Building a Skating Rink
When I moved back to Missoula in 84 I found out that the first set of boards we had built were
gone so I set up another group to build a rink for the community. I believe we should all do something
for other people and this project was something that was needed and with experience in building and
developing hockey programs this seemed like a good fit. Also while being a loner I had used team
sports to help me learn to work with others and deal with the ... of working with others. The goal of the
group was to provide a rink for all groups like the general public and figure skaters and not just hockey.
So we slowly began with a modest outdoor natural ice rink that was a lot of work to maintain for the
6-10 week season. Eventually we added lights and a garage for the Zamboni. Then I left for a few years
and while I kept in contact with and gave advice to the group they were heading in a direction that I
disagreed with. I'm a bottom line kind of guy and what mattered most to me was that the facility be
affordable to all which means how much do you owe and what is your overhead. There was going to be
no government help so it had to be self supporting.
I returned in the fall of 95 to find a bloated top heavy group with a lot of chiefs who didn't know what they
were doing. But they said they were building a rink so I went to work at the old rink. With the crazy stuff
going on in my life I felt it would be best to sit on the sidelines because I didn't know when this might blow
up in my face and if it didn't go well I didn't want to be a problem for the project. With my experience
though I did give them some advice.
After returning from Alaska in the fall of 96 I decided to get involved because they were lost and blowing a
lot of money. So I showed up at a board meeting and got aquatinted. Not one to beat around the bush I
asked the President "So just how much money have you blown." What he said was amazing and then he
threw out such a low number that he had to more than double it a few seconds later, but that was still just a
fraction of the true amount. So I came up with a plan by looking at the different pieces of the puzzle and
how to put them together for the best interest of the community, I tried to help them, but they wouldn't listen,
so I pulled the plug.
I was saying to my teacher that the world seemed to be doing fine and was getting better without me and
that I wasn't needed now. He kept saying the rink would take care of itself and that they didn't need me. But
I knew the project would be better for the kids if I got involved. I was worried that during a critical part in the
project something would happen to me and it would be derailed, especially since I started hearing and "let
the little one come forth and fall on his face but not to hard.". Also the lesson of if you can do this for the
children of Missoula how much more would you be willing to do for the children of the world.
So I pressed on and dealt with writing up a game plan and the construction costs, along with a schedule. I
had no money and the other group had tapped out the town already so this had to be a low budget deal. I
was able to get the Fair Board to come up with the money to expand a Pavilion to make it large enough for
a rink. The revenues have been what I said they would be and they are getting over a 15% return on their
investment plus all the capital improvements, not bad for a government project.
I started to pressure the other group for the little bit of money they had left. At first we tried to let them work
with us but they didn't want to, they just wanted to play their same old games. So they had to be replaced.
One thing lead to another and I was threatened by their lawyer that it was a felony to extort money. I blew her
off because I was going to get the last of their money for a rink for the kids. I was thinking though that some
day it won't be a lawyer that those who oppose me in the world will send after me. Eventually they saw the
light and we were given all the money they had left. Front page Sunday paper; Cold Hard Cash Gone
There were plenty of hurdles but things just kept falling into place. A brother to one of the A-team members
found a loan on the Internet that was a crucial part to the puzzle. The building department was a battle from the
beginning. When we needed volunteers, they came out of the wood work. Missoula Youth homes and the
general public plus user groups. An electrician came and helped us in a major way. By working together a lot
of people have benefited from this project. I had the group in charge of the rink sign a contract that would secure
all the different groups their time, because I know how people forget. By working together we can make the
world a much better place for all of us to live in. It was our Father who let the rink materialize and will help us to
make His world the way His only Son our Lord Jesus Christ said it would one day be, peaceful.
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