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Thursday, March 22, 2018

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Outdoor ice rink has new home this winter ***UPDATE***

By Kyle Vuille

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Long overdue and far more  sophisticated than prior ones,  planning for a new ice skating rink at the Dawson County Fairground’s Arena is well underway for the 2017-2018 season.

With the Glendive Ice Foundation and the Fairboard wrapping up the contract for the ice skating rink, dreams of having a legitimate ice rink are going to become a reality with side walls, a liner and a “zamboni” to keep the ice nice and smooth.

Anthony Varriano, previous local resident, has been the driving force behind the efforts of creating proper accommodations for the winter sport since he founded the Glendive Ice Foundation.

Varriano was motivated by a lack of skatable ice in town and recalled the poor offerings available in years gone by. With little grooming or upkeep, the ice quality deteriorated. As an example, Varriano mentioned his sister broke an ankle on bad ice as a kid.

Varriano and others in the Foundation hope that with better quality ice will come more interest in hockey in the Glendive area.

“Our goal is to grow ice sports in Glendive, so if a kid wants to skate good ice everyday his parents don’t have to drive more than two hours round-trip on icy roads to get some ice time,” Varriano said. 

He said he is hopeful ice sports will take off in Glendive in the coming years, noting both Sidney and Miles City have indoor rinks. While an indoor rink remains a distant dream, having this upcoming one with the walls and better ice is a start in the right direction.

The biggest selling point of the fairgrounds was free access to water for the ice, but according to Varriano, the cost of insurance has been rather a snag in the process.

The insurance quote for the fairgrounds rink was $750 for three months.

“That severely limits what we can do in the future,” Varriano said.

He stressed wanting the public to know the fairgrounds rink can only happen with their support.

Varriano has tentatively scheduled a fundraiser Dec. 1 in the name of the late John Haase who strived to better the community during his lifetime.

The Glendive Ice Foundation is also looking for more local businesses to step up to the call for donations and would like to feature the businesses’ logos on wooden walls along the side of the rink walls. The walls will be installed in order for games of hockey to be played.

When the non-profit foundation started last year, the first priority was reaching out to the community to raise funds for a rink liner. Varriano noted it is important to have a white liner to reflect sunlight and avoid ice melt. 

The liner is 100 x 45 ft. which according to Varriano is big enough for an Olympic rink. It was used for the first time last year when a basic rink was installed at Greg Park, though he said that was a test run and kind of late in the season.

Varriano also took it upon himself to build a “do it yourself” Zamboni out of his father’s four wheeler and a fair amount of determination and intuition. Varriano said attached to the back of the four wheeler is a 30 gallon water tank with three sprayers and a weighted squeegee to smooth out the fresh ice.

Varriano also mentioned a community member, Don LaPlant, has stepped up to the plate to use his plow to sweep snow off the rink if there is snowfall during the three month period the rink will operate.

Numerous members of the community and local businesses have also made donations toward the purchase of skates and hockey equipment. 

Varriano is adamant that  having equipment available to rent is important because hockey equipment is expensive, which can deter kids from even trying the sport. 

At the moment, the Glendive Recreation Department rent ice skates, but the skates are just figure skates, no hockey skates. The figure skates can be rented for a half day to a week. All rental fees are dependent on age and if the renter is a city or non-city resident. 

Varriano hopes a big leap forward happens this winter, but said if the fairgrounds plan is unworkable in future years, the group would happily install the liner at another location if the city were willing to fill an ice pond.

For further information, join the Glendive Ice Foundation’s Facebook page or to make donations to the foundation, visit https://www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/the-john-haase-memorial-ic....

Reach Kyle Vuille at




Upon the Nov. 27 fairboard meeting, the cost of insurance was not sustainable long term for the Glendive Ice Foundation’s funds so using the arena as an ice rink is out of the picture for this year. According to Nov. 28 email, Varriano said the City of Glendive has approved installing the rink at Whipkey Park. The liner purchased by the foundation will still be used and the grooming machine will be stored a couple blocks away. The Glendive Ice Foundation is now figuring out how to install the boards that will perimeter the rink. The foundation is asking for a $250 tax deductible donation from local businesses in order for their ads to be placed on the boards. Varriano said the foundation is still actively trying to have the rink at the fair ground’s arena next year.

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