Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

May 30, 2013

Ice skating set to join holiday scene

emann@pvdemocrat.com — On the surface, Pauls Valley certainly doesn’t seem to carry most qualifications for a winter wonderland destination.

However, thanks to a 3-1 vote at this week’s PV City Council meeting approving a request for tourism funding, it will be in a unique position to attract those looking for such flair through Garvin County’s first ever ice skating rink.

Excited to see it all come to fruition is PV Tourism Director Erin Creach, who can now set the holiday community committee idea in motion after it was modified and tabled during the first two attempts.

“The reason we picked this event is we figured it would be a holiday draw” Creach noted after the meeting. “We thought this would be neat and different.”

Creach pointed out how it was a work in progress from the beginning after a holiday tour of lights concept was dropped earlier this year and recently went from a 31 day rental of the ice rink for $22,940 to purchasing it instead for $35,188.55.

That decision was made after it was determined to be cheaper long term to own it, with the goal for it to pay for itself in a couple of years.

Additionally, since the material is an imitation surface not subject to melting in warmer weather, it could be used all year long during any number of events.

There is also still the goal reimbursing some if not all the tourism money by giving individuals and businesses in the area a chance to buy sponsorships for the rink, a way they can gain extra exposure by displaying their logos/information through banners and fliers, said Creach.

The community in turn will play a role in how many hours it operates where groups like civic clubs and church groups will have turns operating it, even getting a share of profits for their own projects.

“This will let us have more time for skaters,” said Creach, noting how they also would have had to pay hotel fees and meals for the company representatives setting it up if they had rented the rink instead.

“Through ticket sales and corporate sponsorships we can recoup tourism money… We’re definitely going to need people to help work and we discussed the possibility of donating a portion of the proceeds back to them.”

Councilman Hal Blevins again offered his disapproval of the project, noting how he did not agree it was a good use of funds. Blevins was the lone dissenting vote and Councilwoman Jocelyn Rushing abstained from voting.

Those in favor of the project included Councilman Patrick Grimmett, who made the motion to accept, recently council appointed Mayor Billy Riddle and newly appointed Vice Mayor Gary Alfred.

“I think that’s the second most ill-advised proposition I’ve ever considered… what’s next a ski slope on Jackson Hill,” said Blevins. “Tourism money is tax money.”

Blevins was then reminded how several businesses have pledged to stay open extended hours in the downtown area to encourage people to shop while the rink is open.

Creach and Frizell pointed out how items like this was why the tax supporting tourism funding was voted in by Pauls Valley residents back in 2001, making it a perfect example in which to utilize said revenue.

The plan now is to contact the company selling the rink, Ice Rink Engineering and Manufacturing LLC, and reserve in order to have it ready for the season in November, said Creach.

It will be set up in the Santa Fe Depot area on the right-hand side parking lot measuring 37.5 by 52.5 feet.

This spot became the favorite after taking into consideration that there is already lighting there for the potential evening hours, both surrounding the rink and the area leading up to it, and is more than enough space to feature elements to compliment the rink, said Creach. That could eventually include selling snacks, hot chocolate and photo opportunities for visitors far and wide.

“We have to make it about more than skating,” said Creach, noting how the existing tradition of Christmas lights will only make it more attractive. “I want to see what we can incorporate to make it an enjoyable experience.”

To get involved in the process, volunteer or sponsorship, call Creach at 405-238-3308, ext. 111.

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