2014 YEAR IN REVIEW

By on December 31, 2014
Stone Drug won against Walgreens by a landslide. PHOTO: MARY GROSSMAN

Stone Drug won against Walgreens by a landslide. PHOTO: TOWN OF JACKSON

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – What a wild year 2014 was. MMXIV will be remembered in great part for a pair of disasters in the valley that were momentous enough in scope to reach a national audience.

The year will forever be remembered for the Budge slide – an oozing butte that played like a calamitous landslide in newspaper headlines across the country. A house cracked in half and a pharmacy chain that had barely a month in business before Stone Drug T-shirts proclaimed its victory “by a landslide.”

AmeriGas explosion in Jackson. PHOTO: WASHINGTON TIMES

AmeriGas explosion in Jackson. PHOTO: WASHINGTON TIMES

Later, a massive propane explosion at AmeriGas smoked out Bell Fitness Center and spurred Jacksonites to once again pull together to help each other through catastrophe.

But let’s back up. To January. When the year began in the 83002. Santa’s 2013 Christmas presents to Jackson Holers were not making it to housetop chimneys. UPS and FedEx weren’t to blame. It was the Post Office. Some shoppers weren’t mindful enough at Amazon checkout to make the distinction between USPS and UPS. But most were unwitting victims of a new commercial shipping policy handoff to the feds to get packages the final few miles from fulfillment centers. The problem is we don’t take our mail at home and without Post Office boxes listed somewhere on packages, they were getting returned by feds swamped with holiday parcels.

Madeleine Mundt’s online petition and The Planet’s weekly squawking about the PO pileup eventually took hold at the Town Council when Mayor Mark Barron invited postmaster Jennifer Grutzmacher to be grilled on just what the feds could do better.

Spark launched its new, shared workspace across from Persephone in January followed by the launch of Polly Friess’ classical school, first called Pioneer then changed to Jackson Hole Classical Academy.

The Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine party was another hit. Hip-hoppers De La Soul played to a packed house at Pink Garter. Idaho’s Grand Teton Distillery followed up its popular potato-based vodka line with two new whiskeys – Spiced Apple Pie and Huckleberry.

January also spawned a hero on the police force when Corp. Roger Schultz ran down a wayward car as it rolled down Broadway with a woman motorist trapped in the door after she stopped to check on a hit deer and failed to put the car in park. The incident was caught on the officer’s inboard dash camera dated January 17.

The shortest month of the year was long enough for two scares that never came to fruition. Word that Yellowstone was about to blow spread like wildfire after reports of increased seismic activity and bizarre bison behavior. A shooting threat at the high school was also investigated when a note was left in a boy’s bathroom.

In March, Keith Gingery and Mark Barron announced they would both step out of politics after long runs as state rep and town mayor, respectively. Hoback Sports sold out to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Rich Broadcasting continued gutting Jackson’s four radio stations, firing popular radio personalities Holly Danner and Bob Thompson, and newsman Tom Ninneman.

It read like an April Fool’s joke but the soggy spring conditions and melting snow caused the Budge Drive butte to sag into Walgreens. More than a dozen residences atop the butte were evacuated and eventually condemned. The Planet’s popular but now defunct love and relationship advice column, “Dear Rocky Love” also debuted in April.

In May, Pastor Mark Holick won a $250,000 settlement against Town of Jackson for his illegal arrest on Town Square protesting against abortion during Elk Fest.

Pop singer Cher Lloyd surprised Jacksonites with an unannounced outdoor concert in June. Whole Grocer opened its doors at its new site with reports that Lucky Markets had snapped up its old space. The Planet’s June chem trail story with Max Mogren was the fifth most-read story of the year.

Christine Walker walked away from her job as executive director of the Housing Authority as Bob McLaurin agreed to pinch-hit for Steve Foster, following the similar shared duty plan for town-county planner, which was being filled by the town’s Tyler Sinclair after the departure of county planner Jeff Daugherty.

Sidewinders made the small screen when “Stuffed and Twisted” aired July 18 on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive- Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. Pinky G’s was also featured on the network a week later on a show titled “Old Standards, New Styles,” which aired July 25.

August was all about the ice bucket challenge. It finally made its way to Jackson Hole. Enclosure shuttered for good and the Jackson Hole Airport’s new director Jim Elwood dropped in for an interview with The Planet. He should have been at Yellowstone when Andreas Meissner tried to land his Phantom 2 drone unsuccessfully. It crashed into Yellowstone Lake. A diver recovered the gadget 10 days later. Weeks earlier, another drone was lost in Grand Prismatic Spring.

Jackson turned 100 in August with a free concert from Lynyrd Skynyrd and state residents got even luckier with the kick off of a new state lottery.

R Park and the Snake River Bridge opened in September, providing a missing link to the Pathways system.

October buzzed with political posturing. Our snarky “Funny thing happened on the way to the Forum” was the most-read story of 2014. Same-sex marriage was a hot-button issue, especially after Alan Simpson penned a piece in favor of allowing the practice in Wyoming. Another widely read (and oft-despised) Planet story blew up in October when an Ebola scare rocked the Village. It turned out to be much ado about nothing, similar to the international hoopla taking place at the same time.

After retunring from a stint in Iceland, Andrew Munz’s pop culture column, “Well, that happened” debuted in October as well.

Hunting took center stage in November. The elk reduction hunt in Grand Teton National Park was blasted by critics as barbaric and unsporting. Wildlife managers also destroyed beloved Grizzly 760 after an unsuccessful relocation. Pippa Middleton two-stepped her way into the tabloids when she was spotted and photographed dancing at the Silver Dollar Bar.

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