Kennewick Couple Taking Over Bluewood Ski Resort


DAYTON — A Kennewick couple is hoping to slide a smooth slope after announcing Thursday that they are buying Ski Bluewood.

Rumors about Bluewood’s possible closure have circulated for more than a year, but that’s history, said Kelly Stephenson, who with her husband Mike, soon plans to take over at the resort, 21 miles south of Dayton.

“We are hoping to close on the deal in early November,” she said without disclosing the price. They are forming a limited liability company to purchase the resort with the backing of a few investors, she said. Mike, a certified Level 3 ski instructor, has worked there for more than 15 years.

He didn’t want Bluewood to go away when owners Stan and Nancy Goodell shared with him their plans to sell out and retire. In the summer, he began to explore the level of local interest and managed to find people who shared his dream to continue Ski Bluewood as a community institution where generations of area residents have learned to ski and snowboard.

So Kelly and Mike — who met on a ski slope three years ago — stitched together a business plan and took a leap. And everything fell in place.

“It was unexpected,” Kelly said, unable to hide her excitement at the opportunity. Bluewood typically opens in the first week of December, depending on the snow, she said.

Right now, they are busy getting maintenance and safety work done for the season ahead, she said. “We’re paddling as fast as we can.”

That’s good news, said Jennie Dickinson, manager of the Port of Columbia. Ski Bluewood is a source of livelihood for many when seasonal agricultural jobs go away, she said. Its visitors boost retail sales in the area as well.

Closure would have been disastrous for the area in the current economic climate, said Dickinson, who learned to ski there as a kid in the late 1970s and later worked there. Her son also did the same, she said.


Mike has worked at the resort and has emotional bonds with the place, Dickinson said. “He knows what he’s getting into,” she said.

Mike, who grew up in Mesa and graduated from Connell High School, is passionate about skiing and teaching the skills to young children, Kelly said. He owns an agriculture consulting business in Pasco, which allows him to continue working as a training director at the resort’s ski school, she said. And she’s also a Level 1 ski instructor.

They plan to keep the youth programs and involve the local community. “We want to make sure it’s affordable and accessible,” she said.

Their plans include holding 3-D archery events and developing trails for mountain biking to help keep people outdoors year-round, she said. The U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land, allows recreational activities throughout the year, she said. But those plans will have to wait until they get comfortable and settled into their new role as owners, she said.

Their priority is to finish the outdoor maintenance, including brush clearance, before fall temperatures turn frigid, she said.

They will honor current season passes and plan to soon resume sales of passes for the season.

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