Stunning firefighting success

I am writing to congratulate the interagency teams of wildland firefighters, air assets including the pilots, dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, EMS and all involved in the rapid response to the Saddle Butte Fire erupting on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Twice in just a month, on two otherwise lovely summer Sundays, our county, town and local federal agencies (U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) responded to the sudden ignition of fires that escalated into fast-moving wildfires in a matter of minutes, threatening people, homes, pets and our wonderful National Museum of Wildlife Art.

On some level I am not surprised at the rapid response and success of all who moved so quickly to save people and homes, having worked in wildland fire emergencies here in Jackson and all over the West during my National Park Service career.

But the Saddle Butte Fire was one for the history books in both how it ignited, how fast it moved to threaten people and homes and how stunningly successful the interagency fire suppression efforts were. Bravo and kudos to all. It is a miracle no homes were lost.

When people gratuitously bash “government” — whether local, state or federal — it is worth noting that if these agencies were not training year-round, getting the equipment they need, developing a cadre of skilled fire managers with the expertise to coordinate the complex response of firefighters and air assets, homes would have burned and people may have been injured or even killed.

I also want to offer my appreciation to the News&Guide reporters and photographers for their nonstop coverage, amazing photos and reporting on the Saddle Butte Fire.

They collectively did a real service to our community by their quick response to cover the breaking story, which involved real danger for so many. The breaking news emails and Hole Scroll updates were an informative source about what was happening in real time.

In the early afternoon I was looking south from my house, which sits parallel to the Gros Ventre River off Spring Gulch Road. I noticed some wisps in the sky and thought they looked like smoke and not clouds. So I looked at Hole Scroll. Sure enough, the Scroll had the first reporting up on the Virginian Fire, and a few minutes later I got the jarring alarm alert from the county for the first evacuations.

For all that people complain about the news media writ large, the ability of our local hometown newspaper to mobilize on a Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend to report and photograph details of the unfolding fire emergency underscores again how important local newspapers and local reporters are to a community. It makes all the difference in the world.

Joan Anzelmo


Sex crime reporting

Thank you for sharing with us Jillian Miller’s story of being sexually groped on the job at The Hole Bowl and her experience of the lackluster response she received to her complaint by the Teton County legal system.

I am especially glad to see another article that relates to the “Me Too” movement, which seems to have been forgotten since last year’s story in the Jackson Hole Woman section of the News&Guide about several local women’s stories of sexual assault.

As this article details, sexual harassment and abuse of women is rampant in the service industry. And Jackson Hole is all about the service industry. Women in the industry have few opportunities to prevent or complain about these drunken gropings or suggestions, because if they do it is money out of their pockets in the form of tips not received. No woman should have to feel that unsafe just because she can’t afford to complain about it.

Ms. Miller was doubly abused, because the police and prosecution did not fully investigate her allegations in a timely fashion, thus failing to give her complaint the serious consideration it deserved. This is why so many women, myself included, have chosen to not report assaults. Why bother if the system’s response is to assume that the victim is at fault, which appears to be what happened in this case? If, as statistics show, more than 40% of women have suffered from a sexual assault of some type, there are an awful lot of assaults in this county that have never been reported.

Thank you to Emily Mieure and Allie Gross for their thorough investigation of the follow-through on this incident and how it was treated in our courts. While I am glad the unnamed perpetrator suffered some consequence from his actions, I understand Ms. Miller’s disgust that he got off so light. Still, it is a reality that our judicial system frequently resorts to plea deals to resolve cases that might otherwise be difficult to prove. And sexual assault has always been difficult to prove.

I hope that we can continue to see this kind of reporting in this newspaper. Since sexual assault is so prevalent in our society, and not just with female victims. It needs to be reported about frequently. Ignoring it does not make it go away.

Victoria Hess


Drive to fly is easier

I appreciate the actions of the “powers that be” for the newly revised parking arrangements at Jackson Hole Airport.

For years most of the readily accessible parking spaces had been reserved for the car rental agencies. Now, finally, there is abundant, easily accessible free parking and affordable extended parking with a considerable increase in number of spaces available for airport customers. Thank you.

Dr. Jeffrey P. Kochan


Evacuee dog-shaming

To the person who on Sept. 3 left the note on my car, “You don’t deserve to own a dog. Go back to Texas,” here are the facts.

We were a family that had to evacuate from our home of 16 years due to the Saddle Butte Fire. We had just gotten the word that we would be allowed to return to our home at 8 p.m. We picked up our dogs at 6 p.m., the last minute before the vet closed. My wife and I left the dogs in the car, with the air conditioning running and their favorite radio station on, for less than 40 minutes to get something to eat.

Yeah, I know we aren’t supposed to let our car idle, but our dogs’ welfare and safety is No. 1. If you enjoy writing notes like this, go to the parking lots of any of the grocery stores in town. You’ll find a lot of dogs with just the windows rolled partway down.

No, this had nothing to do with my dogs. It was all about my license plate. I have a home in Texas, too. One of my cars is registered there, one here (Texas registration costs $80; it’s $1,750 here for the same car). This is the fourth time in the last couple of years we have been harassed because of our license plate, from this note to full-blown road rage. If some people from Texas have wronged you in some way, keep in mind there are 26 million other people who are respectful, and many love visiting Wyoming.

In a similar situation in Texas we wouldn’t have left our dogs in the car. We would have gone to a pub or a restaurant with a deck or patio. Our dogs would have been welcomed with a bowl of water and in some cases a snack. Jackson has more and better trained dogs than I have seen in any other city. Can’t walk your dog in a park? They can’t sit on a deck? Really? For a population that professes to love animals, I find that very strange.

Hating people because of where they’re from? Sounds a bit bigoted and judgmental, Jackson.

Bob Kochman


Great, caring people

On Monday I left my business to do my cash deposit from the weekend and accidentally dropped the deposit bag in the parking lot, not realizing until about five minutes later.

I raced back to the spot, searched high and low, called nearby businesses and called the non-emergency dispatch to see if anyone had turned it in. I stopped at the bank to let them know as well. I went home and just sat in my garage in a depressed state, unable to move because the amount of cash lost would be felt for quite some time.

While sitting there I received a call from the bank. A nice gentleman had taken the bag to the bank and dropped it. He had never even opened the bag. He simply took it to the bank and was going to leave unnamed, but the employees insisted he leave a business card.

I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart to that man for restoring my gleeful faith in humanity and proving that there truly are great samaritans out there in this hectic world.

Bobby Thomson


Mitigating feeding

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department rightfully objects to the systematic reduction in supplemental feeding of elk on the National Elk Refuge. Game biologists have determined that without supplemental feeding of elk we will lose 60% or more of our elk in a harsh winter. Refuge staff claims they will not starve the elk to death, but their codified goal is to reduce the herd by more than 50%.

If you, the reader, are in favor of advocating phasing out feedgrounds, please detail your plans to (1) reduce the elk herd by 60% or more to keep them in balance with winter habitat, other than by starving them to death (2) to keep them off our plowed roads in the winter (3) to keep starving elk out of our stables and barns, eating hay meant for our horses and cattle (4) to reimburse Game and Fish for lost license sales revenue (5) to provide alternate employment to those who depend on a healthy population of elk for their jobs: outfitters, guides, camp cooks, wranglers, horse leasing businesses, Elk Refuge viewing tours, sporting goods stores, photographers, wildlife tours, motels, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, etc., and (6) to reimburse homeowners for their lost shrubs and trees, which will be stripped of their bark by starving elk.

If elk feeding is curtailed or eliminated then hungry elk will wander off the refuge. We will have elk all over our valley and our roads, destroying our home landscaping and causing numerous traffic accidents.

I remind you that your homes, businesses, and roads are on former elk winter habitat. It is only fair that we help the elk get through a Wyoming winter. This idea of eliminating elk feeding is a stupid, foolishly impractical idea whose time should never come. Supplemental feeding of elk has stabilized our elk herd since 1912. I call on those with a modicum of common sense to actively oppose all such efforts of changing Jackson Hole by greatly reducing our iconic elk herd.

Maury Jones


Where’s the money?

Did I understand Dr. Paul Beaupre correctly? In order to be financially sustainable the hospital and all its medical practitioners, clinics and specialists needs a community of 100,000?

Did I understand Beaupre correctly? All of the cancer patients utilize the oncology center only on the two Fridays each month that Dr. Ward is in town? What is the utilization on the other 18 weekdays?

Do any of the hospital’s side clinics actually make money? Doesn’t the hospital have to provide financial assistance to both Urgent Care and the Teton Village clinic? “We’re not at a critical mass (the aforementioned 100,000?) that would support the hospital at the level of services that many want us to be at.”

Can the “many” be identified? How often can the hospital add services that lose money before jeopardizing the overall operation of the hospital?

Susan Crosser


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

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(2) comments

Terry Hanks

I'm touched by your story of hardship. I can only imagine the emotional distress you must be under to learn it is too expensive to register your $90k car in the same state as your vacation home. I think I will ask that a collection plate be passed in your name. Please reply with an address (presumably in Texas) where the proceeds can be sent.

(Edited by staff.)

Terry Hanks

If your car stays in Wyoming it should be registered in Wyoming. Typical Texan not paying their fair share. Go back to Texas indeed.

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