Protect Our Plug

Billings Gazette Letter to the editor: Letter writer has facts wrong

A letter to Editor from Cooke City Exxon Employee Joelle Passerello posted 11/13/22 claims Ben Zavora, owner of the Cooke City Sinclair and Beartooth Powder Guides does not live in Cooke City. Zavora and his wife Vanessa Shaw reside on Main Street year-round and are on-site owner/operators of both of their thriving Cooke City businesses, which are located directly across the street from the Cooke City Exxon.

Posted in the Billings Gazette

Joelle Passerello’s response to the article regarding plowing Highway 212, “The Plug” is misleading and at times blatantly false. This is the rhetoric used by the group wanting to plow The Plug with no plan to mitigate impacts on recreational access to our public lands, parking, traffic and public safety. In an effort to provide factual information, local residents and business owners created Protect Our Plug (POP)

This is an extremely divided issue in our community. The 90% number Joelle uses is unfounded, with no supporting data. The petition Joelle quotes was collected under the false pretense Cooke City would be completely cut off from all outside services and deliveries due to flood damaged roads in the park. The road was repaired on schedule with no restrictions. Fuel and food trucks can safely travel to Cooke City through YNP with the same winter access as always. The petition was falsely presented as a one-time issue and not a permanent solution.

Joelle states I do not live in Cooke City. This statement is false. I live on Main Street year-round and operate two different year-round businesses in Cooke City. A scan of shows numerous local residents, property and business owners supporting POP’s efforts. We believe our voice should have equal representation at local, state and federal meetings. Until a well-thought-out plan to mitigate valid concerns is implemented, it is irresponsible and premature to plow The Plug.

Ben Zavora – Owner of Beartooth Powder Guides and The Cooke City Sinclair