By on February 17, 2015

PROPSFistbumpTourism to the rescue

Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Golightly returned from the Legislative session in Cheyenne recently with good news: The Wyoming tourism industry is healthy and thriving.

“We were confident that 2014 was going to be a banner year for Wyoming’s travel economy,” said Diane Shober, executive director at the state’s Office of Tourism.

Boy, was she correct. A record 10.1 million people visited Wyoming last year – an 11 percent increase from 2013. It’s the biggest jump since the state agency began keeping records in 1998.

While lawmakers bellyached about the state’s fizzling minerals extraction industry, hope for Wyoming’s second biggest industry, tourism, brightened everyone’s day at the capital.

DISSTonguePost Office pothole

Well, it is pothole season. It has arrived early to the Hole in all its fetid glory. Some towns solicit photos of neighborhood potholes so their public works crews know which ones to patch first.

Larry Pardee’s road warriors can pour every cubic foot of mud and rock that slid from Budge Butte into the glacial crater at the “02” Post Office exit and still need to find more fill. The axle-busting pit at the Post is either a start on the Rec Center’s new swimming pool or the latest reservoir in the governor’s “10 in 10” water storage initiative. I’m pretty sure I saw a mailman sprinkling goldfish food into it the other day. It can be seen using Google Earth imagery. We should change the town’s name to Fillmore.

OK, enough of the jokes. It’s time for someone to get off their asphalt and fix that thing. But here’s the rub. Is the hole on federal property or is it on a town street? It seems to be kind of half-and-half. Also, is the hole a result of Jackson’s notoriously touchy waterlines splittin’ its britches?

It will be interesting (a word sometimes defined as aggravating by motorists who feel compelled to use their wipers when passing through larger potholes) to see who moves slower: Town government or federal government. We did try to ask on Monday who was responsible for fixing the crevasse but both the Town and federal government offices were closed for the holiday.

Where the goldfish play. (Photo credit: Jeana Haarman)

Where the goldfish play. (Photo credit: Jeana Haarman)

DISSTongueSimHole, crash alert

In the popular city-building computer game SimCity a gamer acts as mayor of a developing city. Your job as mayor is to keep the citizens (known as Sims) happy while maintaining a stable budget.

I’ve played it. And every time I do I start off with a quaint little mountain village or a lazy town near the sea. It’s paradise but it can’t stay that way. The Sims always want stuff. It doesn’t seem that bad, at first, to just build them that event center, bus depot, community greenhouse or ice rink.

The next thing you know … WHAM! You’ve become Shanghai. You’re bleeding cash reserves, traffic is sick, the infrastructure is falling apart and every needy Sim is bitching about something. Hit the escape key. Do not save. Game over.

People from big cities love smaller, charming communities because they are being taxed to death and their car got broken into last week. They visit charming mountain towns like Jackson Hole. They enjoy their stay. They move in.

And immediately they want stuff.

They eventually get stuff when elected officials with the “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” mindset take office.

In the game SimCity, a simple index helps keep growth in balance. The color-coded graph shows demand for residential (green), commercial (blue) or industrial/job creation (yellow) development. In the Jackson Hole 2015 Special Anniversary edition of SimCity known as real life, the Sims still demand more green while electeds zone more blue and yellow in the name of sustainable growth and in the hopes of attracting more Sims who will bring their tax dollars with them.

Maybe Jackson mayor Sara Flitner has played SimCity. When staff showed county and city officials their aptly named “end of days” scenario for maximum build out she asked herself: How do we dial it back? A potential 2.36 million square feet of commercial development could be targeted for the blocks around Town Square. That’s a lot of blue. It will lead to a lot of yellow. We still don’t have much green.

About Jake Nichols

You must be logged in to post a comment Login