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NB warming hut celebrates grand opening
GRAND OPENING — Partners in the construction of the New Balance Warming Hut at the ice rink on Cottage Street in Norway participate in the ribbon cutting at the hut's grand opening on January 11.
SKATING — Community members of all ages ice skate during the grand opening of the New Balance Warming Hut in Norway January 11.
NORWAY — A 24-by-30-foot warming hut, that was built at the outdoor ice skating rink on Cottage Street, celebrated its grand opening January 11.
With a $15,000 donation from the New Balance Foundation, established in 1981 and funded by New Balance Athletic Shoe Co., as well as other donors and volunteers, community members who use the popular downtown ice rink can now warm up while they're taking a break.
The hut was built by students of the Oxford Hills Technical School building technology class. Construction of the hut began in 2010 and was completed just last year, said Norway Parks and Recreation Director Debra Partridge.
The ice rink itself has been maintained by volunteer Bruce Fox since 1994, she said.
The celebration at the rink Friday included a ribbon cutting, recognition of key donors and volunteers who helped build the hut, as well as refreshments, a bonfire, raffles, ice skating and other winter activities.
"It's nice to be able to put skates on ... rather than sit on the cold ground," said Sherry Piirainen, of West Paris, who works at the New Balance factory in Norway.
Piirainen said it was she and her 12-year-old son Veikko's first time at the warming hut. In fact, it was Veikko's first time ice skating.
Sherry and Veikko agreed that with the new warming hut, they suspect they will be ice skating more frequently.
"It makes it so much more attractive," said Sherry. "It's a place for parents to come in and get warm. It is really nice to have."
In addition to the NB Foundation and student builders, other partners in the project include the New Balance Community Connection Associate Volunteers, R.E. Lowell Lumber, Flanders Electric, Swett Signs Inc., Nick and Sharon Barker, Mike and Chris Twitchell, Dead River Co. and countless volunteers, according to Partridge.
Before the hut was constructed, the rink had a small building to store about 100 pairs of skates, but did not provide enough space for people to escape the cold.
Shelley Newcomb, of Norway, said she will be using the ice rink more often now with the warming hut available.
"I think it's great, " she said, Friday. "This is where I will be bringing my grandchildren," she added, as she pointed to her three-year-old grandson, Avery, who pushed himself across the ice with a small folding chair for balance.
"There was another building there that had been donated, but it just wasn't big enough with all the skates," said Partridge. "Only about four people could fit in it."
The new hut not only gives skaters the chance get out of the cold, but also includes an 8-by-24 foot open deck, a 6-by-24 foot lobby area with benches, as well as cubbies for storage, said Partridge.
"Now, we can fit 40 plus people," she said. "It's awesome."
"We used to, with our programs, put out a tarp and children would put their backpacks on it. Now they can bring them inside and have their own cubby and keep them dry," Partridge explained.
Instead of going home when skaters get too cold, they can take shelter and warm up in the hut and then continue their activities, Partridge said.
"It makes a big difference when parents come pick up their children, if they come early," Partridge said.
"They [parents] come inside and talk with each other and watch their children skate," she said. "More people are coming out when we have it open."
The hut is heated by an efficient monitor heater system and, according to Partridge, was built on the land to best utilize natural light. "It's very well insulated," Partridge said.
In addition to the skating rink, she said, the recreation area has space for children to play in the snow, and where individuals of all ages can walk, snowshoe or cross country ski.
"It's great to see so many community members come here [warming hut] to utilize it," said Heather MacIsaac, a human resource representative of New Balance, who accompanied Partridge and other project partners at the ribbon cutting.
"It's really nice," Partridge added. "It's just terrific."
UNDER CONSTRUCTION — Mid-construction of the warming hut at the ice skating rink on Cottage street in November, 2010. The hut was built by students of the Oxford Hills Technical School building technology class. The small shed in the background used to house 100 pair of skates, but did not provide enough space for people using the recreation area to warm up.