Ice rink advertising for general manager


— In a year that has seen critical city staff shortages for positions such as bus and snowplow drivers, the Howelsen Ice Arena also is looking for employees, including a new general manager.

Former ice rink manager Geary Baxter is no longer on the job as of Monday. City Manager Alan Lanning said Baxter was let go because of "a performance issue." Recreation Division Supervisor Susan Petersen is managing the ice rink on an interim basis. Baxter worked for the city for eight months.

"We have a period in the first part of a hire that allows us to evaluate the performance of an employee," Lanning said. "There's no guarantee of employment at any time. We are an at-will employer."

Chris Wilson, director of the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreation Department, said personnel restrictions prevent him from going into detail about Baxter's termination.

"We want to thank Geary for his efforts," Wilson said. "He made a hard go at it."

Wilson said the city would be advertising for a new ice rink manager soon. The facility already is advertising for positions including cashiers, evening supervisory roles, a program assistant and rink guards.

"The rest of the staff is supportive and pulling together to make sure we don't see any level of service drops," Wilson said. "It's a busy place, and we're covering it right now, and we're excited about getting the right mix of people. I would say we're not at a critical level."

Wilson said the staff shortages will require the rink to close on Christmas, a day it is traditionally open.

Lanning said the city is experiencing an annual turnover rate of 15 percent, or about 30 full-time employees a year. That, coupled with the difficulty of recruiting new employees due to Steamboat's high cost of living, makes it hard to fire anyone, Lanning said, even if there is a performance issue.

"Philosophically, our goal is to provide someone every opportunity possible to be successful," Lanning said.


STEMBOATwannabe 9 years, 5 months ago

Ice Rink managers can make decent money in most areas. This is a big buisness/industry. Figure Skating and Hockey have grown tremendously in the past twenty years. No one will want to work at a rink where they are an 'at will' employer. Who is ging to want to move to the Yvalley and then get fired???

Quality people will want a contract and other concessions for the job.

Here is a link to other jobs in the skating industry


lowerprofile 9 years, 5 months ago

Knownotsomuch - good point, there will be thousands of people here over the holidays, all looking for something to do. This happens every year. If the people of this town were really concerned about what activities tourists or locals had available to them - other than skiing - they would have voted to put in a Rec Center. How did you vote? Or did you?


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

A rec center built and funded from private business would be welcome.

The reason we don't have one is that it's not economically viable.

Ice rinks make money by charging spectators to watch the skaters. Our market is too small.


grannyrett 9 years, 5 months ago

Why isn't parks and rec managing it? They don't have grass and flowers to worry about this time of year. It seems that employees that are busy in the summer doing summer things could be busy in the winter doing winter things. Or is that too simple? I don't know that much about the rink, so if I don't see the picture, just let me know and I'll shut up.


lowerprofile 9 years, 5 months ago

grannyrett - The Parks and Rec Department does manage it.... Look out the window - see all the snow? Those who take care of the flowers have other jobs in the winter.


johnleclaire 9 years, 5 months ago

I read with some sadness, that Steamboat has hired and lost, yet another Howelsen Ice Arena manager. As Yogi Berra once quipped, "It's deja vu all over again."

As one of the first in a line of revolving-door Howelsen arena managers since the mid-nineties, I am wondering if the community and the rink's special interest groups realize that they need to take a long, hard look at the amount of cooperation and courtesy (or lack thereof) extended to the (many) new arena managers that have come and gone in the last decade. Often they have left higher-paying jobs at other facilities and risked much to come to a magical town that has become, apparently, very good at driving them away.

Communities and skating special interest groups that learn to compromise and work with their respective arena managers can benefit from the continuity that comes with having a long-term manager. If they aren't "getting it" right off the bat, give them some time. If it isn't working out after the old college try, then there's always that "at-will" employment rule to fall back on, but after only eight months? C'mon....

To outgoing manager Geary Baxter, you have my sympathies. Steamboat is a wonderful place but the politics'll kill you....

John LeClaire Former Howelsen Ice Arena Manager, 1994-1996


Lovesteamboat 9 years, 5 months ago

John, thank you for your post. We appreciate someone pointing out the pattern of behavior from Parks & Rec management regarding the bloodbath of Ice Arena Managers.

I don't think the special interest groups had anything to do with this unfortunate decision by Chris Wilson. Most consumers of the ice arena services were extremely pleased with how the rink has been operated for the past 8 months.

This was obvious, since program enrollment was up in nearly every aspect. Weekend Public Skate Sessions were skiing Vagabond when it's the only run open.

Geary was generally the guy who unlocked the doors in the morning, and locked the doors at night. He was shoveling the sidewalks before 6 am hockey games, he was there on Thanksgiving, he ran the Zam, he pushed the papers, payroll, board meetings, budgets, all the while, trying to find people to work for less-than-market wages.

Let's see...

Happy customers + Increased sales + Working Overtime exactly does this equate to a Performance Issue?

There's something wrong here...maybe there was one one squeaky wheel that caused such a stink that this was Chris' way of dealing with it. The public will never really know. Fortunately, it's a small town and we'll all figure it out eventually.

Unfortunately, Park & Rec management knows they have a captive audience in Steamboat, so they aren't as committed to the customer experience as the rest of us working in the hospitality & service business. If Parks & Rec was truly a customer-oriented organization, the playground at Whistler Park would have been replaced years ago.

The upside...another local business will benefit by hiring Geary and letting him serve their customers.


johnleclaire 9 years, 5 months ago

You'll note that in my opinion that I laid the burden of responsibility for the revolving door managers on someone other than the City government. Although the government is part of the community and the catalyst that is responsible for bringing the manager to town, the responsibility to make sure that he or she becomes a successful, long-term manager becomes the responsibility of the entire community and the rink's user groups collectively, not just any single individual or entity.

Rather than blame the government and your public servants (convenient whipping post that they can be), consider this:

Do you remember what it was like when it was finally decided that the facility really, really needed a roof, and that it would be more fun to play hockey with a puck rather than a soccer ball (which tended to be easier to see with six inches of snow on the ice in those days)?

After considerable debate, the community and the rink's user groups poured forth money, sweat equity, countless hours of volunteer labor, materials and, yes, love, to bring forth a beautiful facility that has provided entertainment and memorable experiences to thousands of residents and visitors alike.

The effort should not have then, and should not now, stop there. The rink manager needs that same community support in order to survive and prosper in, what is to him or her, an alien environment at first. Otherwise, like I said before, "...the politics'll kill you". With the continuous support and cooperation of the community that made the facility possible in the first place, that manager will ultimately succeed. When that support is withdrawn or fails to materialize, well, you have already seen what happens....


lowerprofile 9 years, 5 months ago

id - if ice rinks relied upon spectators to make money there would be no ice arenas! Ice arenas make money by selling ice time! The users (Youth Hockey, SS Figure Skating Club) make money by selling tickets. This is the way it is all over, not just in our "small market".

Hopefully you won't be putting your name in the hat to run the arena. Not only do you not have the first clue about it, but you would spend all day blogging, and not work.


dimwitiguess 9 years, 5 months ago

You know maybe Donna Howell could take that on position too! She has probably watched some hockey along the way and she's probably driven by the rink once in a while. I mean how much would she really need to know? She could buy a pair breezers and fit right in to that scene. We need to help her get another job since she is currently penniless and it might even help out the YVHA so she won't need bought out of another contract again.

YVHA could also mean Yampa Valley Hockey Association.

Sure, I know, I'm just a dimwitiguess.


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