Melodie Edwards

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-2405
Email: medward9@uwyo.edu   

Melodie Edwards grew up in Walden, Colorado where her father worked in the oilfield and timber industries. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on Colby Fellowship. She is the recipient of the Doubleday Wyoming Arts Council Award for Women and is the author of Hikes Around Fort Collins published by Pruett Publishing.

Melodie Edwards and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse. When she's not writing, she loves to putz in the garden and hike and ski in the mountains with her daughters.

Ways to Connect

WyoLotto

Wyoming is starting a state lottery and vendors interested in selling tickets can now start submitting applications. Brian Gamroth is Chairman of the Wyoming Lottery Corporation. He says they’ve set a firm date of August 24 to begin selling the tickets.  “With the applications out now, our first retailers will be picked in the next five or six weeks.  And machines will start going out, training will start…There’s a lot to get done in a short amount of time.”

A 5000-well oil and gas project proposed for the Powder River Basin is drawing sharp criticism from a wildlife advocacy group.  Erik Molvar with WildEarth Guardians says the drilling would take place right in the middle of critical sage grouse habitat.

“Well, the 5000 wells are projected in an area of over a million acres to the north of Douglas, stretching all the way up in the Thunder Basin National Grassland and including several core areas that have been proposed priority habitat for sage grouse,” Molvar says.

Contrary to its reputation as an independent state, Wyoming receives the sixth highest amount of federal financial aid of any state in the country -- almost 40 percent of state revenue --   according to the Tax Foundation.

Other states that rely heavily on federal aid are Louisiana, South Dakota and Tennessee.  Tax economist Liz Malm says many states have higher numbers of people who qualify for federal programs such as Head Start and Medicaid.   But Wyoming’s federal funding mostly comes from mineral royalties since over 40 percent of its lands are federally owned.

AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO, a coalition group of labor unions, has released a report blasting industry for failing to make workplaces safer, especially in oil and gas.  Wyoming has ranked as one of the five most deadly states to work in for the last ten years.  In 2012, only North Dakota had more workplace fatalities.  Kim Floyd, Executive Secretary for the Wyoming chapter of the AFL-CIO says it has a lot to do with the focus of both states’ economies.

US Forest Service

On a routine winter patrol, Powder River Ranger District officials discovered over 100 trees carved with deep one-foot-sized arrows.  District recreation staff member Craig Cope says very rarely has he seen such large-scale vandalizing of trees.  And, he says, it was completely unnecessary.

“There’s much more minimum impact ways of route finding through the woods,” Cope says, “from G-P-S to the nylon ribbon flagging that you can put up temporarily and take down when you’re done.”

Western Sugar Cooperative

Denver-based Western Sugar Beet Cooperative has been fined $71,000 for violations that led to the death of an employee  in January at its facility in Lovell.  OSHA and the Wyoming Department of Workforce services allege that because no guard rails had been installed, 28-year-old Anfesa Galaktionoff fell through an opening in the floor into a production pit. 

The company was issued 12 violations for serious and repeat workplace hazards. Wyoming Workforce Services Director Joan Evans said in a statement that the young woman’s death was completely unnecessary.

The price of beef hit an all-time record this quarter at $5.55 a pound—a full 25 cents higher than last year at this time.  Ann Wittmann, Director of the Wyoming Beef Council, says it’s a case of supply and demand.  A nation-wide drought has reduced herd sizes to the lowest they’ve been in 60 years and that is driving up the price for both consumers and producers.

Klara Matusevich

The spring bird migration is underway and this week’s heavy snowfall may have left many species searching for shelter and food.

Barb Gorges is the president of the Cheyenne High Plains Audubon Society.  She says as long as the cold weather doesn’t last too long, the birds should be able to hunker down.

“A lot of the birds will just sit tight and I know in our backyard, our bushes were loaded with snow and I think they just kind of buried themselves back in there under the bushes,” Gorges says.

UW

The University of Wyoming police saw an uptick in the number of reported sexual assaults in 2013.  15 sex offenses were reported in contrast with the eight or nine typical in a year.

In 2012 five were reported. UW Police Chief Mike Samp says he’s sure the increase is due to greater education about the importance of reporting such crimes.

Melodie Edwards

Some of the best paying jobs in Wyoming are in the oil and gas industry, but only ten percent are held by women.  Energy companies are trying to attract more women to fill open positions.  But women who do want to enter the field for the higher-paying jobs face a lot of barriers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports.

Pop-up restaurants and art galleries have been appearing in cities around the country and now the idea is starting to take off in Wyoming.

Laramie chef Lucas Barbulas has two pop-up restaurant events planned in the next couple weeks.  He says the idea of opening a restaurant or art gallery for a single night or a few days is a concept that’s been around for decades.

Several remote communities in the state will be able to receive better internet service in the near future.  Visionary Communications has announced a plan to expand its fiber optic line to connect the towns of Chugwater, Guernsey, Pinedale and Torrington to the rest of the state. 

sciencenewsonline.com

Rural states are bristling over proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions from wood stoves. 

Currently, wood stove manufacturers must keep emissions down to 7.5 grams of particulates per hour.  But the proposed rules would reduce the allowable amount to less than two grams over the next five years. Soot emissions are a serious public health concern in some areas of the country because they can cause lung problems and heart attacks.  

Wyoming continues to have the worst gender pay gap in the country, and the gulf is widening. According to a new report released by the National Partnership for Women and Families. Wyoming women made only 64 cents for every dollar that men in the state made. That amounts to an annual wage gap of over $18,000 dollars.

Governor Matt Mead recently attended an Advanced Coal Technology Conference in Australia.  Eight students from the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources joined him.

Graduate student Mary Kate McCarney is a geochemist who attended the coal conference.  She said she appreciated the fact that students were included in the conversation at the conference.

Associated Press

Heavy snowfall this winter has crashed the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s budget.  Budget Officer Kevin Hibbard says WYDOT budgeted $22-million, but the department over-spent that amount at the beginning of March.  

“February this year was the most expensive month,” Hibbard says.  “We had about 6-million dollars in snow control expenditures in the month of February.”

The Tronstad Ranch

Wyoming has a long tradition of sheep ranching.  The first flocks arrived with Mormon pioneers in the eighteen-eighties. By the early nineteen-hundreds there were six million sheep and Wyoming led the nation in wool production.  Now, there are fewer than 400-thousand sheep in the state and competition in the global market is stiff.  But Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards visited one family that believes that—against all odds--the life of the flockmaster is worth keeping alive. 

A new report by the American Public Transportation Program shows that public transit use across the nation is on the rise, including in Wyoming.  Jackson racked up its largest ridership ever this winter. Ridership on Cheyenne buses has increased as well. Joe Dougherty is director of the Cheyenne Transit Program. He says ridership has increased about 10 percent a year since 2006 to a high of almost 300,000 people in 2013.  Dougherty says seniors and those with disabilities use the system regularly, and so do others.

Trupeter Swan society

Trumpeter swan numbers rose dramatically this year on the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge near Rock Springs.  This winter, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department conducted an aerial survey of the refuge and counted over 300 trumpeter swans wintering there.

Uinta County parents and teachers say they were left out of the decision making process when the school superintendent announced he would scale back art classes in elementary schools to make more time for science.  Superintendent James Bailey says students were only getting about 1 or 2 days of science a week, which wasn’t enough since state assessments will soon be testing kids in science.  But last week, Bailey met with teachers and came up with a possible plan to integrate the two subjects.  He says the plan could actually improve the district’s curriculum.

Wyoming’s pronghorn populations have been declining rapidly in the last ten years and a coalition of groups including the University of Wyoming and Game and Fish are trying to figure out why.  In 2010, there were over 500,000 pronghorn in the state.  Today, that number has dropped to a little more than 400,000.

Jeff Beck is an associate professor of Ecosystems Science and Management at UW.  Last November, he and a team of scientists took to the field to figure out why. They helicopter-netted 130 pronghorns in three test areas of the Red Desert. 

The Wyoming Beef Council is launching an online campaign in an effort to improve beef’s image with the millennial generation.  That’s anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000’s.  The campaign will feature recipes on social media sites popular with millennials. 

ARK Regional Services will be shutting down their recycling program in Laramie in May, and that could leave a lot of local businesses with a big cardboard problem on their hands.  Big Hollow Food Coop Manager, Marla Peterson, estimates that they fill the ARK recycling dumpster twice a week with cardboard.  She says there’s no way the city’s smaller curbside bins could handle that kind of volume. 

In collaboration with the University of Wyoming, a local food advocacy group conducted a study to find out just how many vegetables a backyard garden in Wyoming can produce.  The project is called Team G.R.O.W., or Gardening Research of Wyoming. 

A program that recycled Russian nuclear weapons into fuel-grade uranium has run its course, and Wyoming Mining Association Director Marion Loomis says that may leave more room in the marketplace for Wyoming’s uranium. 

The State Lands Board voted yesterday four-to-one to support an agreement that would trade 1,300 acres of prime wildlife habitat in Grand Teton National Park for federally-owned property. The state is obligated by law to manage or sell state lands to maximize revenues for the State Education Trust.  But the land in question is appraised at $107 million, if commercially developed.

The Grand Teton Conservation Association’s Sharon Mader says ideally the feds would have bought the land outright, but the swap would still be a great boon for Wyoming schools.  

A research lab dedicated to finding new ways to collect and use carbon dioxide is a step closer to becoming a reality. 

The Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee has recommended that $15 million be set aside for the project, which would be located at one of Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants.  The project would be a collaboration between the state, the University of Wyoming, and a power company.

Former University of Wyoming rodeo coach Pete Burns died at his home in Laramie on January 25.  He was 85 years old.  Pete Burns served as the university’s rodeo coach from 1982 until 1996. 

His oldest son, Hal Burns, says his father leaves behind a well-regarded legacy for the UW rodeo team. “Fourteen years, he coached the University of Wyoming rodeo team,” Hal says.  “During his tenure, the Wyoming women won eight regional championships and three national championships, which is pretty amazing.  He was very, very top coach in the college rodeo.  Had lots of success.”

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