Okemo resort introduces kids’ snowmobiling tours; USDA grant helps Windsor snowmobile club get modified groomer

Okemo Mountain Resort offers guided kids' snowmobile tours for $29.

Okemo Mountain Resort offers guided kids’ snowmobile tours for $29.

LUDLOW

Okemo Mountain Resort has added kids’ snowmobile tours to its lineup of winter activities for families visiting the ski and snowboard resort.

Pint-sized Polaris snowmobiles travel at a maximum speed of 8 mph.

Each 15-minute tour consisting of up to four riders takes place on a specially designed course at the Jackson Gore Paleo Field and is led by an adult riding a full-sized sled.

Riders must be between the ages of 5 and 12, weigh no more than 120 pounds and be no taller than 5’4”. Helmets are required and are provided for riders. Each tour is $29 and reservations are recommended.

For more information about Okemo Mountain Resort, please call 800-228-1600 or visit okemo.com.

Hawks Mtn. Ridge Riders gets handicapped-modified trail groomer

Hawks Mountain Ridge Riders Vice President Barry Messer, seated right, shows USDA Rural Development state director Ted Brady around the cab of the new Sno-Cat purchased in part using a $77,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant.

Hawks Mountain Ridge Riders Vice President Barry Messer, seated right, shows USDA Rural Development state director Ted Brady around the cab of the new Sno-Cat purchased in part using a $77,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant.

NORTH SPRINGFIELD

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and members of the Hawks Mountain Ridge Riders showed off their new modified snowmobile trail groomer on Friday in North Springfield.

Hawks Mountain Ridge Riders President Dave Bibens noted that two of the club’s five groomer operators have become disabled in the last year. “This is the first time Tucker Sno-Cat has modified a trail groomer with hand controls,” said Bibens. “We are grateful to USDA Rural Development for their support for the purchase of this modified hand-controlled groomer, which allows two of our dedicated operators to continue to work out on the trails, and makes it possible for our club to maintain our trails to the best standard.”

A $77,000 USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant helped the club purchase the equipment to help the snowmobile club improve trail conditions in Southeastern Vermont.

“This new trail groomer will improve trail conditions, which will increase the number of snowmobile trail users and lead to more business for the restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and stores like the Route 106 North Market and Deli along the trail network,” said USDA Rural Development state director Ted Brady. “The snowmobile industry is critically important to the vitality of Vermont’s small businesses and our rural communities.”

The $77,000 grant was matched by $146,295 of the club’s own investment toward purchase of a 2015 Tucker Model 200E Sno-Cat trail groomer. The new groomer was purchased from GetSno of Newport, VT.

The Hawks Mountain Ridge Riders are part of the Vermont Association of Snowmobile Travelers. There are 128 clubs throughout the state that maintain over 5,000 miles of trails. “We sold 23,000 VAST passes in 2014,” said VAST executive director Cindy Locke. “The statewide system supports over 500 jobs and is estimated to generate $600 million yearly.”

Hawks Mountain Ridge Riders, located in Windsor County, is a key part of snowmobile travel in Southeastern Vermont. This grant will support 11 permanent jobs, four short-term jobs, six small businesses and create one new job. The impact of maintaining this portion of the trail as part of the greater trail system means that this grant also indirectly supports jobs in other parts of Vermont.

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This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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