Something good is happening in Rumford.

In the weeks since voters turned down a request from the Maine Winter Sports Center to fund $51,000 in tax dollars for the nonprofit Black Mountain of Maine, residents and businesses have stepped forward to raise the necessary funds.

The two most recent businesses to step forward are Bangor Savings Bank and Franklin Savings Bank.

On Thursday, Bangor Savings announced it will match up to $25,000 in donations to the ski center, a favorite family ski destination.

On Monday Franklin Savings announced a $10,000 matching donation.

The same day, nearby Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry — owned by Boyne Resorts — made a $5,000 donation.

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If the Bangor and Franklin banks’ offers are fulfilled, the mountain will receive $70,000. Add in the Sunday River gift and a $10,000 gift from Rumford Hospital, and it’s up to $85,000. And that’s even before calculating what residents and loyal skiers have already donated or are working to donate.

Rumford native Brian Gagnon, the current CEO of BMG Partners, which has offices in Portland and Boston, may have been the first to start raising funds. The day Black Mountain announced it would have to close its Alpine trails, Gagnon named Black Mountain as his company’s “featured charity” for July, and encouraged friends and co-workers to raise money through CrowdRise. As of Thursday, donors have contributed $7,935 to the cause; Gagnon hopes to raise $55,000.

Three local teens — who are regulars at Black Mountain — are in the process of organizing a 5K fun run/walk event to help out. They hope to set an August date and draw a good crowd.

Andy Shepard, president of Maine Winter Sports Center, told the Sun Journal that “the support from the community has been absolutely inspiring and is a reflection of how important Black Mountain is to people across the country.”

Indeed.

It’s also a reflection of what determined people can do once they set their minds to something.

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“It’s clear that this is more than just a ski area; it’s part of people’s lives,” Shepard said, and something that — even in this tight economy — they’re willing to work to save.

That’s good for the mountain. And good for the community.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.


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