Editor’s Note: See our disclaimer at the end of her statement. (Posted exactly as submitted.)
In the beginning, word about Timberline was all the buzz in southern West Virginia–a family of 3 no one knew had come from the North to develop what began with a tiny T-bar.
Money flowed like the pure, bountiful and valuable groundwater that still permeates this mountain–Harvard is presently enriching its endowment with investments in groundwater.
No one in the family knew anything about skiing. They just had a thank-you to say to America for the opportunities to own land denied to them in Germany in the 1930s, and pursue an unlikely, legendary dream.
In 1997, I was the associate editor for Wonderful West Virginia magazine. In a high level meeting about all the opportunities for photography and pictures in the state (and 10 years before I ever saw Timberline or knew its owners) I was told, “Forget about that place. Those people are from Pennsylvania. They are going bankrupt.” Dismissive and contemptuous–conversation closed.
Timberline’s best years and highest numbers lay ahead. You might ascribe that to dumb luck, determination, money or prescience. In any case, Timberline prevailed. Its owners held on, and they shredded letters asking for a price. For the Herz’s and Reichles, there was no price.
Suffused in the American Dream when they came here, my in-laws were traumatized when they left. They were always a joke to everyone, really, unless their hand was extended. With one hand patting their backs, another hand was in their pocket. Eccentric, gullible, outsiders and prosperous. Until now.
I joined this family in 2006, and I immediately saw that hardly one person I met was not intent in taking another brick out of the wall. It was unbearable to watch the taking down, the covering of errors with capital, and the unwillingness of key managers to hold all for whom they were responsible to account and modernize.
All this time, the refrain, a siren song, for the children was, “It’s all for you, it’s all for you…”
No. I came to understand the Timberline Mountain was always firmly understood outside the family as an asset for the community, as a human and civil right, like the air. Where the government is the god and we are servants, not masters, we have crowns, not economies.
In the cool light of day, Timberline Resort has been a placeholder; something new, we believe, will make everything perfect. A better day for all.
Scapegoating is an old page in the political playbook. The sociologist Rene Girard called scapegoating “ritual murder.” It is first seen in Leviticus. In it, one person, a sin eater, is singled out to bear the entire historic burden. Then guilt is relieved, and the group does not have to have a difficult conversation.
At this writing, no one from the county or the state has reached out to Fred Herz, not once, to talk to him since he came here 2 years ago to pick up the pieces. His mother and uncle are no longer able to conduct that discourse.
As we look at the coming weeks and months, and review, what I observe is somewhere between “The Hunger Games” and “Lord of the Flies.” Each act of taking is less about survival and more about power. The arrest of Fred before the PSC hearing, with the warrant signed by a magistrate directly aligned to another realty–national news. The agitation over intercompany transfers from the utility. The utility owes the resort and the family millions of dollars for documented investment in infrastructure. Does anyone remember when there was no utility? Is Canaan a vacation area, or is it being intentionally turned into a place that isn’t suitable for that?
The analogy most suitable: When two women claimed one child, Solomon, in all his wisdom, said, “Give me a sword.” The real mother cried out in anguish to give the the baby away in order to save it.
We believe that Timberline, Tucker County, Davis and Thomas deserve to be successful, suffused in affluence and reap the vision of Canaan Valley begun three decades ago.
Tracy Edmonds Herz
Updated 7/25: Mrs. Herz asked that we edit the post to reflect that Fred Herz is the owner/operator and wrote the contents.
Editor’s Note: Part of my ‘duties’ over these 22 seasons has been to share announcements and content that all of the ski areas submit. Most often these have come in the form of a press release, event share or staff change, etc. It has always been my honor and privilege to be a conduit for these. On Friday, March 22nd, I received an email from Tracy Edmonds Herz of Timberline Resort, asking me if I would post her statement.
To stay consistent with our intention to be a place where the owners, management and marketing staffers can expect to get their message out – I have posted her statement as requested. We’ll leave it to our readers to judge accordingly. We have shared some comments on our own FirsTrax post this morning.
The views expressed in this single post are solely those of Mrs. Herz.