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Jackson Woman Wins Bison Hunting Tag, Donating It To Disabled Female Veteran

in News/Hunting
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Winning a bison hunting tag through Gov. Mark Gordon’s annual raffle is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something many Wyoming hunters dream about, but can only hope they will receive.

Having won a tag, Jackson resident Norma Winder, 71, is giving hers away.

“My husband and I have been privileged enough to have been all over the world and I’ve actually shot a bison cow a number of years ago,” Winder told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “But over the last five years, my husband and I have been donating our general elk or deer hunting tags to a veterans group.”

That group, the Kniestedt Foundation, provides “exceptional” hunting experiences to active and veteran members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Foundation officials believe hunting and shooting empower people by providing them with a chance to connect with nature, challenge their minds to greater focus and engage the body in physical activity.

Winder and her husband have helped around 20 disabled veterans hunt in Wyoming over the last several years, but with the bison tag, she had a particular stipulation for the recipient.

“You always hear of guys getting to go on these hunting trips, but I’ve never heard of a woman getting the opportunity to do so,” she said. “So my stipulations were that it went to a female disabled veteran.”

As a longtime hunter and conservationist herself, Winder knows what a joy it is to harvest an animal, especially a massive one like a bison.

She also knows the beauty of Wyoming’s outdoors and wants to share it with as many people as possible.

This is why she and her husband wanted to share the opportunity for these veterans, who served their country and risked their lives. She thinks this is one of the best ways to thank them for their service.

“We have other opportunities to shoot a [bison] cow or whatever we want to do, so why not give it to someone else, who can never afford to put in for one of those permits?” she said. “The joy of doing it is absolutely fantastic.”

Winder said she believes the foundation has found the perfect recipient for the hunting tag, but this had not yet been confirmed as of Thursday.

However, she knows what a thrill the hunting experience will be for whoever the lucky veteran is, as well as the people in her support system.

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Human Poop Contaminating Two Jackson-Area Creeks, Says Grad Student

in Environment/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A University of Wyoming graduate student is preparing to submit her findings about human waste being the main source of contamination in two creeks in the Jackson area.

Kelsey Ruehling’s graduate research has been focused on discovering the source of fecal bacterial contamination in Flat and Fish creeks in Teton County.

“We’re seeing really high loads of bacteria in the surface water that is associated with wastewater,” Ruehling told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “What I saw in both creeks was this pattern of wastewater-associated bacteria increasing during moments when the streams were rising, likely attributed to increased flows from groundwater.”

In 2020, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality said Fish Creek and at least a portion of Flat Creek were considered impaired due to high concentrations of E. coli, an intestinal bacteria. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but there are some that cause stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

When high levels of E. coli are found in water, it is an indicator of sewage or animal waste contamination, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Due to these high levels of the bacteria, the creeks are not considered safe for swimming by DEQ.

For her research, Ruehling sought the source of the contamination. She believes it is due to old sewer lines and septic systems that sit near groundwater flows, at least for the human waste aspect.

She also discovered fecal bacteria from dogs, cows, goose, moose and horses.

Ruehling is not making any recommendations to state or local officials with her work, but instead wants to present them with unbiased, scientific research and let them make their own decisions on how to best address the contamination in the two creeks.

“I think having this really high temporal and spatial data can help these watersheds identify where the problems might be, what is the most serious and where they should put their time, money and attention into mitigating bacteria,” she said.

Ruehling will present her findings to her thesis committee at the university next week. She recently presented her work in Jackson to city and county officials.

In May, a nonprofit organization called Protect Our Water Jackson Hole was launched in an effort to improve and protect Jackson’s water quality, which would include both Flat and Fish creeks.

The organization is particularly focused on reducing nutrients in the area’s water that comes from sources such as wastewater, fertilizer, pets and livestock through countywide solutions.

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Father Of Slain Marine Rylee McCollum Runs For Legislature

in News/Legislature
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The father of a fallen U.S. Marine from Wyoming has filed to run for the state House of Representatives seat representing House District 16 in Teton County, according to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office.

Jim McCollum, father of the late Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, filed to run for the House as a Republican. Democrat Mike Yin currently holds the seat and has filed to run again.

McCollum told KHOL radio in Jackson that running for office was never a lifelong ambition or part of any plan.

“I didn’t seek this. I wasn’t looking for this. It’s not like [I thought], ‘This what I need to do.’ It just found me,” McCollum said. “It’s like, ‘You know what? This kind of makes sense. Maybe I can make a difference.’”

Unlike the rest of the state, Teton County is blue and a Republican candidate is not necessarily the safe bet to be winner. To that end, McCollum played down his party affiliation.

“The ‘R’ behind my name, don’t let that scare you,” McCollum told the radio station. “Respect and responsibility. Think of it that way.”

How does McCollum describe himself? What you see is what you get.

“I’m unfiltered. I’m very raw. Sometimes, I’m abrasive. But you know where I stand. I don’t ride the fence. You know what I say is what I mean,” McCollum said. “But I’m also intelligent enough to know, ‘Hey, you know, my view can change.’ We can have this conversation.”

Meanwhile, Yin, who has served in the Legislature since 2018, didn’t address his competitor directly but told Cowboy State Daily that he looks forward to talking with his community during the campaign about how to best serve Wyoming.

“I’ll continue to focus on how we work to ensure Wyoming is a place we can raise a family and that our kids can live and work in Wyoming and raise their own families in the future,” he said.

McCollum’s son Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was killed last August as the United States prepared to pull out of Afghanistan after 20 years of occupying the country. McCollum, 20, was one of 12 soldiers killed in a terrorist attack.

He was married and expecting a child, a daughter who was born weeks after his death.

More than $1 million was raised in support of the McCollum family through various GoFundMe campaigns. Actor Alec Baldwin even donated $5,000, although this would later be at the root of a conflict between Baldwin and the McCollum family that spawned a lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge.

The McCollum family declined to meet with President Joe Biden after the Rylee’s death because they said they held him responsible for the young Marine’s untimely death.

Jiennah McCollum, Rylee’s widow, did meet with Biden briefly but reportedly left disappointed because she said she felt he was following a script.

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Two Dogs Poisoned With Ibuprofen In Hot Dogs At Jackson Park; $5,500 Reward Offered

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

At least two dogs have been poisoned with ibuprofen hidden in hot dog slices in a Jackson park, according to the Jackson Police Department.

According to the department, an investigation began Friday morning after a call came in about a man walking his dog in May Park, on the east side of town, when he discovered his 3-year-old Golden Retriever consumed what appeared to be a hot dog which contained a 200-milligram ibuprofen tablet.

The dog was taken to a local veterinary clinic, where it was discovered it had actually consumed three ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen is toxic to dogs and can cause ulcers, kidney failure or even death.

The police walked through the park and discovered three more pieces of hot dog laced with ibuprofen tablets. Officers also canvassed other dog-friendly areas in Jackson in effort to prevent further incidents.

Around 11 a.m. Friday, the department announced that a second dog that was in May Park on Friday morning consumed pieces of a hot dog laced with ibuprofen.

Residents and visitors were recommended to not take their dogs to May Park.

PAWS of Jackson Hole, an animal welfare agency in the area, has offered a $5,500 reward for information leading to the arrest/prosecution of the person responsible.

No other evidence had been discovered outside of May Park as of Friday afternoon. Officers also reached out to local vet clinics and animal rescues to see if any other similar incidents occurred.

Numerous people contacted the department on Friday to provide donations to assist in identifying the person or people responsible, but Jackson police encouraged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers for a potential reward.

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Teton County Coroner Resigns From Jackson Hospital Due To Computer Usage

in News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Teton County coroner who made national headlines this week due to his announcement of the cause and manner of death of Gabby Petito will resign from his position at the Jackson hospital, he announced Thursday.

Dr. Brent Blue announced his resignation from St. John’s Health in Jackson on Thursday on his social media account. His resignation was prompted due to his personal use of a computer while at work.

“Unfortunately St. John Health had told me I cannot use my personal computer at work even though other doctors do plus it is critical for my Coroner responsibilities,” Blue wrote on social media Thursday. “It does not interfere with my work with patients and other SJH duties.”

His last day at the hospital will be Feb. 10. He has been working there since December 1982, according to the hospital website.

He said that hospital officials essentially forced him to resign from his position as a family medicine and primary care doctor at the hospital.

“I am prohibited by contract from saying anything derogatory about the hospital but you would think with all the recent publicity, they would have been honored to be associated with me,” Blue wrote. “Nothing above is derogatory. It is just factual.”

Blue will stay on as the county coroner, however, and said he plans to return to private practice in a limited fashion once he resigns, although the location of his practice is yet to be determined.

He said that the last month has been stressful due to the Petito case, dealing with the media, working with law enforcement and a “few wackos who have sent Emails.”

Blue held a news conference earlier this week to announce the cause and manner of Petito’s death: homicide by strangulation.

He was peppered with questions by reporters from Wyoming and all over the nation, including TV host John Walsh, but was unable to answer most of them.

Petito’s case has become a national sensation since she was reported missing in early September. Her fiance, Brian Laundrie, disappeared not long before her remains were found in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Blue said on Tuesday that Petito’s body had been in the forest for three to four weeks before she was discovered, but could not say how he made that determination.

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Jackson Pizzeria to Appear on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on Friday

in News/Good news
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Jackson pizzeria is going to make its third appearance on the popular Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on Friday.

Pinky G’s will appear on the “takeout edition” of the show when it airs Friday at 7 p.m. on Food Network. Check your local listings to make sure of the time.

“The Fieri family loves both cooking at home and great restaurant food, so they’re combining the best of both worlds with some Triple D-style takeout — cooking up recipes sent by DDD alums who join Guy and Hunter via video chat,” the episode description said. “On this menu, there’s New Zealand red deer comin’ from Texas, a stromboli from Jackson, Wyoming, seafood stew from a classic Georgia diner and sinful cinnamon rolls out of Colorado.”

Pinky G’s has also appeared in “funky pizza” and “celebrity pizza” themed episodes. The restaurant has locations in Jackson and Big Sky, Montana, and are open daily, in addition to a food truck.

In the “celebrity” pizza episode, host Guy Fieri tried the restaurant’s “Abe Froman” pizza, named after the “Sausage King of Chicago” from the classic film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The pizza has shredded mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, spicy sausage and fresh chopped basil.

In the funky episode, Fieri tasted the restaurant’s “funky chicken” pizza, which has shredded mozzarella, oven-roasted chicken, artichoke hearts, red onions and ricotta cheese on house-made fresh basil pesto.

Pinky G’s strombolis, which will be featured tonight, have mushrooms, onions, peppers and mozzarella cheese stuffed inside and are brushed with garlic oil.

The pizza can be ordered locally and shipped nationally.

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World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb To Return at Jackson’s Snow King

in News/Good news
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By Tom Ninnemann, Cowboy State Daily

The Jackson Town Council on Monday unanimously approved the staging of the 2021 Snow Devils World Championship Hill Climb event March 25 through 28 with a cap of 1,000 attendees permitted in the venue. 

The motion to approve the 44th annual event at Snow King Mountain was made by Councilman Jim Rooks, who specified that the event would be evaluated each day for compliance with specified restrictions.

“ … With nightly debriefing sessions, to involve the chief of police, Michelle Weber, Snow Devils leadership, and the mayor of Jackson Hole with the understanding that a failure to reach the subjected conditions and restrictions listed in the staff report may include a reduction of the next day’s attendees,” he said.

The event was approved with the understanding that attendance could be reduced based on the nightly evaluation and the status of the town’s risk level. 

Also to be taken under consideration would be the behaviors of those waiting in cue to enter the venue.

The annual event, which draws hundreds from around the world, was canceled in 2020 because of coronavirus concerns.

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Food & Wine Magazine Declares Jackson Bakery Has Best Sandwich in Wyoming

in News/Food
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The publication “Food & Wine” has declared Jackson’s Persephone Bakery as having the best sandwich in Wyoming.

Specifically, the magazine hailed the bakery’s incredible baguettes as being the reason the sandwiches at the French-inspired restaurant are so wonderful.

“Persephone Bakery has slowly expanded its footprint in one of the country’s best ski towns, and like any proper French-influenced bakery, they do a great baguette, here best experienced slathered in butter and mustard, and stuffed with ham and gruyere,” the magazine said.

The magazine is specifically referring to the ham and cheese sandwich, but there are three other sandwiches on the bakery’s menu that come on a baguette: the truffled prosciutto, the schnitzelwich and the chicken hoagie.

“We’re easy, fine, but we’d buy that baguette, take it home, load it up with the good butter, and pronounce it the best sandwich ever. Until the next one, anyway,” the magazine said. “The sunny enterprise manages to pull off the all-too-rare Jackson hat trick, managing to make nearly everybody happy, almost on the strength of their baking alone.”

We are willing to travel to Jackson to try this sandwich out, as well as maybe a few other dishes, purely for journalistic reasons.

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Country Singer Kane Brown Films Latest Video In Jackson

in News/Good news
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Country singer Kane Brown is the latest celebrity who has discovered the beauty of Wyoming and wants to show it off.

In his latest music video for his single “Worship You,” Brown and his family can be seen taking in the gorgeous Wyoming scenery while in a secluded spot in Jackson. Since the song is dedicated to Brown’s wife and baby daughter, they both appear in the video alongside him.

In a photoshoot with “People” magazine, the crew can be seen wearing masks, due to both the coronavirus pandemic and wildfires that were burning in the area not long before the video shoot.

“Jackson Hole has been a place that we wanted to go for some time — it was so beautiful and remote and we plan to go back again for a family vacation after this experience,” Brown told the magazine.

Brown and his wife Katelyn married just two years ago. Their daughter Kingsley recently turned one, which made the video that much more exciting and special for the family.

“That trip to Jackson Hole is one that we will never forget,” Katelyn Brown told the magazine. “Kingsley was a perfect baby throughout the whole video. She certainly isn’t camera-shy and she never fussed or got upset, even though by the end of the video it was really windy!”

“Worship You” is the second single off of Brown’s latest extended play, “Mixtape Vol. 1.” He hosted a drive-in concert back in October that was hosted at more than 200 venues across the country.

As of Friday, one week after the video premiered, “Worship You” has garnered more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

“It meant the world to me to be able to film the ‘Worship You’ video with Katelyn and Kingsley,” Brown told People. “This video will always have a special place in my heart because we filmed it together as a family.”

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Jackson faces unique challenges with homeless

in News
2417

By Nicole Blanchard, Cowboy State Daily

The town of Jackson is nestled in Western Wyoming amid the peaks of the Teton Mountains and at the doorway to two of the country’s most beloved national parks.

It’s this isolated, rugged beauty that makes the Jackson Hole region a draw for tourists, outdoor recreationists and ski enthusiasts who flock to the mountain resort of the same name. But those same qualities have made Jackson a uniquely difficult place to address the homeless population, which has become more and more visible in recent years as income inequality in the area grows.

According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 639 people in Wyoming were homeless in 2018. Though it’s a sharp decrease from 2012, when estimates hit a high of 1,813 homeless statewide, the difference is likely because HUD revised its definition of homelessness that same year. The revision meant individuals had to be without permanent housing for 14 days in order to be considered homeless — previously, the requirement was seven days.

Teton County officials estimate there are between 30 and 50 homeless individuals in the county.

There are limitations on the HUD numbers — aside from the agency’s broadened definition of homelessness, its numbers come from an annual “point-in-time” count of homelessness that takes place at the end of January. In Wyoming, that’s when homeless numbers are at their lowest because of the state’s harsh winter weather.

“Our homeless population is very much driven by our weather here,” said Jackson Police Chief Todd Smith. “As spring comes, we will have this small migration of people living that similar (homeless) lifestyle elsewhere.”

In October, when the fall chill settles in, some of the area’s homeless head elsewhere, Smith said.

Karla McClaren, program director for the Wyoming Homeless Collaborative, said the January timing for the count does have its advantages.

“The weather brings more people (into shelters) because they’re more likely to ask for services when it’s cold out,” she said.

Still, it’s clear that Jackson and other Wyoming cities experience what homelessness researcher Robert Marbut called the “summer surge.” Earlier this year, the Wyoming Department of FamilyServices’ Homelessness Program hired Marbut as a consultant to analyze the state’s most pressing issues with homelessness and recommend solutions. 

Jackson was among the 10 cities Marbut visited.

According to Marbut’s report, homeless populations grow by 15 percent to 30 percent during summers in Wyoming. In Jackson, that’s largely driven by tourism and seasonal workers, many of whom sleep in vehicles or “couch surf,” according to police Chief Smith.

“The housing insecure … that number is quite high,” Smith said. “In the summer it could be a couple hundred people or more, but it’s kind of hard to tell sometimes. Someone could do the simple math and say there are more people here than homes to put them in.”

Smith puts the number of “traditional homeless” between 50 and 100 people. That’s the individuals using homeless shelters or camping on public land, sometimes called the chronically homeless population. Smith said many of Jackson’s chronically homeless struggle with mental illness, substance abuse or some combination of the two. 

As competition for Jackson’s scarce housing resources grows, those chronically homeless have become more visible, Smith said. This summer, the number of homeless people camping in Karns Meadow, a nature preserve southwest of the city’s center, dramatically increased, causing concern.

“There have been people camping there since I started policing here nearly 30 years ago,” Smith said. 

This year, Smith said, more chronically homeless people set up campsites at Karns Meadow after being driven from another site north of town that has since been developed as an apartment complex.

“Places where someone could live undetected, those are going away,” he said. “In essence, they’re being displaced.”

Because Teton County is home to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, much of the county’s land — 97 percent — is owned by the federal government. 

“That 3 percent (of private land) is highly coveted,” Smith said. “So it’s more likely to become condos or mountain mansions than affordable housing.”

There is a push for affordable housing in the area, but those efforts don’t address the chronically homeless. Instead, they focus on housing for lower- and middle-class families unable to find homes in Jackson due to the income disparity in the area, which the Economic Policy Institute said is the worst in the country.

The entities in Jackson that do serve the traditional homeless population are few and far between. The city has a single homeless shelter, the Good Samaritan Mission, which has limited resources.

It houses only single men and women over the age of 18. There are 26 beds for men and five for women, as well as a few overflow beds. This year, said the mission’s executive director Chuck Fidroeff, the shelter has seen an unusual mix of people seeking shelter.

“We never turned a woman away from this place, and then in June we had to say no to 10 women,” he said. “But we didn’t have to say no to any men.”

In addition, the mission has stringent requirements for guests.

“It’s a working mission,” Fidroeff said. “If you stay here longer than two days, you need to have a job. We’re not here to be a flophouse.”

Both Smith and Fidroeff said jobs, particularly those in the service industry, are easy to come by in Jackson. Even entry-level jobs pay about $15 an hour, according to Fidroeff.

“If you can’t get a job in two days, you’re basically unemployable,” he said.

Guests pay $12 per night to stay at the mission — about $375 to stay for an entire month. Showers cost $1. Guests must also be sober, and Fidroeff, himself a recovering alcoholic, offers an alcohol counseling program. Anyone going through counseling is able to waive the job requirement for 30 days.

Smith said some of the area’s chronically homeless aren’t willing to follow those rules.

“There is a belief that if there is an open bed (at the mission), a homeless person will choose to use it,” Smith said. “That isn’t always the case.”

Instead, those people will find their own shelter, sometimes creating campsites like the ones in Karns Meadows. Many cities in the west have found themselves in limbo on how to address such camps. 

In April, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of several homeless people who sued the city of Boise, Idaho, in a case known as Martin v. Boise. The homeless argued that being ticketed for camping in public when they have nowhere else to go is cruel and unusual punishment. City officials asked the Supreme Court of the United States to hear the case, and the SCOTUS is set to decide whether to do so on Dec. 6.

Smith said it makes sense to leave the campsites alone as the case continues.

“I kind of take the stance of … why move these folks along when this could become the law of the land?” he said. 

No matter how Jackson moves ahead, it won’t be easy. Marbut, the homelessness consultant, offered a series of recommendations to the state to combat its housing issues, and said Jackson in particular should focus on new housing opportunities, such as traditional housing. While the city wrestles with those options, it will no doubt continue to be a hotbed for the summertime housing insecure and chronically homeless alike.

“People choose to stay here because it’s beautiful,” Smith said. “If you had to wake up here or wake up somewhere with a bleak view, of course you’d choose this place.”

First lady encourages Wyoming youth to “be best”

in News/Recreation
FLOTUS Melania Trump in Wyoming
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Melania Trump is encouraging Wyoming young people to “Be Best.”

The first lady this week visited Jackson, Wyoming — her first visit to the Cowboy State since her husband became president. She spent the day Thursday meeting the local Scout troop and rafting the Snake River, enjoying the outdoors and national park system.

Grand Teton National Park

The first lady was in Jackson to promote her “Be Best” initiative, which encourages positive social, emotional, and physical habits. 

Shortly after her arrival, Trump met with local scouts at the landmark Jackson Town Square. She was met by a cheering crowd surrounding the square, some singing the national anthem, others calling out, “We love you, Melania!”

Trump, who was accompanied by Steve Ashworth, head of the Jackson Parks and Recreation Department and Mindy Kin-Miller, Jackson’s first female scoutmaster, held up the Scouts in the Jackson area as a shining example of young adults and children taking leadership in conserving and preserving natural history while embodying healthy living. 

Since the 1960s, the Scouts have partnered with the National Elk Refuge to collect shed antlers from the protected area. They then use a portion of the proceeds from an annual antler auction to help with conservation projects.

Trump thanked the young leaders in the Scouts, commending their commitment to public service and protecting historic national treasures. 

“I applaud their dedication to such important causes,” she said.

Later that day, Trump rafted the Snake River, along with a group of 10 fourth graders from the Teton County School District and guides from the local Rafter X Ranch. White House Officials said the activity was intended in part to set an example for young people, encouraging them to get outside and enjoy the natural resources the nation offers. 

The first lady was in a raft with a group of five school children, while the guide talked about wildlife in the area, including antelope, moose, and bears. 

“We should continue encouraging our children to experience and preserve the diverse rivers, mountains, and landscapes that make up the natural beauty of Wyoming that we had the privilege of enjoying today,” the first lady noted.

White House officials say the raft trip also complemented the National Park Service’s Every Kid Outdoors program, in which fourth graders across the nation get free access to all National Park attractions.

Trump’s visit to northwest Wyoming was scheduled to continue Friday in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, but weather cut the visit short.

According to the official web page, the mission of “Be Best” is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to “Be Best” in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health.  

The first lady has emphasized other pillars of the “Be Best” Initiative in previous visits around the country. She has visited with school children in Florida while promoting online safety, as well as a stop at Microsoft headquarters in Washington.

44th Pole, Pedal Paddle race set for Jackson this weekend

in Travel
Jackson Hole Pole Pedal Paddle Race in Jackson
1140

By Cowboy State Daily

An unusual race that sees competitors — often in costume — ski, bike, run and float more than 34 miles from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to a spot south of Jackson is being held for the 44th time this weekend.

Jackson’s famous “Pole, Pedal, Paddle” contest will be held Saturday, drawing more than 200 competitors including both serious and not-so-serious racers.

“We’ve got everybody on the spectrum,” said Jeff Moran, chief marketing officer for the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club, the organizer of the annual race. “So we get a good mix of people doing all five legs trying to go as fast as they can, then a group of people who do it just for fun. It’s both a fundraiser and a fun-raiser.”

People celebrate after the Jackson Hole Pole Pedal Paddle Race in Jackson
March 24, 2018 – Hoback, WY: The party and awards at Astoria Hot Springs Park in the Snake River Canyon for the finish of the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club Pole Pedal, Paddle event. (Courtesy: Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club)

The race is a fundraiser for the JHSSC, which supports various skiing programs for Jackson’s youth. Last year, it raised more than $45,000 for such programs.

The race will begin this year at 8 a.m. Saturday with a giant slalom run of more than 2 miles from the top of the resort’s new Teton Lift to the Village Commons at Teton Village. From there, racers will run 1.2 miles to the Shooting Star Golf Course, where a 4-mile groomed cross-country skiing track will be waiting for them.

After the cross-country skiing, racers will take to bicycles for an 18-mile ride to the Snake River, where they will paddle for 9 miles to the finish line at Astoria Hot Springs Park for an awards presentation and celebration.

Competitive racers finish the path in a little more than two hours, while those more interested in fun may take five to six hours, Moran said.“There are people who just make a day of it,” he said. “People who do it on tandem bikes. Some people have big party barges. There are a lot of people who make it a huge celebration.”

There are two divisions for the race, one for competitive racers and another for “fun” racers. Racers can compete individually or in teams for ether division.

Racers in the “fun” division often wear costumes, such as the “Golden Girls” team Moran said competed last year using canes and walkers. Boats seen in the fun division have included a double-decker raft, complete with sound system.

Moran said in recent years, a pink theme has surfaced in some of the costumes in honor of Karen Oatey, a competitor who died during the race in 2015. The race has been officially named the “Karen Oatey Pole, Pedal, Paddle” in her memory.

This year’s awards ceremony will feature a special event — groundbreaking for the restoration of the Astoria Hot Springs Park. The Astoria Park Conservancy has raised $6 million to restore the park that was closed in 1999.

The most popular stretch of the race for viewing is along the Snake River and at the finish line, Moran said.

“Most people tend to congregate at the awards ceremony at the finish line,” he said. “The big thing about the awards ceremony is it is open to everybody.”

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