Open Spaces

Open Spaces
12:29 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Casper Geowives Celebrate 60 Years

Joanie Dunlap and Liz King have been friends and members of Geowives for decades.
Irina Zhorov

Sixty years ago a group of women in Casper whose husbands were always leaving them for long shifts out on the oil patch got together to commiserate and lunch. The group became known as the Geowives - wives of geologists - and it’s celebrating its diamond anniversary this spring. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov attended the Geowives’ monthly luncheon and has this story. 

IRINA ZHOROV: Bette Faust is one of the charter members of the Geowives, and a Wyoming native who came to Casper in the 1950s.

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Open Spaces
5:27 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

May 16th, 2014

Wyo. Lawmakers Reject New Climate Change Report 

The White House is painting a dire picture for every region in the nation - including here at home - if action isn’t taken to combat climate change. But Matt Laslo reports from Washington that Wyoming’s Republican senators still aren’t buying it.

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Open Spaces
5:14 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Wyo. Lawmakers Reject New Climate Change Report

Credit www.hsdl.org

The White House is painting a dire picture for every region in the nation - including here at home - if action isn’t taken to combat climate change. But Matt Laslo reports from Washington that Wyoming’s Republican senators still aren’t buying it.

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Open Spaces
5:08 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Amid Boom, Regulators Struggle With Staffing

The newly discovered abundance of domestic oil and gas is creating a shortage of something else: the petroleum engineers who regulate drilling activities. Government petroleum engineers approve companies’ drilling plans and inspect wells after they’re completed to make sure they’re not at risk of contaminating water or blowing out, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, there just aren’t enough petroleum engineers to go around.  

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Open Spaces
5:03 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Casper Facing Shortage In Homes

Credit Jordan Giese

As the Oil City Casper has seen its fate is closely tied with the energy industry and the recent boom in production is seeing Casper's population expand at an astounding rate. One thing not expanding fast enough however is affordable housing. Wyoming Public Radio's Jordan Giese reports.

JORDAN GIESE: Despite new commercial development one thing in Casper you'll struggle to find are for-sale and rent signs. With all the new energy work, people have poured into Casper, sometimes leaving little for the residents already there.

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Open Spaces
4:47 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

6th Annual Cheyenne Film Festival Is Set To Begin

Credit cheyenneinternationalfilmfestival.com

The 6th annual Cheyenne International Film Festival kicks off Tuesday.  Alan O’Hashi runs the event and he joins us to tell us what is in store.

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Open Spaces
4:42 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Inside Energy Production And Politics

Credit Jordan Wirfs-Brock

A continuing energy boom in the Rocky Mountains and Northern Great Plains is reshaping the future of what’s powering America, and we’re launching a new reporting project to keep track of that.

Through Inside Energy, we’re teaming up with public radio and television stations in Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota to explore the complex energy issues affecting our lives.

The three states are feeling this new energy economy differently, and it’s changing political realities in different ways.

WYOMING

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Open Spaces
4:30 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Auction Revives History Of Scandal At Teapot Dome

Clarke Turner, Director of the Rocky Mountain Oil Field Testing Center at Teapot Dome oil field, shows off the inside of a heater-treater.
Stephanie Joyce

If you were paying close attention during the latest season of Downton Abbey, you might remember this exchange:

PENELOPE WILTON (as Isobel Crawley): Is it really called the Teapot Dome scandal? It seems so unlikely. What’s it about?

MAGGIE SMITH (as Lady Violet Crawley): What’s it always about? Bribery and corruption. Taking money to allow private companies to drill for oil on government land.”

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Open Spaces
4:29 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

U-W Track Athlete Has High Hopes

UW Shot Putter and Discus thrower Mason Finley.
Credit Bob Beck

The Mountain West Conference Track and Field Championships are taking place in Laramie this weekend. Shot Putter and Discus thrower Mason Finley is certainly a headliner. While Finley wants to do well this weekend…he also has his eyes on some upcoming meets. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

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Open Spaces
4:09 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

'How To Be A Man': Author Explores Western Gender Identity

Credit Tamara Linse

Author Tamara Linse grew up on ranch in northern Wyoming. She channels that experience in a new collection of short stories, ‘How to Be a Man.’ As Linse explains to Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer, the stories grew out of her own struggles with identity and gender.

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Open Spaces
4:33 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Report Suggests That Problems Exist At The Northern Arapaho Department Of Family Services

The tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation run their own family services agencies, funded by the tribes themselves, federal grants and contracts with the state. But the Northern Arapaho Department of Family Services and the larger family welfare system on the reservation has some work to do.

Reviews over the years have pointed to big problems and some of them have gone years without being addressed effectively. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov has the story.   

IRINA ZHOROV:  22-month Marcella Yellowbear died on July 2nd, 2004.

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Open Spaces
4:25 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Crude-By-Rail Accidents Spark Concern In Wyoming

Credit Alan Rogers, trib.com

BOB BECK: When a crude oil train derailed and exploded in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia this week, it wasn’t the first or even the second time that’s happened this year. As growing domestic production of oil strains pipeline capacity, railroads have been picking up the slack. Crude-by-rail, as it’s known, has grown 500 percent since 2011. But a recent string of accidents has led to concern about its safety. Wyoming Public Radio energy reporter Stephanie Joyce joins us now to talk about how those concerns are playing out in Wyoming, and what’s being done about them.

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Open Spaces
4:14 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Women Still Face Barriers For Oilfield Jobs

Melodie with Rig Elevators.
Credit 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.

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Open Spaces
4:08 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Home Values Drop Amid Energy Booms

When there’s an energy boom, it usually brings an influx of workers into the area. And that leads to more demand for housing. That’s great for landlords who are looking to rent out their properties. But as some communities in Wyoming are finding, oil and gas drilling can actually be a problem for people who are looking to sell. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

WILLOW BELDEN: Rhonda Holdbrook owns a real estate firm in Douglas, and she’s exceptionally busy these days. Oil production in Converse County is booming, and energy workers have flocked to town.

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Open Spaces
4:03 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Barrasso and GOP May Derail Bipartisan Energy Bill

Next week the U-S Senate is expected to have a debate on a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing energy efficiency in the U-S, but it could get derailed by an oil pipeline in the Midwest. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington on Wyoming Senator John Barrasso's role in the ongoing debate.

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Open Spaces
3:59 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Coalition Seeks To Provide Continental Divide Trail’s Viewshed

The Continental Divide Trail is a 3,000-mile path that stretches from Canada to Mexico, passing through Wyoming and several other states. It was designated a National Scenic Trail in the 1970s, meaning that a mile-wide corridor is protected, for the entire length of the trail.

But the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, which maintains the trail, says the trail still faces threats from nearby development. We’re joined now by the Coalition’s director, Teresa Martinez. She says protecting the trail’s view shed is particularly crucial in Wyoming.

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Open Spaces
3:54 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

UW Football Coach Has High Hopes

University of Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl has been a winner at a number of places.  While an assistant Coach at Nebraska the Cornhuskers won two national championships and his last three teams at North Dakota State won the last three Football Championship Subdivision titles. 

He is taking over a Wyoming team that has struggled with consistency in recent years, especially on a defense.  Bohl is friendly, but businesslike.  Unlike most football coaches he wears a jacket and a tie to work.  He told Bob Beck that the transition to Wyoming has been a good one.

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Open Spaces
3:51 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Wyoming Reporter Says Goodbye

This week Wyoming Public Radio reporter Irina Zhorov left Wyoming for a new job in Pittsburgh. When Irina came to Wyoming from Philadelphia in 2010 she had questions about her new state.  When she graduated from her Master’s program in 2012 she wrote us this essay called “Letter to Wyoming.”

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Open Spaces
3:49 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Education Standards Are Facing Opposition In Wyoming

Members of the public attend the State Board of Education meeting in Casper.
Credit Bob Beck

For years parents and educators have been looking at ways to improve elementary education. Recently many states, including Wyoming, adopted common core standards that supporters believe will give students and schools goals to shoot for in Math and Language Arts. 

The state is also in the process of adopting other state standards, including a set of controversial science standards.  But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports there is a growing movement against any standards that are not developed by local school boards. 

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Open Spaces
3:44 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Governor Mead Discusses Wind River Reservation Boundary Dispute And Education

It’s been a few months since we’ve had Governor Matt Mead on the program.  He joins Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck to discuss a dispute over boundaries in Riverton and Education.

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Open Spaces
3:31 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Inmates Say Jails And Prisons Ignore Medical Needs

Inmates in Wyoming’s jails and prisons frequently complain that they don’t receive adequate medical care. That might not seem like a huge problem, but the Eight Amendment of the Constitution requires that if prison staff know an inmate has a serious medical need, they have to treat it.

Civil rights groups are worried that serious cases are being ignored. But the Wyoming Department of Corrections says inmates just don’t have a realistic idea of how they should be treated. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
3:14 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Underground Coal Gasification: A Potential Energy Frontier?

Linc Energy has installed 44 monitoring wells at its proposed test site, to establish baseline water quality.
Stephanie Joyce

Millions of railcars leave the Powder River Basin every year, carrying hundreds of millions of tons of coal. Those are big numbers, but the coal we mine is just a small fraction of what’s underground. Most of the basin’s coal reserves are buried too deep for conventional mining.

An Australian company called Linc Energy wants to use a technology known as underground coal gasification to tap those deep coal reserves and turn them into fuel. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, that might come at the peril of another valuable resource: water.

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Open Spaces
3:09 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Casper To Offer Permanent Housing Program For Chronically Homeless

Since 2010, homelessness has gone down in most places in the U.S., but not in Wyoming. A national report found that in 2013 Wyoming had nearly a thousand homeless people, up 64-percent in that time. About a quarter of those people are chronically homeless. Now, Casper wants to try a program focused on helping those individuals. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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Open Spaces
3:04 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Landslide Presents Long-Term Challenges For Jackson

Credit Rebecca Huntington

A slow-moving landslide has displaced homes and businesses in Jackson, and the town has been working to deal with the problem for weeks. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with reporter Rebecca Huntington, who’s been following the situation closely. She says from what geologists have said, the cause of the landslide seems to be a combination of natural and human-induced factors.

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Open Spaces
3:00 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Challenging Invisibility: UW Class Discovers Black History In The West

Ranch Foreman George McJunkin, discoverer of Folsom Man site, on his horse, "Headless," New Mexico, ca. 1911.
Credit Palace of the Governors Photo Archives 050884

Racial diversity is not one of the things for which Wyoming is best known. According to census data, only one-point-five percent of the state’s population is African American. Now, a class at the University of Wyoming is documenting the largely untold history of black people in the West. The class is confronting black invisibility—real and perceived.

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Open Spaces
4:21 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Rare Earth Mine Permitting Gets Underway

Rare Element Resources wants to build a processing plant on this site, just outside of Upton.
Stephanie Joyce

They’ve been called the secret ingredient of everything. Rare earths are a group of elements that make much of today’s technology possible, from smartphones to wind turbines to precision-guided missiles. For decades, China has dominated the rare earth market, but amid questions about the wisdom of allowing one country to control the supply chain, a mining project in Wyoming is getting underway. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, if the mine opens, it would be only be the second one in the United States and the first new one in decades.

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Open Spaces
4:10 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Pinedale Air Improves As State Toughens Industry Regs

Drill rigs like this one are one source of emissions that could be contributing to ozone formation in Sublette County.
Credit Willow Belden

Several years ago, there were days when air pollution in Pinedale was worse than in Los Angeles. Residents complained of respiratory problems, and visits to local medical clinics increased.  In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency said the area was violating federal air quality standards, and gave Wyoming three years to fix the problem. Since then, air quality has been better. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports, nobody knows whether the problem is really fixed, and some worry that the state is not doing enough to prevent similar problems from happening elsewhere.

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