Houlton Pioneer Times

Rotary learns of winter’s impact on snowmobiling

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met on Feb. 25 for their luncheon meeting at Watson Hall.

Rotarian Tomi Henderson visited from the Mars Hill Rotary Club. Other guests were Rodney and Judy Beals.

Rotarian Steve Fitzpatrick introduced his guest speaker, Rodney Beals from the Meduxnekeag Ramblers Snowmobile Club. Beals is past president of the club and now is the trail manager.

Fitzpatrick mentioned that the snowmobile industry brings about $350 million each year to Maine and there are 14,000 miles of trails maintained by 280 clubs that are supported by volunteers. Fitzpatrick explained that he would show footage of the Meduxnekeag trails he took with a GoPro camera recently while Beals gave his talk.

Beals spoke about this year’s trail management as being a tough year, since as soon as a trail is prepared another storm hits the area and they have to go out and groom the trails again. His club is basically responsible for trails labeled ITS 83 and ITS 86, trails that travel up to Monticello and south to Hodgdon and west to the St Croix River.

Groomers travel around six miles per hour, so it takes some time to groom. Grooming sessions are logged in and out as to hours spent and drivers are certified through an 80-question test.

The Meduxnekeag Rambler’s clubhouse was built in 1992 and sits beside Cary Lake. Raymond Wotton spearheaded this project, seeking donations from farmers that he worked with to purchase windows. He would sell around six windows per farmer and sold around 300 windows. The joke was that the building would be a glass house.

Currently, every Saturday from 6 to 9 a.m., breakfasts are served as a fundraising event for the club. Each Wednesday evening, Ray Johnston organizes music with live musicians, food and dancing. There is also an annual pie auction that raises funds and is a well-attended event.

Club membership is climbing, and Beals credits Facebook with this increase as the club is listed on the Northern Maine Snowsled page. Current membership is up to 90 members.  The state of Maine receives 50 percent of the membership dues.

The Club’s treasurer is Sandra Wotton, and Beals credits her with debt-free financial management, though a new track just had to be ordered for one of the groomers. New groomers cost around $240,000. So, the club carefully services what they have at Gordie’s Pit Stop in Littleton and is welcome to store the groomers there. Other donations come from local motels. Trails are routed to their establishments.

The Club is part of the Maine Snowmobile Association.

For more information, log onto mesnow.com, check them out on Facebook, contact Rodney Beals at Meduxnekeag Ramblers, 334 Back Ridge Road, Littleton, Maine 04730 or join the club for breakfast on Saturday or music on Wednesday evenings.

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