idle-free campaign taking root

By Jim Stanford on September 28, 2011

Comments: 14 Comments

Peter Neal, Willie's brother, installs a sign on the Town Square.

One of the changes Willie Neal envisioned finally is going into effect.

Last week, Neal’s family and supporters put up the first few of 300 idle-free signs that will be installed around town in coming months.

The signs discourage motorists from leaving their engines running while parked, as per town resolution 10-19. The notices are part of a larger educational campaign that seeks to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions and improve air quality by reducing unnecessary idling.

The Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund, a nonprofit set up in memory of the late Nordic skiing standout and activist, raised $7,500 to pay for the signs and associated materials. The fund has been working with the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition and Town of Jackson.

“The end goal is changing the culture in which we live,” said Neal’s mother, Mary, who has worked tirelessly on the campaign.

The signs will be erected on public property. Business owners who wish to have them installed for free on their property can contact

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics, Town Government

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council crumbles on idle ordinance

By Jim Stanford on June 29, 2010

Comments: 29 Comments

Orange Beach, Ala. Apparently, images like these are not enough to motivate people to shut off their vehicles when not driving, or the town council to regulate such behavior. Photo by Dave Martin, via AP.

In a stunning reversal, the Jackson Town Council voted 3-2 yesterday against a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited unnecessary idling of vehicles.

Mayor Mark Barron and councilors Mark Obringer and Bob Lenz killed the measure, after little to no discussion. Greg Miles and Melissa Turley voted in favor. The move comes after the council voted unanimously in March to draft an ordinance, amid overwhelming public comment in support.

Instead, the council opted yesterday to pursue a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing idling. The town will do so without the greatest educational tool, the ordinance itself, which would have provided a warning for first offense and subsequent fine.

Most discouraging was the lack of discussion. Barron, Obringer and Lenz gave no reasons for their decision, as clearly the matter had been decided in private. Consideration of the idle-free measure had been postponed at least two or three times, and few proponents were able to attend yesterday.

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Posted under Environment, Politics, Town Government

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idle-free ordinance advances

By Jim Stanford on March 15, 2010

Comments: 16 Comments

Breathing soon will get easier on cold winter days. (Photo by Bob King/AP)

Willie Neal would have been proud.

The Jackson Town Council voted unanimously today to move forward with an idle-free ordinance championed by the late nordic skiing standout.

After listening to impassioned public comment, councilors instructed staff to prepare a draft ordinance, which will face three readings before becoming law. At least 12 citizens spoke in favor, with no objections.

Details still must be worked out, but the ordinance generally would require motorists to shut off their vehicles when parked on public streets and parking lots. The measure would be accompanied by an educational and public outreach campaign. First offenders likely would get a warning.

The move would help reduce pollution and waste of fuel while improving air quality and public health, supporters said.

All five councilors agreed.

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Posted under Crime, Environment, Politics, Town Government

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mobilizing against idling

By Jim Stanford on March 11, 2010

Comments: 41 Comments

Pearl Street Bagels and Jackson Whole Grocer are among the businesses that discourage idling, but they only can do so much without public support.

There are many good reasons not to leave your car idling: save gas, reduce pollution, save money, reduce engine wear, fight terrorism, improve public health. Also, the vehicle will warm up faster if you drive it.

But people still idle, anyway, mostly because we live in a cold climate and it sucks to be freezing all the time.

Willie Neal

At what point does the right to waste fuel and money interfere with the public’s right to clean air?

That’s bound to be the crux of the discussion Monday when the Town Council takes up the concept of an “idle-free” Jackson. Beginning at 3 p.m., councilors will consider a proposal to prohibit idling on public streets and parking lots.

A group of citizens has come together on this issue to honor the memory of Willie Neal, the all-world teenager hit and killed by a car last summer. Making Jackson an idle-free community was Willie’s signature issue.

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Posted under Crime, Environment, Politics, Town Government

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in memoriam: Willie Neal

By Jim Stanford on June 23, 2009

Comments: 7 Comments

Willie Neal on the eve of the Wyoming Democratic Convention in March. The next day, we elected him to be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Willie Neal on the eve of the 2008 Wyoming Democratic Convention. The next day, we elected him to be an Obama delegate at the national convention.

Willie Neal, eight-time Nordic skiing state champion and hero of the local Obama campaign, is dead after being hit by a car Sunday in Maine. He was 19 years old.

If ever there was a life with more promise senselessly snuffed out, I am not aware of it.

Neal was roller skiing at the time of the accident. He was training to make the U.S. World Junior Biathlon Team.

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Posted under Deaths, Democratic Party, Politics, Sports

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