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Timberline plans to open Dec. 7 despite utility woes, legal issues, rumors

Timberline 2017

Timberline 2017

Youngsters enjoy the slopes at Timberline in 2017. The Tucker County resort temporarily closed on Wednesday in order “to continue snowmaking when possible,” according to a notice on its website. In the notice, resort officials said they hoped to “reopen soon.”

Despite some speculation to the contrary, Timberline Four Seasons Resort will open for the 2018-2019 ski season, according to the management of the family-owned Tucker County ski area.

Rumors about Timberline’s future have been fueled by, among other things:

  • The Public Service Commission scheduling a Dec. 13 receivership hearing at Canaan Valley Resort for the resort’s water plant.
  • The resort continuing to operate under a precautionary boil water notice.
  • Tucker County law enforcement authorities initiating a separate investigation into unspecified matters involving Timberline earlier this month.
  • The resort having a disconnected phone system as its ski season approaches, and only recently having its power fully restored.

For weeks, “Timberline’s Future” has been the hottest forum topic on DC Ski, an online publication about skiing and snowboarding in the Mid-Atlantic region. But according to Tracy Edmonds Herz, wife of Timberline owner Fred Herz, it’s much ado about nothing.

“We have complete confidence we will be open for the season,” she said on Wednesday. The resort began making snow Tuesday night, she said, and will continue to do so as temperatures permit.

On Friday, Timberline posted a Dec. 7 opening date on its website, replacing a tentative, previously posted Nov. 30 season debut.

Last month on its Facebook page, the resort announced a “full recapitalization” of the ski area, focusing on snow-making infrastructure. “It is now, after 20 years without meaningful upgrades in snowmaking, very much time to reinvest in that core mission,” as well as to make some “aesthetic upgrades,” the post stated.

Tracy Herz said on Wednesday that the recapitalization effort “is in the final stages,” and added that “working capital has always been our start-up challenge. It is the same on year 33 as it was on day 1, year 1.”

Herz said telephone service will soon be restored under a streamlined, completely reconfigured billing system, and that Timberline has contracted with a company to help make the resort’s water plant a “best practices” facility.

The boil-water notice in effect for Timberline was not imposed for any bacteriological reasons, she said, but as a precautionary measure until the water system hires a Class 2 water plant operator, which the resort is in the process of doing, with help from the PSC.

The PSC initiated an investigation into the practices of Timberline Four Seasons Utilities in August, to determine whether it should be placed into receivership following “numerous and increasing complaints.” Those complaints, according to the PSC, included extended boil-water notices; alleged inconsistent billing practices and improper transfers of cash to affiliate organizations; and failure to pay bills, including “multiple years of federal and state tax liabilities.”

Timberline Four Seasons Utilities serves 428 water customers and 743 sewer customers.

“We’ve learned what’s been done wrong and what can be done better,” Herz said. “We may not have been the best record-keepers in the past, but we hope to have the best facility in every regard in the future.”

Earlier this month, the Parsons Advocate reported that an investigation separate from the PSC probe was underway, this one involving the Tucker County Sheriff’s Department and State Police. Tucker County Prosecutor Ray LaMora declined to comment on what allegations were being investigated, according to the newspaper.

“Everything has to change,” Herz said. “We are going to run a lean, modern organization in every division and associated company, and there will be growing pains. Nothing worth having comes with ease.”

Timberline, she said, “is a family business and we intend for it to go on as a family business for generations to come. I am looking forward to people skiing on our mountain this season and having a good time, and maybe finding something more interesting to talk about than us.

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

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Funerals for Friday, September 20, 2019

Barton, Richard - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Birthisel, Avis - 11 a.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Call, Denver - Noon, Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Dearien, Tommie - Noon, Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Fletcher, Joanna - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keeney, Steven - 2 p.m., Keith Full Gospel Church, Keith.

May, Rosa - 2 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Morris, Linda - 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Parsons, Harry - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Pauley, Clarence - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Pino, Patricia - 11 a.m., Bradley FreeWill Baptist Church.

Rogers, Marilyn - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, South Charleston.

Satterfield, Kenneth - 5 p.m., Satterfield residence, 1161 Daniels Run Road, Millstone.