Donated groomer brings ski hill closer to completion

Nakoma Golf Resort employees work on the Piston Bully snow groomer that was recently donated to the Johnsville Ski Hill from Stover Mountain Ski Area in Chester. The groomer was valued at about $10,000. Photo courtesy David E. Carmazzi
Carolyn Shipp
Staff Writer

When the Johnsville Ski Hill opens up it will demonstrate the energy and capacity of community resolve. An example of this resolve is the donation of a $10,000 Piston Bully snow groomer courtesy of Dan and Melissa Smith at Stover Mountain Ski Area in Chester.

Dan Gallagher, an Eastern Plumas Recreation District board member and development official for the ski hill, reported that on Feb. 14 the Smiths donated the groomer to the ski hill. They made the donation after reading about the installation of the first chair lift terminal at the hill in the newspaper.

Gallagher said the district discussed purchasing the groomer from the now closed Chester ski area about a year ago. The board members debated whether they should buy the groomer or commence construction on the hill.

Gallagher said they decided to begin construction, as it was the preference of many of the project’s donors to see a terminal go up.

With donated time from local construction and engineer companies, the terminal was installed Nov. 18, 2013.

Feather Publishing published an article on the construction and it was featured in newspapers countywide.

According to Melissa Smith, after reading how Gallagher and the ski hill committee were fervently pursuing the ski hill construction, she called him and said the groomer, which was donated also to their nonprofit ski hill, would now belong to the Johnsville Ski Hill.

“We had a great use for it, and we know what it’s like to struggle,” she said. “We’re just paying it forward … the people who donated it to us wanted it to go towards the community.”

Gallagher said they were grateful for the Smiths’ generosity and for the kindness of Ben Folchi, from Folchi Logging and Construction, who got a wide-load permit from Caltrans and transported the heavy equipment all the way from Chester, free of charge.

“This is just more of the outpouring of community generosity that is going to make this ski hill happen,” said Gallagher.

The groomer now resides at the Nakoma Golf Resort mechanic shop where it is getting some new parts and repairs. Gallagher said it would be ready to clean up the ski hill after every snowfall by next winter.

Also by next winter, Gallagher said the hill should be open in full force with chair-lift construction completed and a bunny and tubing hill established. However, he said it is all dependent on continued donations and community support.

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