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New West Daily Roundup for July 1, 2016

Today in New West news: JetSuiteX to introduce charter between Bozeman and San Jose, Micron cutting 2,400 jobs worldwide, wiregrass invades Wyoming, and more bad news for Chipotle.

JetSuiteX, a new public charter service, has announced an exclusive seasonal deal connecting San Jose, California and Bozeman, Montana. According to a JetSuiteX press release, the company will be running charter flights from now through September between Mineta San José International Airport and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. The charter service has planned four weekly roundtrip flights on their Embraer 135 aircraft. One stop-service will also be available from Burbank, CA’s Bob Hope Airport.

JetSuiteX, founded in April, also offers daily flights to major cities on the West Coast and further in, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. From a JetSuiteX press release:

“We are very pleased to have JetSuiteX begin non-stop service between San Jose, CA and Bozeman, MT with their unique private jet style experience,” said Brain Sprenger, Airport Director at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. “San Jose and Bozeman share a diverse technology sector and now residents of Silicon Valley have easy access to the many outdoor recreation areas in Southwest Montana including Yellowstone National Park.”

JetSuiteX provides many of the comforts usually associated with private jet travel but for the price of a traditional airline seat, offering:

• 30 luxurious seats per aircraft, each with at least 36-inch seat pitch, legroom comparable to domestic airlines’ business class service;
• three seats per row—a single and a double;
• free WiFi and inflight entertainment onboard streamed to passengers’ personal devices; and
• flight departures from private jet terminals (FBOs) so the experience is faster and more comfortable, with no major airport delays, security lines, or long walks through terminals.

Unlike other alternative offerings, JetSuiteX clients don’t need to sign up, pay a monthly subscription, or travel in small propeller airplanes. JetSuiteX only flies from private jet facilities. There are no crowded terminals or long security lines.

Speaking of tech, over in Idaho, Boise-baed Micron Technology has announced it will be laying off 2,400 people worldwide (or 7.5 percent of its workforce) in order to cut costs. According to the Idaho Statesman, Micron will save approximately $300 million in the 2017 fiscal year. Of the 2,400 jobs being cut, only 1,600 are currently filled. The other 800 were open positions that will now be closed. From the Statesman:

The company did not specify which types of jobs are being cut, or where they are located.

The announcement came as the company was reporting a quarterly net loss of 21 cents per share, compared with a profit of 42 cents per share last year at the same time. The loss was worse than analysts expected, according to Bloomberg.

Micron’s stock price fell by as much as 11 percent in after-hours trading, according to Bloomberg.

“Although we have made good progress in deploying our advanced DRAM and NAND technologies, we continue to face challenging market conditions,” Micron CEO Mark Durcan said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “To address the current market environment and strengthen our competitive position, we are implementing a number of initiatives to reduce costs, drive greater efficiencies, and increase focus on our strategic priorities.”

Over in Wyoming, according to the Casper Star Tribune, ranchers and conservationists alike may have a new invasive plant to worry about. Ventenata dubia (or wiregrass) has made its way onto 70 acres of land near Sheridan, prompting worry from ecologists. Similar to cheatgrass, wiregrass is nonetheless more virulent, choking out other grasses with fervor by maturing earlier and capitalizing on open spaces. And unlike cheatgrass, cattle can’t graze on wiregrass as well. It’s also a fire hazard, since it dries out earlier than native grasses.

According to the Tribune, wiregrass has been in the state for a while:

Botanists first documented wiregrass in 1997, said UW plant sciences professor Brian Mealor. The teacher is also the director of the Sheridan center that found the invasive outbreak. It was logged in the Rocky Mountain Herbarium, a database of over half a million plant species. But the Sheridan field where researchers first found that sample has been inaccessible for years.

Considering the rate of growth in that time period, it’s likely the species has successfully established itself, he added.

Wiregrass grows in the winter, while native plants are still dormant. It gobbles up nutrients and water from the soil, leaving less for local plants. Over time it can completely take over. This affects everything from hay farming to mule deer populations.

Local wildlife, and farm animals, depend on native plants and shrubs to fatten up for Wyoming’s long, cold winters. They can even find some nutritional worth in cheatgrass. Wiregrass offers them very little, said Slade Franklin, weed and pest coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

“Cheatgrass comes up in the spring and it’s green, there is grazing potential with it,” he said. “From what I’ve heard, Ventenata doesn’t provide that. We have people from Idaho and Utah that tell us we will take all the cheatgrass in Wyoming over the Ventenata grass.”

The Tribune notes that some good news out of the discovery is that the Sheridan wiregrass parcel is relatively isolated, far away from roads that could whip up seeds and establish the plant elsewhere. However, researchers are still uneasy, hoping they can come up with a suitable management (or extermination) protocol in time to stop the plant from spreading.

Finally, here at New West, we’ve been following the decline of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. since last fall, when e. Coli and norovirus outbreaks were linked to the fast casual chain. Since the revelation, stocks have tumbled, consumer trust has diminished—and not much has improved for the once lauded and beloved company. And the latest news is only worse.

According to the Denver Business Journal, a Massachusetts Chipotle employee is leading a petition saying that Chipotle restaurants nationwide are “understaffed and overworked.” The petition alleges that Chipotle, which cut staff during last year’s illness outbreak, is willfully refusing to raise staff levels again, and is, in essence, digging itself into a hole by overworking its staff.

In other Chipotle news, also from the Denver Business Journal, the company’s leader of marketing was indicted earlier this week on a drug charge in New York City. Mark Crumpacker, 53, the company’s chief marketing and development officer, was busted in a cocaine sting and charged with a single misdemeanor count of controlled-substance possession. Immediately following the indictment, Crumpacker was placed on administrative leave.

Crumpacker has been behind several initiatives to restore consumer trust and (attempt, at the very least) to get Chipotle back in people’s good graces. This indictment will most likely put a damper on those efforts.

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