This is a selection of the stories printed in the past week in the News&Guide’s sister publication, the Jackson Hole Daily. For full versions of each of these stories and more go to JHNewsAndGuide.com.
Fairgrounds snow pile falls
The mountain has fallen.
After months of dominating the fairgrounds the snow pile that once contained a town’s worth of winter plowing has been reduced to intermittent patches of ice and sand. Streets Manager Sam Jewison is just a little excited to see “that dang thing” die a watery death.
“I think I can claim victory pretty soon here,” he said.
Since temperatures rose high enough for the mound to begin melting, Jewison has been fighting day in and out to vanquish it before the Jackson Hole Rodeo and other groups need the space for summer events.
Now the battle is nearly won. But it required a feat of public works tenacity, considering that two years ago a significantly smaller snow pile disappeared at around this date.
— Cody Cottier
Highway 89 path planned
With the northern part of the South Highway 89 widening project slated to wrap up in June, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has awarded the next phase of widening, which carries a $67.4 million price tag.
Teton County also signed on to pay $1.7 million more for the adjacent pathway than was expected a couple of years ago.
WYDOT contracted Utah-based Wadsworth Construction Company in 2017 for $33 million to complete the northern 4 miles of the highway widening project, from South Park Loop Road to about where Munger Mountain Elementary School sits. That section must be wrapped up by June, WYDOT Resident Engineer Bob Hammond said.
The next portion of the project — another 4 miles from Munger to Hoback Junction — was awarded last week to Oftedal Construction Inc., of Casper, for $67.4 million. That is 26% over the project’s budgeted cost of $53.3 million, according to WYDOT.
— Allie Gross
Parks make the money come
A report from the National Park Service shows that Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks are two of the biggest economic generators in the National Park Service system.
According to the report, in 2018 Teton park, which had 3.5 million visitors who spent $629 million, supported 8,620 jobs and created $792 million in total economic benefit. Yellowstone had 4.1 million visitors who spent $513 million, supporting 7,090 jobs and generating $647 million in economic output. The report didn’t indicate how many of the jobs were part time or full time.
Both rank in the top 10 economic drivers in the Park Service, with Teton park sitting at fifth and Yellowstone at seventh. Economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione, of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Lynne Koontz, of the Park Service, conducted the peer-reviewed analysis. The more than 318 million national park visitors spent $20.2 billion nationwide, supporting 329,000 jobs and pumping $40.1 billion into the U.S. economy.
— Tom Hallberg
START calls it summer
The weather may not feel summery, but START officially makes the switch to its summer schedule Saturday.
The new schedule, which can be seen at STARTBus.com, includes doubled summer service on the green line route that links the town of Jackson to the Stilson park-and-ride at the intersection of Highways 22 and 390 and Teton Village. In an effort to reduce traffic the green line will run every 30 minutes instead of every hour, as it has in past summers.
The increased service will run through June 30, in what has been dubbed a “pilot program.” Whether the doubled line runs for the rest of the summer, through Sept. 29, depends on the ongoing town and county budgeting processes.
— Allie Gross
Bentley arraigned on stalking
A Teton County inmate was ordered not to have contact with six people after two alleged incidents.
Brian Bentley, 47, is accused of driving to Jackson from Utah to stalk a 15-year-old girl. Bentley’s address is listed as Salt Lake City, but he told the court he was most recently living in St. George, Utah.
Bentley was arrested May 16 for criminal trespass and criminal entry after a Jackson woman — a second victim — said he wouldn’t stop coming to her mother’s house.
Judge James Radda granted two separate orders of protection against Bentley. The first one includes the 15-year-old girl and her two sisters. The other includes the woman, her mother and her sister. He remains in Teton County Jail.
— Emily Mieure