Frost Fire Continues to Hit Benchmarks
Donor Makes $750,000 Challenge Gift
Walhalla, ND January 16, 2019 Walhalla, ND - The Pembina Gorge Foundation (PGF) is another step closer to a sustainable outdoor winter operation thanks to a generous challenge gift pledged by an anonymous donor for $750,000.00.
Pat Hardy, President, says “this is an incredibly generous and smart gift. It will help us attract and leverage another $750,000 in gifts that will provide the capital to get Frost Fire to a sustainable operation, while putting the foundation in a debt free position. Debt free has always been a requirement to the project’s overall success.”
2018 In Review
The Pembina Gorge Foundation (PGF) has made significant progress toward is fundraising, business and program development goals for Frost Fire. To date, near $3.1 million has been pledged (multi-year commitments) to support the purchase, chairlift, skis & snowboards, groomer, snowmakers, infrastructure, lodge, Kano Folk School and other support. We have had several donors provide in-kind gifts from a golf cart, a blower, to funds for a vacuum cleaner, gas cards, fire-wood and more. The total campaign is $7.5 million. More information can be found on the Frost Fire Park website.
Wilfahrt shares, “I have been amazed, daily, by the generosity of so many local people giving of themselves in ways they can to make sure Frost Fire is here for future generations. One donor gave because he attended his first-time theatre production, sharing he saw how the staff cared for our senior guests on a cold day by passing out blankets. You can’t beat that, when someone notices and is touched, by how staff and volunteers care so much about our patrons and one another. That keeps us all going. This is a big project, has a lot of unknowns as far as timing – and that impacts staff. It’s been unpredictable, and we are having to write the script as we go along. It takes a special person for that. Thank goodness for the staff, volunteers, donors, board members and friends – up and down the region, that support Frost Fire.”
Also, in 2018 Frost Fire’s lounge was moved from the lower-level to the main floor to better serve guests visiting for activities and special events. To honor a gift from Van & Lisa Howatt and Nathan Howatt families, the space was dedicated naming it the “Howatt Hangar”. The “Howatt Hangar” Grill & Bar is open during weekend hours and caters to special events such as weddings, meetings, cultural events, and celebrations, including the upcoming Valentines dinner.
Our Summer Theatre Cast and crew entertained over 4,800 people, breaking our record of 2017 theatre-goers, with the production “Route 66”. Our summer theatre manager also added Encore, a week-long youth arts camp and hosted a Buddy Holly returns weekend. The PGF was delighted to receive our first major donation to begin preparing a calendar of instructors for Kano Folk School courses and events.
We opened the State’s first-ever downhill mountain bike terrain park in partnership with North Dakota Parks & recreation, completing phase I of II, with three trails; the longest being nearly one mile. Mountain Biking on down-hill trails is expected to bring an additional 4,800 visitors annually when complete in 2020, pending funding.
Outdoor winter recreation was and is our current challenge. Tubing opened in 2017/18 season but operated at a loss. The PGF learned of near $1.9 million in capital investment necessary to bring Frost Fire’s operation into safe working order and to provide a sustainable year-round operation with a consistent work-force. Several factors effected the PGF’s board decision to not open the 2018/19 season: including timing of capital being received through pledges, as well the need to raise more funds; preparedness to implement & execute inspections per insurance requirements, chair lift training and chair evacuation training, as well as a need to create a new local ski /bike patrol program.
“We just aren't ready yet. We wanted to be fully opened this winter but, made the final determination not to open when we became aware there was more work than time allowed, yet necessary to assure the safest winter recreation program for our kids and visitors. Safety preparedness, in addition to the uncertainties of weather and needing to be good stewards of our dollars, were the key factors in deciding to shut down for winter recreation,” says Van Howatt, executive member of the Board. “We will continue to fundraise, build the program and get to work on the 5-year strategic plan.”
The Board of Directors is conducting a strategic planning session in February 2019 to develop a five-year plan. The PGF will continue to develop partnership opportunities, including with North Dakota Parks & Recreation Dept. and support the development of the Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area Masterplan.
ABOUT PEMBINA GORGE FOUNDATION and FROST FIRE Park
The mission of the Pembina Gorge Foundation is to preserve and enhance the experience of the Pembina Gorge while connecting people to positive, life changing experiences. The Foundation develops and supports historical, cultural, education, natural, interpretive and recreational opportunities in the Gorge.
Pembina Gorge Foundation incorporated as a nonprofit in the State of North Dakota in January 2017, immediately launching the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise resources for the purchase and restoration to Fire up Frost Fire.
If you would like to help us leverage the challenge match grant and make a gift, here's how:
- Mail: Pembina Gorge Foundation, PO Box 888 Walhalla, ND 58282
- Fiscal Sponsor: Red River Community Development Organization, 516 Cooper Ave, Grafton, ND 58237
- Gift of Harvest Program:
- Grain, Beans or other Commodities: Local Elevators, call Kristi at 701.317.6729
- On-line: http://www.frostfirepark.org/pembina-gorge-foundation.html
- Drop-off: Citizens Banks or Choice Banks
2019 Board of Directors: Pat Hardy, Pat Chaput, Van Howatt, Randy Bata, Jeff Mostad, Dustin Gorder, Sandy Crary, Elsie Magnus and Frank White.
Ex-officio Members: Dawn Mandt, Red River Regional Council/Pembina County Job Development Authority, and Justin Robinson, ND Parks and Recreation Department serve as ex officio members of the board. Kristi Wilfahrt was appointed Interim Foundation Director, May 2017.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Kristi Wilfahrt at 701.317.6729 or email at Kristi.firstname.lastname@example.org