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Snirt Run has lacked adequate insurance

By Christina Scanlon, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 24--BARNES CORNERS -- Efforts by officials in Lewis County to improve safety and lessen damage at the annual Snirt Run have uncovered a potentially event-ending problem.

The current insurance policy does not cover the all-terrain vehicle poker run, according to Jim Rolf, New York State Snowmobile Association trails coordinator.

In previous years, the event was cosponsored by the Tug Hill Wheelers Club.

Then-Club Vice President Joseph Z. Onyon said, "We did provide the insurance."

Gary R. Stinson, president of the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals snowmobile club and Snirt Run organizer, said he has been fielding calls from club members who want to cancel the event in light of the new information.

Mr. Stinson provided the certificate of insurance to local officials as a condition of this year's event, scheduled for April 12.

That certificate proves a joint policy is held by all snowmobile clubs in NYSSA.

"It does not cover ATVs," Mr. Rolf said. "It covers landowners and club members while doing work, maintenance or developing a trail or while on a snowmobile on a designated trail."

Mr. Rolf said he made Mr. Stinson aware of the lack of insurance Friday and encouraged him to seek additional coverage from insurance companies that specialize in recreational events.

Mr. Stinson acknowledged the conversation with Mr. Rolf, but said he had not yet heard an answer from his insurance agent, Anthony Franklin, Franklin-Case Agency LLC.

"I think we are covered," Mr. Stinson said, citing the NYSSA insurance handbook that lists fundraising and social events as covered activities. The handbook appears, however, to cover only snowmobile operations.

The Snirt Run is the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals' largest fundraiser, registering more than 3,000 participants last year.

Mr. Stinson said he is taking steps to obtain alternative coverage in the event he discovers the run it is not insured.

"I'm already working on it," he said. "I'm in the middle of one application."

Lewis County Legislative Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, was not aware of issues with Mr. Stinson's insurance.

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When asked if county liability insurance, which normally covers ATV trails, also would cover roads opened for this event, he said he did not know.

"This is something we've just had brought to our attention. We're going to have to look into it further," he said.

County Attorney Richard J. Graham was not available for comment.

Lowville Town Council members also had questions for Mr. Stinson.

One field heavily damaged as a result of last year's Snirt Run was off Bardo Road, in the town of Lowville.

Mr. Stinson said his insurance covers liability for the townships involved in the event.

When asked by board members last week who is responsible for damage, Mr. Stinson said the ATV operator is responsible.

Asked who would be responsible if the operator could not be identified, he said, "I don't know."

Lowville Town Supervisor Randall A. Schell said, "We do have a certificate of insurance, but we haven't seen a copy of the policy."

Mr. Stinson said he would provide a copy to town attorney Raymond A. Meier for review.

The county has asked Mr. Stinson to comply with the insurance request, along with providing better maps, signs and barriers, before it will declare the roads open for ATV use for the event.

Jacqueline L. Mahoney, Lewis County recreational trails coordinator, said, "Everything we asked for is going to make this a better, safer event."

___

(c)2014 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)

Visit Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.) at www.watertowndailytimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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