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Valley Youth Network plans to reopen ice skating pond

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 9:04 p.m.
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Members of the Valley Youth Network play a pond hockey game. From left are Conner Maust, Ben McVicker, with Kip Crumrine at the goal, and Zach Yeskey . This photo was taken on 1/9/2014 t the Mill Creek Barn Ligonier by Bill Pribsco for the Ligonier Echo
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Chris Huber (left) and Maddie Glista spar over the ball during a broom ball game. Manning the goal is Kip Crumrine, executive director of the Valley Youth Network located on the first floor of the Barn at Ligonier Valley on Spinger Road. The game is played like hockey with old brooms duct taped and a soccer ball on the ice pond. This photo was taken on 1/9/2014 at the Mill Creek barn Ligonier by Bill Pribisco for the Ligonier Echo

The recent below-freezing temperatures should make for promising conditions for ice skating, but, for Kip Crumrine and the Valley Youth Network, the icy conditions have caused a set back for the group's plan to reopen an ice skating pond this winter at the group's facility located on Springer Road.

Crumrine, who is the executive director of the organization, hopes to restore the 1½ -foot deep ice pond to the way it appeared when it was owned by Ligonier's American Legion more than 50 years ago.

For the past several years, the youth group flooded the pond area to play hockey and broom ball, a game similar to hockey using a broom and a small ball. However, they had problems keeping the area filled with water when it thawed.

Thanks to a donation of 80-mil plastic from Waste Management Corp., the group plans to place a permanent liner in the 300-by-300-foot pond.

“The water leaks out. With the liner, we will be able to keep the water in it,” he said. “It should stay frozen longer and will refreeze instead of needing to be re-filled over and over again.”

Crumrine said it will most likely be spring until they can prepare it properly.

“The area has been flooded, frozen and snowed-in since we received the material to line the ice pond,” said Crumrine. “We were hoping to be ready for this year's ice fest. Guess we will aim for next year's event.”

The first skating pond on the property was established in the early 1960s by the Byers Tosh American Legion Post 267. According to member Thomas Graham, the legion initially built it for a local boys club.

“The pond was dug out by Byron “Bucky” Neiderhiser,” said Graham of Ligonier. “I helped the boys build the shed they used to sell hot dogs and hot chocolate.”

Crumrine said the warming hut with its wood burning stove will also be reopened and concessions may be available.

Charlene Pape's mother, Janet Carns, was the legion's business manager when the pond was built.

“I remember skating there when I was a little girl,” said Pape of Ligonier. “We lived in the farm house that was on the property at that time.”

Pape's response is similar to many who have grown up during the 1960s in the Ligonier Valley and have their own recollection of skating at the Legion ice pond.

Once the ice pond is up and running, Crumrine said his organization plans to work with the Ligonier Valley YMCA to offer programs for area youths.

“We are anxious to get started on it, weather permitting,” Crumrine said. “We think it will be a great communication resource for years to come.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or