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Buena Vista Ski Patrol: New facility is nearing completion

From left, Buena Vista Ski Patrol member Gary Pederson, cuts the siding as fellow members Truman Jackson and Steve Modich install the boards Tuesday afternoon as they near the completion of the ski patrol's new building. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

By the time snow started to fly last ski season, the new Buena Vista Ski Patrol building was complete enough to use for the winter, an endeavor that benefit three local organizations.

The building sat for a season with a Tyvek exterior, but this week the siding outside the building will be done.

For the 40 members of the ski patrol. it took four years of working at the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival to generate enough funds for the new facility, which is nearly four times the size of their old Swiss chalet-style building.

The new building has three usable first aid beds instead of two, a family room with a kitchenette, a handicap-accessible bathroom and a room for members to store their equipment, with personal cubbies and a handmade customized boot drying rack.

"The patrol is a family, either on this hill or at the dragon boat," said Steve Modich. "We've had visiting patrol members that are envious of our facility."

Members of the Buena Vista Ski Patrol are all volunteers. They do not get paid and they use their own equipment, as well as equipment they have accrued through the years.

"Each patrol member is required to work 10 shifts or an equivalent of 50 hours a season. "It's a labor of love," said Gary Pederson. "We get an average of 100 to 120 people we attend to. About 20 of those have possible serious injuries."

According to Modich, the ski patrol has been blessed with this project and had many contractors who donated their time to make it all possible.

In addition to the ski patrol and the Dragon Boat Festival, the Finlandia organization also benefited from the new facility.

The old patrol building -- known as "the shack" -- was moved across a field to the cross county ski area and is home to the new timing building for races.

The ski patrol is good to go for this year's ski season. Hopes are to add flooring to the inside and new radios for their members -- next year.