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Winterplace, Canaan Valley to open for snow season, Timberline faces legal woes

Winterplace

A view of slopes at Winterplace ski resort on Jan. 19, 2018.

Ski areas at Winterplace Resort in Raleigh County and Canaan Valley Resort in Tucker County announced plans to open for the season on Saturday, following Snowshoe Mountain Resort’s late November season debut.

Meanwhile, Timberline Four Seasons Resort, facing legal and regulatory issues, moved back its 2018-2019 ski season debut until Dec. 21. Owner Fred Herz was cited for failure to pay Tucker County hotel-motel taxes on Thursday, the date that a state Public Service Commission hearing was underway to determine whether the resort’s water and sewer utility, also owned and operated by Herz, should be placed in receivership due to “gross negligence.”

In a letter filed with the PSC earlier this month, Herz sought to cancel the receivership hearing by stipulating to the accuracy of the gross negligence allegation, and agreeing to have Timberline’s water and sewer utility transferred to a receiver, namely the Canaan Valley Public Service District.

An administrative law judge ruled that the PSC needed to establish a full record of the utility’s technical problems and management policies in order to place it in receivership, and allowed to hearing to take place.

Timberline’s utility has been supplying water that has been subject to boil water notices for several months. The resort’s management has told customers that the boil water notice was issued not for bacteriological issues, but as a precautionary measure, since the utility lacked a full-time certified water treatment plant operator.

The utility serves about 740 sewer and 400 water customers.

Fourteen trails served by four lifts will greet skiers and snowboarders at Winterplace, the state’s southernmost ski area, on Saturday when the resort’s snow tube park will also open. At Canaan Valley, guests can expect to ride or ski at least 12 trails starting Saturday.

Snowshoe Mountain’s Silver Creek area, where lifts serve 17 trails and runs, will open on Friday, said Joe Stephens of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.

With adequate snow coverage, Christmas week, along with the preceding week and the week that follows it, generates about 35 percent of the annual revenue received by West Virginia’s ski areas, Stephens said.

The 2018-2019 ski season “has gotten off to a positive start and our phones are ringing with people eager to get on the slopes,” said Terry Pfeiffer, president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association and president of Winterplace. “All of the resorts will continue to aggressively make snow whenever possible, guaranteeing visitors to the mountains a white Christmas,” he said.

States supplying West Virginia with the most skiers and snowboarders are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Stevens said.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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