Tennessee Watson

Education Reporter

Phone: 307-766-5064
Email: twatso17@uwyo.edu

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-­producing Wage/Working (a jukebox­-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.

Ways to Connect

Albany County for Proper Policing

A Laramie group has released an autopsy report that says Albany County Sheriff's Corporal Derek Colling shot unarmed Robbie Ramirez three times, including two shots to the back. The incident occurred on November 4, 2018.

image provided by LCCC

Laramie County Community College has established new scholarships and programs thanks to a $2.4 million gift from the estate of Lois C. Mottonen.

Tennessee Watson

A bill to address the financial challenges faced by poor Wyomingites who are elderly or totally disabled did not make it out of this year's legislative session.

http://www.stateagreport.com

  

Governor Mark Gordon's appointee for Wyoming Attorney General is only the second woman to serve in the position. Bridgett Hill was sworn in by the State Senate this week, marking an already significant career serving the state of Wyoming.

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

Mary Ellbogen Garland is this year's recipient of the "Making Democracy Work" award. The League of Women Voters of Wyoming gives the annual award to recognize contributions to the vitality of the state's communities.

Public Domain Pictures

Efforts to hold sexually abusive clergy accountable are increasing after decades of inaction. This week Pope Francis convened Catholic leaders from around the world at the Vatican to discuss the matter. Closer to home, Colorado's Attorney General announced a statewide investigation into clergy abuse there. Meanwhile, in Wyoming, a police investigation into former Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart has been underway for eight months.

www.pixabay.com

Several Carbon County District #2 schools closed Thursday for cleaning following a reported case of meningitis.

photo from dlrgroup.com with changes by Tennessee Watson

Already this year, two Wyoming inmates have died from apparent suicide. The incidents have raised questions about the impact of staffing and bed shortages.

crop of image from the Wyoming Department of Corrections

A legal complaint filed nearly four months ago is raising questions about conditions at the Wyoming Women's Center. WyoFile broke the story, reporting that "three inmates at Wyoming's only women's prison have asked the federal district court to force the state to deal with overcrowding and deteriorating facilities that they allege have created unconstitutional conditions of confinement." A judge has yet to act on the matter.

Tennessee Watson

Two years ago, this February, University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols launched a sexual misconduct task force. This fall the group, more commonly known as the NO MORE Campaign, released a five-year strategic plan that calls for changes like more bystander intervention training and increased support for survivors in the aftermath of an assault.

It can be hard to escape national political news. On the flip side, it's getting harder to find out what's going on in our own backyard. In our region, we've lost around 70 local papers in recent years. A new study says that trend is contributing to today's partisan politics.

Tennessee Watson

This session, Wyoming lawmakers killed two different bills that would have required the U.S. Citizenship test to graduate from high school. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow pushed the idea as a way to strengthen civics education across the state. Critics argued that rather than more exams, kids need more opportunities to experience democracy in action.

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Wyoming is one of just five states without laws pertaining to the parental rights of perpetrators of sexual assault. House Bill 107 would change that.

www.publicdomainpictures.net

For the second year in a row, Wyoming lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase penalties for interfering with critical infrastructure, focusing on oil and gas facilities. It was vetoed last year by former Governor Matt Mead.

Tennessee Watson

A bill that would increase penalties for interfering with the operation of critical infrastructure like pipelines or oil and gas facilities is held up in the Minerals Committee. Wyoming legislators gathered Monday to discuss the Crimes Against Critical Infrastructure bill and delayed a vote until Friday after hearing considerable public comment.

Tennessee Watson


For years Wyoming lawmakers have been grappling with how to ensure kids are safe at school. In 2009 they passed anti-bullying legislation. Last year they granted districts the right to decide whether to arm teachers and staff as a defense against violent intruders.

This session school violence is once again on the docket. Senate File 64  School Safety and Security passed out of the Senate this week and is now being considered by the House. The legislation would require all districts to develop comprehensive school safety and security plans.

Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson sat down with Cheyenne Senator Affie Ellis to discuss why she thinks this legislation is needed.

Biodiversity Institute

The future of the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Wyoming has been uncertain for the last six months. Thursday the UW Board of Trustees approved plans to keep it open.

Tennessee Watson

Earlier this month a grand jury found that Albany County Sheriff's Officer Derek Colling was justified in his use of force. Colling shot Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez in November. The grand jury's decision concluded a criminal investigation, but the Albany County Sheriff's office has yet to announce whether Officer Colling will keep his job. He is currently on administrative leave.

screenshot from Will Caldwell's video on Vimeo

While many school districts across the state already create safety and security plans, there's nothing currently in statute requiring them to do so. A school safety and security bill moving through the state legislature would make such plans mandatory.

Uinta County School District #1

Uinta County School District #1 is once again discussing whether to allow teachers and staff to carry guns in schools.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming's high school graduation rates are on the rise for the fifth straight year. That's according to the most recent graduation data released by the Wyoming Department of Education, or WDE.

layout by Tennessee Watson

A bill restricting women's access to abortion received initial approval Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee.

Screenshot of footage gathered by KGWN Cheyenne


Last week a grand jury decided not to indict Albany County Sheriff's officer Derek Colling. In November, he shot and killed 39-year-old Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez. The jury found the officer's use of lethal force was justified. The decision hasn't convinced everyone in Laramie that the officer couldn't have made a different choice.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security wants more lay people trained to control life-threatening blood loss. They're spreading the word through a national awareness campaign and a course called Stop the Bleed.

Tennessee Watson

Last week a grand jury decided not to indict Albany County Sheriff's officer Derek Colling for shooting 39-year-old Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez in November. On Monday, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent announced her intent to take a look at why this incident happened and if it could have been avoided.

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