PROPS & DISSES: 1.29.14

By on January 28, 2014

JACKSON, WYO – Aiming for the stars PROP
At first glance, Samuel Singer’s dream of a $3.5 million observatory/planetarium in Jackson Hole might seem like a stretch, especially if he hopes to get there via crowdfunding with Indiegogo. At press time, online cyber capital was sitting at $295 raised with a goal of $10,000 by March 9.

But word is out now and in your hands. Literally. Singer said he has future big money plans to make the observatory happen. Earlier this month, Wyoming Star Gazing was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Jackson Hole, Wyo. is an obvious choice for a stargazing. We don’t have too many people creating too much artificial light. In fact, Teton County LDRs keep a tight rein on just how much light pollution can be thrown into the night sky by new developments.

Our high elevation also helps combat “seeing” problems, or the twinkling star effect caused by turbulent mixing in the earth’s atmosphere. The biggest sell Singer has up his sleeve is the amenity an observatory could add to a Jackson Hole tourist visit. One of the comments big city visitors make again and again about Wyoming concerns our big sky (sorry, Montana). Campers especially are astounded by our gorgeous view of the galaxy.

The value-added benefit of an observatory/planetarium provides visitors, especially those with kids, an important rainy day or night activity that doesn’t involve boozing it up at one of Jackson’s numerous watering holes.
Jackson Hole also likes to tout itself as a “green” destination featuring our natural resources on display. While we can’t lay claim to outer space ownership, we do have an enviable front row view.

This could work.

Quick-thinking cop’s heroic move PROP
Even though it’s hard to watch, the onboard dash cam footage captured by Corp. Roger Schultz police car on January 17 shows the officer displaying nothing short of heroic behavior in the line of duty.

In the two-minute video:

Schultz can be seen dragging one dead mule deer out of the middle of Broadway just before 9 p.m. He dumps it nonchalantly next to another deer that is in obvious agony as it struggles to get to its feet but cannot.

Then, just when you’re expecting Schultz to pop the suffering deer (cops say they shoot 50 a year on Broadway after motorists bang into them, lame them and leave), he suddenly jumps back into his cruiser and takes off. From his onboard camera, you get a quick glimpse of someone being dragged by her rolling truck. It’s the woman who hit the two deer. Schultz speeds ahead, cuts off the vehicle and pulls the woman to safety. It’s fairly amazing.

Passing gas: Pump it and they will come? PROP
Level-headed people always ask the same thing when they hear Shervin’s will be putting in a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station: How many CNG vehicles are there in Teton County; like, two?

A million dollar CNG pump funded mostly by taxpayer money just begs to be slammed. But wait. The fact is the chicken-or-the-egg stalemate that currently has a potential industry shift in stalemate won’t be solved in the private sector.

Auto manufacturers, with few exceptions, are reluctant to build higher-priced CNG models fearing they won’t be able to sell them to consumers who worry about coasting into the local Sunoco on fumes only to find they don’t sell CNG, have never heard of CNG, but they are running a $1.99 special on a Big Gulp and a bag of Fritos.

No, it’s going to take government intervention on the scale of the CCC to get a compressed or liquid natural gas refueling infrastructure in place. Some gas producers have skin in the game. Faced with dwindling market prices, some oil and gas giants are actually helping to fund fueling centers in the hopes of selling direct to consumers one tank at a time.

The tipping point was reached when the Town of Jackson received $766,665 in SLIB funds for the construction of a refueling station at Shervin’s Independent Oil. Mayor Mark Barron is correct in saying it will help put Jackson on the map and further solidify our valley’s commitment to being eco-conscious. CNG is cleaner burning than diesel or gas and engines using it require far less regular maintenance.

It’s also very reassuring to know Phil Cameron will be riding herd on the project as the new executive director of Energy Conservation Works.

About Jake Nichols

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