JAY — The problem of a power supply to operate machinery at Spruce Mountain Ski Slope has been resolved, temporarily. 

That means the ski hill will open this season after all — on Saturday, Dec. 26.

Earlier this week, Spruce Mountain Ski Club members had given up hope they would be able to find the power supply to operate the motors for the tow ropes and snow-making machines at the ski area this year.

The news that the mountain wouldn’t open was devastating to some families and prompted numerous calls to public officials.

The snag in the power supply followed Wausau Paper closing its Otis Mill in June. The mill provided the power for 30 years through two transformers it leased from Central Maine Power Co. to operate the ski-related functions.

A conference call Thursday among several parties produced a temporary solution for the power to be supplied this season. The parties involved include Central Maine Power Co.; representatives from Maine’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; new Otis Mill owners, Mary Howes and husband, Tim DeMillo; Verso Paper Corp. Androscoggin Mill Manager Marc Connors; officials from involved towns; and designated Spruce Mountain Ski Club representative Ken Jacques.

Many others took part in helping to resolve the situation.

The price of continued leasing of the two transformers or buying them was cost-prohibitive to the new owners and club members.

Howes and DeMillo of Jay, who make up Otis Ventures LLC, bought the mill in October to prevent it from being demolished, and in hopes of developing it into an industrial and business complex.

CMP will remove one of the transformers from the mill’s property and leave the other, which will provide a sufficient supply for the mill and the slope. The company will waive the transformer’s rental fee until May, Jacques said.

CMP will install a meter inside the mill to monitor the power that goes to Spruce Mountain, which will be paid by the club.

“We will be able to afford the power,” Jacques said. “We weren’t looking for free power. We were only looking for power, all along. We would like to thank CMP. They realized the severity of the situation and took steps to avoid closing the mountain. Everyone is happy. It’s resolved 100 percent. Spruce Mountain is going to open.”

Representatives of the USDA will work with Ski Club members next year on grants to find a way to resolve the club’s power supply, Jacques said.

“It went absolutely awesome,” Howes said. “CMP really stepped up to the plate and worked out a solution. They’ve made a deal with us. Everybody is so excited. The kids will have their ski slope.”

Howes said she has worked on nothing else but getting power for the mountain and the mill for the past two weeks. Initially, a hefty lease payment was involved, she said.

CMP spokesman John Carroll said it was helpful to get everybody working together.

“We were glad we could find a way to resolve this for the families and kids that use Spruce Mountain,” he said.

“We got the miracle we were looking for,” said Carmen Hayford of East Livermore. “I am thrilled.”

“It’s very positive news,” Livermore Falls Town Manager Jim Chaousis said. “(On Wednesday), the mountain wasn’t going to open. Today, it is.”

In addition to commending CMP for its help, Howes and DeMillo were deemed Mr. and Mrs. Claus by Club President Judy Diaz.

“I hope everyone in the community takes the time this season to thank them for their efforts,” she said. “They made a lot of children happy — and parents, too.”

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