News Roundup: Idaho man survives Grand Teton avalanche

Plus, Wyoming seniors could see property tax relief, and Jackson’s housing market may be cooling down from pandemic boom.
A snowboarder triggered an avalanche on Albright Peak, which slid over 2,000 feet. (Courtesy of Evan Flach)

 

Avalanche rescue

An Idaho man was injured earlier this week in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park. He survived a 600 foot slide into Death Canyon Monday and reportedly struck several trees on the way down. Members of the snowboarder’s party were able to call for local search and rescue teams, who assisted in transporting the man out of the park to St. John’s Hospital. 

Grand Teton officials are reminding folks to always exercise caution when traveling in avalanche prone areas. 

Property tax relief

Wyomingites may soon get some property tax relief. Lawmakers say they are trying to get assistance for homeowners, amid sky-high taxes. Republican state senator Dan Dockstader of Afton has proposed legislation which would specifically help the elderly.

“Those are the people who are locked in and can’t seem to change their income situation,” Dockstader said. “This is an opportunity to reach out to them and help them.”

He said older residents across the state are having trouble holding onto their homes. In Teton County, rising home values have made property taxes top 30%.

If passed, Dockstader’s proposed constitutional amendment could exempt seniors from paying these taxes, either partially or entirely.

Jackson housing market dips

The Jackson housing market may be cooling down after the boom that came with the pandemic.

A new report from real estate company Keller Williams says fewer people bought homes in 2022, compared to previous years.

The company said this could be because of high interest rates. 

Prices, however, remain at record highs. The average sale price for a single family home last year was over $5M for the first time. 

Just three years ago, the average price was about half that.

Corporal punishment protections 

Corporal punishment is rarely used in Wyoming schools these days, but there’s still a law on the books providing immunity for teachers and administrators who use it. A new bill before the legislature seeks to end that protection.

Jeff Jones, a middle school principal from Ranchester, provided testimony in support of the bill during a recent committee meeting. Jones wrote his doctoral dissertation about corporal punishment in Wyoming schools in 2021. He found that just three of Wyoming’s 48 school districts even still allow it. And of those remaining three, they basically never use it.

And yet, in previous years, bills seeking to end corporal punishment have been rejected by lawmakers, who argued, there’s just no point if it’s not used that much anymore. Jones disagrees. 

“I believe that’s flawed justification for inaction,” Jones said. 

The bill this year would not ban corporal punishment. Rather, it would eliminate the legal immunity that protects school officials from being sued for spanking a child or administering any other form of corporal punishment.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, sending it to the senate floor. 

Disobeying winter storm road closures 

Winter storms in Wyoming often force road closures, but some people choose to ignore them. A bill recently passed out of committee would make the legalities more clear. 

Currently, in order to break the law, you have to “willfully” ignore road closures. But proving the intent can be tricky. The proposal is to change the language to anyone who “disobeys or disregards” road closures.

But state representative, Republican Dalton Banks of Cowley, said he takes issue with road closures as a concept. 

“We’re stopping people from going home to their families is basically what it amounts to,” Dalton said. “And I understand the safety aspect of it, but, are we going to, for lack of a better term, baby, everybody who, who drives on our roads?”

The bill ultimately passed out of committee and will now go to the house floor. 

 

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