Board might expand, pending resolution

The mayors of Teton Valley and the chair of the Teton Board of County Commissioners have chosen from a large pool of applicants two people to replace outgoing Joint Housing Authority members.

Founding members Kristie Eggebroten and Zach Smith informed the housing authority last month that they were stepping down from their positions, Eggebroten because she’s moving out of the valley and Smith because he needed to whittle down the number of volunteer positions he holds to accommodate work and periodic homeschooling.

The council of governments, made of up mayors Gloria Hoopes, Hyrum Johnson, and Will Frohlich and county commissioner Cindy Riegel, reviewed the 11 housing authority applications last Thursday. Hoopes was tasked with choosing an applicant to represent Tetonia and she selected Troy Butzlaff, a retired public servant with three decades of experience in city management. He will serve until October 2024.

“I felt he had the qualifications and took his application seriously,” Hoopes said about Butzlaff. “He had a better idea of the involvement and purpose of the board.”

Then the council deliberated on who to choose to represent the four valley jurisdictions on the five-member board. They agreed to select Martin Velazquez of Victor because of his experience owning a construction company, and so that the local Hispanic community has a voice on the board. Velazquez will serve until October 2025.

The three city councils and the BOCC will have the opportunity to ratify the appointments at upcoming meetings.

“All these applicants are awesome, and the more people we have working on the issue, the better,” Riegel said.

Doug Self, the housing authority secretary, told the heads of government that the authority had discussed the possibility of expanding to seven members. When the group was established in 2019, it was intended to have seven members, but that number was decreased to five based on the number of applications received.

The council of governments reviewed the possibility of adding two members and proposed, if the resolution is approved, appointing Hallie Poirier, the fairgrounds administrator who has 19 years of experience in the title and escrow business, and Aaron Stiny, a local firefighter and paramedic with first-hand knowledge of the housing shortage in Teton Valley.

If the authority were expanded, in the future Driggs, Victor, and Teton County would each appoint two members, and Tetonia would appoint one.

During the housing authority meeting on Oct. 7, board member Erin Gaffney, who is also the administrator for the Victor and Driggs Urban Renewal Agencies, asked Self to encourage the applicants who were not selected for the housing authority to consider volunteering on other boards in the valley; there are often vacancies on the Urban Renewal Agencies, city and county planning and zoning commissions, and other committees.

“I think it’s great that so many people were interested in serving,” Gaffney said.