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Ice skating may return to Connellsville

| Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 4:00 p.m.

Connellsville officials want to offer city residents a chance to enjoy the fun of ice skating. All they need is a location.

Connellsville Mayor Gregory Lincoln said the city's recreation board, of which he is a former member, had tried to get a skating rink in the city for the past two winters.

With the extremely cold temperatures in the area this week, Lincoln thought it would be a good time to give the skating rink idea another try.

He spoke with Connellsville Street Foreman Vern Ohler asking if the drains at Woodruff Park basketball court could be blocked. New Haven Hose Company agreed if it was possible, it would flood the court, allowing it to freeze and turning it into a skating rink.

Lincoln, Ohler, New Haven Hose Fire Chief Bob Topper and Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Layton visited the court. While discussing the project, the men found a slight problem — the court would probably drain of water before it would have a chance to freeze.

The search was then on for another suitable location. Lincoln suggested the basketball court across from South Side Elementary School. The property is owned by the Connellsville Area School District.

“It's an ideal court,” Lincoln said.

The mayor contacted Connellsville Area School Board Director Daniel Martucci, who said he would discuss the matter with the entire board.

Martucci said the board supported the idea but it could not take official action at Wednesday's board meeting until it received approval from its insurance provider regarding liability.

“It has to do with liability issues, so we need to look into that,” Martucci said.

“I'm excited that the school board is for it, too,” Lincoln said.

While not a skater himself, Lincoln said he remembered the temporary skating rink that was set up for It's a Connellsville Christmas in December. He said he saw how much fun the children were having on the ice.

“All it will basically come down to is liability,” Lincoln said. “We just got to make sure we do it correctly.”

Topper agreed South Side Elementary School basketball court would be a better option than the court at Woodruff Park. He said that same location was used for ice skating more than a decade ago.

Topper said once the logistic of the liability is settled between the school and the city, he'll take a look at the basketball court.

“We need to see if it can hold water if we plug the drains,” Topper said. Once the location is sound, putting the water on the court will not be a problem.

“New Haven Hose will do whatever we can to help the city whenever possible,” the chief said.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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