geologist to give overview of slide

By Jim Stanford on April 18, 2014

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These aerial photos show a comparison of the Walgreens site over time. The arc in the top photo is the landslide, not yet disturbed by quarrying and development. An irrigation ditch and cottonwoods used to run along the base of the butte.

There will be a press conference at 10 a.m. today at Town Hall to give an update on the landslide affecting Walgreens and Budge Drive. Immediately following, Peter Ward of the Geologists of Jackson Hole will give a presentation titled, “Options for Dealing with the Budge Landslide.” Ward will give an overview of the geology and human activities at the site from the 1950s to the present.

Both events will be streamed live and archived on the Town of Jackson website.

Ward’s talk is a must for anyone wishing to get a better understanding of how we got into this predicament, and looking to avoid another such collision between nature and development in the future.

The site was a quarry from the 1950s to the 1970s, during which time an enormous amount of rock and dirt was removed from the hillside, creating the scar we see today. Even recent grading, when the Walgreens lot was lowered by 8 feet, pales in comparison to the quarrying, Ward says. Also, when Broadway was expanded from two lanes to five in the early 1970s, crews removed the toe of an old landslide, visible in the photo above.

Ward presents an independent analysis. He worked for 27 years with the U.S. Geological Survey as a leader in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. He has briefed top levels of federal and state governments on geologic hazards. He has a doctorate from Columbia University and bachelor of arts from Dartmouth College. He is a board member of the Geologists of Jackson Hole, a nonprofit that promotes education and sharing of knowledge about the Earth.

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Posted under County Government, Economy, Environment, Politics, Town Government

time-lapse video of Walgreens landslide

By Jim Stanford on April 18, 2014

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After a week of slow movement by a landslide on East Gros Ventre Butte, the hillside above Walgreens began crumbling yesterday, creating a spectacle that drew hundreds of onlookers along West Broadway.

The slide sent near-continuous streams of dirt and rocks into the Walgreens parking lot, halting work on a restraining buttress. Movement of 3 feet was measured in the easternmost crack.

The Town of Jackson has set up a camera for live video streaming, from which this time lapse was made. (The live cam will not play on mobile devices.)

As of this morning, buttress work again stopped as the lower portion of Budge Drive has been lost. Town crews are working to salvage the technical equipment from the pump house that supplied water to homes and businesses in the area.

The slide accelerated yesterday, causing extreme buckling of the pavement and pushing the pump house into the Walgreens entrance sign. The lower parking lot of Sidewinders is buckling and undulating, too.

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council to discuss landslide response

By Jim Stanford on April 14, 2014

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Brad Watsabaugh shows where a crack has formed in the ground above Budge Drive during a tour of the area last week.

The Jackson Town Council has shuffled the agenda for today’s 3 p.m. workshop to consider the landslide above Walgreens on East Gros Ventre Butte.

An update on the landslide and the town’s response will be the first item discussed. The meeting will take place in Town Hall and be streamed live on the Internet.

Town manager Bob McLaurin plans to ask the council to authorize emergency spending up to $750,000. That figure has swelled from the $50,000 the council initially authorized Thursday.

There will be a press conference at 11 a.m., also streamed online, for authorities to explain the Budge Drive closure. It is expected that Budge Drive will be closed for the foreseeable future, and residents may access the low-risk area on foot after receiving permission from private property owners.

New cracks formed in the hillside above Walgreens and Budge Drive over the weekend, and existing cracks continue to widen or deepen. Pavement continues to buckle in the closed store’s parking lot.

One of the town’s chief concerns is protecting a water main running along the West Broadway bike path, which is still under construction. The slide has been moving beneath the Budge Drive pump house and is about 10 to 15 feet from the water line, McLaurin said.

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airport shuttle to continue through summer

By Jim Stanford on March 28, 2014

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Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport inside a national park, and parking is limited. The shuttle costs $8 each way, compared to $10 per night for parking at the airport. To reserve a seat, call 307-733-3135.

Those on spring break or planning an off-season getaway will continue to have a cheap, easy way to get to and from Jackson Hole Airport.

The Ride2Fly shuttle has been extended through the spring and summer, serving every departing and incoming flight. The shuttle picks up and drops off at the town parking garage and costs $8 each way.

Since launching before Thanksgiving, the service has been a resounding success, with an average of more than 300 riders a month (total for both directions). The shuttle was particularly valuable over the holidays in December, when the airport ran out of parking.

With only two airlines serving Jackson Hole for April, the shuttle will pick up less frequently. But once the full flight schedule resumes in late May, shuttles will run accordingly. The off-season schedule follows after the jump.

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doc prescribes cure for Charter Internet ills

By Jim Stanford on February 16, 2014

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Earlier this week my Internet service was bogging so badly that it felt like dial-up, or worse. Unable to get any work done, and tired of waiting on hold, I posted a complaint on Charter Communications’ Facebook page. While the company did nothing, a friend happened to spot the post and offered a solution.

For anyone not in our circles still having trouble with Charter (née Optimum, née Bresnan) Internet, the problem is with the company’s domain name servers, or DNS. I’ll let the friend explain:

These are servers that translate (or “resolve”) a domain name like google.com into an Internet address like 123.456.789.123. It is like a phone book for the Internet. Charter/Optimum/Bresnan has used their own DNS servers for years. Something went badly wrong with their recent changeover to Charter and those servers are not working well. When you go to a website like nbc.com, you may actually need to “resolve” more than a hundred domain names in order to display that page. Every ad, every video, every link on the page may use a different domain name. A properly functioning DNS server can do that in milliseconds. But Charter’s DNS servers were taking a LONG time (up to 20-30 seconds) to resolve the domain names.

Here is the prescription (for Mac users): Go to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS > click + and type 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4 into the window. Those are Google’s servers. If using a wireless network, you also can change these settings on your router (Airport Utility for Mac users).

For those not wanting to use Google, other options are 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 from Open DNS.

Many thanks to Jim Little Jr. for his assistance. By spreading the word so widely, it was like the St. John’s Hospital physician had inoculated half of Jackson from a measles outbreak.

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