Snow sculpture was a labor of love, logistical nightmare for ski patrol

This snow sculpture, titled “Where the Wild Things Are,” at the top of Brundage Mountain Resort was named the first prize winner at the 2020 McCall Winter Carnival on Friday. The characters from Maurice Sendak’s 1964 children’s book were built by members of the Brundage Ski Patrol, who hauled water in buckets up the Bluebird Express lift and endured severe winter weather. Today, the carnival will feature the Mardi Gras Grand Parade through downtown McCall and Sunday will feature the Monster Dog Pull at Alpine Village.

Stories in this Regional News Roundup are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is part one, with part two set to appear in Sunday’s Tribune.


McCALL — Jimmy Bryant will long remember building snow sculptures at the top of Brundage Mountain Resort, especially hauling water from the resort’s base area on the Bluebird Express lift.

“I personally hauled up 85 gallons two days ago,” Bryan said. “On a good day, we might do like 100-plus gallons of water up the chairlift.”

A water source is just the beginning of the logistical nightmare that is building a snow sculpture on top of a mountain by members of the Brundage Ski Patrol.

The year’s sculpture is titled, “Where the Wild Things Are,” and is a nod to Maurice Sendak’s 1964 children’s book. (The sculpture was announced Friday as the winner of the annual Winter Carnival.)

The sculpture was built to comply with the theme of the 2020 McCall Winter Carnival, “It’s a Kid’s World.”

Spectators on foot can view the sculpture through Feb. 2 only from 2-4 p.m. each day with the purchase of a $10 single-ride lift ticket on the Bluebird Express chair.

The limited hours are intended to avoid delays in the Bluebird Express lift line for skiers, a Brundage spokesperson said.

Bryan, 47, has been the mastermind of the ski patrol’s snow sculpture contest entry for the last five years.

“It’s not a good idea,” Bryan said of building a sculpture at a 7,600-foot mountain peak. “You have to be crazy to do it, but I think anybody that works on the sculptures is a little crazy.”

The sculpture must be built at the summit rather than the base so that ski patrol members can be ready to respond to an injured skier at a moment’s notice, he said.

Each year, the process begins just more than two weeks before the carnival opens, with a snowcat piling snow into a mound nearly 20 feet wide and 7 feet tall.

Ski patrollers then shovel out the edges of the mound to match a prototype clay model that Bryan makes to guide the process.

Part of that work involves cutting 40-pound blocks of snow from the base of the mound and using water to adhere them to the top to make the sculpture taller.

“You can barely stand up at the end of the day,” he said of preparing the mound for carving.

Using an arsenal of pulaskis, snow saws, chain saws and shovels, Bryan and fellow ski patroller Josh Kuehnel then began whittling the mound away into life-size “wild things,” a process that consumed more than 100 hours across two weeks.

— Drew Dodson, Star-News (McCall), Thursday

Grangeville students to compete at state Lego robotics event today

GRANGEVILLE — Three teams of students from Grangeville Elementary Middle School will make their way to the University of Idaho today for the state’s First Lego League robotics competition.

Twenty-three students in fourth through eighth grades will showcase their skills in Moscow, something they’ve been honing for the past four-plus months.

“Robotics is considered a sport at GEMS, so each student pays an activity fee to participate,” explained teacher and robotics coach Teresa Gorges. She is assisted by Susan Anderson, Robyn Sullivan and Connie Green, as well as Clearwater Valley High School senior Dakota Gorges, who is Gorges’ daughter.

Gorges mentored in robotics for five years when she previously taught in Kamiah.

“It was a great program, and both my children went through it and learned so much,” she said.

Now, she meets with students after school Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays. This is the second year for the program at GEMS, and the first year fourth and fifth graders have been involved.

Students focus on a variety of events within First Lego League, including core values, project presentations and the actual robot designing, building and programming for missions.

— Lorie Palmer, Idaho County Free Press (Grangeville), Wednesday

Man sentenced to more than 36 years for crimes committed in 1996 shooting

DAYTON — Benjamin Orozco has been sentenced to a total of 447 months at a maximum-security prison for the second-degree murder of Lance Terry and the first-degree assault of David Eaton, in a shooting that took place in Columbia County, on July 7, 1996.

Orozco, now 46 years old, will serve 192 months for the second-degree murder charge, and 123 months for the first-degree assault charge.

Each charge carries an additional 60-month firearm enhancement, and these sentences will run consecutively for a total of 335 months.

Orozco also received 12 months for unlawful possession of a firearm in the second-degree, which will run concurrently with the other sentences.

Twenty-four months of community supervision through the Department of Corrections will be served by Orozco following his release from prison, since he was on community supervision at the time of the shooting.

Yet to be determined is whether the credit Orozco receives for time served will start from when he was arrested in Mexico on a federal warrant, or when he was served by the state, upon arriving in the United States.

When she addressed the court in last week’s sentence hearing, Orozco’s attorney Jane Richards said the tone of the Department of Corrections report was slanted and that Orozco did not receive a fair trial.

Orozco was found guilty after a four-day trial in August of last year.

Richards said Orozco told her one of the jurors appeared to be sleeping during the trial, one removed his hearing aids during closing arguments, and one juror winked when the verdicts were read.

Richards asked the court to take into consideration Orozco’s youth at the time of the shooting when handing down a sentence, which she hoped would be in the mid-range of the standard range for crimes of this nature.

Written statements from Orozco’s family and friends in Mexico testifying to his good work ethic and dedication to his family were read by the defense co-counsel Rachel Cortez. Orozco has a wife and two children, ages 16 and 18, in Mexico.

Orozco addressed the Terry family, saying, “There’s nothing I can do to compensate you for your loss, except to say I’m sorry.”

“Saying sorry is not enough,” said Lance Terry’s stepmother, Norma, who spoke with her husband, Ed, by her side.

— Michele Smith, The Times (Waitsburg), Thursday

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