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.


12:50 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

As Snow Tapers In Southern Idaho, Near-Zero Temperatures Will Set In

The snow that has blanketed the region isn't expected to melt for at least several days.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The winter storm system that has blanketed much of the region since Thursday morning will have dropped up to 8- inches of snow in the Boise area by the time it’s finished.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jay Breidenbach says snow should stop falling late Friday afternoon, and more snow isn’t in the immediate forecast.

“The damage is done," Breidenbach says. "The roads are going to be just horrible this afternoon for the commute because temperatures are going to stay below freezing."

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11:32 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Two Idaho National Guard Pilots Die In Helicopter Crash Near Boise Airport

CW4 Jon Hartway and CW4 Stien Gearheart died when their Apache helicopter crashed during a training mission in Boise.
Credit Idaho National Guard

This story was updated Nov. 7 at 12:00 p.m.

The Idaho National Guard has identified the two soldiers who were killed Thursday near Gowen Field when their Apache helicopter crashed.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Stien P. Gearheart, 50, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jon L. Hartway, 43, were killed when the helicopter they were piloting crashed during night training. Gearheart was from Meridian, Hartway was from Kuna. 

The Guard says both men were part of the 1-183rd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion based in Boise.

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Election 2014
12:51 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Ybarra Wins Idaho Schools Chief Race By Fewer Than 6,000 Votes

Sherri Ybarra will become Idaho's next superintendent of schools.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

As expected, the closest statewide race of Idaho's 2014 election was for superintendent of public instruction. Unofficially, Republican Sherri Ybarra won with 50.7 percent of the vote to Democrat Jana Jones' 49.3 percent. Just 5,700 votes separated the two candidates.

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Election 2014
10:32 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Idaho's Gov. Otter Wins A Rare Third Term

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, with First Lady Lori Otter, was elected to his third consecutive term as Idaho governor.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated on Nov. 5 at 10:45 a.m.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has won a rare third term leading the state.

Otter, now 72, has been a fixture of Idaho politics since he was first elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1973. Otter has been a legislator, a congressman and one of the state's longest-serving lieutenant governors. 

He was first elected governor of Idaho in 2006. This year, Otter faced a difficult race against his Democratic challenger, Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff.

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Election 2014
1:35 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Election Day Scam Attempts To Bribe Idaho Voters

Idaho's Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says a telephone scam offering potential voters $25 for their votes is being reported across the state this Election Day.

“Bribing someone for their vote is a crime,” Wasden said in a press release. “If anyone receives a call like this, I urge you not to engage the caller and to hang up the phone immediately.”

Wasden's office says the caller ID on these scam calls is 714-714-4000.

In Crisis
11:04 am
Sun November 2, 2014

Community Conversation: The Future Of Idaho’s Fragmented Mental Health System

Panelists Ross Edmunds, Sgt. David Cavanaugh, Tami Jones, and Rev. Bill Roscoe.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly a quarter of Idahoans are living with a mental illness. Idaho has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Nearly 22,500 Idahoans receive mental health treatment through Idaho’s Medicaid program. 

It’s the access to services, and a web of service providers, that have proven difficult for folks in need of care.

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5:10 am
Fri October 31, 2014

In Crisis: Idaho Medicaid In Flux Causes A Big Shift In Care

Kendra sits with her community based rehabilitation worker Jennifer Beason working on her feelings journal during her last CBRS appointment.
Credit Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Nine-year-old Kendra sits in one of the private rooms on the second floor of Boise’s Downtown public library with her community-based rehabilitation services worker, Jennifer Beason.

Beason slides a workbook to Kendra. It is what she calls her feelings journal. “Do you know what relieved is?” she asked.

Without missing a beat, Kendra rattles off examples of feeling relieved.

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7:52 am
Tue October 28, 2014

In Crisis: Idaho Police, Social Workers On The Front Lines Of Mental Health

Philip Mazeikas has schizophrenia and was aided two years ago by a Mobile Crisis Unit. His parents had called police, seriously concerned about their son. The crisis unit's visit was the first step in getting Mazeikas the help and medication he needed.
Credit Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Two years ago, Philip Mazeikas answered the front door of his family home. The course of his life changed when he opened it.

At 24-years-old, Mazeikas found himself in the middle of his first psychotic episode. He thought he'd been contacted by aliens who were using him in a scheme to control the world. He wasn't eating well. He was drinking his own urine.

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7:12 am
Tue October 28, 2014

In Crisis: An Idaho Man Explains What Life Is Like With Schizophrenia

Philip Mazeikas would like to become a peer support specialist, and may eventually help other Idahoans navigate mental illness.
Credit Joe Jaszewski | jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com / Idaho Statesman

Philip Mazeikas, now 26-years-old, started noticing signs of his mental illness when he was 18.

"I started thinking there was a prophecy about me rising to power, or being famous," he says. "Things turned worse when I was 23, when I started hearing voices."

By the time Mazeikas was 24, the Boise Police Department had been called to his home more than once. Mazeikas had become unpredictable and volatile. 

"He would sometimes say to us, 'Hey Dad I'm back, I've been gone a while'," Mike Mazeikas recalls.

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7:00 am
Mon October 27, 2014

In Crisis: How To Help Someone Needing Mental Health Care

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some phone numbers to call:

  • Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Idaho's 24-hour crisis line: 2-1-1
  • Medical or public safety emergency: 9-1-1

If someone you know is in emotional crisis and you worry they're in need of help, here are some warning signs to watch for from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and National Institute of Mental Health.

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5:00 am
Mon October 27, 2014

In Crisis: Idaho’s Fragmented Mental Health System Leaves Many Behind

Sometimes, Idahoans who don't get treatment end up in mental-health crisis. The people who help them at that point typically aren't mental-health practitioners - they're police officers, judges or prosecutors who do involuntarily commitments, or family members. Optum Idaho recognizes this and is training people in mental-health first aid. After a group activity, Rubie Gallegos explains their drawing of what anxiety feels like.
Credit Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Roy Vopal didn’t expect to live at a Boise Rescue Mission shelter in Downtown Boise this year. But the 60-year-old had a serious knee injury, then surgery, that he said left him unable to work for the first time in his life.

“Mentally, it’s a mind-screw” to be out of work, Vopal said. “It definitely twists the brain.”

Vopal says his service in the Marines during the Vietnam War left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There were times when I wanted my life to end,” Vopal said. He attempted suicide in his 30s and used drugs.

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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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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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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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