20 Years of Teton Valley

Twenty years ago, in the winter 1997–98, and first-ever, edition of this magazine, co-founders Deb Barracato and Karen Russell wrote, “This is an exciting time in Teton Valley, one of growth and change. The choices we make now will affect the direction we take as we approach the new millennium.”

So true. 

Flash-forward two decades—after the 1999 panic over the impending Y2K apocalypse (which didn’t happen); after the feared explosion of the dot-com bubble (which did happen); after the tragic events of September 11, 2001; in the wake of the Great Recession of the late 2000s … 

That this magazine has survived, even thrived, through all of this is, I believe, a testament to the resiliency of our community.

So is the fact that the number of valley residents has continued to increase, even through the most tumultuous of those times. In 1997 the population of Teton County, Idaho, was just over 5,000. Today, it’s around 11,000, or more than twice that of twenty years ago. 

From the beginning, we at this publication have attempted to present balanced snapshots of Pierre’s Hole. We’ve alternated stories about agriculture with ones covering recreation. We’ve balanced history pieces with articles looking at the present or even the future. We’ve teeter-tottered tales of people whose ancestors homesteaded in the valley with profiles of more recent transplants.

Photo by Jamye Chrisman

Looking back on forty issues of the biannual magazine, it looks to me as if we’ve been resoundingly successful.

The inaugural edition included a story about Grand Targhee Resort’s new-at-the-time owner, George Gillett, who had purchased the resort early in 1997. It’s interesting to go back and read his predictions regarding the proposed and controversial Targhee–Forest Service land swap (which subsequently took place in 2004) and the Targhee expansion plans (finally approved by the Teton County, Wyoming, commissioners in 2008), and what effect they might have on the valley below. 

As I pored through that premiere issue, I was surprised to see that musician Ben Winship and his Henhouse Studio were also featured. Surprised because Ben is one of the individuals we’d asked earlier to pen his reflections for this issue—in his case, thoughts on how the valley’s music scene has evolved over the past twenty years.  

We also hear in this feature story from Jim Woodmency, chief meteorologist at mountainweather.com. Jim has been forecasting and following the weather in the Tetons for more than a quarter of a century. He lives in Jackson Hole, and the snow data he presents comes from the Rendezvous Bowl study plot at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Nevertheless, it is indicative of the score of winters we’ve enjoyed and endured over here on the west side of the range, as well.

So, here we are in the winter of 2017–18. Two decades ago we had no ice rink or groomed Nordic ski trails in the valley proper. We had no farmers experimenting with exotic crops like quinoa. We had no Broulim’s supermarket. We had no stoplights. Now we have them all. 

What changes will the next twenty years bring? An aquatic/recreation center? Acres of corn, cukes, and cantaloupes? (That would take some climate change.) A multiplex movie theatre? A roundabout or two, and four traffic lanes separating Driggs and Victor?

Stay tuned. It’s bound to be interesting!  By Michael McCoy

Commitment to Our Watershed

In 2000, a diverse group of stakeholders, including farmers, anglers, scientists, agency personnel, and conservation interests, formed Friends of the Teton River, charged with protecting a valuable resource: our watershed.   

Twenty years ago, native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout populations were crashing precipitously, the Teton River had just been added to a list of the nation’s most impaired waterways, and we were experiencing the effects of under-planned development on our streams and rivers. Since that time, we have made incredible gains in restoring Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout populations, in addressing water quality impairment, and in restoring streams damaged by development activities. But what stands out the most, perhaps, are the relationships we have built over those years. Rather than fighting over who was to blame for our problems, we are now working together to address the issues and to protect and restore land and water in a way that benefits residents, agricultural landowners, and ecosystems.

Our biggest challenge has been to prove that a healthy watershed and a healthy economy really do go hand and hand. Efforts to balance a variety of water and land uses, maintain farming traditions and profitability, develop in an appropriate manner, and conserve ecosystems have driven communities apart throughout the West, and Teton Valley has been no exception. Fortunately, that is changing rapidly here, thanks to concerted efforts at building relationships and focusing on values we all share. By working together, we are accomplishing things that none of us could do alone, and that’s having direct benefits on the watershed and the community.

The progress we have made in the past twenty years is just the tip of the iceberg. With the momentum we now have, we are poised to make giant leaps forward over the next twenty years. We envision a community in which agricultural leaders, conservation groups, city and county officials, and recreational users continue to work together to develop innovative water management solutions; a community that is a leader for river conservation in the region and the entire West.  By Friends of the Teton River executive director Amy Verbeten and development director Anna Lindstedt

Photo Courtesy of the Teton Valley Foundation

Mountain Music

Looking back on the last twenty years of music in Teton Valley, has anything changed? Not at all—we are still young, play as fast as ever, and sing all night long … not.

As a performer, recording engineer, teacher, and music fan, I have witnessed a sea change in the music scene over the past two decades, both in the industry and on a local level. The biggest change in the valley has been Music on Main. Established by the Teton Valley Foundation in 2005, the series has brought a diverse roster of free music to the valley for eight Thursdays each summer.

Attendance has also steadily increased for Grand Targhee’s festivals. Having played the first Targhee Bluegrass Festival back in 1987 to a crowd of a hundred rain-soaked diehards on an unmowed slope, it has been gratifying to see the festival thrive over the past two decades—drawing fans and performers from across the nation and across the oceans.

The Targhee Music Camp, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, is another bright spot in the local music scene. Each August the camp offers four days of intensive workshops for students of all ages and abilities. From its humble beginnings with eighteen students, the Targhee Music Camp reached its first sell-out year in 2017 with 160 students and a staff of twenty-five!

The valley now boasts two stunning timber-framed stages, and this past summer saw the inception of the Driggs’ Symphony on Sunday series. Coupled with regular music at venues like the Knotty Pine and the Trap Bar, it’s clear that music has a strong pulse in Teton Valley. 

For local gigging musicians, some of the trends have been less profound. Local music venues have come and gone, but the number of gig opportunities has remained fairly constant. The other side of the coin is that the market for high-dollar weddings and other private functions in Teton Valley and Jackson Hole has been on the rise, so musicians who play popular wedding music are able to capitalize on that.

I feel lucky to live in a valley with a strong music community, a vast pool of talented musicians, and a population of appreciative listeners.  By Ben Winship

Photo Courtesy of Teton Valley Trails and Pathways

Two Decades of Trails

The new year marks the twentieth anniversary of Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, a nonprofit committed to promoting a trails and pathways connected community, for activities ranging from biking to Nordic skiing. As it ushers in this next chapter, the organization is also saying goodbye to longtime executive director Tim Adams. His role will be filled by board member, volunteer, and resident Dan Verbeten. Teton Valley Magazine caught up with Tim for a look into the big moments and milestones of his time at TVTAP: 

“Although I have only been in the valley just over eleven years, I was able to understand where our organization started and where we have come. I think the biggest achievement is actually twofold. First, the growth in connecting our community via pathways has been monumental. A person can now travel on a completely separated and dedicated path from north of Driggs to south and west of Victor. 

“This accomplishment mirrors the second achievement, which is the strategic partnerships formed with our cities and county. All have adopted bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure guiding documents, such as recreation plans, transportation plans, and comprehensive plans that support a connected community for non-motorized users.

  “TVTAP will continue to support the growth of multimodal transportation in our community with the extension of infrastructure to our public lands and to other communities like Wilson, Wyoming. We’ll also see more safe paths for people to enjoy our community as pedestrians or bicyclists.”  Teton Valley Trails and pathways

Photo by Jamye Chrisman

Victor: A Vibrant Future

Victor has seen some significant physical changes in the last twenty years, including the demolition of the old cheese factory, the purchase of the historic train depot by the City, and the transition from a four-lane main street seeing vehicle speeds over 55 miles per hour to a three-lane configuration with protected bike lanes, designated crosswalks, a stop light (crazy, right?!), and a 35 mile per hour speed limit.  Over the past ten years, City leaders have taken steps to encourage development in the downtown core in accordance with recently updated land use and zoning code, and those efforts are beginning to generate beneficial results to the City’s residents, visitors, and downtown businesses.  

The City is also now home to a wide array of recreation-focused public-private partnerships, involving the nonprofit community that benefits our residents with tremendous recreational amenities typically unheard of in a town our size. Working with the biking-focused groups Victor Velo, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, and Mountain Bike the Tetons has resulted in multimodal pathways providing connectivity to the City core from surrounding neighborhoods, a pump track for adults and kids in Sherman (formerly Pioneer) Park, and recent approval of a vast backcountry trails project that will benefit cyclists, motorized trail users, horseback riders, and hikers. Partnerships with the Teton Valley Foundation brought Music on Main, an all-ages summer concert series, to Victor City Park on Thursday evenings throughout the summer, and resulted in the grassroots development of what is now a fully refrigerated, covered ice rink for ice skating and hockey activities throughout the winter. Working with HAPI Trails and other equine users resulted in a riding arena in Sherman Park, and many of these and other contributors supported the first master planning effort for Sherman Park, providing space for additional future recreational amenities. These recreational assets and programs are one of the key reasons so many of our residents live here, enjoying the outdoors in many different ways.  

The City of Victor hopes to continue to support and fulfill the core values identified by the Victor community through the “Envision Victor” initiative, with policy decisions and the facilitation of sustainable development that aligns with those core values and builds Victor’s resident/tourism service economies, while sustaining the small town atmosphere that we all live here to be a part of and enjoy. We envision a vibrant downtown surrounded and supported by a populace composed of local and commuter workforces and their families, part-time residents, and visitors. Through smart commercial development and efficient infill residential growth, we can continue to fulfill this vision, one complemented by the endless recreational opportunities surrounding and within the City of Victor.  By Victor Mayor Jeffrey Potter

Photo By Jamye Chrisman

Healthcare in the Tetons 

Teton Valley Hospital was built in 1939 with just four beds. It was funded by the New Deal’s Works Projects Administration efforts to boost employment after the Great Depression and owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1965, the hospital changed to a county-owned facility. Two major expansions later, it was recognized as a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) in 2002 and, in 2012, became a private nonprofit entity, removing itself from taxpayer support. Teton Valley Health Care (TVHC) now comprises the hospital, Driggs Health Clinic, Victor Health Clinic, and Cache Clinic. 

Ann Loyola, the TVHC marketing director, reflects on the leaps and bounds made in access to healthcare in our valley:

“Despite radical changes in almost every aspect of healthcare—technology, cost, insurance coverage, and federal requirements—our community hospital has survived and is now thriving. For me, the outstanding story of TVHC is the human factor. Employees, volunteers, and community members have worked very hard to keep medical care close to home.

“Regarding healthcare for the next twenty years, I dream of a new hospital facility that’s designed to reflect the natural beauty of our valley. Using architectural elements, community input, and nature, I believe we should build a state-of-the-art center for health and wellness. 

“TVHC has shown a willingness to adopt new approaches that may not fit the traditional definition of a rural critical access hospital. We’re the first CAH in Idaho to offer a slate of telehealth specialties and to earn higher stroke, heart, and trauma certifications. We’ve affiliated with outside organizations to expand services and access to top specialists. I would like to see a continuation of that innovative spirit while strengthening a team approach toward health with the patient as an active leader in their care.

“I’ve worked for TVHC since 2000. My work history prior to that includes fashion design, public relations, ski lift supervisor, and even a stint as an armed guard for Wells Fargo Armored Services (it’s a long story).

“There’s no such thing as an easy job. Nothing worthwhile is easy. There have been several times in my career at TVHC that were low points. Without fail, every time [during these periods], a helicopter would land and I would watch our staff focus all of their efforts on saving the life of someone from our community. It struck me every single time that without our little rural hospital, [more] people would die. It’s humbling and inspirational to work with people who want to help others live—really live.” Teton Valley HealthCare

Two Years (and then some) 

In late 1997, Dark Horse Books was nearing the end of its initial two-year experimental phase. The lease on our original location on the east side of Main Street in Driggs approached its end. We had our eye on a larger space across the street, but we faced a tough decision: Walk away from our successful book store experiment, or plunge back in and try to grow; try to expand our original vision of providing a valuable resource for a growing, changing community. On a blizzardy Saturday, more than twenty-five friends came together to help pack and hand-carry everything across the icy street to the store’s new home.  Our two-year experiment continued for another decade-plus.  By Jeanne Anderson

Photo by Kisa Koenig

Reflections of a Former Twenty-Something

hen I moved to Teton Valley in 1995, I could count the number of twenty-something women who lived here on one hand. Ball-and-chain style (well, not really), I was dragged to the land of superfluous powder by my husband (then boyfriend). What else was here? Well, a meager selection of jobs, at best, and one small grocery store. Certainly not a stoplight.

We were snowboard instructors at Grand Targhee in a time when the new sport was just taking hold. We worked for $200 paychecks and dumpster dove for food when, for weeks at a time, the store shelves were barren due to snowy conditions and closed roads. I honestly don’t know how we persevered. Eventually bought land. Built a house. Had kids. But I know it took years of reinventing ourselves, over and over again, to manage a bank account that wasn’t consistently in the red.

Today, I have more than five girlfriends. My kids are enrolled in a public school system that fosters learning and integrity, and celebrates the individualism that is ever-present in our mountain culture. And I can actually go out to eat what I consider a five-star, farm-to-table, artisanal meal and not travel more than ten miles to do so. And while you can take the girl out of the East, but you can’t take the East out of the girl, my western friends have grown accustomed to my loud voice and sometimes-brash commentary. (They may even secretly appreciate it.)

As a transplant, I’m not alone. 

And, like others who have “grown up” in blossoming mountain communities, I’ve been able to build my dream career and raise a family in a safe and supportive environment. All the while sustaining a lifestyle that most people would call their “vacation.” By Christina Shepherd McGuire

Photo by Lara Agnew

Driggs: Gem of a Town

I stand on the shoulders of many who years ago charted the path we are on. What Driggs has become, its cultural offerings, the beauty of our town, and the strength of our businesses, is the result of many years of vision and hard work by many people.

Naturally, this valley was especially hard hit by the recession, and took longer to recover than many communities as a result. Nevertheless, the leaders of the City of Driggs and the County understood the important principle that they needed to continue to work on improving the quality of life here: that people will come to this town, whether as visitors or as residents, because it presents a quality of life they find attractive. Whether it’s the beauty of the streetscape and parks, the quality of events we create, or the friendly demeanor of the residents—our town is a gem that people come to see, not simply pass through.

Our economy is still quite fragile, and could be hard hit by another downturn or by poor planning. We need to continue to nurture our growth, but do it in a way that preserves the character, the beauty, and the friendly and welcoming nature of this place. It is like walking the knife’s edge. A balancing act. 

Over the next twenty years Driggs will grow. I believe we are past a tipping point, and we couldn’t stop it if we wanted to. But why would we want to? Growth itself isn’t bad. Uncontrolled, undirected growth can be destructive. We take the time to prune our trees and our shrubs, why not our City as well? We need to direct the growth where and how it makes sense. Nurture the industries that can preserve the character here, such as agriculture, tourism, technology, aviation, and education. I’ve often stated that Driggs presents the greatest economic opportunity in the northern Rocky Mountains. But that opportunity requires vision and hard work.

Ultimately, I am involved in this community because I want Driggs to be a place my kids can come back to. To find opportunity. To find success. To find a sense of community and belonging. My efforts are focused on building beyond those whose shoulders I stand on, so that those who follow have a firm footing on which to carry out their own vision.  By Driggs Mayor Hyrum Johnson

All Winters Great and Small

Just over twenty years ago, the winter of 1996–97 set the standard as the snowiest winter on record in the Teton Range. A grand total of 576 inches of snowfall was recorded between October 1 and April 10 at the Rendezvous Bowl study plot, at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, elevation 9,580 feet. 

For the next ten years, between the winters of 1997–98 and 2006–07, only two winters stood much above average for snowfall. The remaining eight winters sagged below the average total snowfall line. The very bottom of the snow-scale in the last two decades was the lean and mean winter of 2006–07, with a measly 285 inches of snowfall.

The trend since that low point, however, has been looking up. There were two winter seasons in the last ten years that came very close to matching that record winter of 1996–97. The winter of 2007–08 recorded 573 inches of snowfall. Three years after that, the winter of 2010–11 had 575 inches of snow. 

Then came the winter of 2016–17, which blew them all away, with a whopping 590 inches of snow between October 1 and April 10. Holy Pow!

Which begs the question: Will it be another twenty years before last winter’s snowfall record is broken? By Jim Woodmency of mountainweather.com 

Photo Courtesy of Grand Targhee Resort

Powder & Pampers

 If you’ve spent more than a few days swooshing through waist-deep powder at Grand Targhee, recalling your favorite memory is hard enough. But if you’re Mark Hanson and have decades’ worth of tales? It’s very nearly impossible. But his April 9, 1994, memory is surely one for the books: 

“We’re skiing a foot-plus of fresh powder … my wife Nell leaves a message in Ski School that she thinks she has started labor. (There weren’t many cell phones in those days, and we wouldn’t have had service up there anyway.) But she says, ‘Take your time, it might be a while.’  So, we skied some more! And, truth be told, her labor with our first daughter, Lydia—who now has worked at Targhee in children’s programs for several years—ended almost thirty-two hours later. Pretty epic day: Fresh powder and our first child!”  By Mark Hanson Grand Targhee Ski and Snowboard School director

Photo Courtesy of the Community Foundation of  Teton Valley

A Philosophy of Philanthropy 

In a valley of fewer than 11,000 residents, it’s hard to imagine that forty-five nonprofits have sprouted up over the years. But each role filled is significant, whether it’s finding forever homes for dogs and cats or advocating for and providing education services. Just ask Carrie Mowrey, the executive director of the Community Foundation of Teton Valley. Operating the hub for local nonprofits, Mowrey and her team provide equipment for all nonprofits to share, award competitive grants to local nonprofits tri-annually, and provide a matching grant to nonprofits participating in the annual Tin Cup Challenge fundraiser: 

“We implement an incredible, modern fundraising model to propel annual investing directly back into Teton Valley within the year,” Mowrey says. “Aside from the challenge of raising funds for this model to work, we’ve had to advocate for both donors and the nonprofit community to look at the bigger picture. We consider Teton Valley as a whole and believe that the ripple effect is real, as evidenced by the success of our programs. One drop adds to another and quickly becomes a full cup of generosity for the whole valley to share. 

“Over the years these nonprofits have continued to step in and grow their services to protect, connect, and enhance our land, water, wildlife, and community as a whole. …They provide care and resources for our seniors, children, Hispanics, underprivileged, abused, and active population, not to mention our pets, wildlife, and environment—to name a few. Teton Valley is definitively a better place for their efforts. 

“We anticipate that ever more needs of our growing population will be met by nonprofit services. Teton Valley is a unique place in so many ways, but one of our greatest assets is the support our community lends its members in times of need. As we grow, it’s important to retain our small-town identity by caring for our neighbors so that no one suffers in silence under the shadow of the Tetons.”  Community Foundation of Teton Valley

Building Momentum 

In the early 2000s, Teton Valley was booming. Every which way you looked, new homes were being built and subdivisions were coming in by the dozens. But in 2008, the county was hit with the debilitating recession that, nationwide, left 8.8 million unemployed. In Teton Valley, the building industry was hit hard. Now, ten years later, the valley is seeing a renewed spurt of new construction and growth. This time, however, it appears to be manageable. Long-time business owners Pete Moyer of Moyer Builders and John McIntosh of Snake River Builders weathered the recession and have seen their building companies grow over the past four years. As for the next twenty years? Both hope for steady growth and continued thoughtful planning. 

TVM: What has been your biggest challenge or success over the years?

Pete: One of the biggest challenges over the years was forming a local builders association. Organizing builders and associates with the intent of gaining a larger voice in the community, statewide, and nationally under the National Association of Home Builders. Our effort lasted for nine years, and it was a great experience. 

John: We lost a lot of really talented people who went belly up or bankrupt or moved during the recession. We had to rebuild that wealth of craftspeople. We had to take a deep breath, look hard at things like the business model, and downsize a bit. But one of our great successes was we were able to get our entire Snake River Builders crew back after the recession. We were able to reform with an updated intent. 2011 was the start of this next phase; it has been a slow and steady phase rather than explosive. 

TVM: Looking ahead to the next twenty years, what do you hope to see happen?

Pete: I would love to see Teton Valley hold strong to that small community mindset and not get lost in unshackled growth like our neighbors to the east [Jackson Hole]. As far as Moyer Builders Design Build, the future will be in excellent hands with my son Jeb. And who knows? With three grandsons growing up quickly, [perhaps] one of them will step into the family business. 

John: I would like to see more energy efficient design and more smart design that is informed by the site and informed by the client’s needs, as well as by good building science. I think we also need to address the entry level housing market in some manner, but that has not been cracked yet. Moyer Builders and snake river builders

Photo by Jamye Chrisman

Tetonia: Maintaining Community

The past twenty years have brought about some big changes in Tetonia. The biggest change that comes to mind is that very few of the people living here today lived here twenty years ago. Although the number of people in town is about the same, we have a much more diversified population. Today, Tetonia is made up of people from many different areas and backgrounds. While this strengthens the community and brings in many new ideas, it sometimes makes it harder for people to get to know each other and build a sense of community.

Along with the changing population, Tetonia has seen a changing workforce. Today, because of the opportunities in larger communities, many of our citizens find work out of town. While most work somewhere in Teton Valley, we also have many people who travel to Jackson or to Rexburg or Idaho Falls to work. 

In Tetonia, as in other small towns, residents frequently travel to do their major shopping, or they shop online.  This trend makes it harder for small business in Tetonia, yet we have a number of retail businesses that provide the basic needs of the residents and visitors. We also have some specialized businesses, such as an art gallery, that bring people specifically to Tetonia, and some businesses, such as an oil distributor, that reach out to people in other communities.  

While tourism and second homes have had some impact on our economy, Tetonia, as the primary population center in the north end of Teton County, is still an agricultural community. The town is very dependent on the rural citizens and farmers surrounding it. This factor has also helped Tetonia maintain its rural, agricultural atmosphere. Most residents choose to live in Tetonia because of our spectacular views of the Tetons and surroundings, our rural agricultural atmosphere, and the tranquility that comes from our small population. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to maintain our charm and sense of community, while supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones that will help the town remain economically viable. 

Studies show that small towns all over America are either disappearing or making changes and identifying niches to help them survive. We want to ensure that Tetonia will be one of the small towns that survives and thrives. I think we have made progress in that direction. We are seeing new homes being built and new businesses starting up. We have also tried to enhance our natural and public amenities, such as the rails-to-trails [Ashton-Tetonia Trail State Park] trailhead and open spaces for other activities.

I hope that twenty years from now Tetonia is still a small town with a sense of community, rural atmosphere, and successful businesses and job opportunities. By Tetonia Mayor Gloria Hoopes 

Protecting the Irreplaceable

Back in the late 1990s, the inspiration for the Teton Regional Land Trust came from a group of community members who recognized that the cherished landscapes, agricultural character, and vibrant wildlife habitat of Teton Valley were at risk. These community leaders recognized that the iconic wildlife of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks relies on the private lands surrounding the parks and that protecting these private lands was important for our valley’s economy, sense of place, and cultural identity.

Early efforts concentrated on protecting critical habitat and productive farms and ranches in Teton Valley. We worked with longstanding agricultural families interested in maintaining their family’s cultural tradition, as well as newcomers that wanted to play a part in protecting the valley’s irreplaceable natural habitats. Working with landowners over the past twenty years, we have been able to protect over 11,000 acres of farms, ranches, and wildlife habitat; preserve over thirty miles of the Teton River and its tributaries; and restore wetlands and riparian areas to benefit wildlife and water quality.

In recent years, we have recognized that the Land Trust must engage the community and visitors by providing opportunities for access, learning, and collaboration.  We are proud to be a member of the Teton Valley community and look forward to another twenty years of protecting spectacular scenic vistas, open land, and natural resources.  By Joselin Matkins, Executive Director, Teton regional Land Trust

Photo Courtesy of Teton Arts

Adding Sparkle to the Community 

Teton Arts is one of Teton Valley’s longest standing nonprofit organizations, yet many people in the valley still don’t know it exists. Its board of directors says it’s out to change that. Teton Arts has refined its strategic mission to focus on engaging people of all ages, in both the creation and enjoyment of the arts.  

“The organization is all about reaching more people,” says Kristen Fritschel, vice chair of Teton Arts. “We’re doing that through expanding art education classes, bringing in visiting artists, invigorating the Driggs Art Gallery, and hosting more fun events designed to inform and engage the public in the arts.”  

Initiatives like After School Art Programs at the studio; the Outreach Art Programs, which boost art education by bringing it to the schools; and the new Summer Kids Camp all help engage students in the arts. And Teton Arts launched a Seniors Art Program in collaboration with Seniors West of the Tetons this past year that is bringing more seniors together in a fun and creative setting the first and third Wednesday of each month.  

“Even at my age, it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to continue to create,” says Marilyn Olson, one of the enthusiastic senior art students.  

The number of opportunities for artists continues to flourish. Just north of Driggs near the airport, the Teton Arts Studio invites member artists to learn from each other and visiting artistic experts, while offering a great space to generate works in a collaborative environment. 

Art admirers are invited to stroll through the Teton Arts Gallery at the Driggs Community Center for art shows and receptions held every six weeks or so. 

With a new focus on providing diverse and affordable art classes, Teton Arts has been able to reach many more valley residents this year than in the past, including through fundraising activities that enable Teton Arts to provide scholarships. The renewed energy on programming is thanks to the addition of program director Gregory Meyers. 

“I have the opportunity to share what I love most with so many students and artists,” he says, “while strengthening this community by fostering a safe place for kids of all ages to explore their creativity and imagination. This is my greatest motivation.”

Meyers and the board have set a goal for the nonprofit to engage every student in the arts in some capacity.   

“Teton Valley has more sparkle and vitality now than it used to,” says Mary Mullaney, co-owner of Heron Glass. “Public art, the Teton Arts Gallery, performing arts, and artistic educational opportunities seem to be present and enduring in the valley.”  Teton Arts

The State of Real Estate

Teton Valley has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the past two decades. Specifically, the boom that started to materialize in the early 2000s, and the bust beginning in 2008. We have a map here in our [Teton Valley Realty] office that has an overview of the county, the surrounding National Forest, and the subdivisions that were developed at the time of the map’s production, somewhere around 2004. The map displays fifty-one subdivisions, including a handful in Alta, that were developed at the time. Just four years later, Teton County had well over one hundred developments, more than doubling the number of subdivision building sites throughout the county. Another four years later, and we were dealing with the aftermath. Now, nearly a decade after the recession began, the Teton Valley residential market is back in full swing. But the days of sales in excess of $100,000 per acre for vacant land are likely over.

The way we do business in Teton Valley has seen a dramatic change over the last two decades, as well. The real estate industry as a whole has morphed from one of sitting down and meeting with customers, reviewing large maps (which we still have on our office walls), to the rise of Internet marketing and sales. Our physical location has gone through some big changes, too. Our Main Street location was once where the Colter building sits today. Many of those who have been in the valley for some time probably remember Joe’s Place restaurant, Sassy Hair Salon, Teton Valley Realty, the liquor store, and Mountaineering Outfitters. They probably also remember the fire that took place in the Mountaineering Outfitters store on a cold February night in 2003, destroying the building and claiming the life of beloved resident Fred Mugler. Without an office or electronic storage, we dusted the ash off of our old files and set up shop in a temporary location next to the future site of our office building of today, a Town & Country Cedar home model. We started our full-service in-house property management business around 2007, a farm and ranch division in 2011 … and the rest is history!  By Tayson Rockefeller