Weekly News Roundup: Friday, July 9

Miss the headlines this week? Learn more about housing for human service employees, water quality and upcoming discussions for Targhee expansion.
The boards of commissioners from both Teton County, Idaho, and Wyoming will meet virtually to discuss an impact study on the Grand Targhee Resort expansion on July 19.

Virtual Public Participation in Town Council Meetings to Continue

The Jackson Town Council voted Tuesday evening to continue to allow members of the public to participate in its meetings virtually. Those making public comment or presenting a report to the council can still do so over Zoom, in a move demonstrating changes to local governance since the outbreak of COVID-19. Councilman Jim Rooks also said this is a vital decision to make sure local community members are more aware of what’s happening in terms of local affairs. 

“I’m really excited about these motions because I think they can allow increased participation from community members and ourselves and which I would suggest is very, very important given the lack of attendance that I see,” Rooks said. 

Council members also decided that they would be required to attend their own meetings in person, with certain exceptions per the mayor’s approval. Exactly how much virtual attendance is allowed for the council members will continue to be deliberated in the coming weeks. 

Donation to Housing Trust Designated for Employees of Human Service Organizations

Human service professionals in Teton County may have an easier time finding stable, affordable housing starting in 2023. That’s after Monday’s announcement that the Hughes Charitable Foundation is donating $10 million to the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust to help house employees of Jackson’s Human Services Council organizations, like Teton Youth and Family Services, One22 Resource Center and the Senior Center of Jackson Hole.

Anne Cresswell is executive director of the housing trust. She said the historic donation from the Hughes’ reflects the dire housing crisis in Jackson as well as the family’s commitment to supporting the most vulnerable Wyoming residents.

“I think it’s fair to say that after they’ve had lots of conversations with lots of social service providers, they came to the conclusion very quickly that the thing that our social services organizations need to continue to provide services, to keep the lights on, to be able to keep meeting with families and kids in our community is to have employees, and to have employees to recruit and employees to retain. “

While details haven’t been released publicly yet, Cresswell said the new funding will allow the trust to accelerate a few projects that were already in its pipeline, breaking ground as soon as next summer.

Water Quality Remains a Concern in Teton County

The Wyoming Outdoor Council hosted a lunchtime Zoom conversation this week going over water quality issues in the Cowboy State. Conservation advocate for the council Brandon Reynolds spent a good portion of his time focusing on Teton County issues. 

Approximately 3,600 septic systems in Teton County alone tributaries to the Snake have been identified as having high E. coli [levels], including Fish Creek and Flat Creek up there,” Reynolds said. “And then the Snake River near Hoback Junction has exceeded the EPA limit on nitrates in the past.”

Teton County is also still in discussions regarding the job description of a future water quality specialist, which would focus primarily on some of the issues outlined by the council. 

Teton County Switching to Moderna Vaccine 

The Teton County Health Department announced Monday that it’s switching to giving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine instead of Pfizer for all first doses moving forward due to vaccine supply. The Pfizer shot will still be available for individuals under 18 and people scheduled to get their second dose of the vaccine. Director of Health for the county Jodie Pond told KHOL last week that she continues to urge everyone who can to get vaccinated — especially given the presence of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus in Wyoming.

“It really is a race against time in terms of trying to stay ahead of the variants that are in our state,” explains Pond.

The Delta variant was confirmed as the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. this week. Public health officials are also warning that the variant could spread rapidly among less vaccinated states like Wyoming.

Idaho Electeds Ask for Funding from Wyoming for Targhee Expansion Study

Elected officials in Teton Valley, Idaho, recently asked Teton County, Wyoming, to pay for a study documenting the potential impacts of expansion at Grand Targhee Resort, according to the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Targhee is located in Alta, but an expansion, still in the works in terms of planning, would likely impact housing, transportation, wildlife and more in Driggs and other Teton Valley, Idaho, communities. The boards of commissioners from both Teton counties will meet virtually to discuss the impact study on July 19.

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