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Thunder Ridge owner, Putnam County National Bank, promises to keep resort open 
Winter skiers are breathing a sigh of relief now that the owner of Thunder Ridge in Patterson has promised to open the ski resort for the season despite its managers announcing their retirement.
On Thursday, Bob Conklin, who with his wife Mary managed the popular Patterson resort for 20 years, told this reporter that the ski area would most likely be shuttered this winter since the couple had decided to retire.
“We have had many problems over the years with the Town of Patterson. It’s no longer worth the aggravation and we will be getting out of the business,” said Conklin.
Conklin added that “talks with other potential operators have broken down. That’s all I can say.”
Patterson Supervisor Michael Griffin expressed hope that “not all was lost. The Town Board and I are hoping that the bank will find new operators.”
Griffin was referring to Dean and Wayne Ryder, vice president and president of the Putnam County National Bank, located in Carmel.
 On Friday, Dean Ryder sat down with this reporter and advised that the ski area will open for the season: “Big Birch has an incredible group of employees—men and women who love what they do. My brother and I are determined to keep Thunder Ridge viable because of these employees. Whether running a bank or a ski area employees make the business operate smoothly. The workers at Thunder Ridge enjoy going to work. They are highly competent and are genuinely nice people. I don’t see Thunder Ridge folding by any stretch of the imagination.”
Ryder said Big Birch was a critically important part of Putnam County’s history having originally opened in 1948: “I have been skiing there since 1950. My three daughters have grown up racing on the slopes of Big Birch and Thunder Ridge—two of the girls still race every winter. I can’t see the mountain disappearing.”
 Griffin said the closing would be a “great loss to the town as well as many businesses who have been frequented by the thousands of skiers using Big Birch each season.”
When asked about Conklin's allegations, Griffin responded: “We have attempted to work with the Conklins and Thunder Ridge for years since they have been operating without a site plan since I became supervisor some 16 years ago. We have tried to work with them but the process has been difficult. Thunder Ridge brought great value to our town. We tried to ease them into compliance but it never worked out.”
Ryder reported meeting with town officials earlier on Friday: “The issues are all being addressed. I don’t see the site plan being a great stumbling block. Other issues are not insurmountable either.” 
- Article by Eric Gross of the Putnam County Courier







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