Community volunteers work to reopen North Pole HS ice rink after twenty years
A group of volunteers worked over the weekend to fix the North Pole High School ice rink so that it's safe for the community to skate on again.
Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward said, “It’s actually been out here, unused for about the last twenty years. Last year we had an incident at the middle school ice rink, which has historically been used by the community, and had to shut that facility down. We heard from the community and they stepped up, and here we are today getting this one back up and running."
On Saturday, volunteers from the Central Labor Council worked on the rink, fixing aspects of the facility that are currently unsafe.
Jeremy Holan, vice president for the Central Labor Council and business representative for the Teamsters Local 959, says he has been working with the borough’s office on a personal level since the North Pole Middle School ice rink closed. Then he involved the Central Labor Council to come out and help get an ice rink open again for the North Pole community.
“I grew up skating on a rink out here in North Pole and a lot of the guys out here have... and have been volunteering for years to make sure the community’s got a place for healthy activities,” said Holan.
Holan says through the Central Labor Council, all the unions come together and do what they can to help, whether it is donating time or money. "[We] definitely noticed a big increase with the budget cuts... with a lot more people looking for help... and we do whatever we can to makes sure the community is taken care of.”
The Fairbanks North Star Borough created a new volunteer policy so that community members can help when the borough may not have the funds to do so.
“One of the things we’ve heard from the community is that there is a real big desire for members of our community to help out on projects around the borough. So in working with staff and with the assembly, we came up with this idea of a volunteer policy where we can partner with community organizations to get projects done that our community needs,” said Ward.
Ward says the goal for Saturday was to get the rink safe and operable again. “We’ve got some long term plans of what we would like to do to get the facility up to a better standard, but for right now we’re really just getting it to a point where we can open it to the public,” said Ward.
The safety hazards they were looking out for were, “screws, or nails that might be out a little bit, damaged sideboards, fences that need to get secured again, things like that. We just really want to make it safe for the public... get it open for at least the last half of the winter,” said Ward.
Ward says they would like to do this for other projects. “This one really was great -- working with the community to come together and really be able to take a project, identify a need, and then be able to get it fixed and get something done,” said Ward.