Donner Summit icon Norm Sayler honored |

Donner Summit icon Norm Sayler honored

Special to the Sun
Donner Summit Historical Society
Donner Summit Area Association
Norm Sayler, shown here on the Donner Ski Ranch deck, received the 2009 Community Person of the Year Award at the annual Donner Summit Area Association picnic July 5, 2009.

Norm Sayler, president and manager of Donner Ski Ranch for 46 years was celebrated on July 5 for his many contributions to the Donner Summit community, receiving the 2009 Community Person of the Year Award at the annual Donner Summit Area Association Picnic from Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery.

A resident of Donner Summit since 1954, Sayler was singled out for his and#8220;forward thinkingand#8221; contributions in an astonishing array of areas, all of them directly influencing those who lived and visited the Donner Summit area for decades, and countless thousands of people traveling through this historic community.

Two of his most significant efforts: being the first ski resort in America to open its slopes to snow boarders in the 1980s, which certainly led to a resurrection of the snow sport industry; in the 1990s when Nevada County slated Rainbow Bridge for demolition, Sayler wasted no time in finding $500,000 state seed money to rehabilitate historic state bridge. This effort also ensured one of the most scenic and historic roads in California, Donner Pass Road (formerly known as Highway 40, the Lincoln Highway, the Victory Highway and the Dutch Flat-Donner Lake Wagon Road) would be preserved and open for all to use and access the communities of Norden, Soda Springs, Serene Lakes, their businesses and ski resorts.

Saylerand#8217;s lifelong interest in history resulted in one of his most notable contributions, seeing Old Highway 40 designated a State Historic Route in 1998.

He has been an avid participant in many of the issues faced by the community since moving here and sat on just about every board on the Summit, usually as a founding director, making contributions to the areaand#8217;s infrastructure including the Donner Summit PUD, the Donner Summit Fire Department and the Sierra Ski Areas Association.

Most recently Norm, along with Serene Lakes residents Margie Powell and Bill Oudegeest, established the nonprofit Donner Summit Historical Society. The quick growth of this organization will culminate with the opening of the DSHS museum, to be located next to the historic Soda Springs Hotel on Donner Pass Road. This facility will house memorabilia of the communityand#8217;s histories and include some of Saylerand#8217;s extensive photo collection. The DSHS will celebrate this opening by honoring three pioneers of Sierra ski history on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

DSAA Board member Pat Malberg explained their selection of Sayler this way: and#8220;Many of his endeavors have paid off for the betterment of all. He is always there to help and#8212; often behind the scenes and#8212; with his time, equipment, suggestions, and contacts without asking to be paid. Thatand#8217;s the kind of spirit he brings to all that he does. He has a sense of whatand#8217;s really important on the summit. I donand#8217;t think I could say enough to acknowledge all heand#8217;s done for us.and#8221;

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