Specific plans for development over the next six months were announced Monday.

RUMFORD – Andy Shepard hopes plans for th e expansion and extensive renovation of Black Mountain will create a healthier environment for area children, while helping to make skiing a way of life in the River Valley.

The Maine Winter Sports Center, of which Shepard is the director, announced plans earlier this month to buy the small mountain from the Greater Rumford Community Center. The deal will close in early June on the purchase of the 500-acre mountain.

On Monday morning, with members of the Black Mountain board and Chisholm Ski Club at his side, he announced specific plans for the mountain’s development over the next six months.

These plans, however, count on community support and lots of volunteers.

“The role for Black Mountain is to develop a new generation of skiers,” he said. “We have a solid community environment here.”

To do that, he has hired Peter Phillips to serve as director of skiing, a role that will bring Phillips into the schools to get youngsters involved in skiing. He will also do programming for the schools and the community. Shepard hopes skiing will become part of the curriculum in the schools of the River Valley.

The facilities will be improved as well.

Plans call for extending the ski slope to the top of the mountain, resulting in a vertical distance of 1,125 feet, up from the 470 feet now. The number of alpine trails will increase to 12. Snow-making will be improved, lighting increased, and a chairlift will be installed if a good used one can be found. A five-acre beginner alpine slope will be constructed on the north side of the mountain.

Shepard said he hopes all this will be completed by November. The key is the chairlift, he said. If one isn’t found this year, the search will continue into next.

Shepard wants the community to know what is happening at the mountain, and to volunteer to help in a number of ways. Lift-ticket prices will be kept low so that the highest number of children and adults can take part.

Maine Winter Sports Center, a nonprofit economic development corporation, provided the capital for the mountain’s improvements. Now, volunteer support and labor will be needed, he said.

To accomplish that, the Black Mountain Board was formed from Chisholm Ski Club members and well as from community leaders. CSC member Roger Arsenault is president; Chummy Broomhall, vice-president; Skip MacFawn, treasurer; CSC president Joe Sassi is secretary. Other members are: River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition Coordinator Patricia Duguay, Rumford Selectman Jolene Lovejoy, Greater Rumford Community Center board member Greg Waite, River Valley Growth Council member and local banker Rich Allen, Planning Board member and small business owner Brad Adley, Parks Commission Chairman and local contractor Bill Porter, and former Mt. Zircon owner Dick Dupuis.

Broomhall, a former Olympian and a charter Chisholm Ski Club member, made the first contact with the Maine Winter Sports Center last year after he learned of the successes in northern Maine by Maine Winter Sports. He wanted to help the struggling mountain survive. Now he feels it will.

To keep the River Valley community informed about what is happening at the mountain, Shepard plans to hold public informational meetings periodically. The first one is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at a site to be announced.

Maine Winter Sports, since its establishment in 1999, has successfully launched several small cross-country and alpine ski areas in northern Maine with the help of grants from the Libra Foundation.

“We want people to fully appreciate what they have in their backyard,” said Shepard.

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