PROPS & DISSES: ‘Ryding’ herd on the Teton Valley turmoil

By on April 23, 2013


Town takes care of its own – PROPS

The Town of Jackson now owns more real estate than the Gill family. And that’s saying something. Retiring to executive session in order to fan out a pocketful of Grover Clevelands for private property within city limits has become a regular occurrence at 150 East Pearl.

The latest civic salvage was an apartment complex at 455 Vine Street where TOJ authorities dropped 745 large on four more units. That now ups the total rental inventory of the town to 15 units. Town leaders say they need to be proactive about housing their employees in a tight market, and they’re right.

The economy hasn’t exactly rebounded yet, locally. Jobs are trickling back; the real estate market has enjoyed some action at both the high and low ends. Yet the rental picture is bleak. The Housing Authority continues to try to peddle “attainables” at half a million bucks while, in the real world, most have wised up to the fact that home ownership is a sucker deal. People have been asking themselves: Why pay property taxes, exorbitant HOA fees, and big-ticket maintenance costs only to have an albatross of a mortgage (or worse, a deed-restricted four-bedroom) handicapping the mobility necessary to move where the jobs are?

Rentals are where it’s at and this community is sorely lacking supply in that department. The town is smart to secure as much housing as they can, using the inventory to attract and retain valuable employees (especially critical response personnel). As Town Administrator Bob McLaurin is fond of saying: “They ain’t making more land.”

Do these purchases remove potential rentals from the private sector? Yes, and that’s a bummer. But at least in the case of the latest acquisition, the town claims they won’t give any current renters the boot just yet. Also, it’s not like the land grabs cost TOJ anything. They’ve got $2 million in the bank set aside for just these kinds of real estate buys. Buying in a down market is also a sound investment strategy.

Spring snow belly-high to a slick – DISS

I better not hear one rancher bitching about late-season snowfall. Granted, most have said they are happy with the recent spring snows – enjoying the moisture even if it costs a few calves. The ag industry is in for another tough summer with a below-average snowpack leading to inevitable and continued drought conditions.

But there are always a few squeaky wheels that bemoan spring snowstorms like they were a surprise event in Wyoming. “We’re gonna lose a lot of calves,” they bawl when April blizzards cut loose on the open range.

If they weren’t so greedy and busy altering nature they might avoid weather-related losses. You see, cattlemen have induced earlier and earlier calving by selective breeding. Where it once was natural for your average Black Angus mama cow to throw her calf in April or May, herd-culling practices encourage birthing as early as February and March.

The earlier ranchers get hooves on the ground, the faster they’ll get beeves fattened up for sale in the fall. Beef producers lose 2.5 pounds per day waiting on a calf to drop. Delivering early also sets up heifers for early insemination so the cycle can continue in the most profitable manner.

Sure, ranchers have it tough. The deck is stacked against them more and more, it seems. I think they are deserving of any assistance they can get. But losing calves to very predictable spring storms is nobody’s fault but the cattleman’s.

‘Ryding’ herd on the Teton Valley turmoil – PROPS

Teton Valley News reporter Bridget Ryder. CREDIT: Teton Valley News

Teton Valley News reporter Bridget Ryder.
CREDIT: Teton Valley News

What’s going on in Teton County, Idaho? The Board of Commissioners abruptly fired county planner Curt Moore last month. Commissioners gave conflicting reasons. One cited cost savings, yet the position has just been filled. Granted, the job is now considered part time, but no one ever asked Moore to take a pay cut. Another commissioner cited a need to get building going again, like a P&Z director is the reason why banks aren’t lending to developers.

Judging from the post-story blogging at the Teton Valley News website, many citizens are critical of the turmoil and suspicious of the commissioners’ motives in the new hire of Stephen Loosli, Moore’s replacement. Loosli was picked from 11 applicants in less than an hour with no interviews conducted, according to TVN. None of the board members seemed to be aware of Loosli’s checkered past, which includes involvement in a lawsuit while he was a member of the Fremont County P&Z.

First off, it’s hard to believe a land development plan was ever in place judging from the pell-mell building that went on during Teton Valley’s heyday. If a planner was orchestrating the out-of-control development that went on over the hill in the mid-2000s, it certainly wasn’t evident.

Secondly, it’s sure beginning to smell like there’s more to the story. Knuckles to TVN’s Bridget Ryder, who has been riding herd on the BOCC in the other Teton County. She’s on to something.

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