By on May 27, 2015

PROPSFistbumpOne foot in the Grove 

The Grove is too far gone to save or scrap. The decision to award a construction contract for the second phase of the maligned affordable housing project is the only reasonable way out of a FUBAR condition.

How the project ran afoul with its bloated budget is a question that needs addressing, but it’s a separate question from the what-do-we-do-with-this-structure-now issue. An internal audit has absolved Teton County Housing Authority administrators from being outright incompetent. An external audit, known locally as Tim Rieser, has detected more than a few potential rotten apples in the Authority’s pie in the sky apartment complex for working class heroes.

But commissioners opted last week not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They approved $9.2 million toward Phase II for an additional 24 units that may not be targeted to the idealized under-median income sector but will still fill up three seconds after the paint dries.

Commissioners Barb Allen and Paul Vogelheim may have trouble seeing the grove for the trees. Former commissioner Paul Perry’s call for a pause is also not likely to do anything but increase the overall ticket as construction costs rise every day electeds spend haggling over who’s screwing who.

The ironic curse of the Grove isn’t lost on us, either. The property originally under TCHA ownership was the parcel traded to the town for the START Bus facility —another pricey project coming under some public scrutiny. And the land the Grove currently occupies was once a well-used dog park — one that is still looking for a new home. Neighbors of Powderhorn Park are howling over the town’s decision to carve out an area in the east end playground for canines and their leash holders. A petition has garnered enough signatures to convince the council to revisit the designation.

Town manager Bob McLaurin is spot on when he told a local newspaper, “You’re never going to find a place that everybody likes.”



DISSTongueThe menace of modern day trappers

It’s hard to believe the practice of trapping is making a resurgence in Teton County solely on economic realities. Fur prices skyrocketed during the recession, though they’ve tailed off recently. Eye-popping price-per-pelt figures have spurred many a Davy Crocket-wannabe to invest in a half-dozen 330 conibears and head for the hills.

In Wyoming’s more rural counties, where 4H is more popular than junior cotillion classes, trapping could understandably provide a means to put dinner on the table one cape at a time. But in ritzy Teton County, where any derelict can walk into a restaurant for breakfast and be the sous chef by that evening’s dinner, there are easier ways to skin a cat making a buck.

That leads me to the neo-woodsman movement as the primary factor driving the uptick in trapping activity in Teton County. One scan of Facebook and it’s easy to find several tree-hugging hipsters who’ve suddenly discovered their inner-man(woman) by growing vegetables in the backyard and hunting their own protein. An extension of the Paleo Peacenik crusade probably involves Silicon Valley warriors who’ve traded in their iPhones for Bowie knives.

Wyoming Untrapped has been working feverishly to get trapping banned in the Cache Creek drainage and other popular recreation areas where rusty jaws are more likely to clamp down on a Golden Retriever than a red fox. Lisa Robertson launched WU after incidents in Red Top Meadows and elsewhere highlighted the dangers of traps placed too close to dog walking trails.

Running a trap line close to the trail in Cache Creek is just plain lazy. Real mountain men hump it to get to their traps and they check them responsibly. Too many trendy trappers are looking for the path of no resistance. Robertson is right. No trapping should be allowed anywhere near trails in popular areas like Cache Creek. This is not the 1800s.

And WU and its ilk shouldn’t stop there. State trapping laws are updated every three years. This summer marks Game & Fish discussions about possible revisions (July 8-10 in Cody). One thing that desperately needs to change is how often traps need to be checked. In Wyoming, an animal can spend three days in a leg-hold trap waiting for a mercy killing. Other type traps and snares require 13 days between required checks. That’s simply too long to allow an animal to suffer.

DISSTonguePioneering spirit

Pioneer Homestead needs looking into. For years, the subsidized senior housing complex has been plagued with complaints from tenants that management is heavy-handed and nurtures a “culture of fear,” according to a quote in the News&Guide a year ago. That paper has done a commendable job riding hard on the apartment complex run by Deborah and Claude Barnes.

Dozens of tenants have complained about conditions at Pioneer Homestead Apartments. The troubled old folks’ home finds itself in the news yet again this week after management evicted a diabetic tenant, Jan Olsen, and tossed his belongings in a dumpster while he was in a nursing home recuperating from a broken hip.

The coldhearted news follows an ongoing lawsuit brought by Dennis Olsen for wrongful eviction last year. He has since moved out but is seeking punitive damages and revocation of Homestead’s Section 44 tax status.

Homestead ownership (North Star Management out of Minnesota) has repeatedly dodged phone calls from the media. They didn’t answer ours, either.

About Jake Nichols

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