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.

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Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare has been awarded a nearly $40 million federal grant to improve health outcomes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services announced 28 states will share $665 million in state innovation grants.

Idaho’s four-year innovation grant is meant to transition away from a fee-for-service system of health care delivery, to a value-based system.

Idaho's health department lists these seven items as its goals.

Treasure Valley commuters navigated dense fog Friday morning, and more fog could be on the way for early Sunday.

A National Weather Service Boise forecaster just happened to climb Table Rock as the fog rolled through the eastern part of the valley. The forecaster pulled out his iPhone and captured a neat perspective on Friday morning's fog.

Source: National Weather Service Boise

house, sold sign, yard
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The housing-market research firm RealtyTrac finds that Ada County is showing early signs of a home-price bubble, based on affordability and an uptick in the foreclosure rate.

Boise River, snow, weather
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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

All week Boise State Public Radio and the Idaho Statesman have been reporting on Idaho's fragmented, underfunded, and threadbare mental health care system.

We've learned that Idaho doesn't have enough psychiatrists or treatment facilities. It doesn't have enough resources for some of the state's poorest residents.

mental health, in crisis
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.

Philip Mazeikas, mobile crisis, mental health
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.

mental health, in crisis
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.

telephone, buttons, hotline
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.

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.

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.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
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.

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.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
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."

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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