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Wednesday

April 2014

16

Highlands of Olympia ski hill finally enjoying snow

Managers offering tubing this year

Thanks to some snow and the support of the community, the managers of the Highlands of Olympia ski hill in Oconomowoc were happy to report last week that they are having a better season this year. This is especially good news given that the future of the ski hill remains uncertain.

On Thursday, Casey Bingham who manages the ski hill with Brent Milkey, said they are definitely up over last year as far as lift ticket sales.

"It helps having snow. I think at this time last year it was raining. So the snow gets people excited and in the mood to come out," Bingham said.

Bingham and Milkey have managed the hill the last two years. They've been working to freshen up the property with a cleanup and new paint, began offering tubing last weekend and have a new vendor at the cafe.

Bingham said the improvements they've made to the property have been noticed and appreciated by patrons. The property, which includes the Olde Highlander Golf Course, has been in disrepair and experiencing financial troubles. The golf course closed in summer, but the ski hill managers were granted a lease through spring to keep Highlands open.

Former owner of the ski hill and golf course, Jeff Statz, filed for receivership - which is similar to a federal bankruptcy filing. Seth Dizard of the Milwaukee law firm O'Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing became the receiver of the property. Statz owed more than $2 million to ISB Community Bank of Ixonia on the property, which was also facing losing its liquor license because it was delinquent for property taxes and utilities to the city. However, the bank has paid the $36,000 owed in delinquent taxes, along with another $150 for utility bills.

In early December, ISB took over ownership of the property. It offered to forgive the money owed in exchange for the land.

Bingham said there has been no indication from ISB on renewing the managers' lease - right now they just have it until April.

"But we're still moving forward as if we are here for the next five to 10 years. We're not holding back and we've been doing good," he said.

And doing well is much easier to do when there are good snow days, Bingham added. He said they've been blowing snow every night to maintain a good base. Fifty to 60 percent of the hill is open, and with increased snow making and anticipated colder temperatures in the New Year, Bingham said the hill should see a good season.

For more information on lift tickets and tubing, visit www.skihighlandsofolympia.com/.

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