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Jackson Council Approves Funding To Buttress Slipping Hillside

Jackson Hole News and Guide

On Monday, the Jackson Town Council voted to increase emergency spending from $50,000 to $750,000 to deal with the slow-moving landslide beside the town's main thoroughfare. Town officials say the money is needed to manage the slide and to build a buttress to create pressure at the base of the slide to slow it down.

The Council voted four-to-one to approve the funding. Councilman Jim Stanford cast the lone dissenting vote.

"I was concerned that we'd be spending $300,000, $400,000, up to $500,000 on possibly just a stop-gap measure. There may have been other options available to us. I don't know what those are. One of the suggestions that was mentioned by citizens and people with some expertise was also removing some of the weight from the top of the slide that's causing the pressure that's causing this earth to slide down the hill."

Town officials have hired an independent team of geologists and landslide experts to study the problem and devise a plan to stabilize the slope. But they say it could take several weeks to gather the data needed to come up with a long-term solution. 

Joe Rice owns three businesses, including two restaurants and a liquor store, in the Hillside Building that have been closed due to the slide. An evacuation order has put about 75 of his employees out of work. Rice was glad to see the town approve the emergency spending.

"I think the most important thing is that the town is working hard, and let's fix the problem. You know pointing fingers and all that that some people tend to do isn't going to solve anything. We need to fix the problem and I think the town's working their butts off to do that."

After hearing plans to build the 500-foot-long buttress to shore up the slide, Rice says he's optimistic that that his employees will get back to work soon.

Today town crews began digging up Budge Drive to access a water line to turn it off. The goal is to relieve pressure on the town’s water main, which is being stressed by a pump house being pushed downhill by the slow-moving slide.

A multi-media journalist, Rebecca Huntington is a regular contributor to Wyoming Public Radio. She has reported on a variety of topics ranging from the National Parks, wildlife, environment, health care, education and business. She recently co-wrote the one-hour, high-definition documentary, The Stagecoach Bar: An American Crossroads, which premiered in 2012. She also works at another hub for community interactions, the Teton County Library where she is a Communications and Digital Media Specialist. She reported for daily and weekly newspapers in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Wyoming for more than a decade before becoming a multi-media journalist. She completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado in 2002. She has written and produced video news stories for the PBS series This American Land (thisamericanland.org) and for Assignment Earth, broadcast on Yahoo! News and NBC affiliates. In 2009, she traveled to Guatemala to produce a series of videos on sustainable agriculture, tourism and forestry and to Peru to report on the impacts of extractive industries on local communities.

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