Rebecca Martinez

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-2405
Email:  

Rebecca Martinez is a general assignment reporter and host for Wyoming Public Radio. Recent features include Yellowstone warding visitors off wildlife after four people in the area were killed by grizzly bears (picked up by NPR) and one covering efforts by the Northern Arapaho Tribe to preserve its language on the Wind River Indian Reservation, (part was re-aired on National Native News). She regularly reports on agriculture and environmental issues, focusing especially on waste management and water quality. Rebecca reported a story featured in a PRNDI-award-winning episode of Open Spaces in 2011. She edited other PRNDI-award winning stories.

After earning her B.A. in Journalism and Media Design at James Madison University, Rebecca worked as a production and editorial assistant at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., where she produced pieces and wrote scripts for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Tell Me More. She arranged and scripted interviews for ME and ATC during the 2008 Presidential Election Season and helped organized live coverage on Super Tuesday in New York City.

Rebecca has reported pieces for NPR, APM’s Marketplace,  the BBC/PRI’s The World, National Native News, WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C. and the CBC. Before coming to Wyoming Public Radio, Rebecca moved to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where she covered the agriculture, environment and community beats at the News Leader, a century-old newspaper in Staunton. She continued audio reporting by producing Soundslides videos for the newspaper’s web site. Much of her reporting focused on the cattle industry, water and soil quality issues, and the effects of environmental legislation on farmers.

Wyoming Department of Education

Recent leadership and policy changes have caused upheaval in the Wyoming Department of education, but the collection and processing of data has been insufficient for years. An audit of the WDE’s Information Management unit is showing that there are major flaws in the system, and that an overhaul of the department is in order. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports.

In light of Wyoming’s high suicide rate, the state Legislature’s Joint Education Committee has voted to draft legislation that would implement the Jason Flatt Act in the cowboy state. It would require all school teachers to participate in a two-hour suicide prevention training every year to maintain their licenses.

Wyoming had the highest suicide rate in the country in 2012.  Joint Education Committee co-chairman Senator Hank Coe says it’s an especially tough issue in his district. Six people in Park County have taken their own lives so far this year.

A group of students from Fremont County School District 6 asked the Joint Education Committee to help crack down on school bus fly-bys in the state.

A fly-by is when a motorist illegally passes a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students, while raising a stop sign and turning on flashing warning lights.

Eleven-year-old Makayla Strahle of Crowhart was one of nine children killed in fly-bys nationally during the 2011 school year.

Fremont County District 6 Superintendent Diana Clapp says she was glad the committee was receptive to the students’ message.

A new report shows that the Wyoming Department of Education data collection and processing arm is needs serious improvements.

May 31st, 2013

May 31, 2013

Wyoming missed out on last uranium boom, but planning for the future

Wyoming Public Radio has for years reported that the state is on the verge of a uranium boom. It turns out the state missed the peak of that boom, and is now betting on slower, more conservative growth. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

Sheridan-based historian Val Burgess is passionate about World War II Prisoners of war. Through her non-profit, Wars’ Voices, she and her husband Jerry are working to record and archive the stories of World War II P-O-Ws.

 Starting this fall, Laramie County Community College will begin offering a fast-track degree program.

The national Nammy Awards ceremony took place in Niagara Falls this month. Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers won an award for Best World Music for their percussive, Reggae-inspired album “Hostiles and Renegades.”

Gary Small is a Northern Cheyenne Indian. Previously, he has won for songwriter of the year, best rock recording, and best male artist. Previous albums had a range of musical styles, from surf rock to rockabilly.

Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly from March to April of this year.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported that the unemployment rate shrank in almost every county last month. The biggest decrease happened in Sheridan County, where unemployment dropped from 6.8 percent to 5.7 percent.

Converse County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, where it dropped half a percent to 3.5.

Associated Press

Fremont County School District 38 in Arapahoe has a new acting superintendent.

Former assistant superintendent Chantell Denson stepped in last week when former Superintendent Jonathan Braack left to take over the Niobrara County School District.

During the 16 months Braack was superintendent, the once struggling Arapahoe Schoo met No Child Left Behind’s requirements for Annual Yearly Progress for the first time under the Safe Harbor program.

windriverescape.org

Substance abuse is a concern for most school districts across the country, but on the Wind River Indian Reservation, it’s a red flag for especially high crime and suicide rates. Tribes have been trying – with mixed success – to keep kids from abusing alcohol and tobacco… But a new program from the Eastern Shoshone Department of Juvenile Services is working to train a league of student mentors to help their peers avoid risky behaviors. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez filed this report.

New programs at the University of Wyoming’s Fay W. Whitney School of nursing are gathering momentum as the school works to better prepare students to meet the changing needs of the healthcare industry.


Many organizations are demanding that nursing job candidates have a Bachelor of Science degree, which was only available at the University in Laramie, until recently. 

Laramie has been included on a national list of “playful cities” with policies that promote play among children.

Children today play less than any previous generation, according to a statement from KaBOOM!, a non-profit that helps communities build playgrounds. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics says play is necessary for social, emotional and physical well-being of children.

Laramie has a housing development ordinance that requires new developments to donate to a local parks fund, or set aside space for parks.

May 10th, 2013

May 10, 2013
Courtesy Linda Baker

Pollutants detected in water wells in Sublette County’s gas fields
Sublette County has been in the news a lot because of its air quality problems, which largely stem from natural gas production. But there’s another issue too: Pollutants have been showing up in water wells. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Rebecca Martinez

State agencies worked hard to trim the fat in order to meet an average of 6-percent budget cuts the Wyoming Legislature put into effect this year. The Judicial Branch took a hit of 4-percent budget cut. Because the state revenue forecast is still cloudy, further cuts may be considered. As the state population grows, so does the need for the court system, which makes it next-to-impossible to cut back. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports.

If you’re looking for big, stately elk antlers to hang on your wall, the National Elk Refuge in Jackson would be a great place to find them… except the public isn’t allowed onto the elk habitat. Instead, the Refuge and the Jackson Boy Scouts are gathering and bundling antlers to sell at the annual Elk Antler Auction in Jackson next weekend to benefit elk habitat projects. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with the Refuge’s Lori Iverson about it. Iverson says she understands why people want elk antlers, but protecting the wildlife is her first priority.

As the average male farmer or rancher gets older and retires, many women are taking over.  

To support women who are taking on the new management roles, the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension is offering a series of classes under the Annie’s Project program.

Organizer Cole Ehmke says the class is meant to answer participants’ questions, and to help them establish connections with presenters and their peers, other women in agriculture.

When you set out to tackle spring cleaning in your home or barn, the Wyoming Department of Health wants you to pay special attention to where mice might hide.

Cost of substance abuse in Wyoming is higher than expected
As it addressed issues concerning substance abuse, one thing the state never had were Wyoming specific numbers on the financial impact of substance abuse.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that a recent study has found that the cost of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse is staggering.

Rebecca Martinez

Going to the movies has been a favorite pastime since the dawn of film… but Hollywood studios expect to stop printing movies on actual film before the end of this year. They’re switching over to a digital format, which requires all-new equipment… and the cost of the transition is proving prohibitive for some small Wyoming theaters. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez filed this report.

(struggling to open reel box)

University of Wyoming police are investigating an anonymous message posted to a public Facebook page. The message directed sexually violent language toward a UW student.

UW Crushes is a page on Facebook where users can anonymously submit messages about other UW students. They’re usually vague compliments, but some are sexually explicit or use real names.

The housing market in Jackson Hole is booming, and it’s getting even more expensive to live there.

Last week, the Jackson Town Council decided to buy an apartment building to house town employees, so they could afford to live in the area. That makes it 15 housing properties the town will own.

Top Wyoming lawmakers have agreed to put off talks of budget cuts.

This year, state agencies cut an average of 6.5 percent from their budgets to meet a shortfall. Then lawmakers announced plans to require agencies to propose another round of 6-percent cuts during summer committee hearings.

But Governor Matt Mead said he would not encourage agencies to cooperate. He says with almost $800 million coming in from capital gains and interest on investments, cuts should be unnecessary.

Wyoming's Senators Help Defeat Gun Control
After weeks of intense lobbying on Capitol Hill gun control advocates suffered a stinging defeat this week…in part because of opposition from Wyoming’s two Republican senators. Matt Laslo reports from Washington. 

WyoFile.com

Wyoming Public Radio News reported earlier this month that the Two Elk Energy Park received its seventh permit-extension. The billion-dollar project was approved 16 years ago – intended to generate power from low-grade coal in the Powder River Basin – but it has never been built. The Two Elk project is a subsidiary of the Colorado-based North American Power Group, which cited the recession and legal challenges for the delays.

Animal-vehicle collisions have long been a problem in western states, leaving big game carcasses discarded along – or in the middle of – roadways. This week, it became legal in Montana to salvage and eat deer, elk, antelope and moose that have been hit and killed by cars.

Similar legislation died in the Wyoming Legislature this year. Currently, anyone who picks up road-killed game without a game warden permit runs the risk of being charged with poaching.

Bill co-sponsor Representative Dan Zwonitzer says this means more work for state agencies, which manage the road kill.

Schools across the country have embraced sweeping anti-bullying measures in recent years. Universities and schools districts are encouraging teachers to celebrate diversity and discourage exclusionary language, but at the upcoming Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, the University of Wyoming will host a group that say teachers need to beexplicit about their acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning students.

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