FAIRFIELD, Idaho -- It was a big night in the small town of Fairfield, as the Soldier Mountain Ski Area officially changed hands.
Soldier Mountain Ski Area has been a part of Fairfield and Camas County for decades.
It's been in the community I think since the late 40s, said Anni Thompson who farms in Camas County. I think there's a lot of kids in the Valley that learned how to ski at Soldier Mountain.
Thompson and others say this rural farming community relies on the jobs available at Soldier Mountain in the winter, along with the tourism dollars it brings in. However, a Soldier Mountain employee says the ski area has been losing money for the past few years.
In April, actor Bruce Willis (the owner since the late 90's) decided he would generously donate Soldier Mountain to a non-profit group dedicated to keeping it running.
That leads us to Will Varin.
Varin is a Boise lawyer who grew up in Fairfield, and is now the president of a non-profit group selected by Willis to be the new owner-operator of Soldier Mountain. Thursday night was the group's big unveiling to the Camas County community.
The mountain is really an economic driver for the community and we recognize that, said Varin. It's important to really make sure and acknowledge that, and provide jobs and tourism to the community.
Varin is not the only local board member. Every member has Idaho or Camas County ties, including Jamon Frostenson, who is the grandson of Soldier Mountain's founder.
They grew up skiing here, said Bill Davis, a Camas County Commissioner who worked at Soldier Mountain in the 1980s. They've seen it go through the ups and downs, and lack of snow, and good snow, and different managers, and different techniques. So, I think it's really good.
The new non-profit status of the ski area will allow for tax-deductible donations, which one analyst --says will keep Soldier Mountain running. In addition -- if this meeting is any indication, the community couldn't be happier.
We're just super excited to have the opportunity to share the mountain where we grew up, and that we really love, said Varin.
Those with the non-profit Soldier Mountain Ski Area Incorporated, now say they are going to get right on selling passes and spreading the word about the new Soldier Mountain.