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Ice rink set to open in December

October 02, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Right now it looks like a giant erector set, but by mid-December the Tri-State Area's newest Olympic-size ice skating rink will be complete.

The Doris I. Billow Ice Arena is under construction on Pa. 16 near the village of Zullinger, west of Waynesboro.

Peter Downey, 54, was hired in August to set up the rink, hire its staff and manage it after it opens. Downey, who is from Connecticut, has been in the ice skating business for most of his life. He managed rinks in New England from 1970 to 1993, most of the time while also coaching college hockey teams at Yale in New Haven, Conn., Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., and Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

He served as executive director of the International Hockey Training Center, which has facilities in seven states and Canada. Throughout his career, Downey said, he has coached 12 players who ended up as professionals in the National Hockey League and six who played on Olympic teams.

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He said he was offered jobs managing existing rinks, but came to Waynesboro for the challenge that only a new rink offers.

"I wanted the excitement of bringing ice sports to an area that never had them before," he said. "Ice sports offer a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages, from those who want recreation to serious competitors."

Setting up means hiring staff to run the rink, work the concessions, man the retail shop, do the maintenance and run the equipment. He also has to hire the professional teachers needed to train upcoming figure skaters.

Downey said the Billow arena and the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Rink that opened this year "will provide people in Washington and Franklin counties a chance to see figure skating and hockey grow. At first each rink will run its own programs, but eventually competiton for skaters and hockey teams will develop between both rinks," he said.

The Waynesboro rink is being built by Cumberland Valley on Ice, a nonprofit board of directors, and will be self-supporting. "It's designed to meet the needs of the community," Downey said.

The arena will cost about $3 million to build and equip. The late Doris I. Billow, a retired Waynesboro area school teacher, left $500,000 toward construction. Another $250,000 came from the state.

The CVOI board is raising $500,000 from donations, both individual and corporate. The rest of the money will be borrowed from a local bank.

Palmer Construction Co. of McConnellsburg, Pa., is the main contractor.

The skating rink will measure 100 feet by 200 feet. The building will also house a concession stand, skate rental room, a room for the Zamboni ice-cleaning machine, offices, a retail shop, bleachers, a training room and a first-aid room, Downey said.

The grand opening will be in January.

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