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Supporters roll out for ice rink

August 14, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

More than 100 supporters of the new $2.3 million Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex got the opportunity to hit the ice Wednesday afternoon during a sneak preview of the rink at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

The rink's grand opening for the public will be held on Friday. Starting at 2 p.m. there will be alternating half hours of exhibition skating and free ice skating for the public until 8 p.m.

"Fourteen months ago when I had this dream I went to all of you in this building. Today that dream is a reality," said Walter Dill, executive director of the nonprofit Washington County Sports Foundation.

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Foundation Treasurer David Barnhart said it was Dill's vision, tenacity and drive that brought Washington County its first ice rink. The rink will be a cornerstone to redeveloping the 68-acre fairgrounds, he said.

The foundation will operate the rink and pay back the city's $1.2 million share of construction costs through monthly rental payments.

In appreciation for their help and hard work, the foundation gave Hagerstown Bulldog ice hockey jerseys to past and present city elected officials as well as to city employees, state officials, and the general contractor, LeRoy Myers of Myers Building Systems.

A jersey also was given to Project Manager Ivan Lehman who oversaw the rink's construction, which included 9.5 miles of stainless steel tubing containing freon to freeze the ice, 750 tons of sand and more than 31,000 gallons of water.

After demonstrations of figure skating, ice hockey and the zamboni, guests got to hit the ice.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer seem to take to the ice with ease for the first time in 40 years as he skated five laps around the National Hockey League-size rink.

J. Wallace McClure, the only other elected city official to take to the ice, took a spill as soon as he stepped onto the ice. After a brief respite from a sore knee, McClure took to the ice again and successfully skated a lap.

Former Mayor Steven T. Sager couldn't skate because of a twisted ankle, so he spent his time lacing up skates for others.

But, it was the youths who stole the show during their demonstrations.

Seven-year-old Brandon Dennis had his own cheering section from adoring fans watching him play ice hockey with the big boys. Dennis took a check from a player more than twice his size and kept his composure.

Dennis, who started skating when he was 3 years old, plays hockey for the Frederick Phantoms. At the end of the year he said he needs to decide whether to continue playing for the Phantoms or join the hometown Bulldogs.

The new rink will cut down on commuting time for several young area skaters, including Olympic hopeful Emily Keller who gets up at 4:15 a.m. to go to Frederick, Md., to practice figure skating.

Keller, 11, got the crowd clapping in unison to "Summer Loving" from "Grease."

To register for skating programs call 301-766-9122 or from outside Maryland, call 1-888-ICE-N-FUN or 1-888-423-6386.

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