Rumford ski area may not open this winter

RUMFORD — Unless it can raise $51,000 this summer and fall, Black Mountain of Maine ski area likely will remain closed this coming winter, say Black Mountain and Maine Winter Sports Center officials.

Town meeting voters on June 11 defeated Black Mountain's request for funding.

"As it stands now, we have been instructed by the (Maine Winter Sports Center) to raise the $51,000 however we can or the mountain will remain closed this winter," Roger Arsenault, president of the Black Mountain board of directors, wrote in an email.

He said he fully understood the center's position and had accepted it.

"This is not punishment for the loss of the money, but just a reality that we lost the partnership between this community and (the sports center)," he said. "It is hard for them to continue investing in us if we do not even invest in ourselves."

In the June 11 referendum, the ski area requested $51,700, which the Finance Committee recommended raising and appropriating. Selectmen recommended $51,000.

The money was to help carry the ski area through the summer, get it ready for winter and pay wages for three employees, Arsenault said.

The initiated article was defeated 497-939. Due to a previous charter change, there is no recourse for initiated article requests that are defeated.

The Maine Winter Sports Center, which is backed by grants from the Libra Foundation, bought Black Mountain ski area in 2003 and quickly expanded it.

"This is a very complex arrangement with the (sports center) ownership, but the bottom line is, ski areas are very capital-intensive and we need somebody like them to make it work," Arsenault said.

Last fall, the center invested several thousand dollars into Black Mountain and installed a new snow-making system and high-efficiency snow guns. Lift tickets were reduced to $15, Mother Nature brought plenty of snow and skier visits shot way up.

Arsenault said the sports center "has been quietly supporting us in offsetting our losses every year and we were seeing growth this year, spiraling up toward profitability. Our budgeted loss for this year was heading for profitability, but putting $51,000 loss on our bottom line just moved us back for a major loss."

He said the Black Mountain board is still working out the details but is committed to finding a way to raise the money.

"We just don't have a full plan yet," Arsenault said. "We have come too far and have created a great facility for our area to give up. We have employees' livelihood at stake and that is a responsibility we take very seriously. We are committed to the survival and will do whatever it takes to make it work."

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Rumford ski area may not open this winter

Mainers Tuesday night 21:12
Tsk , tsk . Just say no •
Another one for the list ? 
http://www.nelsap.org
hth ? /s, Steve

 's picture

Avid skiers should help

I am an avid skier who has a season pass to Sunday River & Sugarloaf. But I have skied Black Mountain of Maine since the expansion and I fully support the smaller mountains for 2 reasons: they provide healthy recreation at modest prices so more people can ski and they develop life-long skiers like myself who "move up" to skiing the big resorts. Plus, Black Mountain of Maine is world famous for its nordic trails.

I would donate to a fundraising effort. I would think that Sunday River & Sugarloaf would kick in a decent donation. Maybe match what could be raised with an early season ski-a-thon. Get a Maine-based bank like Bangor Savings to cash flow the pre-opening money the ski area needs. There are lots of ideas and the amount needed isn't that much to raise. Keep Black Mountain of Maine open!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Brad ? Brad and Bonnie

Brad ? Brad and Bonnie Taylor of Bridgton and China might help out . . they used to own a ski shop hth . Steve Dosh , Hawai'i • 

 's picture

Avid skiers should help

I am an avid skier who has a season pass to Sunday River & Sugarloaf. But I have skied Black Mountain of Maine since the expansion and I fully support the smaller mountains for 2 reasons: they provide healthy recreation at modest prices so more people can ski and they develop life-long skiers like myself who "move up" to skiing the big resorts. Plus, Black Mountain of Maine is world famous for its nordic trails.

I would donate to a fundraising effort. I would think that Sunday River & Sugarloaf would kick in a decent donation. Maybe match what could be raised with an early season ski-a-thon. Get a Maine-based bank like Bangor Savings to cash flow the pre-opening money the ski area needs. There are lots of ideas and the amount needed isn't that much to raise. Keep Black Mountain of Maine open!

 's picture

Bangor Savings Bank

This article appeared in today's edition of the S/J maybe it's time Black Mountain goes after some of the money available from sources such as this.

Bangor Savings Bank reports record earnings in a ‘fragile financial ecosystem’

Bangor Daily News
Whit Richardson, Bangor Daily News

Business |
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BANGOR — Despite tough economic conditions over the past few years, Bangor Savings Bank on Monday reported record earnings and solid growth in its customer deposits and loan portfolio during its last fiscal year.
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Whit Richardson/BDN

Jim Conlon, CEO of Bangor Savings Bank, with the 2013 award from J.D. Power and Associates for being the highest-scoring bank in New England when it comes to customer satisfaction.

The bank, founded in 1852, earned a record net income of $18.9 million in its 2013 fiscal year, which ended March 31. That represents a 2.5 percent increase from its prior fiscal year and is the 12th consecutive year of earnings growth, according to its annual report.

The bank’s assets grew to $2.9 billion, a 12.1 percent increase over the prior year.

And its customers are sharing the wealth.

The bank reported that customer deposits grew by $136.6 million to $2.28 billion, a 6.4 percent increase from the year before.

Based on customer deposits, Bangor Savings Bank is the third-largest bank in the state, trailing only TD Bank and KeyBank, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It is the largest Maine-based bank.

In March the company opened its 57th branch in the former Kennebec Journal building in Augusta and now employs 720 people in the state. Bangor Savings Bank President James Conlon said it would be a few years before the bank considers opening another branch “de novo,” meaning from scratch.

The bank’s commercial and small business loans grew by $88.9 million, or 10.6 percent, to $300 million, according to Conlon and its annual report.

Despite the upward growth, economic challenges remain. While some metrics are improving, such as home sales and car sales, Conlon called it a “fragile financial ecosystem.”

A major challenge continues to be that a third of the state’s population is on some sort of public assistance, he said.

“Until that gets corrected and stabilized, it’s going to be a long haul because there are only so many business opportunities with the sector of people that are left,” he said.

Another hurdle is the low-interest-rate environment, which means the bank’s net interest margin — the spread between the interest banks earn on customer loans and the interest they pay to depositors — continues to be squeezed.

“The net interest margin is killing banks today,” he said Monday in an interview at the Bangor Daily News. “That margin continues to shrink and shrink.”

As a result, the bank has worked to diversify its sources of noninterest income, Conlon said. Its noninterest income grew by 15.2 percent to $36.45 million, driven by double-digit growth in mortgage, merchant card and payroll services.

When asked if the bank is actively looking for acquisitions to drive growth in noninterest income, Conlon said “there’s nothing on the table,” but if the right opportunity came along the board would consider it.

However, the bank isn’t entertaining offers to be acquired. “We like it just the way we are,” he said.

According to its annual report, the bank and its foundation gave $1.3 million to nonprofits in sponsorships and grants in its past fiscal year. It also loaned more than $325 million in residential mortgages.

A recent highlight came in May when a national market research company ranked Bangor Savings Bank as the top-performing bank for customer satisfaction in New England, and one of the top banks in the country. The company, J.D. Power and Associates, collected the results from a national survey of retail banking customers.

Please note the paragraph about the $1.3 million donations.

It's apparent the days of the free handout from Rumford is over so it's time to hit the phones, do fundraisers, knock on doors, set up an account at a local bank for donations like GRCC did,, etc.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Budget cuts necessary...

The Rumford vote against "spending as usual and raising taxes" relates to the obvious budget problems that exist in other cities and towns as well as the state. Rumford selectmen did not deal with budget problems that are obvious.

Auburn is - see the Sun-Journal article: "Auburn considers how to implement budget cuts" to learn how realistic elected officials deal with budget problems.

I think Black Mountain of Maine should consider the budget problems that exist in the state as well as towns and cities. In good times, BMM would gain their "gift" from citizens. These are not good times.

Rumford's population has been halved with elderly and retirees, the unemployed and disabled, a very poor economy that has not turned around in 20 years of spending, and the state is alos having budget problems, not sending "gifts" to towns and cities as in the past. That is a reality none of us want, but it is reality that we must accept and deal with maturely.

 's picture

One has to wonder

why a "for profit" company that owns a "for profit" ski area that has admitted to great sales and growth during the previous season needs to beg the town that it is located in for funds to help it remain profitable. Something is amiss on the mountain...

Richard Greene's picture

There is something amiss here

and it's the misinformation that floats around about Black Mountain. Where does this misinformation come from anyway?

Black Mountain and Maine Winter Sports Center are not for profit.

This is from their Website "The Maine Winter Sports Center is a non-profit organization created to promote skiing and winter sports in Maine communities" "The Maine Winter Sports Center is dedicated to re-establishing skiing as a lifestyle in Maine." http://www.mainewsc.org/

They partnered with Rumford to improve Black Mountain and poured millions of dollars into it. Their sole purpose was to improve skiing here. Just last year alone they made a major investment to improve snow making. They are investing in the community because they know how valuable this ski area is to our youth and our town. What they ask for in return is some investment by the community.

I'm sure their Board of Directors are thinking "Why bother to invest millions of dollars in that community when they are not willing to invest anything in it themselves. Personally I can't blame them but this would be such a huge loss to our town, both in terms of an economic engine and as a significant improvement into our quality of life here.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

If I can't play quarterback

If I can't play quarterback I'm going home and taking my football with me.

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