It’s crazy to think about what was happening in central Ontonagon County on winter weekends before January 22, 2021 when the tow rope at Adventure Mountain in Greenland Township reopened. Every weekend since, and it looks like for many weekends moving forward, children and their families have been flocking to the hill.
“It’s a vehicle for hope,” said Mike Laakko, Mountain Lions Club President.
Ontonagon County has been hit hard by a changing economy over the few decades. It’s made jobs hard to come by, good jobs even harder to come by, and when that happens many other things in a community will falter. That was evident in Greenland Township when around 1990 the tow rope at their popular Adventure Mountain broke.
It remained broken for months. Months turned into years. Years into decades. Plans were drawn up and they fizzled. Time and time again the project couldn’t get going. That changed in 2015 when township officials secured grant funding. And even then, the challenges were mighty. A flood. A global pandemic.
But there it was on Friday, January 22, 2021 all lit up. Greenland Township’s Adventure Mountain was back in business.
“I was so happy last night to see the children and the skiers who were having such a great time,” Laakko said the morning after that first night.
“To go up there last night and see it under the lights and see the kids hooting and hollering, it was awesome,” added Kip McIntyre, owner of Pat’s Motorsports. “Just a good outdoor activity for them to do. It’s good for their health and minds. We needed that. Now more than ever.”
McIntyre and his family donated funds to help keep the project going through budget overages and volunteered time to make sure the project didn’t stall. As it was nearing opening, they funded the lights. For their family, it’s personal.
“My mom grew up here, my whole family grew up here, my parents started a business here and I wanted to give back to the community,” McIntyre said. “We’re losing so much in this area, I felt we needed something to get the kids outside doing something. That hill did it for me and a lot of people older than me.”
Laakko was one of those kids. And he takes his responsibility as the current president of the Mountain Lions Club very seriously. This accomplishment is a huge step forward for them. It wouldn’t have been possible without a sizable DNR grant, a Portage Health Foundation (PHF) recreational grant, the support of Greenland Township officials and the many members of the Mountain Lions Club that made it happen.
“This is a phenomenal success,” Mountain Lions Club Secretary Dean Juntunen said. “It was very much a team effort, the entire community and a wide variety of people came together and got it all to work.”
This is a prime example of the kind of project Portage Health Foundation is aiming to fund with its Community Recreational Facilities and Resources fund. The foundation put $20,000 toward this project and worked for years with the Mountain Lions Club and Greenland Township officials to help see its completion.
“Being up there on the opening weekend was an unforgettable experience,” PHF Executive Director Kevin Store said. “These people deserve a huge round of applause and appreciation for the amount of time they spent making this happen, and now every weekend our community is filled with the joy that comes from youth going out and experiencing Adventure Mountain.”
Portage Health Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2021 Community Recreational Facilities and Resources grant. $120,000 is available to help make other projects like this come to fruition. The deadline to apply is March 22. Learn more about this RFP and download an application at phfgive.org/grants.
Adventure Mountain Winter 2021 Hours
Open every weekend -- weather dependent. You can find it via Google Maps here, https://goo.gl/maps/ZBdX9H1TU1BSKvN17.
- Friday 5 to 9 p.m.
- Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday noon to 5 p.m.