update on Gros Ventre Butte landslide

By Jim Stanford on April 10, 2014

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Update 6:30 p.m.: We received good news from George Machan, the landslide consultant. Based on a preliminary survey of the site and related data, he estimates the chance of a sudden, catastrophic failure at about 5 percent. Also, the area most at risk may be limited to Walgreens and the east portion of Budge Drive, he said. Wet weather may accelerate movement, he cautioned, and further monitoring is necessary.

Businesses in the Hillside Building will be allowed to reopen, except for Sidewinders. The evacuation order for Budge Drive will remain in effect.

There will be a community meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at Jackson Elementary School gym (next to the rec center) to give an overview of the East Gros Ventre Butte landslide.

George Machan, a landslide expert from Oregon, has been on the butte today and will give an assessment of the geology and slide risks.

The Jackson Town Council also will meet at 5 p.m. at Town Hall, mainly to authorize the emergency command team to expend funds and take appropriate response steps. The meeting should be streamed online.

The ground continues to move on the butte. Power lines were being stretched, and a 2-foot sinkhole opened near the bottom of Budge Drive. Lower Valley Energy was working to release tension on the lines.

There are propane tanks buried beside homes on Budge Drive and gas lines in the vicinity. Also of concern is a town water main fed by a 2-million-gallon storage tank on the butte. Emergency responders are planning for the worst should these utilities be affected.

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Walgreens closes for landslide danger

By Jim Stanford on April 9, 2014

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Update 7 p.m.: The advisory has been upgraded to an evacuation order. All residents of Budge Drive and the Hillside Building are being asked to leave as a precaution. A geologist has detected several inches of movement since February about 40 feet below the surface of the ground, raising the possibility of a larger slide. More information follows after the jump.

The new Walgreens store on Broadway sits beneath an old cut on the hillside. Extensive earth removal and grading were done before the store was built last year. The slope is collapsing above the building.

With a potential landslide looming, the Walgreens store on Broadway has closed, and the Town of Jackson has issued an evacuation advisory for residents of Budge Drive.

The ground continues to move on East Gros Ventre Butte, and that movement has accelerated, said Roxanne Robinson, assistant town manager.

Walgreens closed voluntarily in the interest of safety, she said. An evacuation advisory is a cautionary move and not mandatory for residents. The last time one was issued was during the Little Horsethief Fire in 2012.

A crack runs through a driveway and home on Budge Drive.

An arc-shaped crack has formed in the butte above Walgreens. The crack runs through a driveway and house owned by a member of the Budge family. The home has sustained tremendous damage in recent months as the ground has shifted beneath it.

At the bottom of the cut slope, that shifting has caused the Walgreens parking lot to buckle in places. The foot of Budge Drive also is buckling, just a few feet from Broadway.

Movement of earth farther up the hill, beyond the houses, also may be occurring. Geologists and engineers are monitoring the slope with town staff.

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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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park road to get consistent grooming

By Jim Stanford on January 29, 2014

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Skate skiing is an easy glide by the Tetons.

For skinny skiers, the Teton Park Road is about to get smoother.

Teton County has reached an agreement with Grand Teton National Park to groom 15 miles of the road for Nordic skiing. The county will groom at least once a week between the Taggart Lake parking lot and Signal Mountain Lodge.

As with other trails around the valley, the track will accommodate classic and skate skiing. Donations to the GTNP Foundation, a private nonprofit, will pay for the service.

The road is closed to vehicle traffic during winter. While a popular destination, the park has groomed it only sporadically in recent years as funding and staffing have allowed. Winds tend to eradicate the track quickly.

Jackson-Teton County Parks and Rec will groom on Saturdays and perhaps other days as well. The park will continue to augment the service when possible.

The agreement makes sense for tourism. Skiing or walking along the park road is one of the few premier activities in winter outside the ski resorts.

Besides, there are never enough excuses to go to Dornan’s.

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councilmen to state reps: legalize it

By Jim Stanford on January 23, 2014

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Earlier this week, the town council invited state lawmakers and county commissioners for a discussion on the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Leland Christensen and Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff and Keith Gingery talked about bills they plan to work on and issues such as state funding for local government. The latter is nuanced and not very sexy but important for how the town and county provide services.

Bob Lenz

At the end, we addressed a topic a little more tangible: a pair of bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana. The first, to be sponsored by Rep. Sue Wallis, a Campbell County Republican, would permit medicinal or even recreational use, while the second, authored by Rep. James Byrd, a Democrat from Laramie, would lower the penalty for possessing small amounts to $50 or $100.

That I support such measures is hardly a surprise. But what raised eyebrows was when 81-year-old Councilman Bob Lenz, a retired pharmacist, emphatically weighed in.

“Just legalize it and tax it and control it,” Lenz said. “I think you save a lot of problems … I’ve never had a joint in my life, but [from] everything they tell me, everybody smokes it.”

Skip ahead to the 61:30 mark. The marijuana discussion lasts about 6 minutes.

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