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Early no-snow days likely drawing to a close


Mt. Bachelor won’t be opening Thanksgiving, but says it plans to open one chairlift Saturday — holiday snowstorm willing. Resort officials say it will have a better idea by Friday if more than one lift can open Saturday. But down the mountain, the lack of snow so far has been affecting businesses in Central Oregon.

Joel King, an employee at High Desert Ranch and Home, said Monday the company normally has its winter supplies and tools by mid-October. King said it’s a weather-driven business — and this year, up until now, there’s just has not been the need for winter supplies. So far this season, they’ve only had one snow-related sale.

“We’re actually putting out snow shovels we owned for two seasons. We bought them at the end of the last big snow, and then last year was so minor we sold some but did not sell through,” King said.

The city of Bend keeps busy in the winter months, if if there’s a lack of snow to plow on the streets. On an early-season day like Monday, instead of treating the roads for storms, city employees are hard at work getting caught up on core maintenance projects.

David Abbas, Bend’s director of streets, said that over the last two years, they’ve used the clear roads to their advantage. During the warmer, drier winter weather, they get ahead on projects such as paving and chip sealing.

Abbas said regardless whether it’s snowing or not, crews are busy.

“So this time of year like today, beautiful day, landscaping, trimming trees, getting ready for next year’s street preservation, concrete work can still happen, sweeping,” Abbas said. “Our crews are still busy. They’re just doing different things than plowing snow,” .

In a less wintry winter, the city is able to save a little money. It has about $250,000 set aside to call in contractors to help plow if a major storm hits. Abbas said if they don’t need those funds this year, they’ll roll the money over to next year’s budget.

Scott Gray, the owner of Village Bike and Ski, said he typically transitions his shop from bikes to skis in mid-October, but with the lack of snow and warmer temperatures, he did not start the transition until recently. He said he’s sold several bikes in the last couple days, and bike rentals are up.

“Bicycling is becoming a year-round sport,” Gray said. “The winter gear is better, the tires are better, people can ride in the snow, people can mountain bike east of Bend. They can mountain bike towards Redmond.

“There’s a lot of terrain, so people are gravitating toward mountain biking and cycling in general as a year-round sport,” he said. “And skiing has become more seasonal and less important from a business perspective, at least for us.”

Gray said because Sunriver is a vacation destination, a majority of its ski rentals occur between Christmas and New Year’s, while kids are not in school. Even though its ski rentals are becoming more and more stagnant, when there’s a major snow, one weekend will help the shop survive the winter months until bike rentals pick back up.

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