Jackson sees shortage in snowplow crew, will reduce operations
Winter may look different this year in Jackson. With the season’s first snow in the valley and winter on the horizon, the crew that plows the town’s streets and alleys is only half-staffed. Jackson’s public works department expects to only have 5 of 11 positions filled by the end of the year, at the height of the winter season.
Public Works Director Floren Poliseo said at the Oct. 17 town council workshop that operations will be reduced more than ever before.
“Snow will not be hauled from streets until it becomes necessary for public safety or we see enough days without snow that the crew is able to get to it,” Poliseo said. “Parking lots and allies will not be plowed until we see enough days without snow that the crew is able to get to them.”
Instead, the public works department will prioritize plowing highways, bus routes, the downtown area and other main streets.
Poliseo said the town is experiencing this staffing shortage because it’s difficult to compete with seasonal employers that can pay more. To combat this, the public works department plans to offer signing bonuses and rental housing to new employees.
Town council narrows in on new short-term rental restrictions
Council members also continued discussing new restrictions on short-term rentals in residential zones at the Oct. 17 workshop. They are supporting policies restricting homeowners to three or four rentals a year that are shorter than 30 days. The new rules will apply to properties outside of the lodging overlay, which includes areas around the town square and Snow King Resort.
Vice mayor Arne Jorgensen said at the workshop that, with the current system, short-term rentals are bringing commercial activity into neighborhoods.
“We’re beginning to reframe that with this action, and we’re beginning to suggest and remind ourselves and our community, at least from my standpoint, the primary use in these neighborhoods is long term residential,” Jorgensen said.
Jackson already restricts the number of times homeowners outside of the overlay can rent their properties to a maximum of 12 times a year, or once every 30 days. But town staff say the rule is largely unenforceable — and that it doesn’t do enough to protect housing for locals.
If the council votes in favor of this new policy, homeowners will have to get a permit to be able to rent out their homes short-term up to four times a year. The council will likely hold a public hearing on the matter in a late November or December meeting.
Wyoming ACLU takes up voting rights ahead of November elections
In election news, the ACLU of Wyoming is trying to educate voters about their rights ahead of Election Day. Advocacy director Antonio Serrano says it’s never been more important to get out and vote.
“I know a lot of people in Wyoming feel like their vote might not matter, and I get that – I was one of those people for a very, very long time,” Serrano said. “But as I’ve seen things change, as I’ve seen elections play out and see how close races are … I’m inspired and I’m hopeful, and I hope that people will just understand the power that they have in their vote and they’ll flex that power.”
Voting is already open in Wyoming with absentee ballots, which can be returned in-person or by mail. In Teton County, residents can also vote in-person on Election Day, Nov. 8, at the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center, Teton County Library and other locations around town. Voters must present a valid ID, such as a driver’s license from any state or a U.S. passport.
In Wyoming, most employees are also allowed an hour of paid time off to vote. More information about voting in the Cowboy State is available in English and Spanish on the ACLU of Wyoming’s website.
Teton organizations distribute new stewardship handbook to protect environment on private lands
More than 40 organizations in Teton County contributed to a new handbook on environmental stewardship on private lands. Called “The Mountain Neighbor Handbook: A Local’s Guide to Stewardship in the Tetons,” the book aims to educate new and longtime county residents on a variety of topics.
According to Carlin Girard, who leads Teton Conservation District, topics include living with wildlife, protecting water and water resources, recreating responsibly, engaging with sustainable local food systems and more. Teton Conservation District spearheaded the handbook project alongside Teton County, the Town of Jackson and the Jackson Hole Land Trust.
Girard said the goal was to create a handbook that’s by and for the community. He also said that private lands are often where the local environment sees the largest impacts. The organizations aim to get ahead of these potential impacts as Teton County grows.
“This community is going to be changing — it is changing,” Girard said. “Instead of complaining about it, being cynical, we’re trying to take a positive attitude, put this desired end point out in the future and try to engage as many community members as we can.”
The organizations are distributing the handbooks to real estate agents and anyone who’s bought a home in Teton County in the last three years. A limited supply of hard copies will also be available to other Teton County residents by the end of October. Anyone who’s interested can email the conservation district at email@example.com. The handbook is also available online.