Irina Zhorov

Reporter

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications. 

In her off time, Irina is pursuing treasure hunters, leafing through photo books, or planning and executing quests.

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The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing could lose approximately 210 airmen and four aircrafts from their active duty associate unit sometime after October of this year.

The associate Air Force unit, the 30th Airlift Squadron, would be closed under the President's 2015 budget proposal.

Adjutant General of the Wyoming National Guard, Luke Reiner, says "the 30th Airlift Squadron is a vital component to our national defense and has made the Wyoming Air National guard stronger by its presence."

StoryCorps

Wyoming writer CJ Box and his daughter, Molly Donnell, talk about one of their favorite pastimes: fly fishing. Box is a self-taught, avid fly-fisherman and from the time his daughters were very young he was intent on teaching them about the sport, too. He remembers the first time he handed his daughters fishing rods.

A homeless task force has found that Laramie has 124 homeless people and no homeless shelters. United Way of Albany County Executive Director Paul Heimer says there are programs that address homelessness in the city but they’re targeted to specific populations, for example domestic violence victims.

“But there was no kind of traditional homeless shelter. Our policy seemed to be a bus ticket out of town and a motel room for a short stay if you were lucky,” says Heimer.

He says many people’s need aren’t met.

Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen is resigning.  Jensen has led the Business Council for over a decade and oversaw projects like the expansion of the rail industry in Evanston, expansion of data centers in the state, and growth of the manufacturing sector in Gillette. Governor Matt Mead has thanked Jensen for his service. Jensen will step down at the end of March to spend more time with his wife, who has multiple sclerosis.

Small businesses that received help from the University of Wyoming-based Small Business Development Center brought $22.6 million into the state in 2013.The SBDC provides small business owners and people wanting to start a business with free services, including planning expansions, putting together loan requests, and marketing. State Director of the SBDC, Jill Kline, says 2013 was a good year.

“It does vary from year to year, [2013] is a little bit of an exception. We did have some larger loans that individuals received, but they all are from small businesses,” says Kline. 

Wyoming Democrat Mike Ceballos has announced he’ll be running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ceballos is a business man without direct experience in education, but he’s been involved in various education foundations and sits on several education-related boards. He says his skill-set is appropriate for the job.   

Wyoming is now offering a new program to victims of crimes that will allow them to request a facilitated meeting with the offender of the crime. The Victim Offender Dialogue Program is the first of its kind in the state for adults.

Employment in Wyoming's coal mining sector has fallen 6 percent in the past year. The latest data from June 2013 shows there were 425 less jobs than in June 2012.

Coal production has slumped nationwide, and taken jobs along with it, but Wyoming is faring better than other coal producing regions. Nationwide the sector has lost significantly more jobs as mines closed or reduced their capacity.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services senior economist David Bullard, says so far, there haven't been many layoffs in the state.

Cindy Hill Superintendent

The Wyoming Senate Rules Committee has passed a bill that would let a group of legislators work on amending the bill that took away the bulk of powers from the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Supreme Court declared the so-called Hill bill unconstitutional, and now the legislature must fix it.

Cheri Steinmetz with the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming testified against the bill, saying it's time the legislature stopped wasting money on the issue. But Senator Chris Rothfuss says the bill is necessary to resolve the management of the state's public school system.

Wyoming has filed an appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for the Environmental Protection Agency decision that drew the borders of the Wind River Indian Reservation to include Riverton.

The governments of Riverton, Fremont County, the state, and of the two tribes who share the Wind River Indian Reservation are arguing, again, over the reservation’s borders.

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to put a hold on its decision to grant the tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation status as a state for the purpose of air monitoring.

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has formalized a public art policy that's been informally in effect since 2012. The policy creates the President’s Public Art Committee, which is made up of five members from art and non-art departments on campus. The Committee is responsible for reviewing art works proposed for installation on and around campus, and providing recommendations. The UW President, in consultation with the President of the Trustees makes the final call.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has written a letter asking the Environmental Protection Agency to put the brakes on an agency decision regarding the Wind River Reservation’s borders.

The EPA recently granted the Wind River Indian Reservation status as a state for the purpose of air monitoring, and in the process determined that Riverton is on tribal land. That decision has brought up civil and criminal jurisdictional issue for the city, and the state has requested that the EPA hold off on implementing it.

Federal Courts’ Distance From Wind River Reservation A Hardship

Major crimes committed on the Wind River Indian Reservation end up in federal court. But federal courthouses in Wyoming are really far from the reservation, which leads to logistical, constitutional, and social problems. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.  

Major crimes committed on the Wind River Indian Reservation end up in federal court. But federal courthouses in Wyoming are really far from the reservation, which leads to logistical, constitutional, and social problems. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.  

IRINA ZHOROV: John Crispin’s son was murdered in 2011. He told me about it on a snowy night in the parking lot of a convenience store in Ethete, Wyoming, on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

colorado.edu

The Government Accountability Office released a report earlier this week that outlined problems in the federal coal leasing system. The report called the Bureau of Land Management’s process ‘out of date.’

A new report by the Government Accountability Office says the Bureau of Land Management’s coal lease valuation program is ‘out of date.’ The report says BLM offices around the country are not consistent in the way they calculate fair market value, don't always document the rationale behind accepting low bids and do not use independent reviewers to ensure calculations are correct.

It also says the BLM does not properly consider the export potential of coal when calculating fair market value of coal leases.

Accessing federal courts for Native Americans living on Wind River Reservation can be a hardship for those forced to use federal judicial services.

Native American offenders and victims of major crimes that occur in Indian Country go through the federal court system, yet for Wind River residents showing up to court can mean a 600-mile roundtrip. That’s because trials are held primarily at the federal court houses in Casper and Cheyenne.

A federal court has ordered an oil and gas company to pay one million dollars for an unauthorized oil discharge near Rawlins in 2011.

The Environmental Protection Agency is telling the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality that it has to conduct a public hearing about an aquifer exemption request by Linc Energy. Linc is proposing an underground coal gasification project in Campbell County. The coal is in the Wyodak Aquifer, and the exemption would relieve the company from adhering to the strict protections outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

DEQ already approved the aquifer exemption, but it did so without public input, so EPA, which makes the final decision, is calling for a do-over.

Rep. Sue Wallis Dies

Jan 28, 2014

Representative Sue Wallis, from Recluse, Wyoming, has died. The cause is still unknown. She was 56 years old.

The U.S. is inching into the number one spot for oil and gas production worldwide and natural gas advocates want President Obama to highlight the trend during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The abundance of natural gas is due to technological advances - which unlocked previously inaccessible reserves - and low natural gas prices have made the energy source very competitive.

Dan Whitten, with America’s Natural Gas Alliance, says even if prices for natural gas go up the resource will still be able to compete with Wyoming’s coal. 

Governor Matt Mead is committing $400,000 dollars for water delivery to households with cisterns in the Pavillion area. Residents have long complained of unusable well water, which some blame on nearby natural gas development. The money is part of a grant from Encana Oil and Gas, which operates in the Pavillion gas field.

19 cisterns are currently being installed, with another 13 households signed up.

The Governor’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, says residents will meet later this week to discuss how to use the money.

Potential for Gas Price Increase If Oil Ban Lifted

For forty years the U-S has banned the export of most all crude oil. Matt Laslo reports a new debate is raging in Washington over whether to end the ban.

Sage Grouse Concerns Prompt Changes In Reclamation Regs

Chris Windhauser

An Improbable Pioneer is a collection of letters by Edith Sampson Holden Healy. Edith was from a prominent Boston family, but moved to Wyoming in 1911 after she married a sheep rancher from the state. The letters describe daily life in Wyoming in the early 1900s. The book was edited by Edith’s granddaughter, Cathy Healy, who’s a writer and editor. It’s the first imprint of the Washakie Museum’s Legacy Collection, which is an initiative that hopes to encourage the preservation of family archives.

We start off today’s show with a look at the agency that’s in charge of protecting the environment in Wyoming. Many of our reporting in the past has led us to conversations with angry landowners, and folks who have concerns about industry’s effects on the environment and human health.

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