Nonprofit could be answer for Ski Bluewood

Owners have said the ski area faces possible closure unless new operators are found.

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DAYTON -- A nonprofit management company may be the way Ski Bluewood continues to operate.

The current owners of the ski resort announced earlier this year the resort would close unless new operators stepped forward.

In response to that announcement a group of business, academic, nonprofit and government leaders in Dayton and Walla Walla began looking at options for taking over the resort.

Options explored include a private buyout, local government management or the creation of a nonprofit.

Dayton Chamber of Commerce executive director Lisa Ronnberg said in a press release that Ski Bluewood affects the economic and quality of life values in six southeast Washington counties.

"Beyond the direct and indirect employment Ski Bluewood provides, the resort has played a significant role in attracting business people, students, health and academic leaders and retirees to our area. We want to make sure Bluewood continues to be a part of the high quality of life we all enjoy," Ronnberg said.

Ronnberg is one of three leaders of the effort to save Bluewood. Also heading the consortium are Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Southeast Washington Economic Development association, and Dwight Robanske, chairman of the Economic Development Steering Committee in Dayton.

"The struggling current economy and the short time we have for coming up with a solution for operating Bluewood crate challenges," Wollmuth said.

"We don't feel it is reasonable to ask area citizens to shoulder the responsibility through taxes," he said.

The consortium will compile a formal business plan for operating the ski area, meet with U.S. Forest Service officials for permitting, and seek contributions from local endowments and interest citizens.

There are no projections on whether the ski area will be able to open for the next season, Wollmuth said.

Anyone interest in participating or assisting in the process can contact the Dayton Chamber of Commerce at 382-4825.

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