Belleayre Mountain inducts Hall of Famers

Staff report
The sixth-annual Belleayre Mountain Hall of Fame induction was held in the ski center’s main lodge Saturday evening. 

The Belleayre Mountain Hall of Fame was created in 2006 to honor individuals who have contributed in extraordinary ways to Belleayre Mountain, the surrounding Catskill Region, and to the athletic discipline of snow sports.

Honored this year were long-time Belleayre Marketing Director Joan Lawrence-Bauer of Oliverea and Rosina Montana of Denver, a ski patrol volunteer and member of the Coalition to Save Belleayre.  

Lawrence-Bauer was lauded for her years of leadership at the ski center as well as her contributions to the business community as an entrepreneur and as the Executive Director of the MARK Project.  As the ski center’s first in-house marketing director, Lawrence-Bauer is credited with helping the ski center come into the modern day era of ski resort marketing with its first brochure, first ski show and first partner in profit programs connecting the ski center to the business community. 

She helped launch the first October Festival and built it into one of the biggest events of the year for the entire region.  Other credits include helping to launch the Summer Music Festival and raising private sector funds for the first three years of concerts. 

Was a pioneer
Lawrence-Bauer also launched a successful Ski the Catskills cooperative with Windham, Hunter and nine other ski centers in the region and became the organization’s president.  She ran a successful internship program for area high school students and helped launch the Pine Hill Lake summer operation.

Montana, who became a second-homeowner in the region in the 1970s, was a teacher and Dean of Students at New Utrecht High School in the Bronx.  After learning to ski herself, she volunteered for the ski patrol at Belleayre and began bringing busloads of her students to Belleayre. 

In a career of more than 30 years of volunteer service to the ski center, Montana became a strong leader in the local and the national ski patrol and is credited with directly saving the life of a Belleayre skier in addition to the hundreds of less serious injuries she treated.  Now a permanent resident of the area, Montana was also a charter member of the Coalition to Save Belleayre Mt. and a member of the Board of Directors of the Belleayre Conservatory, both of which she has served for decades as secretary. 

A passionate advocate for the ski center and the community, Montana is credited with keeping everyone informed whenever important news of Belleayre must be disseminated. 

“Two strong women”
Calling the evening an evening of “Two Strong Women,” Belleayre Superintendent Tony Lanza lauded both women for their passionate advocacy of the mountain and the community. 

“Sometimes they’re scary,” said Lanza laughing.  “Because when they tell you something needs to be done, they also tell you how and when and why and you just know it’s going to happen so you better get out of the way.” 

Lanza also lauded Hall of Fame members of earlier years as dedicated entrepreneurs, New York State DEC employees, and most importantly, skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts with vision and leadership that the Belleayre community can aspire towards and respect.  He presented a special “lifetime achievement” award to current Belleayre employee Pat McVitty for her advocacy work on behalf of Belleayre employees. 

“It’s been a tough year,” said Lanza, “and we got through it because Patty was here. I know things are going to be better going forward but wanted to be sure we honored Patty for what she’s done.”

Changes ahead
Belleayre’s season ended in March this year after both weather and economic struggles.  Operation of the facilities, under the direction of the DEC for 62 years, will now be transferred to the Olympic Regional Development Authority in accordance with legislation passed as part of the New York State budget process. 

Lanza said on Saturday that all current employees are expected to be transitioned to ORDA thanks to the efforts of elected and appointed officials.