Emilie Ritter Saunders

Digital Content Coordinator

Emilie is Boise State Public Radio's digital content coordinator. She helps shape what you see on this website, from original reporting and building data visuals to story planning and social media outreach.

From Sept. 2011-Aug 2013, Emilie was StateImpact Idaho's multimedia journalist. That two  year collaboration between Boise State Public Radio and NPR focused on in-depth reporting on Idaho's economy and state policy.

Emilie has earned local, regional and national awards for her work in radio, online, and television journalism. Her work has been heard on the BBC, CBC, National Native News, and on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her work has appeared in Reuters, The Idaho Statesman, and The Missoulian.

Emilie comes to Boise from Montana Public Radio where she was the Capitol Bureau Chief from 2008-2011. Emilie was a Senior Fellow with NPR's Economic Training Project from 2009 until 2010. She graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2007.

Pages

2014 Election
3:54 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

In Latest Campaign Gaffe, Ybarra's Degrees In Question

Sherri Ybarra is a Republican running to lead Idaho's public schools.
Credit Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. Oct. 23. 

Sherri Ybarra's campaign has issued a statement about her academic achievements after questions surfaced earlier this week about whether she was in the process of completing a doctorate in education.

Idaho Education News reports that Ybarra is 18 credits shy of completing her doctorate.

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Gay Marriage
9:10 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Live Blog: Making History, Same-Sex Couples Marry In Idaho

Lyndsey and Tiffany Davis are friends of Amber and Rachael Beierle. They traveled to Boise from Canada to celebrate the Beierle's wedding day.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated at 4:15 p.m.

At least 53 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples across Idaho. In a random sample of Idaho counties, it appears Ada has issued the most so far, with 35 licenses.

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Election 2014
2:20 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

New Poll Finds Some Idaho Republicans Have Surprisingly Narrow Leads Over Democrats

Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

A new poll from Public Policy Polling suggests Idaho Democrats could have a shot at winning a couple of statewide races on Nov. 4.

The North Carolina-based polling firm is known as a Democratic-leaning pollster. The firm says the poll wasn't commissioned by a candidate, but was conducted independently by Public Policy Polling.

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Gay Marriage
2:02 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Same-Sex Marriages To Begin Wednesday In Idaho, Gov. Otter Won't Appeal

Rachael (Robertson) Beierle and Amber Beierle are two of the eight plaintiffs who sued Idaho over its same-sex marriage ban. The Beiereles tried to get their marriage license last week, and were denied.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

This story was updated Oct. 14 at 2:03 p.m.

It appears same-sex marriages will begin as planned Wednesday morning after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter issued this statement saying he's done all he can to "defend traditional marriage in Idaho."

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Election 2014
6:53 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Otter Leads Balukoff By 24 Points In Latest Poll For Idaho Governor

The latest poll on Idaho's gubernatorial race shows two-term incumbent Republican C.L. "Butch" Otter leading Democrat A.J. Balukoff by 24 percentage points.

The CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll released Oct. 1 shows 57 percent of respondents said they favor Otter.

The poll surveyed 594 Idahoans between Sept. 20-Oct. 1. In each demographic breakdown available, Otter had a sizeable lead.

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Health
11:52 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Season's First Two Flu Deaths Reported In Idaho

Health officials say everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine to protect themselves from the virus.
Credit US Army Corps Of Engineers / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports two adults have died from influenza-related sicknesses.

The two deaths, one in Ada County and the other in Kootenai County, are the first flu-related deaths in Idaho this season. The department says 19 Idahoans died last year from the flu.

Both of the people who recently died were women, both were over 60-years-old.

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Gay Marriage
2:24 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Live Blog: Supreme Court Lifts Hold On Same-Sex Weddings In Idaho, 9th Wants To Hear From State

Machelle Migneault and her partner embraced in line to get a marriage license Oct. 10, 2014.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated at 9:16 p.m.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now given the state of Idaho until 1 p.m. MDT Monday to respond to this evening's motion from the plaintiffs in the case.  The plaintiffs have until 6 p.m. MDT Monday to reply to that response.

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Wages
5:04 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Idaho Women, Individuals Have Lowest Median Incomes In The Country

Idaho's median household income was $46,783 in 2013.

Census data released by the government this week show individuals and women in Idaho have the lowest median incomes in the country, while household and family median incomes are in the bottom third among states.

The data release is part of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey.

Idaho's median household income in 2013 was $46,783, meaning half the residents here earned more and half earned less.

This interactive map is shaded based on median household income.

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Wildfire
11:15 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Wildfire Near Cascade Grows To 75 Acres

The cause of the Bull Fire is under investigation.
Credit Photo Courtesy Boise National Forest

This story was updated at 12:05 p.m. Sept. 22.

A small wildfire burning southeast of Cascade has grown to 75 acres. The Bull Fire is burning in a remote area on the Boise National Forest.

Forest officials say 115 firefighters are now working on the blaze.

No structures are threatened by the fire, but the forest has closed a handful of trails in the area.

It’s not clear what started the fire, its cause is under investigation.

This story was originally posted at 11:15 a.m. Sept. 19.

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Economy
10:17 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Idaho's Jobless Rate Drops As The Workforce Shrinks

Workers talk with potential employers at a Meridian job fair.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's August jobless rate ticked down a tenth of a percent after a slight increase in July. The Idaho Department of Labor reports the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.7 percent declined because 600 workers left the labor force, the second-straight month the workforce has shrunk.

Most workers hired in August filled vacant jobs. The Labor Department reports new hires were lower than August 2013.

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Healthcare
5:00 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Feds Investigate Idaho Medicaid Mental-Health Contractor For Privacy Violations

Becky diVittorio is the executive director of Optum Idaho, the company Idaho pays $10.5 million each month to manage the mental-health portion of Medicaid.
Credit Idaho Statesman

A federal agency is investigating whether the company Idaho hired to manage part of its Medicaid program has violated patient-privacy laws.

Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, took over insurance management for Idaho Medicaid's mental-health and substance-abuse patients last fall.

Local health-care providers who treat those patients say Optum has erroneously sent them reports meant for other providers. The reports show patient names and mental-health or substance-abuse services the patients received or were authorized by Optum to receive.

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Agriculture
11:25 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Idaho Ag Group Says It Never Meant To Deny Access To Dairies

Credit MHall209 / Flickr Creative Commons

 This post was updated at 11:20 a.m. Aug. 27, 2014.

The Idaho dairy industry group that sent a letter to its members urging them to deny media tours and on-farm interviews now says it never meant to deny access.

Tuesday, after the Associated Press reported the letter was sent to 500 dairies, a public relations firm followed up with this statement from United Dairymen of Idaho CEO Karianne Fallow:

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Environment
4:19 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Winter Or Wildfires? See When Treasure Valley Air Is Most Polluted

See the interactive chart below.

The Treasure Valley has seen a handful of wildfire-induced hazy days this summer, but it's been nothing like 2012 or 2013 when big wildfires around the region brought smoke into Boise and surrounding communities, settling in the valleys and making it hard to breathe.

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Healthcare
4:30 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Medicaid Payment Woes Plague Idaho Mental Health Service Providers

Taylor Moore, a 30-year-old Boise resident with a mental-health diagnosis, reads questions on a vocational-rehab services application at the library in Downtown Boise, with assistance from Maegan Wagner, his community-based rehabilitation services worker through Idaho Behavioral Health. The agency has experienced a pattern of problems over several months getting paid for a variety of services, sometimes getting pennies back on a $100 claim. Optum Idaho said it has corrected the problem.
Credit Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The state’s effort to rein in Medicaid costs has created deep friction between small businesses that deliver behavioral-health services to Medicaid patients and a new contractor hired to manage them.

Service providers across Idaho have raised complaints over the last 11 months that the contractor, Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, has created red tape and cut services needed by at-risk patients.

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Jobs
10:03 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Idaho's Workforce Has Shrunk More Than Most States

Idaho's July jobless rate was 4.8 percent, nationally, it's 6.2 percent.
Credit Nancy / Flickr Creative Commons

Fewer Idahoans, nearly 6 percent, are working today than in 2007 before the Great Recession began.

State-by-state analysis of employment data, from calendar year 2007 to fiscal year 2014, show only two other states have seen a greater workforce decline among 25- to 54-year-olds.

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Events
8:49 am
Tue August 19, 2014

'Slide The City' Inflates Its Giant Waterslide Aug. 30 In Boise

This promotional photo is from a Slide the City event in another town.
Credit Slide the City

Utah-based Slide the City is bringing its giant waterslide to Boise Aug. 30, that's according to details on its event registration page.

We first told you about the 1,000-foot waterslide here.

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Migration
11:35 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Are You A Native Idahoan? Data Show Most Idaho Residents Aren't

This data viz from the New York Times shows how Idaho's population has changed since 1900.
Credit New York Times screengrab

An interesting take on state-to-state migration from The New York Times illustrates what many Idahoans already knew: a lot of California natives now live in Idaho.

The Times created a data visualization of migration to each state going back to 1900. It's no surprise that at the turn of the 20th century, most people moving to Idaho were immigrants from outside of the U.S., the northeast and the midwest.

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Wildfires
9:35 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Idaho's Big Cougar Fire Burns 100 Square Miles Near Lewiston

A firefighter works on the Big Cougar fire near Lewiston.
Credit Idaho Department of Lands

This story was updated at 9:45 a.m. Aug. 11, 2014

The Big Cougar fire burning in northern Idaho has charred 65,000 acres and is 50 percent contained.

The Idaho Department of Lands reports nine structures have now been destroyed by the fire that is burning south of Lewiston. An additional 200 structures are still considered threatened.

Lightning sparked the fire August 2. Mandatory and voluntary evacuations are still in effect for some residents in the area. Click here to find the latest.

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Recreation
12:01 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

This 1,000 Foot Waterslide Could Be Coming To A Boise Street Near You

This is a promotional photo from Slide the City.
Credit Slide the City

How does sliding down a busy Boise street on a 1,000 foot waterslide sound?

Amazing.

Utah-based Slide the City is making plans to bring its giant waterslide to Boise. The event is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 6, and details are contingent on permitting. If approved, you may have the chance to slip-and-slide your way down Americana Boulevard between Ann Morrison Park and Kathryn Albertson Park.

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Road Closure
3:25 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Flooding Closes Boise National Forest Road

Credit map courtesy of the Boise National Forest

A road used by recreationists in the Boise National Forest is closed due to flooding.  A Boise National Forest spokesman says the Middle Fork Boise River road is closed above Arrowrock Reservoir.

Thanks to early morning flash flooding, 15 miles of road from the junction of Slide Gulch and the Middle Fork Boise River Road are closed.

Forest officials say they’re working with the Atlanta Highway District to repair the road, but it could be closed for several days.

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