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

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Wyoming Public Media's podcast The Modern West has been gearing up for a new season. They're doing something quite different this time around. Instead of a lot of separate stories, they're going to tell one big story over the course of eleven episodes. Bob Beck sat down with the podcast's host Melodie Edwards to hear what's coming down the pipe.

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Listen to the full show here.

Taxes Continue To Be A Hard Sell For Many Lawmakers

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

Tate McKinney

In his teens, Tate McKinney started coming to terms with his sexual orientation and gender identity. Like many LGBTQ kids in small towns, that led to hard conversations with his family, but then he found out he was related to Aaron McKinney, one of Matthew Shepard's murderers.

Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with Tate to hear his uniquely Wyoming story. Tate came forward to share his story after hearing the episode "The Small Town Drag Queen" on The Modern West podcast about the hardship of growing up LGBTQ in the rural West.

Amazon.com

Even before the pandemic struck, rural American communities were suffering, and the blow from this new downturn could hurt even more. But a new book is optimistic that small towns can thrive, if they learn to embrace the innovations of the future.

There's an ongoing debate in the American West about which state granted women the right to vote first. Wyoming ratified the decision first in 1869 but didn't vote until the fall of the next year; but Utah women actually went to the polls seven months earlier than that.

Either way, it was Western states that made the leap, and a new book called No Place For A Woman: The Struggle for Suffrage in the Wild West explores what it was about Western women that made them such suffragists.

Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards interviewed author Chris Enss.

You've probably heard about all the companies stepping up to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis: distilleries making hand sanitizer, outdoor clothing companies sewing face masks.

But what about the lack of quarantine spaces?

Enviremedial Services

As some rural health clinics fill up and jails try to quarantine sick inmates, a military contracting company in Pinedale has come up with a solution.

Minot Air Force Base

People aren't just stockpiling toilet paper, but an analysis of federal data shows they're also stockpiling more guns. It's a worrisome trend in the rural West, the region that suffers from from the highest rates of gun suicide. 

Flickr Creative Commons/The Red Baron

Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon gave variances to most counties allowing them to lift restrictions on some businesses, and officials said he'll lift more by the end of the week. But Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said it could take a while for the state's economy to truly get back on its feet, not just because customers are wary but because business owners will be trying to figure out how best to safely reopen.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jasperdo

Governor Mark Gordon gave county officials permission to apply for variances so they can begin lifting pandemic restrictions. Church services can now be held in Platte and Niobrara Counties, and Lincoln, Park and Natrona Counties will allow restaurants to offer dine-in services. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Dubois Drugs

When a business folds, normally the owner doesn't qualify for unemployment, but since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the federal government through the CARES Act has changed that. Now, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is preparing to roll out a system to help the self-employed, gig workers and contract workers get the aid they need to survive the pandemic.

Flickr Creative Commons/She Paused For Thought

In the last round of stimulus funds from the federal government, 7,618 Wyoming businesses received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, injecting more than $837 million into the state’s economy that business leaders hope will help soften the blow of the pandemic. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Jordan Barab

It's unknown exactly how many immigrant workers have been laid off in Wyoming in recent weeks, but it's likely quite high, according to Jackson immigration attorney Reilly Ward with Trefonas Law, especially since Teton County's service industry saw large numbers of layoffs.

facebook.com/wyomingworkforce

Back in mid-March, Governor Mark Gordon shut down all public spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus. At the time, Destiny Irwin was plugging away on a political science degree at the University of Wyoming and working at two Laramie restaurants to pay her bills. Both went to curbside delivery, and Irwin got laid off.

Flickr Creative Commons/Menards Casper

Wyoming's unemployment rate spiked 350 percent in the last few weeks, an unprecedented rate that puts it as one of the hardest hit states in the country.

This week's Wyoming Workforce Services' report shows 4,652 new people have applied for unemployment, 900 more than the week before, and 6,010 continued claims from people who'd already filed them, 1,811 more than the week before.

Flickr Creative Commons/lucas-dtown2

The number of unemployment insurance claims has spiked due to the number of people getting laid off in response to the pandemic, mostly in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to a special report by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services released last week.

Samira Caamano

On Friday, Governor Mark Gordon and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow extended a recommendation for all Wyoming schools to shut down until at least April 17 in hopes of slowing the spread of coronavirus. Some schools have been on Spring Break and the closures just felt like an extra-long vacation…at first.

But lots of parents were left wondering whether they were now responsible to homeschool.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ramps up, there's concern that health care workers and other essential personnel will have trouble finding reliable childcare. So, the Wyoming Department of Family Services spent last weekend creating a map of all the childcare centers that are still up and running.

Justin Farrell

A book out this month takes an unusual look at the role of the rich in American West, examining it through interviews with the super wealthy living in Teton County.

Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with author and sociologist Justin Farrell to talk about what he learned while researching Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West.

Princeton University Press

Compared to elsewhere in the country, the disparity between the rich and the poor is widest in Teton County, and a new book takes a sociological look at the problem.

Melodie Edwards

The Holy Grail in the fight to stop climate change is reaching a bipartisan solution. To reach that end, the group Citizen Climate Lobby sent their regional director Bill Barron around Wyoming this month to engage in community conversation.

At his stop in Laramie, Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with Barron to hear about the proposal his organization says is already drawing consensus from many sides: a bipartisan bill proposing a carbon fee and dividend plan. The group is putting together action teams in the state too. You can learn more at their website

CJ Oliver/Flickr Creative Commons

Housing in tribal communities across the country has led to numerous social problems, including those in Wyoming. On the Wind River Reservation, it has led to a severe housing shortage with overcrowding in the homes that are available and to homelessness in the community. Housing stock has grown old and is falling into disrepair and about 600 new housing units are needed to fill the need.

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