From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 103, Number 17 - December 28, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

The Golden Girl

by Ben Cannon

Nylla Kunard has lived in Pinedale for nearly fifty years. She spent her career in public service and now, eight years retired from that sector, serves on Pinedaleís Town Council to which she brings a calming presence of restraint and thoughtfulness. Now enjoying the devotions of her free time to babysitting grandchildren, quilting and researching family genealogy, Kunard took a moment to sit down with the Pinedale Roundup to discuss her approach to local government, her hopes and fears for the future, and the wildlife who loiter near her home.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I was born in a place called Goshem, Idaho. Itís near Idaho Falls. I went to school in Shelley. I went to a business college in Idaho Falls. My maiden name was John, which is more of a Danish name. My Dad came to Idaho probably in about 1927 but my relatives on the other side came probably in around 1855.

How did you get to Pinedale?

My husband, Gene, came here to work for a propane outfit. Van Gas, we came up with the gas company. That was 1958 so weíre almost natives but not quite (laughs). Weíve been married 56 years. We have four kids: one in Texas, two around Salt Lake, and my son (Dr. Kevin Kunard) is the dentist here.

How would you describe your approach to local government/politics?

First of all, and weíve had a bit of this come up lately, youíve got to listen to the people. I was elected to do the will of the people. I may not always agree, but I need to listen. I do my research. Youíve got to do the best you can for the whole community, not just one group as your main concern.

I would like to see -we need to growone of the big things is housing that is more affordable. Itís a drastic need. When you have that, then you have families who are more community minded.

So how do you go about addressing that need?

(Sublette County Community Development Advisory Board coordinator) Laurie Latta had been looking into different ways. The land here is so expensive. There just isnít land that is reasonably priced. The Legislature is considering some ways. I donít know if thatís the way to spend public money or not; we need to do some research. I donít think anybody realizes how little tax money Pinedale gets. The county is beginning to help more.

We only get about $110K. The tax base is good but does not provide us as much money as many people think. The county is rich, not us. Weíre doing a study right now on sewer and water charges. But itís hard to raise it too much on fixed-income people so we need to study those issues.

How did you find your way to the Town Council?

I was first appointed and finished the term of a woman who moved away. Then I had to run for election [in May of 2004]. If we get too many problems they probably wonít vote me in again (laughs).

Have you always had an interest to serve?

Iíve always liked to be involved in something like this. I feel like when you live in a place you should be public minded. I like working with people. As a treasurer, youíre always working with unhappy people and it never bothered me. Iíve always liked working in that kind of situation. Iíve always been on extra boards and committees, even when I was working full time. Iíve always been pretty public minded.

What is your part in bringing balance to the Town Council?

I have been in local government for long enough to know that some things just wonít work. Thereíre some things that we canít legally do. If they do what we ask them to do in the first place, then we shouldnít arbitrarily turn them down. If its good growth, we should recognize it and allow it.

The town shop was an absolute nightmare. We went through two attorneys and arbitration, and people say Ďwhy canít you get anything done?í With a bonding company you have to move legally or you get sued.

What changes in Pinedale/Sublette County have been the most dramatic for you?

Probably, you know, every place has to grow. Itís healthy to grow. I donít like the fast growth of oil and gas. Itís hard on places to grow that rapidly. I worked in the County Treasurerís office for 12 years then I was the County Treasurer for 24 years. We saw a lot of boom and bust but it wasnít as fast as it is now.

What change has been the most difficult to accept?

Traffic. And probably, so many new people. I used to know everybody, and now there are so many that you donít know people. Most people used to say we were 15 years behind everyone else, but those of us here liked it. We liked our way of life.

But, I know a lot of the oil and gas people, and I think the ones who live here are good citizens and they like Pinedale.

What changes have you welcomed?

The schools. And the library is a wonderful addition. I like the idea of the swimming pool and the ice arena. Those kinds of things are good for a community.

What are your greatest fears for the future of Pinedale/Sublette County?

Probably too fast a growth. More law enforcement problems. Not being able to keep up with the infrastructure. More crime.

What is your perfect day in Sublette County?

Well, I donít know. When the weather is really good and you can see the mountains. I live down by the park and the deer come through and the moose hang out under the willows there. I think we live in a beautiful area.

Photo credits:  Ben Cannon

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