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February 4, 2017 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sno-Packers, Oakfield, news, ARC Genesee-Orleans.


Clients of ARC of Genesee-Orleans paid a visit to the Sno-Packers clubhouse today for rides on snowmobiles around the track in the neighboring field. 

It's been a couple of years since there was enough snow for the otherwise-annual ride. Even today, the snow cover was thin and the ground was just frozen enough to handle the weight of the snowmobiles.

Several children enjoyed multiple rides around the track.




February 18, 2014 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, recreation, snowmobiles, Sno-Packers.

Out on a trail in Oakfield, a first-time snowmobiler with a camera decided to stop, letting his guide continue ahead for a bit, and looked back at the path just taken and see if the area might be photogenic.

It wasn't.

When the rookie turned back to put his hands on the handlebars, his palm accidentally hit the engine's kill switch.

He had no idea how to restart this machine.

No worries really. The rider knew his guide, Jim Elmore, would turn around before long and see the rookie was no longer trailing. Elmore is past-president of Genesee County Sno-Packers Snowmobile Club and the current president of NYSSA (New York State Snowmobilers Association).

Perhaps the guide had a bit of fear that the rookie had done something horrid with Jane Chaddock's sled, like zoom it off the trail into a ditch, and he would return.

About this time, a young rider on a neon green and black snowmobile happened along the trail and offered assistance.

And that's sort of how it goes in the snowmobile community in Genesee County -- a cooperative spirit, riders helping riders.

It takes a dedicated group of volunteers to maintain the 175 miles of snowmobile trails in the county, and Sno-Packers (along with Sleds of Stafford) are the organizations that ensure the work gets done.

If not, as volunteer groomer Greg Rich said, "It would be pretty rough out here. There would probably be no snowmobilers."

The Sno-Packers own three machines for grooming the trails. Each costs more than $200,000, and the grooming drags cost another $12,000 each, plus the club spends from $25,000 to $30,000 a year on operations and maintenance.

Ten to 12 volunteers operate the groomers. A couple, such as Rich, spend more than 10 hours a day out on trails, keeping the snow smooth and packed so riding is not only possible, but safer.

The club also maintains trail signs that provide directions and GPS coordinates to riders so they don't get lost and have some idea of where they are in an emergency.

Snowmobile clubs also provide a safety and riding classes, not to mention social events.

It's a monumental effort and involves an interesting bit of cooperation between private non-profit groups and state agencies.

In fact, Elmore noted that while citizens often complain about state government, snowmobile groups, and certainly Sno-Packers often find government agencies to be cooperative allies.

As an example, Emore pointed to a trail that connects Alexander and Bethany. It's an old railroad bed owned by the Department of Environmental Conservation. After years of wondering why it wasn't a snowmobile trail, the Sno-Packers reached out to the DEC and inquired about turning it into a trail. The DEC's response? "We thought you'd never ask."

Much of the funding for trail maintenance comes from license fees for snowmobiles collected by the state (unlicensed snowmobiles, and there are some, then, are the bane of good trail maintenance). 

The state pays Genesee Sno-Packers to maintain 150 miles of trail. The club pays for the extra 25 miles out of its own dues.

A ride on one of these trails reveals a side of Genesee County that you're never going to see from a state highway or county road. The vistas and views are completely different and reveal even greater variety of our area's beauty.

In fact, if your concept of snowmobiles is that of a bunch of speed demons racing around the countryside, that's hardly the truth at all. Snowmobilers are photography buffs (Chaddock, for example, always packs a camera and is known among club members for her eye-catching photography), birders and nature lovers.

On the trail, you come across a variety of wildlife and that's part of the fun of the ride.

February 5, 2011 - 6:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Genesee ARC, Sno-Packers.

Genesee County Sno-Packers Snowmobile Club hosted clients of Genesee ARC today for the third annual "Winter Fun Party" at the club's facility in Oakfield.

The event is part of Genesee ARC's "Challenger Sports" program.

The party featured snowmobile rides, crafts and a lunch.

The club received a grant from KLIM, a maker of snowmobile clothing, so each participant received a KLIM beanie.

Photos from today's event can be purchased by clicking here.

More photos to view after the jump:

February 6, 2010 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, Sour Springs Road, Sno-Packers.


It's ready to go and a club member told me this morning that Sno-Packers are feeling pretty confident that the Town of Alabama Board is going to approve the agreement with Genesee County this week that will enable the club to reinstall its bridge on Sour Springs Road.

February 6, 2010 - 4:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Genesee ARC, Sno-Packers, Challenger.


Members of Genesee ARC's Challenger program had a chance to ride snowmobiles and all-terrain winter vehicles today, courtesy the Genesee Sno-Packers snowmobile club.  The annual event was held at the Sno-Packers facility on Pearl Street Road in Oakfield.

More pictures after the jump:

January 27, 2010 - 10:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Sour Springs Road, Sno-Packers.

From the county's perspective, the Sno-Packers have the A-OK to reinstall their bridge on Sour Springs Road, but the agreement to make it happen is far from a done deal.

snopackers_kevin_fisher.jpgThe Town of Alabama atttorney is recommending to town board members that they not approve an agreement that passed the County Legislature 9-0 tonight.

According to Councilman Max Maerten, who attended the Legislature meeting, Alabama's attorney doesn't believe the agreement has language allowing the town to assign its duties to a third party. Maerten said he's voting for the agreement anyway.

"Our insurance company that's going to carry the policy for the town does not have an issue with it," Maerten said. "I'm not one to wear the liability of everything every day on his sleeve. If our insurance company is willing to back us and the snowmobile club insurance is going to back us, I would probably vote yes."

Kevin Fischer (pictured), president of the Genesee Sno-Packers said he's not concerned about the situation with the Alabama Town Board.

"I believe that they all know and understand what we're all about," Fisher said. "They know what our intentions have been all along. They were the people who who said a year ago the issue isn't with the Town of Alabama it's with the county. I believe we'll be able to work something out."

County officials say that although there's nothing explicitly allowing it, there is nothing in the agreement that prevents the Town of Alabama from reaching a separate agreement with the Sno-Packers.

January 20, 2010 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Sour Springs Road, Sno-Packers.

At today's Ways and Means Committee meeting, Sno-Packers Snowmobile Club representative Kevin Fisher could only laugh.

"It's not easy, is it?" County Attorney John Rizzo said.

For Fisher and the other club members, getting their bridge restored on Sour Springs Road in Alabama has been a long process. There is always one more step.

Today's step was for the Ways and Means Committee to refer a resolution to the full County Legislature. It authorizes Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock to sign an agreement with the Town of Alabama accepting indemnification from any liability for the bridge.

There's always a wrinkle, of course, and in this case, according to Legislator Ray Cianfrini, who represents Alabama, the town attorney wants the Sno-Packers to be a party to the agreement.

But both Cianfrini and Rizzo said from the county perspective, it's a two-party agreement and there's nothing preventing the Town of Alabama from signing an agreement with Sno-Packers.

"That's raising some controversy that we don't necessarily agree with," said Ray " ... We want to make sure that we fulfill our side of the agreement by referring it to the Legislature to approve for signature."

For Fisher, he would just like to get the bridge in as soon as possible and he was hoping to find some way to start installation even before all of the agreements are signed.

"Right now we have a break in the weather," Fisher said. "It would be much more pleasant to set that bridge back in place now when it's 40 degrees than two weeks from now when it's 20. That's our only thing. We understand if it can't be done, it can't be done."

December 30, 2009 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Sno-Packers, Soar Springs Road.

A bridge at Sour Springs Road built by local snowmobilers and later removed by the county could be back in place within a month, County Manager Jay Gsell told WBTA.

The County and the Town of Alabama have reached an agreement to let the bridge be reinstalled and now Gsell said the insurance companies need to approve it.

"The engineer has already looked at the drawings and their sufficient as far as the structure and how they're going to reposition the bridge," Gsell said (mp3). "Winter started, what, Dec. 22? We've got a long season ahead of us. So my sense is that bridge will probably be in place by the end of January if not sooner."

Sno-packers club leaders have previous said putting the bridge back in place won't be difficult.

October 29, 2009 - 2:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Sour Springs Road, Sno-Packers.

A handful of snowmobilers attended last night's Genesee County Legislature meeting, and though they were not allowed to speak, they did walk about with good news.

It may be possible for the Genesee County Sno-Packers to reinstall the bridge it installed on Sour Springs Road over Oak Orchard Creek.

The county highway department removed the bridge Oct. 22, with officials citing liability concerns since installation of the bridge was not authorized.

Two issues stand in the way of putting the bridge back in place: County liability and responsibility for maintenance. Both of those issue appear on the cusp of resolution.

"After some discussion I had tonight with the county attorney, it appears that the county attorney would be receptive to the town of Alabama giving a hold harmless and indemnification agreement to the county," said Legislator Ray Cianfrini. "I was told by Mr. Rizzo that he would be receptive to that, and that's a huge step forward."

Even though the Sour Springs Road runs through a national wildlife refuge, it is actually a Town of Alabama roadway.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said he was confident an agreement could be reached with the Sno-Packers for maintenance of the bridge.

Kevin Fisher, speaking for the Sno-Packers after the meeting said the club would have no issue with taking care of the bride and would gladly reinstall it themselves.

“I’m sure the club will put it back in," Fischer said. "We did it once, I’m sure we can do it again.”

At which point another club member chimed in, "It's easier the second time."

"You got it," Fisher said.

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