Small movie theaters struggle to switch from film to digital

During a recent reporting trip, I stopped into the single-screen Ritz theater in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Locals say the only other thing to do in town is visit the famous hot springs there, which, while amazing, get old after a while. The theater is just one of a handful in Wyoming that’s struggling to come up with the money for a digital projector so it can stay in business.

Movie Theaters Struggle to go Digital Feature

Edie Rollings holds a 35mm film reel in the projection room at the Ritz Theater in Thermopolis.

Edie Rollings holds a 35mm film reel in the projection room at the Ritz Theater in Thermopolis.

HOST: 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.

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Administrator takes down “UW Crushes,” apologizes

Page administers have removed UW Crushes from Facebook.  This follows a public backlash to a post that directed violent sexual language at a University of Wyoming student.

UW Crushes was not affiliated with the university.

The page allowed users to anonymously submit messages about other UW students. Many were vague compliments, but some were sexually explicit or use real names.

On Wednesday night, an unnamed “UW Crushes” poster targeted undergraduate Meg Lanker-Simons, a blogger and community radio show host who is a vocal advocate for many progressive social issues. The explicit post said her liberal messages made the poster angry, and that the poster wanted to have sex with Lanker-Simons until she became a quote “good Republican.” Lanker-Simons says she felt threatened.

UW students and alumni responded angrily to the post, demanding the page administrators take it down, or employ stricter moderation before posting comments that are explicit or use people’s names.

The University of Wyoming police began an investigation yesterday to determine who was responsible for the post and is considering whether it constitutes a criminal violation.

In another post on the UW Crushes page yesterday, the unnamed administrators identified themselves as “Engineering students” who did not have time to read messages before posting them.

After taking down the page, the founder of UW Crushes wrote in an e-mail to Wyoming Public Radio: It was an unintentional stupid mistake made by me posting it as I should have screened all the posts, but I took the easiest way in order to save time and get back quickly to my studies, and I repeat that I’m extremely sorry for doing it. I’m sorry Mrs. Simons. I’m sorry UW. I’m sorry for all people who got hurt because of me. Only God knows how pure my intentions were, but the wind always comes with what the ships don’t desire. I’m looking for forgiveness because I’m only a human-being, neither an angel, nor a systematic robot. Yet, I think lots of people attending UW should follow their logic more than their emotions.

The administrator did not identify himself or herself, but wrote that they hope Lanker-Simons will forgive them.

On Wyoming Public Media site: http://wpr.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net/post/administrator-takes-down-uw-crushes-apologizes

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UW student targeted with violent, sexual language on anonymous web page; police investigate

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.

On Wednesday night, an unnamed poster targeted undergraduate Meg Lanker-Simons, a blogger and community radio show host who is a vocal advocate for many progressive social issues. The explicit post said her liberal messages made the poster angry, and that the poster wanted to have sex with Lanker-Simons until she became a quote “good Republican.” Lanker-Simons says she felt threatened.

“I’m married. I don’t know you. And, honestly, I have been open about the fact on my website that I am a survivor of rape. You don’t message something like that to someone who’s been the victim of a sexual assault. Because to me, that’s saying that, ‘I’m going to have sex with you against your will until you believe what I believe,’ Lanker-Simons says.

“You’re going to use sex as a weapon… as punishment.”

After backlash from students and alumni, UW Crushes removed the post. Page administrators posted a statement, identifying themselves only as “Engineering students” and saying they are too busy to read all of the page’s submissions before posting them.

UW Spokesman Chad Baldwin says UW Crushes is not affiliated with the University, and that UW is looking into whether the post “constitutes a criminal violation.”

STOP Violence Coordinator Megan Selheim says it’s not uncommon for outspoken women to be threatened with rape, or to be told they deserve the negative attention. Selheim says “rape culture” normalizes and makes light of gender-related violence, and outspoken women are often targeted with threats.

“It can make it more difficult for survivors to reach out for help, or they may have trouble recognizing that what happened to them is not okay and that there is recourse for them,” Selheim says.

“It can also cause people to think it’s okay to behave more aggressively or more threateningly than they might otherwise do if they were more aware of how other people perceive their actions.”

Selheim says anyone upset by the post on UW Crushes can call the STOP Violence offices for support. Information is available at their website:http://www.uwyo.edu/stop/

 

One Wyoming Public Media site: http://wpr.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net/post/uw-student-targeted-violent-sexual-language-anonymous-web-page-police-investigate

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Demand drives up Jackson Hole housing market; supply becomes scarce (April 24, 2012)

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.

When home values dropped during the recession, many investors and first-time homeowners bought up available inventory in the area. And now the shortage of available properties now is driving real estate costs back up. The overall number of properties under contract in the area was up 96-percent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same time last year. That’s according to the most recent numbers from the Jackson Hole Report on real estate.

On Wyoming Public Media site: http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/demand-drives-jackson-hole-housing-market-supply-becomes-scarce

Co-author David Viehman says many people would rather pay high rental costs instead of commuting from Star Valley or Victor, Idaho. And that’s why, Viehman says, it’s almost impossible to find places to rent.

“In the last year, year and a half, prices have gone up 10-15 percent. All the management companies have waiting lists for single family homes that have a back yard or condos that have a garage.”

Viehman says Jackson Hole is running out of space that’s eligible for development, which could make it impossible to accommodate population growth in the future.

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Lawmakers agree to put off budget cut discussions (April 23, 2013)

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.

House Speaker Tom Lubnau says the legislature will wait until the end of the fiscal year get a more complete look at the state’s financial portfolio.

“We wanna have good data to make good decisions and it doesn’t make sense to go through an exercise without having full knowledge of the situation. The agencies need the full knowledge of the situation as well.”

Lubnau says the legislature needs to be fiscally prudent.  The fiscal year ends June 30.

On Wyoming Public Media site: http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/lawmakers-agree-put-budget-cut-discussions

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Federal sequester threatens school programs on Wind River Indian Reservation (March 12, 2013)

Federal budget cuts are causing schools on the Wind River Indian Reservation to tighten their belts.

Wyoming provides funding to all public schools in the state, but 10 districts – including several on the reservation – also receive money from the federal Impact Aid program.  That supplements funding to school districts that include federal land that is not subject to property taxes.

Michelle Hoffman is the superintendent of Fremont County School District 14 in Ethete. She says federal funding makes up about one-third of her district’s $15 million annual budget. In the last year, Impact Aid funds decreased by about $1.7 million. And the federal sequester threatens to cut up to $276,000 more this year.

Hoffman says federal money is vital to funding student services, including the successful public preschool there.

“We know that our students come to school, because of poverty issues, two to three years behind, academically, because they don’t have the access to reading materials… There’s all sorts of different reasons why. But we need to catch up before the kids ever get started. And so that preschool program has helped 30 of our students be prepared for kindergarten.”

Hoffman says federal also provides teaching assistants at the elementary, middle and high schools, five school counselors, and free breakfast and lunch for qualifying students, which is 73-percent of them.

She says these services are just as important to a student’s success as classroom materials.

“But if those basic needs are not be taken care of here at school, it’s gonna be really hard to get the math, reading, writing down pat. You have to feel secure, you have to have food, medical issues, taken care of, before school can even work.”

Hoffman says the district has worked to adjust staff benefits and leave open empty positions to save money, but she worries that further cuts will be necessary. She says she’s waiting to see what the final numbers are before making further cuts.

On Wyoming Public Media site: http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/federal-sequester-threatens-school-programs-wind-river-indian-reservation

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The BLM makes changes to the sales of wild horses and burros (January 17, 2012)

The Bureau of Land Management has announced new restrictions on the sales of wild horses and burros.

A recent ProPublica report alleged that thousands of wild horses bought from the BLM were sold to be slaughtered in Mexico.

Previously, buyers were permitted to buy an unlimited number of horses, but now a buyer can only purchase four horses or burros every six months. They must keep the animals for at least six months, describe where they’ll live, and provide safe transportation.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey says the new policy will make the animals harder to sell.  He says the BLM is paying to corral 49,000 and has space for only 2,000 more, as wild herds grow every day.

“We don’t want to be gathering horses that we can’t take care of, and if there’s no place for them in holding, you know, what do we do? So, we caught between a rock and a hard place right now, and this is where we’ve ended up because we have avoided selling for slaughter.”

Gorey says Congress will need to decide soon whether to provide more funding to manage herd populations.

On Wyoming Public Media site: http://wpr.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net/post/blm-makes-changes-sales-wild-horses-and-burros

(Story also aired on NPR.)

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