Weekly News Roundup: Friday, July 23

Miss the headlines this week? Learn more about drought on Jackson Lake, a recent crime spree, and a new COVID wave.
The Colter Bay Marina on Jackson Lake is now closed to motorized vessels due to its low water level. (Sean Xu/Shutterstock)

by | Jul 23, 2021 | News

A New COVID Wave

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the public in an impassioned address Thursday that we’re at another tipping point in the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Delta variant of COVID-19 is ripping through unvaccinated communities across the country and leading to an uptick in both cases and deaths, including in parts of Wyoming such as Laramie and Converse counties. And though over 83% of Teton County residents have taken at least one dose of the vaccine, the risk level here is rising. Lauren Funaro works part-time at St. John’s Medical Center, and says the hospital is seeing an uptick in COVID patients. 

I went to work last night for the first time in a while and I was amazed at how many covid patients there were in there,” she said. “At one point, I peeked out the window and I thought I was going to see snow falling and it felt almost like January again, which was a really dismal time at the hospital.”

Just a week ago, there was only one COVID patient in the hospital, according to St. John’s. On Wednesday, there were eight hospitalized COVID patients, with one on a ventilator. Public Health Response Coordinator for the County Rachael Wheeler has said in recent press releases that the vast majority of new local Coronavirus cases are among those that are unvaccinated. 

No Rentals Available

There is no vacancy in any of Jackson Hole’s major apartment complexes, like the Timbers and Aspen Meadows, according to an update from the local affordable housing department. That’s the third quarter in a row that there’s nothing available in any of the 560 units measured. Average rents have also increased this year, with an average studio now costing $1,825 a month and a two-bedroom costing $2,665 a month. A new complex, the Sagebrush apartments, is expected to bring another 90 units online starting October, but over 170 individuals have already expressed interest in those spaces, according to the Jackson Hole News&Guide. 

Should the ‘Ghee Grow?

Commissioners in Teton County, Idaho, met with Teton County, Wyoming, officials Monday to discuss the potential expansion of Grand Targhee Resort. The core part of the conversation had to do with a socioeconomic study of how Targhee growing could impact communities on both sides of the state line, and who should pay for the analysis. Commissioner Luther Propst of Wyoming seemed open to the idea of the study. 

“Our county has long externalized our housing shortages to Teton County, Idaho. And so it seems that it’s in our interest both as a good neighbor, and because our county includes Alta and because of the people that live in Jackson Hole and our housing situation, that this warrants a cumulative and joint effort to understand what we’re looking at,” Propst said.

But some others seemed more skeptical, instead wondering why the private landowners and developers weren’t at the table during conversations like Monday’s. Teton County, Wyoming’s Board of County Commissioners is likely to decide whether or not it’ll monetarily contribute to the study next week. 

Theft Spree in Jackson

Police in Colorado recently arrested a man suspected to have committed numerous thefts during a crime spree in Jackson Hole. Between June 30 and July 5, law enforcement responded to reports of items stolen from the Cowboy Bar, several homes in East Jackson, vehicles in Grand Teton National Park, and more. The Jackson Police Department was able to track down the presumed thief back to a residence in Denver, and worked with cops there to recover bicycles, sporting equipment, a firearm, cell phones, and much more. If you have any further information about this case or believe you had an item stolen, you can contact the Jackson Police Department at (307) 733-2331. 

Drought Drains Jackson Lake

As officials release water from Jackson Lake downstream, the way people can recreate is changing. The Colter Bay Boat ramp is now closed to motorized vessels, and other marinas are likely to be affected later this summer. Spokesperson for Grand Teton National Park C.J. Adams says this is a very rare occurrence for the area. 

Really, we’ve only seen this happen three times in the last 30 years, so we do not see this happening often,” Adams said.

The reservoir will continue to drop by between 4 and a half and 6 inches a day until September. Adams says that’s necessary to maintain resources and farmland throughout our region.

“Essentially, due to drought conditions throughout the west, water supply in the form of reservoir storage is in critical need. And the Jackson Lake Dam, located on the Snake River in Grand Teton, contractually provides irrigation and flood risk management for the Upper Snake Basin,” Adams said.

Adams also says boaters should be aware that currents on the Snake will be different than what’s normally expected for this time of year due to water being released.

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