Sheridan fundraiser aims to help open ski hill - KOTA Territory News

Sheridan fundraiser aims to help open ski hill

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Snow is falling and that's going to get many thinking about the upcoming ski season.

But there aren't any opportunities here in Sheridan County. The Antelope Butte Ski Area closed in 2004, but a local non profit group wants to open it back up.

"There's a real resurgence and a real interest in having these types of community ski areas available, because it's where many of us learned, it's where your kids can go skiing," said Mark Weitz with the Antelope Butte Foundation.

Weitz hopes to open the ski hill in time for next year's season.

"We have to work within the summer construction season. So if we're going to make this happen for 2014, we've got to get all these funds put together by probably spring time-February, March," said Weitz.

The foundation's already raised $160,000 dollars, but needs $3 million. So it's hosting a fundraiser this Saturday in Sheridan College's new Whitney Building, which will address the plans going forward with the ski area.

"All of the costs associated with refurbishing it, the process that's required with the forest service, developing the architectural plans," said Weitz.

Tourism officials say opening the ski area would give them a big marketing chip.

"We've got a good diversity of outdoor winter activities, but this is really the feather in the cap. This is something that is more of a focal point. It certainly kind of anchors the entire season," said Shawn Buckley, the executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism.

But a lot of money is needed first to spruce up the facilities before anyone goes down the hill.

"The solarium leaked, so we've got to strip out the insides and do the outsides and then refurbish the lift," said Weitz.

The owner of the Meadowlark Ski Lodge in the southern Big Horns says he doubts two ski resorts could succeed in the area because both had to close years ago.

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