THEM ON US

By on September 24, 2014

Downhill run

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort took a bit of a tumble in Ski Magazine’s annual reader’s poll (much to the delight of some local pow hounds). JHMR barely cracked the top 10 this time around after a No. 1 ranking in 2013.

Ski Magazine editor Greg Ditrinco told the Casper Star-Tribune that for decades, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was seen as “a really kick-butt destination for skiing,” and is only recently gaining more mainstream popularity as evidenced in JHMR’s strong finishes in the poll over the past three years.

Anywhere in the top 10 is a good place to be, resort president Jerry Blann said.

Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia grabbed the top spot. JHMR fell to eighth.

State of bliss

Tell us something we don’t know. WalletHub.com produced their list of Happiest States based on 26 key metrics ranging from emotional health, to income levels, to sports participation rates.

Wyoming ranked sixth in the survey, particularly excelling in Commute Time (second), Income Growth and Income Level (both third). Our depression index dragged down our overall score. Wyoming continues to struggle with high suicide rates. The state ranked 26th in that category.

Utah was the happiest state. At the other end, Alabamans couldn’t get out of bed.

Kid author booked again

Local author Dale Woolwine just had his second book go under contract and begin production phase. Not bad, considering his first children’s book, Fighter, Fighter, Firefighter will hit bookstores any day now.

Tate Publishing and Enterprises announced last week they were signing Woolwine on for a second book, Soaking Wet. Woolwine says on his Facebook page he has just started production with the second book.

Woolwine and his wife Julie moved from Jackson to Pinedale in 2005. Their eight-year-old daughter, Abbie, suffers from Niemann-Pick Type C, an extremely rare terminal illness. A co-worker set up the family with an online funding source at www.gofundme.com/abbie-woolwine.

Drone pilot banned from YNP

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Drones and dimwits in Y-stone. Photo courtesy NBC News.

The German national who dunked his drone in Lake Yellowstone has been banned for one year from entering Yellowstone National Park.

Andreas Meissner, 37, launched his Phantom 2 at the lake’s marina only to watch it almost immediately lose power and crash into the lake. A diver recovered the drone and the attached GoPro camera 10 days later.

According to Colorado’s 9News: “The crash came a month after the National Park Service banned the use of unmanned aircraft throughout the national park system. Two other drone operators face similar federal charges, including one who accidentally crashed a drone into Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring on Aug. 2. That drone has yet to be recovered.”

No post-tax gas bloat in Wyoming

Motorists worst fears did not materialize at the pump last year after a 10-cent increase in fuel tax went into effect July 1, 2013. According to an analysis performed by the Casper Star Tribune using data from GasBuddy.com, average gas prices for unleaded jumped 5 cents per gallon in the first three quarters of 2014. Diesel prices rose 8 cents a gallon.

“Wyoming citizens do not bear the entire load in the gas tax,” Michelle Panos, Mead’s spokeswoman, told the Star Tribune. “The price at the pump did not increase by 10 cents.”

A decline in world oil prices and a favorable regional fuel market were the main reasons prices at the pump in Wyoming remained relatively stable, according to Rep. Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, an economist who studied gas prices statewide.

Gay vows could boost economy

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organization, will be hiring a full-time Wyoming employee.

Officials from the Washington, D.C.-based organization said a staff member would focus on nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in housing, employment and public spaces. The employee will also work to prevent harassment and violence against LGBT people, and reduce the stigma of HIV and AIDS.

Meanwhile, a study by the Williams Institute, which researches sexual orientation law and public policy at the University of California in Los Angeles’ School of Law, found that legalizing gay marriage would be a boon to Wyoming state coffers.

An estimated $2.4 million could pour in from Wyoming resident grooms and grooms or brides and brides if same-sex marriage was legalized in the Cowboy State, according to the study.

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About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

6 Comments

  1. Polls Taxes

    September 25, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Ski Magazine’s annual reader’s poll: #1 spot is good for marketing but readers probably haven’t even visited half the resorts they voted for or left off the ballot.

    “unleaded jumped 5 cents per gallon”: Fact is that gas prices rise and fall with supply and demand but the general trend will be higher prices the more you tax it. Gov. Mead’s tax cost everybody in Wyoming. It’s 24 cents a gallon in Wyoming for the State tax.

  2. anonyholic II

    September 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    The fuel tax in question here was sold to the public as an additional tax that that consumers would not see at the pump. Somehow it was imbedded in the taxes at the wholesale level, seen if at all, in over the road diesel prices. Or some such thing. Jake you would do well to have Gingery or Petroff, both of whom championed the tax increase, to explain how the laws of economics were not suspended after all.

  3. Shelly

    September 26, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Republicans used to be against taxes. Or was that taxes on the rich?

    Of course raising gas taxes raises prices above their normal floor (the minimum required to maintain profits). Every state tells their citizens that a gas tax increase is spread out over many states and that its impact is nominal. In the end, you still pay more than you would without the tax.

    Does Wyoming, one of the richest states in the nation, need a gas tax? Got me. WYDOT will spend it. Too bad they have idiots for managers and engineers. The good news is that WYDOT knows how to create shovel-ready jobs.

  4. paul

    September 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Taxes, when not wasted by government and limited in scope & purpose to basic services, serve the greater good of the community. I don’t have a beef with new taxes when they are needed by a responsible government. Look around Jackson. Much of the nation’s transportation money goes toward a wish list of non-critical expenses. It funds everything from limited-use bike paths with never-ending maintenance costs to grandiose bus barns. That’s nice but not critical. Is more money needed for WYDOT? Possibly.

    Wyoming likes to brag that for every dollar Wyoming sent the Feds in gas taxes, the state received $1.62 back from the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Of course, the nation as a whole benefits from a national network of highways so the handout from drivers in other states benefits all; nonetheless, the extra money might be put to better use in other states now that we have a higher gas tax in Wyoming. And the Feds might just take some of it away. They’re broke. {Well, cash poor, but let’s be honest, land rich. If they responsibly ran their own extractive company, would they need a fuel tax?} The Wyoming fuel tax may cover the possible loss of federal funds.

    The state gas tax is $.24/gal. Period. You pay for it one way or another. Only idiots would suggest otherwise. Additionally, taxes at the pump are added to the cost of other goods and services that you purchase. The burden of the new taxes will trickle down to everybody eventually. Only Gov Mead, newspaper hacks, and our representatives who voted for this would lead you into believing that you’re getting some magical deal with this tax increase.

    Supposedly, the state gets their new fuel-tax payments from the regional distributor and not the local retailer. And, supposedly, the distributor can add pennies to the fuel price and sell it to retailers in several states to cover the Wyoming tax increase. This apparently lets Wyoming drivers off the hook when it comes to paying the full cost of the tax increase. When other states behave in the same way, then the distributor simply adds all of the taxes the distributor pays into the price you pay. At the very least, you’re paying the full $.24/gal in state taxes. States like Montana & Nebraska take over $.27/gal and you may be paying their taxes assuming that the regional model is in play. If you use 2 gallons of gas a day, (730gal/yr), you’ll pay at least $175/yr in state fuel taxes. That’s on top of the fed’s fuel taxes, other automotive taxes, yearly registration fees, and sales taxes for vehicles. That may be a bargain for some given the lack of a state income tax and modest taxes overall for Wyoming residents but it’s still a burden for many.

    The issue over Wyoming’s need for the gas tax is debatable given our current financial status. We have, like, 8 billion dollars in the bank. During the recession, we didn’t even dip into the rainy-day fund. Republicans used to think that taxes should only be raised as a last resort. They used to think that states should not be in the business of taking in more money than what is needed to provide basic services. One has to wonder if Wyoming should be dishing out refund checks like Alaska. Hiding the state’s money in the financial markets is not as smart as having business leaders investing in a stronger economic foundation now. Let the people invest in Wyoming if the state won’t. The State of Wyoming is betting on the future failure of Wyoming’s economy instead of investing in the foundation of a great future.

    The good news is that gas prices are coming down like they always do after the summer driving season. As long as there isn’t some new war in the Middle East, another refinery explosion, or run-away Wall Street speculation about limited supply or inflation, we should get some relief at the pump in the near future.

    BTW: Am I the only one who thinks the new bus barn is the 2nd worst eyesore since the power lines went out to the village? Or that Karns Meadow should have been left for employee housing if something had to be built there? Even a dog park would have been a better use. Let’s hope the landscaping hides everything and that the bus operations don’t overtake what’s left of the accessible meadows.

  5. pp

    September 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    In regards to the bus barn, it’s more like the Taj Mahal. And it’s only going to get bigger. What you see is just the 1st phase.

  6. pp

    September 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    “Drone pilot banned from YNP”

    Funny how a real helicopter lands in GTNP by Waterfalls Canyon and no one complains and all the film permits for helicopters keep being issued whenever anyone asks for one.

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