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September 03, 2008 12:49 pm

Sleeping Giant hits snooze

Written by Tribune Staff

Opening may not come till next year
Delays in construction and funding may force the Sleeping Giant Ski Area to wait until next year to re-open.
Last month, the project's fundraising director, Garrett Growney, told Park County Commissioners that renovations looked to be headed to a Thanksgiving opening.
On Tuesday, Growney told commissioners that snags — particularly with fundraising — may push an opening back to next season.
“We're looking at some hard decisions,” he said.
Sometime in the next 30 days, the group fixing up the ski area will decide if they will open the slopes fully this winter, open partially or shoot for next year.
The Sleeping Giant Ski Area has been closed since 2004.
Last year, the Yellowstone Recreations Foundation (YRF) formed as a non-profit entity to rebuild and operate the ski area.
It is seeking a total of roughly $3 million to revive and improve the Giant.
The County Commission voted Tuesday to support to the YRF in its efforts to get a Wyoming Business Council grant. The funds, awarded to economic development projects, would provide up to $500,000.
If approved by the state early next year, that would put the project's funding raised so far at around $1.8 million.
Other grants have proven to be a little slow in coming, as well as private donations.
“We've been having to play catch up with the funding,” said Kerry Strike, a spokeswoman for the project.
Growney said the project will only go forward on this year's construction with “prudent backing.” An indebted effort is “the last thing this community needs,” he said.
The money is being used for a number of fixes — installing a new chair lift in place of the old T-Bar lift system, putting in a snow machine, and, among other improvements, expanding the ski slope from 47 to 180 acres of trails.
Timber is being removed to clear the new acreage and the old slopes are being cleaned up as well. A recent hiccup in the process came from the site's helicopter logging.
The heli-logging was projected to cost around $160,000, and instead came in at around $400,000. It also took about a week longer than planned.
A new replacement bridge leading across the Shoshone River to the ski area — needed to meet safety requirements — was completed in early summer.
At both last month's meeting and Tuesday's, commissioners were unanimous in their support for the project.
“I think it's one of the best thing that can truly happen in this area,” said Commissioner Marie Fontaine.
Last month, Commissioner Tim French said a re-opened Sleeping Giant would be good for the entire county.
“Powell will use it just as much as Cody,” he said.
Growney told commissioners that the project's primary goal was not to open this year.
“It's to do this right,” he said.