After 10 years as manager and executive director of Ski Gull Inc., Bob Hanson is stepping down as of June 1.
Hanson said Ski Gull has grown to the point that the area needs someone in a full-time capacity to manage the ski area. And with Hanson's other commitments, he said stepping down at this time is in the best interest of Ski Gull.
Hanson said the last decade at Ski Gull has been full of challenges, peaks and valleys. When Hanson first took over the management of the ski hill, Ski Gull was on the verge of closing. Between a list of payable and back taxes of more than $87,0000, equipment on its last legs and a power company threatening to turn off the electricity, Hanson said the possibility of opening seemed unlikely.
In addition, Ski Gull had such an erosion problem that the DNR was involved and to the point of terminating the lease if the problem was not corrected. Hanson said there was also a false perception that Ski Gull was owned and created solely for the area resorts' benefit. And Ski Gull's own non-profit status was being challenged by the Internal Revenue Service.
"Between these challenges, the tracks breaking and falling off of our 20-year-old groomer, broken water pipes to make snow shooting geysers 30 feet in the air and a broken chair lift, the odds seemed insurmountable," Hanson said in a news release. "Through countless volunteered hours, board members negotiated with vendors, area financial institutions, the state of Minnesota tax department, the DNR, the IRS and also at this time many board members signed personal guarantees, made loans and donations.
"A concerned friend and past board member paid out of his own pocket a substantial amount of money for attorney's fees to defend our non-profit status, which we successfully proved hands down."
Hanson said the most common question he was asked during those years was whether Ski Gull was going to open. Now, he said, the question is about new items and improvements at the ski hill.
"The way that our great community comes together for a good cause, especially when it comes to something for our kids, has absolutely amazed me in the time I have spent with Ski Gull," Hanson said. "I would like to personally thank all of the folks and businesses who have done so much for this worthwhile cause."
Hanson said the donations of time and cash and talent from individuals and area businesses helped to keep Ski Gull thriving.
"It has been wonderful to see some of these area kids ski for the first time during their sixth-grade Ski for Free Program and now some of them are working for Ski Gull," Hanson said. "I'm sure before long we will have one of our Ski for Free graduates on our board of directors.
"It's going to be very hard to hand over the reins of the executive director position to someone else, but with the other commitments I have, I know that it is the best thing to do for Ski Gull," Hanson said.
Ski Gull has formed a search committee to find the right person for the position. Interested parties should send a resume to Ski Gull Search Committee, P.O. Box 612, Nisswa, 56468.
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