More Jackson students commute

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Whether to be out in the country or to get more for their real estate dollar, people in resort towns are always pushing into exurban areas.

That trend in Jackson has resulted in a larger number of people commuting across Teton Pass, which can be treacherous in winter, to Star Valley, as well as Idaho’s Victor and Driggs. The state line is straight, even if the geography is ragged.

While there are local schools, some 40 Wyoming kids daily cross the pass – a journey of about an hour, to be safe – to attend schools in Jackson, which are generally considered superior to those in outlying areas. Still, it’s an expensive proposition. Some parents figure it costs them $1,200 per year to help pay the transportation costs of car pools.

Why all this commuting when it costs so much? One of the parents, Erica Tremblay, tells theJackson Hole News & Guide that her family moved to Alta, on the far side of Teton Pass, for the lifestyle. “It’s so peaceful, so quiet, so beautiful,” she explained. But now, they can’t afford to move back to Jackson, where real estate prices have been rising more briskly. A home in Jackson comparable to their current home would be $1 million.

The parents would like the school district to dispatch a bus or mini-van for their children, but the school district dislikes that idea. Teton Pass, among the steepest in the Rocky Mountains, has grades of 10 percent. By comparison, the steepest grades on Colorado’s Interstate 70, at Vail Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel, are only 7 percent.


Park City gets more parking

PARK CITY, Utah – City officials in Park City have cut the ribbon on a new 305-space parking structure in the town’s century-old Old Town shopping district. With the new spaces, created at a cost of $5.75 million, the Old Town district now has 1,300 parking spaces, most of them free. It is, boasts the town, enough to rival any suburban shopping center.

While Park City gets more parking spaces, it’s also getting more riders on its buses. The bus system, the second largest in Utah, two years ago got its first millionth rider of the year on June 2. Last year the millionth rider of the year was recorded April 12. This year, say town officials, it was March 23.


Costco to build in I-70 corridor

GYPSUM – As in so many mountain valleys, the Eagle Valley has been having its own big-box drama during the last few years. First, a Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter were installed in Avon, west of Vail. But even then the down-valley towns of Eagle and Gypsum were talking about big boxes of their own.

Now it’s clear that Gypsum, long the orphan-child of the Eagle Valley, is getting Costco. The store, located halfway between Vail and Glenwood Springs, is expected to produce $80 million in sales, with Gypsum getting the bulk of taxes. The neighboring town of Eagle had first dibs on the 159,000-square-foot store. However, the Town Board rejected a development that would have accommodated it, in part because of community anxiety about whether a big-box store is acceptable. Many would prefer to foster independent-owned stores.

While Eagle awaits those non-national independent retailers and restaurateurs to bud, Gypsum is getting more and more. Another development is proposing 300,000 square feet of commercial space on a reclaimed gravel pit. Potential tenants include a large home-improvement store, a pharmacy, a bank, restaurants, offices and small retail stores.

This suburban-style development is part of a major buildup of the Eagle Valley. Current population projections estimate that Eagle County – which also includes a portion of the Aspen area – will grow to a population of 88,000 in the next quarter century, but up to 117,000 people if more of the work-force housing is absorbed. The population last year was about 50,000.


Body emerges from glacier

BISHOP, Calif. – A soldier from Minnesota who died during a training flight in the Sierra Nevada during World War II was finally buried last week in his hometown of Brainerd, Minn.

Leo Mustonen was 22 when he boarded a navigational plane that took off from an airfield in Sacramento in 1942 for a flight in California’s Central Valley. The plane slammed into 13,710-foot Mt. Mendel, in Kings Canyon National Park, between Bishop and Fresno. Hikers in 1947 discovered plane wreckage.

Two ice-climbers ascending Mt. Mendel last October noticed the body emerging from the ice. About 20 percent of the body was visible, as well as a parachute that had not been deployed. The body was 900 feet below the summit. Still unrecovered are the bodies of the three others aboard the flight.

Why is the body now appearing? In an interview with theFresno Bee last October, Park Service scientist Annie Esperanza said the snow and ice of the glacier creep slowly, shifting over time. The glacier has advanced and receded with weather changes during the past six decades.

Many more World War II plane wrecks are believed to remain in the Sierra Nevadas and also in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.


No next-of-kin for slain marshal

COPPER MOUNTAIN – A national organization wants to commemorate a cop gunned down in an old mining town of Colorado 126 years ago, and that has provoked a search for descendents of the slain cop.

But modern-day cops have had little luck. They can’t even find the grave of the fallen police officer, reports theSummit Daily News.

The records show that in July 1880 a police officer named Michael O’Neal was killed when he attempted to quell a disturbance in the town of Kokomo. Kokomo was located between Leadville and what is now Copper Mountain. What remained of the town in the 1960s, which wasn’t much even then, was uprooted, the graves moved to Breckenridge, and the town site covered with tailings from the nearby Climax molybdenum mine.

Summit County Sheriff John Minor attempted to locate next-of-kin, but struck out. About all of substance that can be determined is that the slain police officer was 28 and had, until shortly before becoming a cop, been a saloonkeeper. He will be immortalized in Washington, D.C., in an engraving dedicated to fallen peace officers.


Good ol’ vs. new boy networks

GRANBY – Granby is struggling through an effort to recall the town’s mayor. The sources of discontent are not particularly clear, butSky-Hi Newspublisher Patrick Brower believes the story can be broken down into good ol’ boy vs. good new boy networks.

In the good ol’ boy network, issues are dealt with in communications that are face to face, often over coffee or through extended family connections, he observes. Most small towns have that good ol’ boy network. But as a place grows, he says, it increasingly relies upon its more formal government network. Formal governments are more constrained by laws that are intended to provide a level playing field.

As such, the town officials were barred by law from talking with fire board members when the firefighters – Brower says in a demanding and haughty demeanor – came in with a proposal to waive normal zoning for a new fire station. “Direct person-to-person (not in a board meeting) discussion might have smoothed some ruffled feathers,” writes Brower. He adds that he hopes the current brouhaha will bring the two networks – the good ol’ boys and the good new boys – closer together. The election is set for early April.


Steamboat firefighters in need

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – There’s some heartburn in Steamboat Springs about the ability of the fire department to respond to a major fire. As the city has grown in population and territory, the fire department has not grown proportionately.

The result has been more calls for help, which has caused Steamboat to call in outlying communities to the west and south for help, explainsThe Steamboat Pilot and Today. Bryan Rickman, chief of a fire protection district based in Hayden, 27 miles west of Steamboat, says his department has been called to assist Steamboat more times during the past three months than in the rest of the past 32 years.

Steamboat has 12 full-time firefighters. The recruitment of unpaid volunteers has slackened since pension benefits were withdrawn.

– compiled by Allen Best

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows