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Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole Resort Has Record Season

The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had a record number of skiers this past season. Officials say the resort broke its benchmark of a half-million visits, with more than 502,000 skiers hitting the slopes since Nov. 24. That’s an increase of five percent over last year and broke the previous record set in 2008. They say they’re lucky, considering the resort only received 385 inches of snow. That’s down from 605 inches five years ago.

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10-Day Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival Takes Place in September

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProving Jackson Hole’s mettle as a cultural destination, the annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, now in its 29th year, brings its trademark mix of visual, contemporary, culinary, Western, landscape, wildlife and Native American arts to Jackson, Wyo., September 5 – 15, 2013. Offering Wyoming visitors more than 50 family-friendly events, many of them free – and surrounded by the Teton Mountains in their autumn beauty – the festival revels in art and artists from around the world, with a chance to purchase original pieces from cowboy to cutting-edge contemporary.

The 2013 Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival roundup of artsy fun includes the Palates & Palettes gallery walk on September 6; tours of historic Jackson Hole ranches September 7; and the crowd-pleasing Taste of the Tetons where participants stroll historic downtown Jackson’s sidewalks sampling gourmet cuisines from area chefs on September 8.

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April Sales Taxes Down, but Still Up For the Year

imagesAn otherwise strong year for sales tax took a hit this month when collections for Jackson came in much lower than expected. The town collected $607,000 in sales taxes in February. The state distributes the money to local governments in April. Jackson’s collections are $101,000 less than the total for the same time period last year — $708,000.

Even with the poor showing, the town still is on track to collect $63,000 more for the fiscal year than estimated in the budget.

Town leaders already amended the 2013 budget earlier this year to reflect more optimistic sales tax projections for this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2012, and ends June 31. The town now anticipates bringing in 3.88 percent more in sales tax revenue than last year’s total of $9.32 million. That would mean $9.68 million filling town coffers by June.

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New Business Building Boosts Permit Values

JHimagesJackson business construction is bumping up the value of building permits issued by the town. Through the first quarter of the year, the town of Jackson has issued the same number of permits as last year. But the price tag for those projects has nearly quadrupled.

The 23 permits doled out by the building department from January to March of this year add up to $12.1 million of work. Jackson inspectors issued the same number of permits last year at this time, but the value of those permits totaled just $3.4 million. A strong March contributed to the bump in the projects’ value. Only 12 permits were approved last month, but the cost of the work totaled $5.8 million. In 2012, builders received 18 permits adding up to $2.6 million.

Part of the overall increase can be attributed to a handful of large projects.  Owners of the old Sunrise True Value Home Center land on Highway 89 pulled a $2 million permit in March for a commercial addition. The Jackson Whole Grocer is supposed to move to the property sometime later this year.  Another $4 million permit was issued to JMI Realty in January for an overhaul of Snow King Resort.

Still, the mix of projects this year has been diverse. In March the town distributed five permits for commercial alterations, three permits for new single-family homes, and one each for a commercial addition, a residential alteration, new commercial construction and siding.  Last year, the town issued building permits worth $21.3 million in construction.

Jackson Town To Review Snow King Zip Line Proposal

imagesThe Jackson Town Council will review a zip line developers have planned for public land at a meeting today.  Town leaders asked Snow King Mountain Recreation to stop construction on the “Soaring Eagle Zip Line” last fall after the group started work on the 700-foot-long ride without town approval.  The council could decide at a 2 p.m. workshop whether the zip line falls within the parameters of the town’s lease with Snow King Mountain’s Manuel Lopez. The lease allows “ski area uses.”  “This is the town of Jackson as the owner of the property deciding how the lease should be interpreted,” Town Manager Bob McLaurin said. The question that needs to be considered is, he said, “Is the zip line an appropriate use within the lease?”  Lopez believes it is.  “One hundred percent of it is within land that we control,” Lopez said. “Some of it is owned by the town, but we have a lease that goes on for another 21 years. That lease allows for lifts, any kind of development.”  The zip line would be similar to a ski lift, he said. Riders hang onto a pulley attached to a cable and slide from the top to the bottom of the inclined line.  The top and bottom of the ride would be located on public land on the town hill. The property is leased to Lopez’s group for $1,200 a year.

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Hospital Food Shifts to Organic, Low-Sugar

imagesThe next time doctors or patients in St. John’s Medical Center’s cafeteria pass up water for a sugary soft drink, they may think twice.  At least, that’s what hospital dieticians hope.

The soft drink reduction campaign is part of an initiative aimed at making the hospital’s food options healthier. One of those was to subsidize the cost of healthier foods by increasing the price of unhealthy items.  The salad bar, for example, costs 10 percent less than it did in December, Hubbard said. In turn, a large soft drink has shrunk from 22 ounces to 16 ounces, but the price is the same.

Another part of the program is a new focus on local and organic food products.  Beginning this spring an organic farm in Teton Valley, Idaho will deliver fresh vegetables to St. John’s each week. Chefs at the cafeteria have also switched to using cage-free eggs and natural meat that doesn’t contain antibiotics or hormones.

Hospital food is often compared to airplane food, Maddex said, but it shouldn’t be that way. The hospital should be a model for the community.  “Everybody should be eating healthy,” she said. “But I do think that people sometimes look to hospital staff as examples. We should be walking the walk.”

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Your Guide to Buying a Rural Property in the Rocky Mountains

imagesThe Rocky Mountains offer many pristine, rural properties, ranches and farm houses for sale.  Here are ten pieces of advice to keep in mind before buying:

  1. Is the water supply public or private? If it’s well water, you should have it tested to check for chemicals or other harmful components.
  2. Does the house have adequate septic? When a house is constructed in a rural area, a leach field is built to collect sewage and water waste. Make sure the leach field is the proper size to avoid costly construction bills down the road.
  3. Is the house on a private road? If so, you could be facing thousands of dollars in extra expenses each year, as you’ll be forced to split the bill with your fellow residents for plowing, maintenance and paving.
  4. Has the area ever experienced a major power outage? If so, how long was the power out?
  5. How is the air quality? Ask about radon levels and smog levels from any nearby manufacturing plants.
  6. What is the average snowfall? How does the town handle major snowstorms?
  7. Where are the boundary lines? Make sure the property divisions are clear and established.
  8. Who handles trash pickup? Is there a nearby dumping ground?
  9. Are there any deed and zoning restrictions?
  10. How difficult is it to maintain the property?

Mountain Collective Adds Three More Big Name Winter Resorts

602872_499015853495065_215056938_nWhistler Blackcomb, North America’s largest ski resort, California’s Mammoth Mountain and Snowbird in Utah are joining four other ski resorts, including Aspen-Snowmass, in the Mountain Collective program, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Tuesday.  For $349, a skier in the 2013-14 season will be able to get two days each at the seven resorts: the four above, plus existing members Alta, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Calif.  The Mountain Collective pass offers a “dream proposition,” said Jeff Hanle, SkiCo spokesman.

Pass holders will be able to access 30,000 acres across 12 mountains at the same price as the 2012-13 pass, which covered the four initial resorts, a SkiCo press release says. The price may go up before next winter.  Besides the two included days, buying into the Mountain Collective allows skiers to get half off lift prices for the rest of their time at a resort, along with lodging discounts that vary by ski area.  When the Mountain Collective pass debuted in August, member resorts allowed their unlimited season pass holders to also buy lift tickets at 50 percent off of the regular price. That will continue with the new resorts, Hanle said.

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Jackson Hole Has it All—Including an Incredible Food Scene

Jackson-Hole-Food-GuideYou’ve already heard how much we love Jackson Hole. The charming little town really does have it all…including a seriously hip up and coming foodie scene. What was a pretty scarce cowboy-cuisine-only town just a decade or two ago is now a thriving food scene with the sort of risk taking chefs you just don’t expect to find in the middle of the Grand Tetons.

For starters, the Pig Candy at Café Genevieve makes the entire trip to Wyoming worthwhile with one bite. An outrageously salty, sweet, sticky smoky crackly piece of caramelized bacon, Pig Candy is a Jackson Hole treat that’s becoming pretty famous—you can even have it flown it overnight for your next board meeting. Now that’s employee appreciation.

Once you’ve had your fill of pig candy, it’s time for a steak dinner. You are in the mountains, after all. In the heart of the town square right next to the legendary Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is a quintessential farm-to-table restaurant serving some of the best cuts in the country. The Local is a place for…well, the locals. They feature classic and specialty cuts that come from cattle less than 10 miles away along with seasonally-inspired food. Owned and operated by chefs Will Bradof and Paul, Local showcases their enthusiasm for reviving the craft of in-house butchery with a focus on dry-aged steaks and house-made sausages. It’s a perfect place to relax and grab an amazing burger for lunch or to indulge in a hearty foie gras and filet mignon sort of date night.

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Jackson Hole Real Estate Showing Signs of Recovery

imagesSales were up and inventory down in the Jackson Hole real estate market during 2012, and the lower price range was especially hot. Many people who live and work in Jackson took advantage of the market and spurred big sales in the segment of the house and condo market with prices under $500,000. Sales overall improved from 2011, encouraging brokers.

Andy Cornish of Rocky Mountain Appraisals said the market’s biggest troubles “came to a stop by about midway through 2011, and the improvement we saw continued to hold last year, which was good.  “It’s too early to say it’s a frothy, heating-up market,” Cornish said, “but people are interested in getting in at favorable interest rates.”

In his Jackson Hole Report, now in its 18th year, he put the total number of sales in 2012 in Jackson Hole at 565, up 38 percent from 2011. Dollar value by Viehman’s calculation rose 50 percent to $881 million. Sixty-two percent of transactions were for less than $1 million, he said. Mayo was especially encouraged by a drop in total listings, “which have certainly declined from during the dark days, when we had 1,000 listings, to now, where it’s under 700.

The turnover rate in the market — the number of sales compared to the number of listings — is about 76 percent. At the height of the market, he said, before the Great Recession, inventory was turning over between two and three times a year, but during the depths of the crash turnover fell to 25 percent a year.

Viehman, who says his Jackson Hole Report includes every transaction, not just those on the Multiple Listing Service, figured that turnover had improved by year’s end to the point that overall inventory was down to 11 months. He said the average time from listing to sale for single-family homes is nine months, seven months for condos and townhouses. His method put the total listings at year’s end at only 498.

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