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Cool news: Ice Arena reopens

After being closed for nearly two months because of financial problems, the Bremerton Ice Arena opened its doors Tuesday, offering once again the “coolest” place in town.

Skaters are ecstatic to be back on the ice to play hockey, skate around and practice their figure skating moves.

“I was really disappointed, it kind of stunk,” said Paul Eliuk, 19, an avid skater, about the ice arena closure.

He was hired last week to handle customer service and skate around on the ice to make sure everyone is safe.

On only his second day on the job, he glided comfortably around the chilly slab, keeping an eye out for the safety of a few children holding hands while they skated.

For the remainder of the summer, the arena will have public skate sessions from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily and 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Both hockey and skating lessons will be offered.

The California-based VSC Sports Enterprises reached an agreement with Ice Arena owners Chuck and Joanne Haselwood to reopen the facility.

The California-based VSC already manages six ice arenas around the United States, according to operations manager Richard Wise.

“We are just getting out feet wet ... or cold here,” Wise said with a grin.

“There is such a lack activities for kids in this area, the ice arena provides something for them to do, especially on the weekends.”

Wise said VSC will focus much more on learn to skate programs.

“Getting people in is our biggest priority,” he said. “The biggest challenge is getting the word out.”

The Ice Arena closed in May after former owner Greg Meakin lost the facility to Chuck and Joanne Haselwood through a bankruptcy filing.

Although Meakin started a variety of competitive hockey team programs, the Ice Arena still suffered from poor attendance.

Operational and start up costs became excessive.

Bremerton’s city staff is behind the reopening as well. Mayor Cary Bozeman says it provides another reason for young families to move to this region.

“It gives the youth of this community another activity,” he said. “In these tough economic times after school programs are the first things that get cut. It is really about creating a better environment for young people in this city.”

The Ice Arena is a great attribute of the Manette neighborhood said Daren Nygren, City Council president. It sits right below a section of the Bremerton-owned Eastpark.

“The developer looking at Eastpark is looking forward to working with the Ice Arena,” Nygren said.

VSC’s Floyd Johnson will manage the day to day operations of the facility.

After opening about 20 people have visited the facility every day, according to Wise.

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