PROPS & DISSES

By on January 13, 2015

DISSTongueEquality State’s inequality

Aaron Schrank’s fine piece for Wyoming Public Media was broadcast over the weekend. Titled, “Inequality In The Equality State: Disparities Abound In Wyoming’s Renowned Ski Town,” the five-and-a-half minute radio story explores the chasm-like income level gaps in residents of Wyoming’s ski towns – beginning and ending with Jackson Hole.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Despite alarming numbers – Teton County residents boast a $72,000 median household income level while immigrant households pull in more like $26,000 a year – programs exist to help minorities and those falling below the poverty line.

Yamileth Barrera and Michelle Vargas, two skiers in the Doug Coombs program, prepare to take another run. PHOTO: AARON SCHRANK

Yamileth Barrera and Michelle Vargas, two skiers in the Doug Coombs program, prepare to take another run. PHOTO: AARON SCHRANK

The Doug Coombs Foundation, run by Doug’s widow Emily, helps low-income kids hit the slopes. And recent statistics show the disparity between middle school whites and Latinos (93 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient or advanced in math compared to 67 percent of Latinos) is shrinking.

Teton County mirrors the rest of the nation as far as wealth distribution – income and wealth disparities in the United States are the most pronounced they’ve been in decades, according to Schrank. Local economist Jonathan Schechter, founder and executive director of Charture Institute, believes the situation is exacerbated here with more at the extreme top and extreme bottom.

PROPSFistbumpPark and ride show good numbers

Congratulations to Grand Teton National Park and START Bus. Both entities experienced record numbers in 2014.

A press release from Grand Teton authorities stated more than 4.29 million people passed through park entrances last year with 2.79 million of those making GTNP their ultimate recreation destination. Additionally, 97 percent of park visitors claimed overall satisfaction with their visit as determined by a survey conducted over the summer by the Pacific Consulting Group.

A government shutdown in 2013 skewed that year’s numbers, but visitation has been steadily rising since NPS adopted a new accounting system in 1992. The 2,791,392 visitors in 2014 was 1.2 percent better than the park’s best year in 1998.

START Bus had its busiest year to date in 2014, carrying 973,702 riders. PHOTO: Start Bus

START Bus had its busiest year to date in 2014, carrying 973,702 riders. PHOTO: START BUS

The survey also found 99 percent of respondents were satisfied with the assistance they received from park employees, and 96 percent were pleased with the value of the park entrance fee they paid.

START Bus had its busiest year to date in 2014, carrying 973,702 riders. That’s an 8 percent increase over 2013. Ridership was up nearly every month including impressive double-digit jumps during the summer months – a possible indication mass transit is catching on with tourists and everyday commuters.

“It is exciting to be able to continue to break records and it is really encouraging that so many people are choosing to ride the bus,” START administrator Michael Wackerly stated in a press release. “We work hard to try and accommodate everyone who wants to ride. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community and make the bus as accessible as possible.”

PROPSFistbumpReimagined storytelling

OK, you may not have the nerve or The North Face to click in on top of the Grand and ski to the valley floor, but, thanks to the new virtual tour offered by TravelStoryGPS, you can ride down with the first guy to do it (Bill Briggs). Briggs joins local extreme athletes Stephen Koch and Kit DesLauriers in narrating harrowing tales of adventure for app users who enjoy a firsthand account of what it was like to ski, ride and explore the great outdoors in Jackson Hole.

Michelle Smith shares her helicopter rescue after surviving a 30-foot ice fall in the Enclosure Couloir on the TravelStoryGPS Teton Adventures tour. Here she is preparing to snowboard the Pearl Couloir. PHOTO: MICHELLE SMITH

Michelle Smith shares her helicopter rescue after surviving a 30-foot ice fall in the Enclosure Couloir on the TravelStoryGPS Teton Adventures tour. Here she is preparing to snowboard the Pearl Couloir. PHOTO: MICHELLE SMITH

The audio tour features 10 hours of legendary tales from the men and women who have been there, done that. Now, TravelStoryGPS app users can hear what it was like to carve it, ride it, jump it, and hump it while making their own virtual or “unvirtual” trek in some of the most pristine wild the Lower 48 has to offer.

TravelStoryGPS has also teamed up with Stio for a chance to win a Stio jacket. Download the free app (www.TravelStoryGPS.com) beginning January 15 through February 16 to be eligible to win.

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About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

One Comment

  1. I am Carlos

    January 15, 2015 at 6:58 am

    First off, a big PROP to the DCF for its efforts to get more non-traditional skiers skiing. They can finally throw money at orthopedic surgeons like the rest of us.

    Those who came here as immigrants from south of the border know that the opportunities back home don’t compare to the exceptional education & financial opportunities in Teton County. Almost every Mexican in Jackson is vastly better off then they were in Mexico. That’s why they’re here.

    And, no, I’m not excusing low wages or subsidizing the wealthy on the backs of the working class. Everyone deserves a bit of dignity.

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