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SNOWMOBILE – Snow Digest

November 28, 2005
Filed under Features

Final Sentencing in Nelson Arson
The final person associated with the arson of Nelson’s Speed Shop, Greenville, Mich., has been sentenced. Thomas G. Klein, owner of rival dealership Tom’s Cycle in St. John’s, Mich., will pay $500,000 in restitution, spend five months in a federal prison and serve two years of supervised release. Klein said he will pay the restitution in August. Klein is the third person sentenced for the blaze on September 17, 2001, which caused $2.5 million in damages and destroyed the dealership. According to the charges, Klein paid employee Richard Crew $10,000 to start the fire at Nelson’s. The arson plan was the idea of his employee. Klein pled guilty to a felony for concealing his knowledge of the crime. He has since sold his business. Crew pleaded guilty to the arson charge and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Stewart Barron, charged with lighting the fire, is serving a 63-month prison term.

Snowmobile Club Liable in Trail Fatality
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled against a non-profit snowmobile club and its trail groomer in a lawsuit stemming from an accident in 2001 that killed a 15-year-old sledder on a trail which runs from Portland, Maine, through New Hampshire to Montreal, Quebec. It is a ruling that could affect other powersports trails throughout the nation.
Brody Kenison died after he ran into a stationary grooming machine owned by the Waumbek Methna Snowmobile Club.
Kenison’s family sued the club and the groomer, Andre Dubois, in 2003. The Kenison family’s lawyer said Dubois was taking a break from grooming and had parked the machine below the crest of a hill, in a spot unseen to snowmobilers traversing the trail.
The Waumbek Methna Snowmobile Club has maintained the trail for over 20 years.
The club and Dubois said they were immune from liability under state law because they qualified as occupants of the land. A lower court agreed, so the family appealed.
The state Supreme Court, in a 5-0 ruling issued July 18, disagreed with Waumbek’s characterization, saying the club and groomer could not be regarded as occupants because they didn’t have the authority to give people permission to use the land.

Court Sides Against Saskatchewan Safety Council
A former employee of the Saskatchewan Safety Council (SSC) was awarded seven months worth of compensation after a court found he was dismissed without cause.
The Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench said the SSC had no cause to terminate Randy Poole and that his superiors treated him harshly during the termination.
Although the safety council made a number of allegations to warrant Poole’s termination, the court said the safety council did not have sufficient cause to dismiss him without notice.
According to court documents, the SSC alleged Poole: 1) authorized an honorarium claimed by a snowmobile safety course instructor that was $150 higher than the contract; 2) borrowed money occasionally from petty cash to pay for his lunch, although the shortfall was made good; 3) failed to account and report the proceeds of the organization’s “motorcycle dinners” in September 2001 and 2002; and 4) made application, regarding the motorcycle lottery, to Saskatchewan Lottery on its behalf without proper authority.
Weighing an opinion on each of the four charges, the court said the approval of the extra $150 would not have resulted in any benefit to Poole and no dishonesty was intended; said the petty cash incident was satisfactorily resolved one-and-a-half years before the termination and fell far short as a reason to dismiss with cause; said action relating to the motorcycle dinner was not dishonest, and there was no evidence that Poole profited or intended to do so; and said the lottery application was made by Poole on behalf of the safety council and that it naturally arose from the motorcycle dinners and benefited the employer in terms of fundraising.
“There is no evidence that (the lottery application) benefited (Poole), nor does the evidence prove dishonesty or misconduct by (Poole),” the court said.
Therefore, the SSC did not have just cause to terminate Poole’s employment, the court said. It awarded Poole five months’ compensation plus an additional two months’ damages for the way the termination was handled.
Formed in 1955, the SSC is a non-government, non-profit charitable organization dedicated to preventing injuries and fatalities in the Canadian province. It operates four divisions: Traffic; Occupation; Farm; and Home & Community. Each offers comprehensive safety training programs, campaigns, materials and consulting throughout Saskatchewan.
Powersports fall within the organization’s Traffic division. SSC courses include Snowmobile Safety Training and Motorcycle Safety Training.

Highway Bill Increases Trail Funds
The new Highway Bill, which has yet to be signed into law, will continue and increase the Recreational Trails Program. If signed, the bill will give the program $370 million of funding over the next five years. Trail-based activity organizations, including snowmobile groups, can access these funds through individual states. The monetary breakdown is as follows: 2005, $60 million; 2006, $70 million; 2007, $75 million; 2008, $80 million; and $85 million in 2009. This is an increase of approximately 64 percent from the TEA-21 levels. Not as much as we requested, but an increase, nonetheless, in a very tight budget. Also included is the authorization of funding for non-law enforcement trail safety, trail-use monitoring patrol programs and trail-related training from 5 percent, allowable for use on educational programs for safety and environmental protection.

Tekrider To Run Support Program
Gamma Sales, a snowmobile accessories distributor in Orillia, Ontario, has contracted with Tekrider of Kinmount, Ontario, to run its Gamma Ambassador Support Program. This program will provide discounts for Gamma products. “It is our goal to increase product awareness for our vendors and stimulate retail sales for our growing dealer network through a well-manager Ambassador Support Program,” said Jeff Crawford, manager of Gamma Sales.

Minnesota Inventor Develops Integral Bumper, Skid Plate
Ron Bergman of McIntosh, Minn., developed an integrally formed skid plate and bumper for a motorized vehicle and, in August 2002, filed it with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Now Bergman has been issued U.S. Patent No. 6,890,010 – three years after he filed – and the patent has been assigned to Arctic Cat Inc., Thief River Falls, Minn.
It is common in some instances to secure the skid plate to the front bumper in addition to securing the skid plate to the vehicle frame.
According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: “A disadvantage of known skid plates and bumpers that are secured to a vehicle frame relates to their assembly. For example, if the skid plate and bumper are separately secured to the vehicle frame, there are multiple members to handle and secure to the frame, which may complicate the assembly process. In configurations where the skid plate and bumper are secured together prior to being mounted to the vehicle frame, the assembly is further complicated by having to align several parts together for proper mounting to the vehicle frame, and adding an additional step to the assembly process.”
USPTO examiners say: “The integrally formed skid plate and bumper member is particularly useful for a snowmobile. One embodiment of the invention includes a bumper and a skid plate that are integrally formed as a single member and capable of being secured to a vehicle frame.
“The skid plate may include hollow rib members that extend longitudinally along a downward facing side of the skid plate. The skid plate also may include a roll-up feature at a rear portion of the skid plate that curves upward to mate with a lower portion of the vehicle frame. As applied to snowmobiles, the integrally formed skid plate and bumper may define a nose cone between the bumper and the skid plate.”

Ehlert Snow Titles Launch New Web Sites
The three snowmobile consumer titles at Ehlert Publishing Inc., Maple Grove, Minn., now each have a Web site. Snowgoer.com and Snowweek.com were launched on August 3; Snowmobilemagazine.com is scheduled to launch later in August. The three magazines were previously all under the snowmobilenews.com banner. That site regularly had more than 80,000 unique visitors and 1 million page views per month during prime snowmobiling season. Snowgoer.com, the site of of Snow Goer magazine, will feature breaking news stories, polls and a message boards. Snow Week magazine, at Snowweek.com, will feature racing and high performance news, interactive polls, race results and event information. Snowmobilemagazine.com will feature grass-roots information and plus information from Snowmobile magazine and the Ultimate Snowmobile Buyers’ Guide.

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