Melodie Edwards

Reporter

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

Melodie Edwards covers a wide variety of Wyoming topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture. She is currently working on a civil discourse project called, “I Respectfully Disagree,” interviewing people in the state who are modeling how people find compromise to make change. She is the recipient of a national PRNDI award for her investigation of the reservation housing crisis and several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, two for "best use of sound."

Melodie grew up in Walden, Colorado where her father worked in the oilfield and timber industries and her mother was the editor of the Jackson County Star. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on a Colby Fellowship and received two Hopwood Awards there for fiction and nonfiction. 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 and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse. She also loves to putz in the garden, and hike and ski in the mountains with her daughters and her dad.

Ways to Connect

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.”

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.

clker.com

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. 

Pages