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.

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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.”

Teton County drivers will soon be able to buy compressed natural gas at a filling station in Jackson.  The State Loan and Investment Board granted $766,000 towards the purchase of equipment for the project.  

Cheyenne-native and retired priest Charlie Hardy has announced his bid to run in the 2014 U.S. Senate race against incumbent Senator Mike Enzi.  Hardy says he feels compelled to run because he wants to bring some of Wyoming’s values—like cooperation and respect—out to Washington.   He says his opponent hasn’t done such a good job of representing Wyoming’s values.

“He is a very nice person, very pleasant person,” he says.  “But if you look at the voting record, I think there’s been some voting that hasn’t been very nice and hasn’t really served the people of Wyoming.”

A poll says that 63-percent of Wyoming residents would support a hike in hunting and fishing license fees if it meant paying to rescue the state’s many wildlife programs from a long-running fiscal crisis. 550 residents were surveyed by DFM Research of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The margin of error is five percent. 

A proposed bill would require DNA testing to be done at the time of arrest for all sexual felonies in the state. The bill was previously proposed in 2011.  Its sponsor has high hopes this time around. 

Federal funding is available through 2015 to help states set up DNA testing, and bill sponsor Leslie Nutting says that may put pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill. Twenty-seven other states are already collecting DNA swab tests.  And the Supreme Court ruled last year that the practice is constitutional. 

Wyoming’s Congressional delegation is among the most conservative in the country.  That’s according to a congressional report card released this week by GovTrack, a government watch dog website. 

A group known as Wyoming NORML, which stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws wants to make recreational pot legal in Wyoming.  The proposed initiative would make it legal to grow, sell and transport marijuana, and to purchase up to three ounces.

The group’s director Chris Christian says that legalization could make the state money.  Colorado expects to make eight-billion-dollars in revenues this year.  And, she says, decriminalizing pot could save the state millions of dollars, too.

Representative Sue Wallis has drafted a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Wyoming. She’s even considering revising it to include recreational marijuana, as well. Wallis toured facilities in Colorado where recreational marijuana is packaged and labeled and says she was impressed with how smoothly everything is going. 

The University of Wyoming’s Board of Trustees is considering making Interim  U-W President Dick McGinity the full time President. The Trustees held a public discussion on the issue Thursday and got plenty of advice.

Addressing a room full of people, Staff Senate President Jim Logue told the board that U-W staff would prefer to see the board conduct a formal search for a new president.

Thursday the University of Wyoming trustees are scheduled to discuss the position of UW President.  Many on the UW faculty list serve have expressed concern that Interim President, Dick McGinity, will be appointed to the position permanently without a search. Faculty Senate Chair Colin Keeney warns against leaping to conclusions.

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A central mandate of the Affordable Care Act is getting health care professionals to communicate across disciplines.  A conference Thursday at the University of Wyoming brought health care leaders together to talk about how to better train students for doing that.

Brenda Zierler with the Center for Health Sciences at the University of Washington was one of the conference leaders.  She says it’s time to move past the old paradigm in which nurses, social workers and psychologists all learn their crafts in isolation. 

Agreement over the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation seems to be a long way off between the state’s tribes and Governor Matt Mead. 

The dispute is over an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that the city of Riverton falls on tribal land. In a letter to the governor Wednesday, the Northern Arapaho tribe says it was surprised by the governor’s reaction to the EPA ruling.  They say in the past, the state has actively promoted the idea of giving the tribes Treatment as a State status and allowing the EPA to settle the 1905 Act boundary dispute, once and for all. 

Snowest Magazine has ranked the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail the fifth best trail in the West.  Wyoming State Trails Program’s Ron McKinney says the reason the Continental Divide Trail is so popular is that it offers 490 miles of very diverse mountain riding.  The trail starts at South Pass and ends at West Yellowstone. 

Wyoming’s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point since January 2009 when the economic downturn began to affect the state.  It’s now at 4.4 percent.  This time last year, it was 5 percent.  The national unemployment rate is 7 percent. 

Senior Economist at the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, David Bullard, says that although this month’s progress is good news, job growth could still be improved.   “The job growth has been very slow, well under one percent,” he says.  “That presents a challenge to the state’s economy.”

Over half of Wyoming’s nursing home residents currently have moderate to severe dementia…and that number is expected to rise steeply in coming years.  By 2020, there may be as many as 13,000 people who are experiencing serious memory loss in Wyoming.  And there’s not enough space for all them in Wyoming’s nursing homes.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports.

Wyoming continues to incarcerate youth at a rate much higher than the national average.  That’s according to a new study by the National Juvenile Justice Network. 

Since 2011, the number of kids held in detention centers has dropped dramatically across the nation. But not in Wyoming. New research shows Wyoming's youth confinement rate was 2.2 times the national average during that period.

Seattle Municipal Archives / Wikipedia Creative Commons

On Tuesday night, the city of Laramie and several other groups hosted a forum to brainstorm solutions to the problem of glass recycling, which has recently stopped in Laramie. ARC Regional Services says they lost thousands of dollars a year because they had to ship glass recycling to Wheatland, Colorado.  That’s where Rocky Mountain Bottling Company turns it into beer bottles. 

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Laramie Senator Phil Nicholas says he’s sad and disappointed to see Bob Sternberg depart from his position as President of the University of Wyoming so quickly. Sternberg resigned on Thursday after less than 5 months on the job. 

Thirty-one workers died on the job in Wyoming in 2012, up from 29 the year before. That’s according to a report by Wyoming’s occupational epidemiologist.  Wyoming has one of the worst workplace death rates in the nation. The report attributes that to the fact that a large proportion of Wyoming’s workforce is employed in high risk occupations like oil and gas, ranching, and construction jobs.

A high-voltage transmission line, known as Gateway West, has been approved by the Department of the Interior.  The power line will stretch 900 miles across Wyoming and into western Idaho and will transport renewable and conventionally-derived energy. 

A young Wyoming archaeologist has discovered several more prehistoric villages in the Wind River Range, bringing the total up to 19 confirmed villages at the high altitude archaeology site known as High Rise Village.  His findings are being published in an upcoming scientific journal article.

Matt Stirn was a 20-year-old undergraduate when he developed a model to predict the whereabouts of new lodge sites in the Wind River Range.  Richard Adams was his supervisor. He says Stirn was 13-years-old when he began volunteering on Adam’s crew at High Rise Village.      

Department of Corrections Director Bob Lampert is asking lawmakers to support some proposed prison reforms.  He told the Joint Judiciary Committee that  Wyoming has one of the most successful correction systems in the nation in terms of its rate of return to prison. 

Despite the supposedly high-tech new health insurance marketplaces, it turns out the best way to sign up is in person.

Enroll Wyoming is trying to help people do that. Dialing 2-1-1 will get you to a referral line with information about where to enroll. 

But if you’re calling to try and get help navigating the federal website, you’re out of luck, according to Sara Loken, who works for 2-1-1.

Wyoming’s sugar beet harvest is set to be a record breaker.  But this year’s large harvest also coincides with the lowest price for sugar since the 1980’s. 

Wyoming’s first major snow storm of the season is expected to dump up to a foot of snow in the northern part of the state by Friday night. But meteorologist Mike Weiland says most of the state will see less -- only about 7 inches.  

The storm front is moving down from the Pacific Northwest, bringing lots of moist, Arctic air with it.  Weiland says October is typical for the first snow, but that it does tend to take people by surprise.   

EIA

Travelers might notice more trains crossing roadways and slowing traffic between Cheyenne and Denver during the next few weeks. That's because Colorado floods wiped out a large section of train track between Grand Junction and Denver, and Union Pacific Railroad is detouring trains through Cheyenne's station.

Walt Hubis / Flickr - Creative Commons

The floods in Colorado could cause a spike in hay prices, which could be good and bad news for Wyoming ranchers.

Many Colorado ranchers lost their season’s hay supply in the deluges that swept across the eastern plains.  And that means many Colorado ranchers will likely turn to Wyoming hay producers to feed their livestock through the winter, if they have livestock left to feed.

Brett Moline with the Wyoming Farm Bureau says this might cause the price of hay to rise on the market.

A flash flood warning is in effect near Rockspring, there’s a flash flood watch across much of Western and Central Wyoming, and more rain is expected through the weekend. 

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