Upgraded ice rink celebrated after years of volunteer efforts
By Ann McCreary
A crowd estimated at more than 200 people came to the Winthrop Rink on Dec. 1 to help celebrate the grand opening of the refrigerated rink facility with free ice skating and food.
The ice rink has been open since Nov. 18, but last week’s celebration recognized the efforts of hundreds of people who gave time, money and labor to make the rink and guaranteed winter ice a reality.
In addition to installing refrigeration equipment, the ice rink project also included expanding the existing building to increase office and rental space, changing areas and public restrooms.
A total of 246 volunteers gave 5,088 hours of work on the rink project, for a value of about $132,000, Jill Calvert, president of the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink board of directors, told the crowd that gathered on the ice for the ceremony.
Calvert said 35 businesses donated time, materials and services totaling $122,000, and 260 donors made contributions totaling $290,000.
“We now have a facility that would cost about $3 million in today’s market,” Calvert said. “Through dedication, never giving up and hard work, we completed this project in two phases for under $2 million.”
Among the speakers at the celebration was Marc Robertson, who has been a driving force behind the rink for many years. Calvert said Robertson gave more than 1,500 volunteer hours to the project to refrigerate the rink and expand the facility.
Robertson’s involvement in creating an outdoor ice skating venue goes back far longer than the opening of the ice rink at its current location in 2007.
He recalled skating on a homemade ice rink in the Rendezvous area decades ago, and working with other community members to flood the parking lot behind the Winthrop Barn for several winters to create an ice rink there.
Robertson called dozens of people forward to recognize them for supporting ice skating in the Methow Valley. He credited Jay Lucas, former director of the Methow Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (now called Methow Trails), for “sharing my dream of combining cross country ski trails and the ice rink at the same location.”
Robertson said generous donations of money, labor and expertise helped carry the ice rink project forward. He gave special recognition to Laurie Ulmer of Winthrop, who spearheaded the fundraising campaign that raised the required $497,000 to match a state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant for the refrigeration and expansion project.
Including cash donations, business contributions and the value of volunteer labor, contributions to the $1 million-plus refrigeration and expansion project totaled more than $600,000, Calvert said.
She pointed out that under the frozen surface are 13.5 miles of refrigerant piping and 165 yards of concrete, installed by volunteers.
In addition to Robertson, the top five donors in terms of time include Calvert, Ulmer, Jan Gregg, Paul Butler and David Harris, Calvert said.
Top donors among businesses were Palm Excavating (Jerry Palm), Big Picture Construction (Larry Miller), Norwill Electric (Pat Norwill,) North Valley Lumber and 5 Star Concrete (JR Barnhard), Calvert said.
Ted Wilhite, representing the RCO, said recreation facilities like the ice rink “mean money, mean jobs.” The RCO gave grants totaling $872,000 for two phases of ice rink development.
The rink has booked several hockey tournaments this winter, and hosts a variety of programs such as “Learn to Skate” and “Fourth Grade Skate Free.” Information on ice rink programs is available at the website, www.winthropicerink.com.