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Community Comes Together for the ‘Little Mountain with a Big Heart’
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Thursday, May 4, 2023
 

BY HEATHER FOSTER

Rotarun Ski Area, which just enjoyed its longest season ever, staying open to the end of April, has grown up over the last few years with the addition of snowmaking, which also allows it to open earlier than ever before.

And now, thanks to the completion of a major capital improvement project, the operations at the ski area are increasingly sound

A new snowcat and equipment garage at Rotarun will house the snowcats and snowmobiles to protect them from the elements and allow for on-site maintenance and secure, year-round storage.

“This has been the epitome of a ‘community coming together’ project,” said Wally Limburg, Rotarun’s board president. “Without the generous support of individuals, foundations, and businesses along with their understanding of the value this project would bring to Rotarun, this simply would not have been possible. We are so incredibly grateful for how everyone chipped in how they could, whether it was through their time, their treasure, or their talent.”

Community support is certainly not new to Rotarun. Since the “little mountain with a big heart” first started turning its tractor-and-pulley rope tow in 1948, it has been the helping hands of Hailey and communities in the Wood River Valley that have kept it going year after year. Volunteers come back year after year to help run the platter lift, to teach skiing and riding with the Rota-Rippers, and simply to enjoy this special place that welcomes skiers and riders to learn, train, and race, while still exuding the accessibility and spirit of smaller ski hills gone by.

“Those who have stepped in to support this project and so many others along the way are really the fabric that make up Rotarun,” said Scott McGrew, Rotarun’s executive director. “From digging the dirt and pouring the foundation, to framing the walls, putting on the roof, and hanging the doors—this project has been a labor of love for everyone involved and it will serve an invaluable purpose for decades to come.”

From initial ground breaking, the project took five months to complete on time and under budget, even as construction costs continued to rise over the course of the build. Limburg served as the project manager, with a heavy lift of support both literally and physically from Carl Rixon and Rixon Excavation.

“I feel that it is so important for me to give back to help see the success of Rotarun Ski Area!” said Carl Rixon, Owner and Operator of Rixon Excavation. “Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation has been such a huge supporter of me and my family through the years, and with how involved they are with supporting Rotarun, and with the value both of these non-profits bring to the entire community, I am happy to contribute any way I can.”

Collaboration at every level starting with the Sage Springs Homeowners Association, Blaine County Planning Department, the Board of Blaine County Commissioners, and Wood River Fire Marshal Mike Elle, was essential to the project’s future.

Creating the vision and plans required to bring the building to fruition was a team effort between de Reus Architects, Maxwell Structural Design Studio, Galena Engineering, and Blueprinting, Inc. Ketchum. Delivery of the materials and labor was made possible by Brooks Welding, C&R Electric, JMF Construction, Miley Roofing, R&M Steel Company, Superior Steel Products Boise, Thornton Heating, Valley Wide Co-Op, and WILRO Plumbing.

And bringing it all together, Skip Merrick and the team at Merrick Construction were instrumental in the project’s success.

Raising the funds to complete a project of this size for a non-profit was a significant task in itself, and Rotarun is eternally grateful to everyone who played a part at every level. From organizations including the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, Marshall Carroll Charitable Fund, Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation, and Spur Foundation; to individuals including Kathy and Wally Limburg, Mark de Reus, Mark Kandianis, and Susan and Scott Robinson; it was the collective effort and belief in the project’s importance that brought it to fruition.

Additional thanks to Andrew Harris, Brian Caulkins, Brian Opp, Riley Berman, Wilson Construction, and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation staff for their support along the way.


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