Gary Small wins fourth Native American Music Award

The Native American Music Awards have been lauding Sheridan, WY-based Gary Small for his broad ranges of styles and talents for years. His latest album, “Hostiles and Renegades” has a heavy reggae influence. I wrote spots about his for Wyoming Public Radio, but this music wrap was produced for National Native News.

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Fremont County waiting on SLIB decision to replace unsafe courthouse (May 20, 2013)

This spot came from reporting I did about Wyoming’s cash-strapped judicial branch. Riverton’s Circuit Court has overflowing dockets… and the building it’s in is unsafe, to boot. See it, behind the storage containers placed around it as a security measure?

Credit Rebecca Martinez / Wyoming Public Media
The Riverton Circuit Court is stationed in a small, pre-fab building with thin walls. After a bullet was shot from outside the building into the courtroom last summer, Fremont County stationed industrial shipping containers around the building to protect it. The Fremont County Board of Commissioners has requested funding from the State Loan and Investments Board to build a new circuit court facility.



The Fremont County Board of Commissioners is hoping the State Loan and Investments Board will approve its application for a $2.6 million dollar grant to build a Riverton justice center.

It would cover half the cost of a new building to house offices for the sheriff and county attorneys, as well as a circuit court.

Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts says the small pre-fab building they’re currently using has long been insufficient.

In recent years, County Commissioners offered upgrades like security cameras and monitors, but Roberts says they came around to his side after someone shot a bullet into the courtroom from outside the building.

“What we haven’t had is any real movement to do anything about a new building until the bullet hole appeared,” Roberts says.

“I wished it hadn’t taken that, but sometimes that’s the way we react in life, is something happens to you, and then you respond.”

Fremont County has placed industrial storage containers around the current circuit court building to increase security.

Roberts says it’s still a stressful place to work.

“It’s sort of … a dark cloud over the whole process, because you know you’re working in a vulnerable or dangerous facility, every single day.”

SLIB will decide whether to award the grant at its meeting in June.

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Peer mentoring program aims to prevent substance abuse and keep kids in touch with tribal heritage (May, 17, 2013)

The Wind River Indian Reservation has incredible people and beauty there, and a disproportionate amount of bad news. I was excited to hear about a dynamic plan to tackle drug, nutrition, and emotional issues early by empowering kids to be peer mentors. This new program has a lot of support, and strong leaders at the helm. It was nice to report on positive and hopeful developments.

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.

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Arapahoe School Superintendent leaves after pivotal school year (May 17, 2013)

The once-faltering Fremont School District 38 in Arapahoe turned a complete 180 since Superintendent Jonathan Braack took the helm in January 2012.

Credit Rebecca Martinez
During Jonathan Braack’s time as superintendent of Fremont School District 38, the Arapahoe School met federal education standards for the first time. Braack Arapahoe this week to become Niobrara County’s School Superintendent. Chantell Denson will take over as superintendent of Fremont #38.

Last fall, the Arapahoe School met No Child Left Behind’s requirements for Annual Yearly Progress for the first time under the Safe Harbor program, and frequent local assessments have shown steady improvement in math and reading. District 38 serves primarily Northern Arapahoe students with high rates of poverty, but Braack says poverty has little to do with the efficacy of education. He says aligning the curriculum and frequently and consistently testing the students has made the difference. 

Jonathan Braack left with Fremont 38 on Tuesday to become superintendent of Niobrara County School District. Assistant Superintent Chantell Denson is now acting Superintendent… and she’ll take over the job officially in July. Braack says she’s an excellent choice to fill the position. Denson says she’ll do everything she can to keep the school district on the right track.

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UW Nursing School is working to meet needs of changing medical industry (May 16, 2013)

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.

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Wyoming Judicial Branch says there’s nothing left to cut (May 10, 2013)

A thriving energy industry kept Wyoming strong while the rest of the country succumbed to an economic recession. But now, the energy industry — coal and natural gas markets, specifically — is slowing, bringing the state economy with it.

The Wyoming Legislature cut an average of six percent from all agencies this session. The Judicial Branch was required to cut only two percent, but now that there are talks of further cuts, the judiciary is saying it can’t go any further.

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Elk Antler Auction benefits habitat at National Elk Refuge (May 10, 2013)

Elk antlers are huge in western decor. There are a ton of them in the Jackson Hole area, especially for the National Elk Refuge… but that’s off-limits to the public. So I interviewed a spokeswoman there about how they gather and sell fallen antlers.

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