then," said Shepard.
He said Libra Foundation, over the last 10 years, has made a remarkable contribution to the mountain. They've invested almost $9 million in the popular ski area, which is used by individuals, school ski teams and Olympic hopefuls.Black Mountain is now one of the more remarkable community ski areas, not just in Maine, but in the country and the Libra Foundation is responsible for that.
"I think after 10 years, the Libra Foundation thinks that now is a good time to see if Black Mountain is capable of surviving on its own. They have other priorities around the state that they need to focus on. I look at this as an opportunity, not a problem. But I think, over the last 10 years, Rumford has demonstrated an ability to operate this mountain," said Shepard.
"The new business model we have -- the $15 day tickets is revolutionary in the ski industry, and this had a profound and positive impact on the cash flow for the mountain. I see the trajectory for Black Mountain being profitable within the next two seasons. So I think all of this is a good thing. I think this is the opportunity for Rumford and the community to go back to owning this facility and I that within the next two weeks, we're able to do that successfully," he said.
Asked whether this means MWSC will sell the facility or if it will go to the town, Shepard said, "All of those are possiblities that are being explored and I'm not in a position to say where we're going with that yet. But let's just say that every possible avenue of longterm sustainability for Black Mountain is being explored."
"It's not enough for me to turn the mountain over and hope that it succeeds. I'm focused on coming up with a plan that assures the
longterm sustainability of Black Mountain for generations to come. And if you see the messages that are coming in on the Facebook site, from people around the country -- kids, parents who remember their kids learning to ski here and learning to ski here themselves -- it's moving, it's humbling. There's so many reasons why Black Mountain needs to continue as an enterprise," he said.
Asked about if the goal is reached, how much time does that buy the mountain?
Shepard responded, "The $150,000 is part of the big picture. Based on where we are in the fundraising trajectory, I think the new goal is probably $200,000, which is realistic. The more money we raise will better the chance that Black Mountain has a sustainable future and I would encourage everybody to give generously, to share the word with an many people as possible and push us in that direction."
"I think two weeks from now, what I'd like to do is be here announcing what the final plan is. But just know that the final plan is not just turning the mountain over. It's turning the mountain over with a plan for sustainability," he said.
"We're not done yet. We're halfway to our goal at this point, halfway through the campaign, and I think that's appropriate. There's still a lot of work to do, but I want every kid in this room to understand that when there's a challenge, you get focused, you think, you network and you make things happen. Failure is not an option," noted Shepard.
Roger Arsenault, president of Black Mountain's Board of Directors, noted that word is around that if Black Mountain raises the $51,000 in town funding, that the Maine Winter Sports Center would come back. However, that is not the case.
Without a new partner, Black Mountain is left to find a way to operate the mountain localled. He noted that the $51,000 in town funding that is in the recommendation of the town budget by the Finance Committee is very important towards the operation of the mountain for this season because, without a new partner, they are left to find a way to operate the mountain locally.
Your tax deductible donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/3eyo8c or www.crowdrise.com/bmom. You can also send checks directly to any Bangor Savings Bank Branch or to any Franklin Savings Bank Branch. Checks can be made payable to Friends of Black Mountain.
The Franklin Savings Bank $10,000 match and the Sunday River $5,000 match were both successfully reached within days of being announced.
Donate your bottle money. There is an account setup for Black Mountain at the Bottle Depo on Waldo Street.
Hit The Track For Black! The 5K fun run/walk will be held on Saturday, August 10th. Registration is open online at Active.com. You can also print registration forms from the website skiblackmountain.org, or pick them up in Davis Florist, Adley's Auto, or Rite Aid.
All contributions are being held in escrow, if they are unsuccessful, all donations will be returned.
Bank pledges $25,000 to ski area
by Bruce Farrin
RUMFORD -- More than 100 people, many of them youngsters, gathered in the Black Mountain Lodge Thursday to listen to an announcement by Bangor Savings Bank that it will help sustain the ski mountain by providing a $25,000 challenge for any new donations received.
Yellow Light Breen, executive vice president of Bangor Savings Bank, said, "This is a challenge match. This community over the last three weeks has raised $75,000. It's unbelievable how this community has rallied, energized and come together. And not just Rumford, but people across the state who know and love Black Mountain and use Black Mountain."
"We will match every single dollar raised over the next month up to $25,000 from Bangor Saving Bank. So for those who have not given, those who have given a little but could give more, now is the time to step up, and will match it and get this campaign over the hump and keep Black Mountain open for Rumford and open for Maine," he said.
"We don't look at this as a gift. We look at this as an investment because in Rumford/Dixfield, we can only be as strong and vibrant as the community is, and as strong and vibrant as the economy in this area is," noted Breen.
Greg Gagne, local branch manager for Bangor Savings Bank, added, "We at Bangor Savings Bank are so happy to support Black Mountain and the western Maine community. We've been excited and pleased to see the overwhelming success of the community fundraising effort here and We're excited about the opportunity to pitch in and do our part. With this announement, we've contributed a total of $65,000 to Black Mountain over a period of six years."
"We strongly feel the mountain plays a vital role and is a huge asset to the western Maine community and is really a true gem for our area," he noted.
Breen said people can go online; there's a link at the Black Mountain website, skiblackmountain.org, they can donate at any Bangor Savings Bank branch all over the state by cash or check. "While I don't have an end date in mind, certainly over the next two to four weeks, we want to get this campaign over the hump."
Also on the Black Mountain Facebook page, there's a link to the online donation site and all of those dollars will be match by Bangor Savings Bank.