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Weekly roundup: Turner Mountain aims for Dec. 18 opening

| December 14, 2020 12:00 AM

The Turner Mountain ski area is expected to open Dec. 18 and be open daily through New Year’s Day, according to Bruce Zwang, president of the Kootenai winter Sports Ski Education Foundation. However, the start date may change depending on snow conditions.

After Jan. 1, the mountain will switch back to its usual Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule.

Several improvements were made during the off-season. The most notable improvement was a logging project between Chans Run and the lift line. Zwang said that before clearing the area, trees were growing too close to the lifts. The opening left by the cut also greatly improved Chans Run.

Workers also completed excavation work in the mid-mountain area, and volunteers built a primitive road to help facilitate rescue toboggans.

As part of a construction project, the organization put up a lube storage building along with an attached shed.

Turner Mountain volunteers are continuing fundraising for a new groomer. Call 406-293-2468 or send donations at Kootenai Winter Sports Ski Education Foundation, PO Box 210, Libby, MT 59923.

— The Western News

Mineral County renames Sheriff’s Office

Past and present Mineral County law enforcement officials last week gathered at the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office for a renaming ceremony. The building will now be known as the Mickey O’Brien Law Enforcement Center, in honor of former Mineral County Sheriff Mickey O’Brien, who served from 1986 to 1998 and died in July.

Current Sheriff Mike Toth hasn’t been sworn in for more than 30 days when word came that O’Brien had died, and he immediately went into action to honor the man who he said had been a pillar of the county.

“He was a man’s man whose word was solid … Several of us here today may not have made law enforcement a career if it wasn’t for Mickey,” Toth said at the building dedication.

— Mineral Independent

Lids for Kids program provides free helmets

Whitefish Lids for Kids has been quietly handing out ski and snowboard helmets to children who need them two years now.

RE/MAX of Whitefish spearheaded the program that began last winter, bringing on Mann Mortgage, Flathead Premier Title Company and Sportsman and Ski Haus. Together the businesses purchased 100 helmets that they’ve been giving out to children who need them.

Monte Gilman, owner of the real estate company, said the effort is just one of the many ways his company and its agents give back to the community.

Gilman, who previously worked as a ski instructor, had the idea to create the program so he approached the other companies involved to come on board. Sportsman secured a discount on the helmets from Smith, and the businesses pooled their money to purchase the initial set of helmets.

Gilman says he expects this winter he’ll give out the final helmet from that first 100, and then hopes to purchase more to keep the program going.

Helmets are provided free to elementary and middle school-aged children challenged by the cost of entering snow sports. Each Thursday from 3-5 p.m., those needing helmets can stop by the RE/MAX office at 509 East Sixth Street in downtown Whitefish.

For more information, contact RE/MAX of Whitefish at 863-3400.

— Whitefish Pilot

Lake County schools dealing with virus

Two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Polson School District, announced Dec. 4 and Dec. 7, have pushed the district’s total number of quarantined students to 218.

The Dec. 4 report involved a substitute teacher at Polson Middle School who tested positive. Three days later the district reported two confirmed cases among students at Cherry Valley Elementary. Subsequent contact tracing pushed the district’s quarantine total from 131 on Dec. 1 to the 218 reported Tuesday. There are approximately 1,640 students attending schools in the district.

Superintendent Tom DiGiallonardo said Tuesday there’s a chance many of the students recently placed on quarantine will be able to return as early as this week.

The Ronan School District’s most recent update, posted on its website Dec. 5, reports two active student cases and two among staff, with 25 students on quarantine.

In St. Ignatius, Superintendent Jason Sargent last Tuesday said his district has four active cases, with two at the middle school and one each at the elementary and high schools. Sixteen St. Ignatius students were quarantined on Dec. 8.

— Lake County Leader