Ellen Eggleston said each year staffers at The RRRink try to do something to improve Medford's only ice arena, but they've been particularly ambitious this summer.
A two-week renovation at The RRRink will wrap up today, save for some last-minute touch-ups, and users of the facility are sure to appreciate the sweat equity put forth by Eggleston, manager and skating director at The RRRink, as well as her staff and a few volunteers.
The RRRink, located at 1349 Center Drive in Medford, replaced its ice surface for the first time in five years. That also meant applying fresh white paint, new hockey lines and new logos for the facility's users in the process with the help of Mountain View Ice Arena general manager Bob Knoerl.
"It brightens up everything," Eggleston said of the ice work. "Putting new logos in and making new lines, it just freshens the whole slab and makes it nicer for everybody."
The work caused Eggleston to close The RRRink for two weeks so they could make the improvements. Work began by scraping down the ice to the concrete foundation, cleaning the surface and then laying down water to freeze Monday and Tuesday. After the initial freeze, Knoerl came in and put three coats of white paint down on the ice and let that freeze before returning to set logos and paint new lines for hockey use, finishing that process on Wednesday.
The final stage of laying down more water to freeze to produce a slab of ice 11/2; inches thick was set to be completed today. From there, it's down to regular upkeep with the arena's Zamboni machine.
Eggleston said all the offseason work on The RRRink will be complete in time for the facility to reopen on Monday with its day camp. Regular public skating, figure skating and hockey sessions will also be up and running at that time.
"We're painting and cleaning and getting things ready for the season for all the hockey and birthday parties and skaters and all that, too," she said. "All of our employees are putting their time in and we have some volunteers here helping and we're just doing everything we can to make it nice."
Eggleston was the one who generated the idea for this year's big project, which also includes installation of new lights in the arena beginning on July 7, and found immediate support from The RRRink owner Dorothy Smith. Much of the cost has been defrayed due to work done by the employees themselves, with materials and the services of Knoerl, whose own arena is in Vancouver, Wash., as the primary costs.
Even prior to completion, Eggleston was confident all the hard work and expense would be worth it.
"I think they'll be excited, especially the ones who skate here all the time," she said of the expected reaction once folks begin filing in again at The RRRink. "It's just like a fresh coat of paint on everything."
The RRRink has been owned and operated by Smith since 1997, with Eggleston celebrating her 12th year at the arena in April.
"We want it to stay nice," said Eggleston. "It's almost 20 years old but when you walk in we want for it to look like it's a brand new place. We're always cleaning and looking to improve things."
That's definitely an appreciated outlook for someone like Troy Irving, who is co-owner of the Southern Oregon Spartans with Forest Sexton and John Hanson. The Spartans are a Junior A hockey team that competes in the late fall and early winter months in the Western States Hockey League and call The RRRink home.
"As far as ice rinks go, ours is one of the best with the way Ellen manages The RRRink," said Irving. "She does a good job and makes sure our rink is clean and our locker rooms are superior to most we see, as well as the stands and the fireside room, which most places don't have."
"Figure skaters will tell a big difference once they're done," he added, "and the hockey guys that are here all the time will be able to tell the difference, too."
Beyond the Spartans, The RRRink is home to a youth hockey program (Junior Spartans) as well as high school and adult hockey leagues to complement the figure skating, public skating and birthday party opportunities. Eggleston estimates that around 200 people use the facility for public skating during a Saturday in the winter, with Spartans games averaging around 700 spectators during a weekend series at home.
For more information on The RRRink, go to www.therrrink.com or call 541-770-1177.