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Slattery appointed as liaison to ski area

The Ashland City Council has appointed Councilor Dennis Slattery as a liaison to the Mt. Ashland Association board of directors in a move aimed at improving communication between city officials and the nonprofit association, which runs the Mt. Ashland Ski Area.

Slattery, a moderate voice on the council, has wide-ranging ties with diverse members of the community, from Southern Oregon University students to business owners.

Slattery will not be able to vote at Mt. Ashland Association meetings.

The City Council and association reached an agreement in October for the city to give up its permit for the ski area in return for financial and environmental safeguards if a planned expansion of the ski area moves forward. As part of that agreement, the council was able to pick a liaison to the association's board.

The Mt. Ashland Association will apply to the U.S. Forest Service to become the new permit holder.

The ski area expansion is currently blocked by an injunction, but Forest Service officials plan to go to court later this fall or winter to ask a judge to lift that injunction.

Meanwhile, councilors picked fellow Councilor Russ Silbiger to serve as a liaison to the Ashland Community Hospital's board of directors. Silbiger was active in helping to develop the city of Ashland's economic development plan.

The hospital is hoping to partner with a larger hospital as it struggles with low reimbursement rates for Medicare patients and other challenges in the healthcare industry.

Years ago, the hospital was run by the city government, but it was spun off on its own to be more competitive. The hospital's board of directors continues to give the City Council an annual report on its operations and plans, and the city and hospital have long had an agreement to have a council liaison for the hospital's board.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.