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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, May 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Snow’s toll on ice arena deals blow to skaters

Vince Hughes of KYRO Ice Arena looks at the  building on Wednesday.  He talked about  damage from last month’s roof collapse.  (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Vince Hughes of KYRO Ice Arena looks at the building on Wednesday. He talked about damage from last month’s roof collapse. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

When the KYRO Ice Arena’s roof collapsed last month, it left a trail of heartbreak and uncertainty for the hundreds of hockey fans who made it their home.

As the only indoor ice rink in North Idaho, the arena was the playing and practice field for dozens of hockey teams and several hundred players, ranging from 3-year-olds to high school athletes, as well as an entertainment hub for many other skaters.

What made the Seltice Way facility unique was that it was maintained by an all-volunteer collection of skating fans, the nonprofit Kootenai Youth Recreation Organization that was established in 2000 to save the rink from closure.

Over the years, athletes, coaches, parents and other skating supporters invested hundreds of hours into transforming the original open ice sheet into a first-rate indoor arena. A Zamboni storage room was added to the enclosed facility, and everything from locker rooms and player benches to indoor lights and tempered glass-protected spectator seats were remodeled.

“We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that place,” said KYRO board President Vince Hughes. He estimated almost 70 percent of the metal beams supporting the roof have caved in under the weight of the snow, with only the locker rooms and Zamboni garage perhaps salvageable.

As far as what the future holds for the mangled arena, he said, “At this point in time, it’s too early to tell. It will take a while until we know the full extent of the damage.”

In the meantime, Kootenai County teams are working with rinks across the state line such as Riverfront Park and Eagles Ice-A-Rena in north Spokane for ice time. The time slots, though, are in high demand since the city’s three sheets are already in use by two groups, the Inland Empire Amateur Hockey Association and Spokane Americans Youth Hockey.

For those who learned at KYRO how to lace up their skates, put on hockey gear and take to the ice, the roof collapse dealt a hefty blow, but not an insurmountable setback.

“We were devastated at first, like ‘What do we do now?’ ” said Lindsay Gorrill, president and coach of the Coeur d’Alene Amateur Hockey Association.

Citizen of the Year

When the Rev. Ian Robertson got a call from Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce President Eldonna Shaw this week, he had no idea the chamber had just selected him as the winner of its Citizen of the Year award.

“They caught me by surprise,” he said. “I thought she was asking me to be on the committee to choose it.”

The award is given every year to a person who performs exemplary service and helps promote business and community growth by enhancing programs that improve the community.

Robertson, who retired as senior pastor of the Valley Church of the Nazarene in 2007, is heavily involved in the community. He organized and still runs the Valley Ministerial Association, sits on the city of Spokane Valley’s planning commission and led the effort to reopen the failed Sports USA complex as the Valley HUB.

“He’s just done a lot of things,” said Shaw. “You look at his achievements and it’s just amazing.”

Jacob Livingston Nina Culver

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