Update: Snirt Run Apparently Back On

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Updated 8:40 pm Friday - The Snirt Run in Lewis County, cancelled earlier this week, is apparently back on.

The all-terrain vehicle rally attracts thousands of people, but was cancelled this year because of a dispute between the organizers and the Lewis County legislature.

However, after meeting Friday night, officials with the "Sno Pals" snowmobile club, which organizes the Snirt Run, said they've reached agreement with the county, and the run is again set for April 12.

Club officials declined to reveal the terms of the agreement. Lewis County legislators must also accept the agreement for the event to occur.

What follows is our story from Thursday night...

The 11th Annual Snirt Run, set for April 12, has been called off - at least for the moment.

The organizer says he pulled the plug because Lewis County lawmakers micro-managed the preparations and made unreasonable demands.

The Snirt Run is a one-day event which attracts all-terrain vehicle riders from all over the nation and pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into the county's economy.

For the past 10 years, Sno Pals in Barnes Corners, which helps to groom trails in Lewis and Jefferson counties, has organized the annual event.

"It's our major fundraiser for this club," organizer Gary Stinson said. "It's what allows us to keep grooming."

Stinson said he has been working on the event since December and has collaborated with the seven new Legislators and the new trail coordinator.

He said lawmakers have thrown up roadblocks over trails, road closures, extra fees and insurance.

Stinson said the last straw came when Legislators told him they wanted the Sno Pals to sweep the trails at 8 p.m. - two hours after the event ended.

"I also see no reason to do a 'sweep' of the trails, when in all likelihood there will be machines out there after the 8 p.m. time frame," Stinson wrote in an email to Legislator Larry Dolhof, who chairs the Economic Development Committee.

Stinson acknowledged that there was an issue last year with people getting stranded on trails at 2 a.m. and calling 911 for help.

However, the Snirt Run had been over for hours.

"Where does the club's liability end," asked Stinson.

Stinson provided 7 News with Dolhof's emailed reply, which said, "An 8 o'clock sweep would be an easy and probably fun thing for volunteers to do if only you would ask for help and not try to do the whole thing by yourself."

Dolhof also denied that he and other lawmakers were trying to micro-manage the Snirt Run.

"The stipulations that we are requesting are for the purpose of safety and an attempt to address or mitigate issues which have risen from past Snirt Runs," Dolhof wrote.  "I have spent much time trying to understand your lackadaisical, hands off approach to this event and cannot understand why you fail to see the need to address the basic issues."

Dolhof told 7 News by phone, "I'm totally shocked."

He said lawmakers and Stinson met with the Sheriff's Department on Wednesday and said, "Gary was comfortable," referring to Stinson.

Dolhof denied that lawmakers have micro-managed preparations.

"We have made no unreasonable demands," he said.

Former Lewis County Legislator Rick Lucas said he's trying to mediate between Stinson and the county in hopes of holding the Snirt Run on April 12. He says the Snirt Run is extremely important, bringing in big bucks for Lewis County.

"This event is the largest weekend, business-wise, for most of the businesses on the Tug Hill," Lucas said.

Around 3,200 people are expected to participate in the event.

Sunday, November 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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