Fine Dining group cleans up Gregory Lane for Earth Day

Kate Fatter, director of culture for Fine Dining Restaurant Group, picks trash off the side of Gregory Lane followed by office manager Natalie Hayes (with trash bag) April 22 during a volunteer cleanup arranged by their company. A group of about 20 Fine Dining employees volunteered to clear litter from Gregory Lane in honor of Earth Day. The annual Spring Clean Up has been canceled this year, mostly due to budget problems that arose from the coronavirus crisis. However, residents may still purchase compostable brown paper bags to gather their yard waste and bring them to the Trash Transfer Station for composting. The fee for yard waste is $83 a ton.

Studio J Pilates won’t reopen

Studio J Pilates on South Park Drive is holding a liquidation sale of its Pilates equipment, furniture and everything else.

It announced the sale on social media.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that Studio J Pilates will not reopen on May 1, 2020,” owner Jess McMillan wrote.

“My priority is to refund everyone who has a current package and/or account balance purchased within the last six months. I will sending re-reimbursement checks as I liquidate the studio. All reimbursements will be mailed out by June 1.”

Anyone interested in purchasing equipment or other items should visit StudioJPilatesSale.com. There will also be a sale at the studio May 9 and 10.

PPP process reopens, haltingly

The U.S. Small Business Administration began accepting Paycheck Protection Program loan applications again Monday.

The American Bankers Association immediately complained that banks ran into problems with the SBA’s electronic transmission system.

“Banks of all sizes worked through the night to process #PPP loans with little success,” association president and CEO Rob Nichols tweeted Tuesday morning. “Banks are still trying and counting on @SBAgov and @USTreasury to fix it so we can speed this aid to small businesses that desperately need it.”

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last week provided more than $300 billion in additional funding for PPP loans.

The original $349 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, called the CARES Act, dried up by mid-April due to the huge demand. Some businesses couldn’t get their applications in on time, and applications were stuck in the pipeline when funds ran out.

The loans have a 1% interest rate but are largely forgivable. They were created as an incentive for small businesses to keep their workers onboard.

“SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities,” the SBA says on its website.

Businesses apply for the loans through banks and credit unions, and the SBA guarantees the loans.

Free cleaning for heroes

Premier Green Cleaning Services is donating 1,000 hours of deep cleanings and disinfecting services to nonprofits, organizations and individuals that are connecting and supporting the Jackson Hole community during the pandemic.

The business, which is part of the Shine Group LLC, invites people in the community to go to its website to nominate “heroes” to receive the free cleanings. Here’s a quick link: TinyURL.com/ydhwd52b.

“Many in our community are fighting the good fight to properly social distance, provide assistance to those who are struck financially by this crisis, and working on the front lines at our healthcare centers,” Premier’s website says. “Our Premier team would like play our part to help ease the burden.”

Shine Group owner Monay Olson said the offer is a way to help the community as well as her employees. The company has secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan, and the complimentary cleaning services are another way to keep Premier employees working.

“We started out by asking, “How are we going to ensure our staff is getting hours?’” she said. “This is a good plan.”

Premier has about 40 full-time equivalents and 25 seasonal and part-time workers. The closure of restaurants and many other commercial facilities took a bite out of Premier’s bookings, and most residential clients have also canceled cleaning services.

“Our staff has taken a huge hit, for sure,” she said.

The offer of free cleanings has been embraced since it was announced last week.

Olson said beneficiaries include Community Entry Services, the Jackson Cupboard, Habitat for Humanity, a few churches and Teton Youth and Family Services’ Hirschfield Center, Red Top Meadows and Van Vleck House. Nurses and other front-line workers as well as administrative staff have been nominated as well. It’s all keeping things busy at Premiere.

“I feel like I’m in the middle of summer right now,” Olson said Monday afternoon.

The employees like knowing they’re helping the community.

“They feel good about it,” Olson said.

Olson said she has about 400 to 500 hours left to give, and she will probably extend the offer to 2,000 complimentary hours.

Free masks donated by businesses

On Thursday afternoon and Friday morning the St. John’s Health Foundation, in collaboration with Teton County Health, will have a tent set up outside Smith’s Food and Drug to hand out free masks.

The masks, 10,000 of them, were produced by one of the factories used by Yellowberry, a homegrown Jackson Hole business that sells undergarments and other items for tweens and teens.

Yellowberry founder and CEO Megan Grassell reached out to Jeff Ward at Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, which used money from its community service fund to pay manufacturing costs, a press release said. The JHREA fund is supported by agents and donors.

First Republic Bank also chipped in on costs.

The tent will be open at Smith’s from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday for members of the community to drive by and pick up masks.

Grassell told the News&Guide that a factory in Vietnam that Yellowberry uses was able to quickly manufacture the masks, “which was awesome.”

They are made with a double-layer cotton blend with elastic ear loops.

“They’re not medical but they are the standard that we’re supposed to wear now,” Grassell said.

She was happy to be doing something for her hometown.

“I grew up here,” she said. “We had factory relationships, and we make apparel, so we are able to provide these, which is a good thing.”

Drivers get a break

With the economy on pause because of the COVID-19 crisis, many auto insurers are giving customers some relief, like premium reductions and grace periods for nonpayment. They can do so because their risk has dropped.

During the pandemic people aren’t driving as much, and that means fewer accidents, said Dustin Deshazo, a State Farm agent in Jackson.

State Farm is one of a long list of insurers giving customers a break.

For the March 20 through May 31 period, for example, State Farm customers will get a policy credit estimated at 25% in their June or July bill or with their next renewal. And through the end of May, policies won’t be canceled for nonpayment.

“A large number of insurance companies operating in our state are offering a variety of options to give consumers more flexibility,” Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Jeff Rude said in a press release.

The press release lists a bunch of companies offering relief, including Allstate, Geico, Travelers, Farmers, Progressive, Nationwide, MetLife, Liberty Mutual Group and Chubb. The release notes that many smaller companies are probably also offering relief but haven’t notified the department.

No matter what insurer people use, they should reach out to the company if they can’t make a payment, Rude said.

“There are a lot of different options, but insurance companies can only enact flexibilities if they’re aware of your situation,” he said.

It’s important to continue coverage.

“You shouldn’t just decide that you’re going to go without auto insurance for a few months while the pandemic passes,” Rude said. “That could be very risky and could impact your rates in the future.”

— Jennifer Dorsey

Contact Jennifer Dorsey at jennifer@jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5908.

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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