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Hickory Ski Center redevelopment plans underway

WARRENSBURG - Hickory Ski Center, historically an attraction for winter sports enthusiasts but closed since 2005, is likely to reopen as soon as this winter.

William Van Pelt, a businessman from Texas, is investing enough money to refurbish the ski center and offer new amenities expected in a modern resort, Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said this week.

The ski center - considered a throwback to the classic days of skiing with no snowmaking, no grooming and no modern chairlifts - will be extensively renovated with grooming, and plenty of new features and offerings, Geraghty said.

"We're pleased the Hickory Hill will now have an infusion of cash to refurbish it and make it viable again," he said. It's an important attraction not only for Warrensburg, but for all of Warren County."

Geraghty said Van Pelt was considering investing in snowmaking equipment, which would allow for a longer skiing season, in addition to extensive upgrades to the lodge and other facilities.

The ski center, known with fondness as "Hickory Hill," might offer mountain biking activities during the summer months, Geraghty said.

"They have great plans, and this is not only important to visitors, but for local residents," he said.

William Van Pelt of Houston confirmed his Hickory Hill redevelopment plans Monday.

Among the upgrades, he said, was a digital system that would automatically detect the paid passes skiiers bought in advance over the Internet, thus allowing them to get out of their car and get on the lift without waiting in line at a ticket window. The computerized system would also greet people by name as they board lifts, voicing the accumulated distance of their day's downhill adventures.

The lodge would also be extensively renovated with an eye on customer comfort and convenience, he said. Wi-Fi Internet will be among the new offerings.

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