New groomer to hit snowmobile trails here

Some 300 km of trails within District #17 of the Sunset Country Snowmobile Club soon will reap the benefits from its latest investment.
The club purchased a new groomer, which arrived here fresh off the assembly line yesterday. The 1999 BR 180 Bombardier model replaces the groomer bought in 1992.
The new $161,000 piece of equipment partially was funded through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, with the local club kicking in the other half.
“Every dollar [the Heritage Fund] gave us we had to match,” club president Jerry Darvell said Monday.
“We traded in the old [groomer] plus we borrowed $37,000 from the Rainy River Future Development Corp.,” he added, noting proceeds from trail permits and club fundraisers will go towards paying off the loan.
The snowmobile club also received another $20,000 from the Heritage Fund to help with the cost for a building to house the groomer, $10,000 for use towards a staging area for snowmobilers, $6,000 for signage along the trail system, and $1,500 for small equipment.
Rick Socholotuk, safety instructor and trail co-ordinator for the local club, said the new groomer will do more than its predecessor.
“It’s new and improved,” he said yesterday. “One of its advantages is the cutting teeth it has in front.
“If the groomer comes upon a place in the trail that’s been hardened due to travel, the blade can drop and shave [the trail] down,” he explained.
Snow depth on the trails ideally should be 43 cm (17 inches) or more before the groomer is put to use, he added.
Meanwhile, Socholotuk also noted more than 1,450 volunteer hours already had been put into opening up the trails in District #17, with work still ahead to finish the ones to Clearwater Lake and LaBelle’s Camp.
Darvell said the new groomer will be operated outside town limits by a club member who will be paid as a driver and mechanic. Some club members also will be trained as volunteers to groom non-critical runs such as the in-town trails.