MARIBEL - With temperatures starting to fall, many people are thinking about winter sports.
But if you are thinking of heading to Hidden Valley Ski Area near Maribel, you may have to make other plans.
It is the latest ski hill to close in Northeast Wisconsin.
Grass and weeds have taken over the parking lot at the Hidden Valley Ski Area near Maribel. An online message from operator David Lodl indicated that, after seven years in operation, the hill would be closed for the upcoming season.
For nearby businesses, the news came as a surprise.
"I-43 we see a lot of traffic coming in. Actually the schools and stuff like this from Milwaukee," said Scott Neuberger, I-43 One Stop Manager.
Scott Neuberger manages two convenience stores in the area. He says hunters and Packers traffic keep him busy now.
"Once we get to that point, that's when we need the ski hill to offset some of the things that are going on," said Neuberger.
And in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Norway Mountain remains closed. The owners said farewell to the operation last season, after 20 years in the business.
"The ski hill is a very integral part of the community, from an identity standpoint, you know, also from an economic standpoint," said Ray Anderson, Norway City Manager.
Ed's Market is just off the road to the ski hill.
"We have seen a decrease in people coming through the area, because a lot of people did come from down south to ski the hill," said Mary Dierkens, Ed's Market Owner.
City leaders say the hill is for sale.
"We're hoping to find a group that's interested in running a ski hill. The city is interested in working with the group to form an economic development for both parties," said Anderson.
Meanwhile both communities brace for a year without skiing or snowboarding nearby.
"The hill's not going to be here this year again, we just keep plugging forward without it," said Anderson.
"We'll just basically sit back and see what happens. Hopefully it won't affect us too much. Hopefully they can see their way to coming back open again next year," said Neuberger.
We checked other popular ski destinations in our area. Officials at Nordic Mountain near Wild Rose tell us they will be making snow as soon as the weather cooperates.
Websites for Navarino Slopes near Shiocton, and Granite Peak near Wausau indicate preparations are underway to be open as well.
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