Jan. 2—WATERTOWN — As more and more snow dumped on Watertown during Christmas weekend, residents and many businesses were forced to hunker down and temporarily close their doors.
One Watertown staple, however, Dry Hill Ski Area, has loved getting the snow that the north country has seen.
New owner Boo Wells purchased the facility for $415,000 along with her husband Patrick R. Jareo from Timothy L. and Deborah H. McAtee, back in September, and said getting the snow the north country saw was "a huge blessing."
"It gave us a nice base, we were able to take all that natural snow and pack it down and then make some manmade snow on top of it," she said. "It's given us a tremendous base for the beginning of the ski season."
They opened their doors for the first time this season the weekend after Thanksgiving, which was immediately following a November snowstorm that saw some areas of Jefferson County receive more than 70 inches of snow.
However, after "an amazing weekend" Dry Hill was forced to close as the snow began to melt.
As long as temperatures are cold, Dry Hill will remain open, Ms. Wells said.
"The snow is right now, beautiful, it's amazing skiing and we have a great base," she said. "So as long as we can keep our base, we can stay open. And then when the temperatures drop again, we can start making more snow to cover any spots that need attention."
She said that the customers are extremely excited to be back at Dry Hill.
"The positive feedback has been so encouraging," she said.
The storm hit the weekend of Christmas, which means that the next week kids and families will be able to take advantage of the snow at Dry Hill because children would be off from school.
"It was so great because it allowed us to be here for the kids while they were on vacation, it allowed us to be here for the kids coming home from college," she said.
The storm did force them to close for a couple of days due to the travel ban on Friday the 23rd, and Christmas Eve before reopening on the 26th.
Ms. Wells said her first season owning Dry Hill has been "amazing."
"The reason it's amazing is because of the staff, the people that work here, it's a family," she said. "The people that work here are just — you could not get better employees, team members I prefer. They have made this happen. They are the ones who just step up, step up, step up, and we couldn't do it without them."
She said she didn't know an exact number of skiers, but said they have sold so many season passes that they had to start a new spreadsheet because they completely filled up the first one.
Some changes were made during her first year including completely redoing the bathrooms; installing a handicap accessible bathroom; redoing the kitchen, purchasing new equipment; and opening up woods and glades.
Ms. Wells complimented the work of their mountain manager Dave Coons.
"He is a young man who has incredible talent and is a great leader, and he knows what needs to happen," she said. "Thanks to Dave, this hill is open."
In order to have the Hill operate smoothly, the grass gets mowed, the lifts get examined, brakes get checked, chairs get tested, and they need to make sure the underground snowmaking equipment is working.
Ms. Wells said that this process is a never ending process.
"Things need repairing constantly," she said.
Those that are interested in going skiing at Dry Hill can purchase daily lift tickets at the ticket office, and season passes can either be purchased at the Hill or can be paid for over the phone, and then a picture of each skier would need to be taken at the ski area.
Hours of operations are available online at their website at http://wdt.me/DryHill.