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Pa. ice rink gets temporary reprieve

February 10, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Members of Cumberland Valley On Ice, the nonprofit organization that owns the Doris I. Billow Ice Arena, said Thursday an anonymous donor has come up with the money to keep the bankrupt ice rink from its scheduled appointment with the auction block today.

L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Authority and CVOI board member, said the donation will keep the rink solvent for 28 days while the board works on a plan to recruit members of a for-profit management company to run the rink. He declined to disclose the amount of the donation.

The rink was scheduled to be auctioned off at a sheriff's sale in Chambersburg this morning by the F&M Trust Co. which holds a $1.8 million mortgage on the facility.

"We bought some time, but we're by no means there yet," Ross said. CVOI's goal is for the new company to come in with enough money to bring the rink's debts up to date, then keep it in the black for 12 months. After that, the hope is that the rink can remain open permanently, he said.

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To succeed, the board will need help from community leaders from all of the areas the ice rink serves - not only Franklin County but other nearby counties in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

The rink, on Pa. 16 in Zullinger, missed several of its $17,000-a-month mortgage payments before F&M officials said they were forced to authorize the sheriff's sale.

Last year CVOI hired a consultant to determine if there was enough community support to run a successful fund-raising drive to save the rink. It was decided such an effort would not succeed, so the rink was put up for sale through a local real estate agency.

The rink cost $3 million to build. Included was a $500,000 bequest in the will of Doris I, Billow, a Waynesboro area teacher, a $250,000 state grant, a $250,000 match from local donations and the F&M mortgage.

The rink opened in December 1997.

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