What makes a local

Valley columnist Connie Owen’s brief survey on what makes a local was published two days after my husband and I moved into our rented condo in Jackson. I have just accepted a job with a local firm and my husband is a wildland firefighter for the National Park Service. We pulled into our new condo parking lot on Monday night, March 22. Within minutes a neighbor emerged and verbally accosted us, accusing us of stealing a parking spot, invading his community and driving a local real estate spike.

As we unloaded our U-Haul truck over the next two days the neighbor stopped by a few times to apologize, begrudgingly. He noted our out-of-state plates and complained new residents were making Jackson unlivable. In other circumstances, I thought, we might have connected with this man: As for him, the cost of living in Jackson had almost been a dealbreaker for us. We were lucky to find a place to rent, much less one we could afford. While we owned a home in Colorado, we don’t know when, if ever, we will be able to buy one in Jackson. Still, we decided that Jackson is one of the few communities in the West that can offer us the careers we want.

Fortunately, other interactions with locals made up for some of our neighbor’s aggressiveness. When we got locked out of our truck’s camper shell, a local locksmith spent an hour helping my husband slither through the cab window into the truck bed to unlock the shell from the inside. The locksmith refused to charge us. Then, as we struggled to move our heavy couch up to our second-floor condo, a FedEx driver who was passing by leapt from his truck to help us swiftly lift the couch up 20 stairs.

We may not aspire to be true locals but we hope to serve our new community well and call it home. What more can a neighbor, or a local, ask for?

Ryan Maye Handy


Church’s kindness aids us all

This letter was addressed to the congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole and copied to the News&Guide. — Eds.

As a Teton County health volunteer vaccinator, I personally wanted to express my gratitude for the church’s incredible kindness and support in the vaccination process for the folks of Teton County.

With your help, Teton County has been a shining example of what can be done when “people of all colors and beliefs” work together on a project for the common good.

Teton County Health Department, Team Rubicon and volunteer vaccinators have all moved the vaccination clinics to the Kmart/future Target location for vaccinations only because there is more space for the biggest vaccination clinics (1,000 a day! this Saturday), and room for the observation space and parking for that many people.

I appreciate your kindness and generosity, space and smiles throughout the process. You guys rock!

Chuck Harris

Volunteer vaccinator and helper


Licensing issues complex

The five senators who sit on the Senate Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee deserve our thanks. In a recent opinion piece printed by this news outlet, several of these honorable senators were attacked for their votes on Senate File 103. Chairwoman Affie Ellis and the members of the TRW committee did the job they were elected to do, represent all citizens of Wyoming.

Recently the governor established a Wildlife Task Force to consider a number of important issues, including hunting license allocations. Licensing issues are incredibly complex, due in part to years of changes done through a piecemeal approach rather than looking at the system comprehensively. Non-resident hunters provide a significant amount of economic activity in our state, supporting local hotels, restaurants, retailers and small businesses. This revenue is critical for Wyoming, particularly our small communities. Changes to the license allocation system and their impacts deserve thoughtful study.

Senate File 103 would have reduced Wyoming hunting tourist opportunity by 50%. Wyoming’s business community expressed concerns, not only because of adverse economic impact but because the bill would have circumvented the work of the recently formed Wildlife Task Force. The bill was resoundingly defeated by a 4-1 vote. This is the fourth time this concept has been rejected by the Legislature.

Sens. Ellis, Landen, Gierau, Schuler and Salazar listened to several hours of testimony, read hundreds of emails and answered many phone calls before casting their votes. These legislators took the wise and prudent choice to have the task force study all facets of licensing in greater depth. The task force will report recommendations to the governor, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and the Legislature.

Wyoming is fortunate to still have a citizen legislature and that is just what the good senators that make up the TRW committee are — Wyoming citizens. They take time away from their jobs and families to do the work of our citizens. They deserve our gratitude and respect, even when we disagree. Unfortunately there is an effort to bully them, by trashing their reputations, when they wisely voted against a bill they didn’t feel was ready for prime time. That’s not the way we do business in Wyoming and that’s not how we treat our neighbors. Call or email these senators and thank them for taking a thoughtful approach that considers broad viewpoints and for standing up to cyber bullies. That’s the Wyoming way.

Sy Gilliland

President, Wyoming Outfitters

and Guides Association


Letters to the editor should be limited to 400 words, be signed and include a town of residence and a telephone number for verification. Letters are due by noon Monday. No thank yous or political endorsement letters. Guest Shot columns are limited to 800 words. Email editor@jhnewsandguide.com.

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