The city of Kellogg and a Swiss tram builder have signed closing documents on Kellogg's ambitious $14.1 million gondola lift and expansion at Silverhorn ski area.

"I just love it. I'm excited," said Mayor Mervin Hill at the conclusion of last week's ceremony."It's been a long road, and a lot of people have done a lot of work."

Hill said Von Roll Systems, builder of the gondola, has agreed to hire as much local labor as possible during construction but said it was too early to estimate how many jobs the project might create.

Construction of the aerial gondola linking Kellogg to the ski resort - which will be the longest such ride in the Western Hemisphere - will begin as soon as the ground thaws next spring, Hill said.

The lift and Silverhorn improvements should be completed and ready for use by May, 1990, he said.

City leaders have been pursuing the gondola project since 1985 as an attempt to provide some non-mining income to the Silver Valley.

Tied in with the gondola will be a new ski lodge, support facilities and added runs at Silverhorn.

Nearly $6.5 million of the total project cost will be picked up in the form of a federal grant. Von Roll financed the balance itself after Kellogg taxpayers approved annual levies of $100,000 to help guarantee that Von Roll's 20-year loan would be repaid.