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The Battle Rages On…

January 31, 2013
The plan for the tax levy campaign for the proposed new high school needed to be formed and the preparations begun immediately.  Lots of work and lots of hours were in store for me and others.  I would carry the main load and responsibility, but also needed critical back up group of citizens.  A citizens’ advisory committee needed to be in place right away.  The committee of citizens would represent a diverse number of county residents, a rancher, a member of the clergy, a business person, a town leader, a senior citizen, the PTA president, a member of the financial community, and an equal number of men and women.  The committee would set policy, adopt a budget, and oversee the total effort.  The committee would need to know the facts surrounding the request for approval of tax money for the new high school and be able to field questions put to them.

For the first meeting of the committee I made a written agenda with the first item to be discussed, where do we hold the victory celebration the night of May 28, when the final votes are counted and made public?  We had a wonderful committee willing and able to tackle the challenges. I let the committee know that all the money for the bond issue to pay for the new high school would have to come from property taxes, for many not a popular fact.   There would be no money available from the state of Wyoming.

To get out the word regarding the bond issue, I suggested, and the committee agreed that we needed a visual presentation to present to groups of citizens from one end of the county to the other.  The slide show had to be designed for “Joe Six Pack”, easy to understand, and able to inspire a “yes” vote. There would be no money for a 16mm movie like Mr. Runkel had me make for the three successful votes in Michigan.  For this bond issue a 35mm slide program would have to do.  I began work on it right after that first committee meeting when the members approved of of the idea.

In studying the history of education in Teton County, I realized that the first settlers coming to build their lives in this valley knew the importance of education. From the very beginning they used their meager resources to provide schooling for their children.  One of the first “schools” was held in a cabin owned by a valley legend, Nick Wilson, in a village now named for “Uncle” Nick, Wilson, Wyoming.  After that a one room school was built in an area called South Park, where the tiny village of Ely, Wyoming which used to exist, but no more.  I went out to take pictures of the log building that was still standing but with most of the roof missing.  I had read past issues of the first newspaper in Teton County called the Courier.  In a 1903 issue there was a story of the first school organized in the Town of Jackson.  It was held on the second floor of the Club House a building still standing on the east side of the town square.  A few blocks west of the town square Mr. Deloney had a grocery store.  Mr. Deloney was a great supporter of the effort to have a school for the children of the Town of Jackson.  Mr. Deloney provided each child with two wooden crates, one for a desk and one for a chair.  The first day of school the newspaper described the line of children walking the two blocks from Deloney Grocery to the Club House, each child carrying a “desk and chair.”  It had to be quite a sight.  It would go viral on U Tube today.

Another great story in the Courier newspaper described the building of the first gymnasium in Teton County.  It took place in the early 1920’s.  The gym was built in one week similar to barn raising projects with neighbors pitching in to help each other.  The paper described crews of men cutting trees to make logs for the walls, using teams of horses pulling wagons full of gravel from the river bed for the foundation and floor, and wives cooking up three  hearty meals each day for the hungry workers.  With these inspirational stories plus many more, my idea was to show all this early dedication by local people to provide a better quality of life for their children. I was writing a script for the color slide presentation that would begin showing the pride of our first settlers that continued through the years to the present need for a new high school.  It would be a story of look what they did and now it’s our turn to step up and continue the commitment to providing a high quality of life for everyone choosing Teton County for their home.  Next blog, putting together the nuts and bolts of an intensive three week campaign to gain a successful vote on May 28.  Be ready.
One Comment leave one →
  1. January 31, 2013 10:29 am

    Hey, Ken, enjoying the tale. Make sure you don’t leave out the part about sitting on top of the grocery store. One of the great climbs of your life!

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