A vote of confidence in local economy

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The announcement last week that United Airlines has decided to add direct summer round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Kalispell is welcome news.

It is especially heartening that the airline is making the investment without requiring a guarantee from Glacier AERO (the local Airline Enhancement and Retention Outreach program) to protect their investment. That means the airline is giving a vote of confidence to our local economy’s ability to support the flights, which are scheduled to start on June 7.

The addition of direct service to Los Angeles comes on the heels of a record-setting summer at Glacier Park International Airport.

Glacier Airport Director Rob Ratkowski lauded the most recent news, saying, “Not only does this direct flight drastically reduce travel time to the West Coast, the flight’s arrival times will make it possible for travelers to easily catch same-day connections out of LAX. It really opens up travel options for residents and tourists.”

Combined with the continuing efforts of Glacier AERO to secure flights from areas that will benefit the local tourism industry, this latest move by United Airlines helps to promote the Flathead Valley’s reputation as a vacation destination.

Smooth skating ahead!

A good shot of sweat equity combined with some impressive fundraising efforts has led to a major upgrade at Kalispell’s Woodland Ice Rink.

Volunteers with the Flathead Valley Hockey Association put in thousands of hours of work to install a new surface that improves ice quality and allows the rink to be open more months of the year. It’s estimated that $300,000 was saved through sweat equity alone — a remarkable testament to this group’s dedication to make the project happen.

The new, larger surface will also benefit other recreational groups such as basketball teams and roller-skaters who use the facility in the summer.

A grand opening is scheduled today at 6 p.m. at the Woodland Ice Rink. Congratulations to everyone who made this renovation project a reality.

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