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.

Ways To Connect

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.

flu, flu shot, sickness
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.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
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.

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.

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.

job fair, Meridian, unemployment
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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