Alex Avila of Hermon enjoys some ice time on Hermon’s new outdoor ice rink. Courtesy of Jodi Hersey

By Jodi Hersey

HERMON — The ice is flying in Hermon at the town’s brand new ice skating rink. The 35- by 80-foot portable outdoor ice rink made by EZ Ice, is located in front of the Patricia A. Duran Elementary School on the Billings Road. It opened in January and many people are already lacing up their skates to get in as many strides as they can.

“Anyone can use it whenever they want,” said Jim Chasse, Hermon’s superintendent of schools. “We have some lights that are on a motion timer so it can be used in the evening. I had one mother tell me that her children ask her every day, ‘Can we go to the rink tonight?’ ”  

The rink was paid for with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (or CARES) Act. Monies from that bill were also used to purchase snowshoes, FatTire Mountain bikes for students and staff, as well as free ski and snowboard lessons at Hermon Mountain for students in the Hermon school district. 

“When you have a ski mountain in your backyard, it’s good to take advantage of that,” explained Chasse. “Our leadership team was looking for ways to help students during the hybrid schedule and was able to secure this opportunity through federal funds. We did a similar program when I worked in Greenville that was very popular.”

So far, 150 students, approximately 50 from each of the town’s three schools, are participating in the free ski and snowboard lessons at the mountain. Chasse said 18 of those students are brand new to the sport.

“It’s good to see kids smiling and active outside,” he explained. “I guess if there’s any good news from the pandemic, it’s people have taken to the outdoors and maybe started to do some things they hadn’t done before.”

Loni McLaughlin’s children have taken advantage of their home town’s new ice rink.

“My kids are just learning to skate,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve taken them public skating at the Penobscot Arena and Sawyer Arena in Bangor. I think this new ice rink is a nice addition in town, and a great way to get the kids out to enjoy the fresh air these cold winter months.” 

In the few short weeks the rink has been up, Chasse said he’s already received requests asking if the rink can be expanded.

“I have been asked if in the future we could expand this to a full-size, permanent hockey rink. I personally think that that would be fantastic,” said Chasse. “Maybe this is the start of a regular thing in Hermon.”