News Roundup: Jackson sister city Tlaxcala takes center stage with mural, films

Plus, an update on abortion access in Wyoming and the human foot found in a thermal pool in Yellowstone National Park.
Jackson Hole High School students collaborated on a mural of Jackson's sister city, Tlaxcala, Mexico. (Courtesy of Carolyn Ripps)


High school students create mural of Jackson sister city Tlaxcala

An underpass isn’t the first place you’d think to look for art. But thanks to a group of Jackson High Schools, the tunnel underpass near Jackson’s Russ Garaman Park is getting a bright new mural. The students created the art piece to honor the relationship between Jackson and Tlaxcala, Mexico.

The Jackson Town Council announced Tlaxcala as Jackson’s sister city last December, since much of the town’s Mexican population emigrated from the city. This includes many of the families of students who worked on the mural. 


Spanish teacher Gabriel Lopez, who led the project, heard comments from students while they were designing the mural such as, “I’ve been to this place, I remember seeing this” or “It reminds me of that memory I had spending time with my family.” 

Thirty-five students contributed to the project as part of Lopez’s class, in which students develop their Spanish skills by learning about Mexican art. This fall, the students studied the history of the Tlaxcala region and incorporated local archaeological sites, historical buildings and nearby volcanoes into the 76-foot-wide mural. The project was a collaboration between the high school and JH Community Pathways and Jackson Hole Public Art.

The mural will be unveiled on Friday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. with a ribbon cutting with Jackson Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson.

First-time filmmakers from Tlaxcala take the Center for the Arts stage

Tlaxcala, Mexico will also be represented on the big screen at the Center for the Arts this weekend. Fifteen first-time filmmakers will present short documentaries as part of a program through local nonprofit DIY Docs. Most of the filmmakers either live in Tlaxcala or have roots there.

One filmmaker, Sandra Vazquez, was born in Tlaxcala, but she’s lived in Jackson for 20 years. She said that filmmaking was completely new to her when she started taking courses through DIY Docs in 2019.

It was powerful to learn new things, especially for me as a mom,” Vazquez said,

Vazquez’s documentary is tied to her experience as a mother. The film focuses on Emily Coombs, who ran an organization in Jackson that reduces barriers for youth in the outdoors. Vazquez said that Coombs taught her son how to ski. 

“For me, it was to say, ‘Thank you,’” Vazquez said. “Thanks to her, our kids learned to ski.”

Coombs also directed a film, which will premiere with the other films at the Center for Arts on Friday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. 

Efforts to manage tourism in Jackson Hole are gaining steam

The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board unveiled a draft of its sustainable destination management plan on Thursday to community members. 

The plan’s goal is to balance the needs and desires of the community, while still creating high-quality experiences for the visitors that drive the local economy. The board’s vice chair, Crista Valentino, said they’ve heard loud and clear that residents want a different approach to tourism and how it’s managed — and that’s what the plan’s trying to do.

“It’s not a prescription,” Valentino said. “Rather, we see it as a framework that says, we hear you, we’re going to do things differently. And now it’s going to take a little bit of time figuring out how to implement it and what it looks like. But now we have a pathway that’s going to help get us there.”

The Travel and Tourism Board will continue to collect public feedback on the plan until Nov. 29 here. The final plan will be released on Dec. 23.

Read KHOL’s full coverage here.

Wyoming abortion-rights advocates set sights on next session

This story comes from Eric Galatas, with the Public News Service.

Last week’s midterm elections saw conservative Republicans shore up their majorities in Wyoming’s legislature, and Janna Farley — communications director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming — said reproductive-rights activists will have a heavy lift reversing what many see as government overreach on women’s bodily autonomy.

Abortion rights came under immediate fire in the 2022 legislative session when Gov. Mark Gordon signed a trigger bill banning abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“The bill was passed with a large majority of legislators in both chambers in favor of it,” said Farley. “Abortion is still legal in Wyoming while a lawsuit that contests the ban moves ahead.”

Plaintiffs in the suit point to Article 1, Section 38 in Wyoming’s constitution, which says “Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health-care decisions.”

Defenders of the trigger ban argue that article was created in response to the Affordable Care Act, and that the state’s constitution does not include the word abortion.

While many believe that ending a pregnancy is an unnecessary loss of life, Farley noted that in many instances, access to abortion is critical to save the life of the pregnant person.

“The reasons for people having an abortion is something best left to a person and their health-care team, their doctors, their physicians,” said Farley. “Politicians should not be in the exam room with you, making those decisions for you.”

If the court rules in favor of reproductive-rights groups on the trigger ban law, Farley said the legislature still wants to limit abortion access and expects a new law to be introduced in the next session.

“If we want to change the political landscape in Wyoming, we’re going to need people to get involved,” said Farley. “If abortion access is going to be left to the political process like this, those of us who care about reproductive rights have to get engaged.”

Yellowstone releases name of person whose foot was found in thermal pool

This story comes through a content-sharing partnership with Wyoming Public Media.

Yellowstone National Park officials have identified the remains of a human foot found in the park earlier this summer.

A foot and part of a shoe was found in the Abyss Pool in the West Thumb Geyser Basin in early August. 

DNA results have now shown it belonged to Il Hun Ro, a 70-year-old man from Los Angeles. Officials notified his family and say no foul play occurred. 

The Abyss Pool is 50 feet deep and is about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. More than 20 people have died in thermal areas in the park’s history. Officials recommend people stay on designated trails and boardwalks.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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