Support our library

As frequent library patrons, former Teton County Library employees and current school librarians, we have watched with great concern the multiple, swift changes in the leadership of our public library in recent years. The most recent losses of director Oscar Gittemeier and board member Dail Barbour are perplexing and disappointing.

We had the opportunity to meet virtually with Gittmeier this fall, not long after his move to Jackson for what would become a tenure of less than six months. His commitment to serving his newly adopted JH community, coupled with his innovative ideas to support and enhance education for students, left us feeling incredibly excited about his leadership.

On the heels of the loss of an energetic director, we were further disheartened to learn of the recent, sudden “departure” of board member Barbour. Among her qualifications to serve on this board are her nearly two decades as an employee / manager of Teton County Library and her experience as a former Teton County commissioner. Having worked with her at the library we cannot fathom her committing “misconduct or neglect of duty” that would merit her removal by our county commissioners.

Just as some of our favorite local restaurants have closed their doors to on-site indoor dining but have provided meals for takeout in order to protect the health of their customers, employees and our community at large, Teton County Library has done much the same by limiting the public’s access to the building. However, the staff has been serving our community continuously since the start of the coronavirus pandemic by providing myriad services ranging from access to thousands of digital resources to curbside pickup of print books, as well as online programming that has included children’s storytimes, a Page to the Podium event and numerous other educational opportunities.

Losing an experienced library director and board member during the current turmoil of a global pandemic is a significant setback for our community and the library’s staff. Furthermore, we are worried that our library, which has already been short-staffed and has struggled to find qualified professionals for current job postings, will have a damaged reputation for future potential directors, as well as prospective financial donors to the Teton County Library Foundation, which provides funding for countless resources and programs for our community.

We are thankful to learn Deb Adams is back as interim director. We hope that she can steer our beloved public library back to calmer waters, away from the unnecessary chaos created by the loss of multiple library administrators, in time to find another qualified director willing to step into the revolving door of leadership.

We support Teton County Library and hope that our elected officials will too.

Allie Gillen and Melissa Snider

Jackson

Be part of the solution

I have been seething for a week now. I’ve had it with all you inconsiderate, self-centered and irresponsible people out there who refuse to take COVID-19 seriously.

Does it mean nothing to you that the numbers of active cases in Teton County are rising at warp speed? Our schools are now back to online classes.

We older folks, who are trying really hard to keep it together being prisoners in our own homes, would love to be out having a nice dinner, enjoying cocktails with friends, socializing and mostly being able to see our families and hug and kiss our grandchildren. We’re having Thanksgiving dinner at home, alone, without our families.

The extra burden you all have put on our precious medical community is unforgivable. Public health is working late at night trying to keep up with contact tracing and is still falling behind because of the number of new cases. School district employees are fearful for their own families. You’ve lived with “no shoes, no shirt, no service” forever. Wearing a mask, social distancing and hanging with those in your very tight circle (residence) won’t be that hard. You can choose to either be part of the solution or you are the problem. Choose wisely.

Linda Williams

Wilson

Freedom not excuse

As Americans, and especially as Wyomingites, we value our freedom more than just about anything. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are foundational American principles. In the last 10 months the COVID-19 pandemic has tested our personal freedom more than any time since the Vietnam war. As of this week we have more than 11 million infections and over 245,000 deaths in the U.S. Some states have closed businesses, sporting events and even churches and places of worship. Other states respect our individual freedom and have asked citizens to behave responsibly and follow public health guidelines.

Wyoming has responded differently than most other states. For eight months our low population density has protected us. In the last three weeks that dramatically changed, and we now have had over 21,000 cases with 144 deaths. Our incidence of COVID infection is over 3,500 per 100,000 people, putting us in the bottom half nationally. The case fatality rate (those dying from the disease) is 0.69%, or more than six times that of seasonal influenza. Hospitals in Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Montana are now at capacity and cannot accept out-of-state transfers of Wyoming’s sickest patients.

I’m a former trauma surgeon who has seen more than my share of disease and death. The sad truth is that with a disease as contagious as COVID-19, any of us can easily pass it on to our friends without even knowing it. Sometimes some limitations on our personal freedom are necessary for the benefit of the country and our citizens. This is one of those times. If you wear a seatbelt you know what I mean.

We have the freedom to disregard the public health guidelines about public gatherings, social distancing and wearing a face mask in public places. We can decide that we don’t care about the rules and we don’t care about our neighbors. But you and I both know that’s not the Wyoming way. We’re there for each other because we have to be. COVID-19 is serious. I hope you never get it and no one you know ever gets it. And the best way to make sure of that is to protect yourself and others close to you.

While America is developing a vaccine and has several supplemental treatments that look helpful, your chance to get the vaccine probably won’t occur until spring, at the earliest. The only things we have to prevent spread of COVID to our friends and loved ones are mitigation measures: isolation, distancing and face masks. It is clear that wearing masks in public reduces spread from symptomatic people and those who have not developed symptoms by 85% — not perfect but very good. And it’s so easy. Wearing a mask protects the wearer too. It takes a minimum of 60% of people wearing a mask to have a positive effect on Covid spread.

This brings us back to personal freedom. Nobody can force you to wear a mask; it is your choice. The alternative to not wearing a mask is clear: increased spread of the disease and more hospitalizations and deaths. If hospitals reach their capacity, state and local governments will be forced to close businesses and mandate stay-at-home orders. This will have a catastrophic effect on our economy and strain our resources to help those who lose their jobs.

The pandemic and our response have nothing to do with our politics. We have the freedom to make personal choices. Let’s consider our choices carefully.

Loren Nelson, MD

Jackson

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 5 p.m. Monday. No thank yous or political endorsement letters. Guest Shot columns are limited to 800 words. Email editor@jhnewsandguide.com.

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