Irina Zhorov


Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications. 

In her off time, Irina is pursuing treasure hunters, leafing through photo books, or planning and executing quests.


5:00 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Number of embezzlement cases down in Fremont County

The number of embezzlement cases among Fremont County businesses is down some after the county saw a spike between 2007 and 2010. Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney, Brian Varn, says, historically, embezzlement was treated “lightly” and, accordingly, punishments tended to be lenient. Varn met with local businesses to reevaluate that approach, and the county now takes a more aggressive stance in court. Varn says the worst year was 2009, and even then there were cases that weren’t charged. “In discussion with all the local businesses embezzlement is a huge problem.

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9:11 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Surface discharge of water used in oil recovery common throughout Wyoming

The EPA issues water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation to oil and gas companies bringing up water with their oil. 

That water, called produced water, is dirty and often warm even in winter. The permits are issued through an EPA waiver that allows such water to be discharged in the arid West if it’s being used beneficially.  In the drier parts of Wyoming it is sometimes the only source of water for livestock and wildlife.

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6:46 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Voter Mobilization Efforts Target Native Americans

From left to right, Micah Lott, Jenea Mandan, Steven Carpenter and Rauni Spute canvass door-to-door among houses in Riverton, Wyoming. The four are members of RezAction, a Wind River Indian Reservation advocacy organization that has worked urgently to increase turnout in this year’s election.
Credit Ron Feemster / WyoFile

A get-out-the-vote effort on the Wind River Indian Reservation helped get people to the polls, but Fremont County, where the reservation is located, still showed slightly lower numbers of ballots cast this year than in 2008 and 2004.

Voter turnout on reservations has generally been low and often community members take more interest in tribal elections than in state and national races, but Wyofile journalist Ron Feemster, who was on Wind River for Election Day, says that didn’t seem to be an issue.

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11:17 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Democrats lose footing in Wyoming Legislature

Democrats in Wyoming are widely outnumbered by to Republicans, and this election they lost another member in the Legislature. 

Republican Mark Baker defeated Democratic Representative Joseph Barbuto for a state Representative seat.

Democrat Chris Henrichsen ran for US House against Cynthia Lummis and lost. He says the keys is not to bolster the party, but to focus on running candidates that can appeal to different kinds of voters on issues, like Democratic governors have done.

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Open Spaces
4:10 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

November 2nd, 2012

Riverton House and Senate Debate Recap
On Thursday night, candidates for U-S House and Senate gathered in Riverton for a set of debates. They answered questions ranging from how to address the Medicare shortfall … to their views on climate change and the energy industry. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck was one of the moderators … and he joins Willow Belden from Riverton to talk about the debate.

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5:56 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Voter Mobilization Targets Native Voters

Voter mobilization efforts on the Wind River Indian Reservation are targeting young, Native residents to vote in the general election on November sixth.

Voter initiatives on Wind River Indian Reservation include free rides to polling places on Election Day, hanging information leaflets on residents’ doorknobs about where and how to vote, and a celebratory feast for participants. Event Coordinator Jolene Catron says that the last time there was such an effort on the reservation, the number of voters almost doubled.

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Open Spaces
4:33 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

October 26th, 2012

Gov. Mead reflects on GREG report, promises cuts
The Consensus Revenue estimating group came out with projections that lawmakers will have about 85 million more dollars to spend this session.  The CREG report is main tool government officials use to forecast how much money the state will have.  Governor Matt Mead joins Bob Beck to discuss the report and the impact it has on his budget as he prepares to present it in December.

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9:28 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Violent Crime Down On The Wind River Reservation

A new Bureau of Justice Statistics report on tribal crime data says the number of Indian country suspects investigated by U.S. attorneys for violence dropped 3%, while those investigated for property crime increased by 57%.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kerry Jacobson says her office in Lander is also looking into more non-violent crimes on Wind River Reservation than in the past.

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Update on Environmental Health Initiative on Wind
5:23 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Update on Environmental Health Initiative on Wind River Looks at Cancer

A public meeting today will present preliminary results of an Environmental Health Initiative study being conducted on Wind River Indian Reservation. The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center initiative aims to assess environmental risks on the reservation, and develop remediation strategies. Communities on the Wind River Reservation complained of high cancer rates. Folo Akintan directs the Epidemiology Center and says they distributed surveys on the reservation and in communities immediately surrounding it, and reviewed national and local data going back up to fifty years.

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Open Spaces
4:05 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Documents Show Artwork Removed Early Due to Pressure

A sculpture, called Carbon Sink, installed on the University of Wyoming campus, has generated a lot of controversy in the past couple of years. It was a pin wheel of charred logs that sought to draw a connection between coal, global warming, and increased beetle kill. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that this supposedly anti-carbon message certainly got the attention of law makers, donors, and those in industry.

IRINA ZHOROV: The piece was installed in 2011 and was removed in May of 2012, a year earlier than expected.

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6:13 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Livestock Board to help probe horse hair thefts

The Wyoming Livestock Board will help investigate horse hair thefts in four counties around the state.

Almost a hundred horses have been robbed of their tails, so far, but so no suspects have been found.

Law Enforcement Administrator for the Wyoming Livestock Board Jimmy Dean Silersays horse hair theft has not been reported on this scale in the state before, but he can see the motivation.

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5:14 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

WY Unemployment Rate Rises for Third Consecutive Month

The Wyoming unemployment rate went up again in August, making it the third consecutive month with an increase in joblessness.  Wyoming’s unemployment increased from 5.6% to 5.7% in August. Senior Economist with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, David Bullard, says it’s not totally clear what’s responsible for the slight loss of jobs, but the slowdown of the energy sector is likely contributing.  Bullard says Wyoming is still doing better than most other states.

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6:27 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Plane Crash at Laramie Airport Kills One

A charter plane crash at Laramie Regional Airport has left one man dead. The crash occurred a little before three p-m on Friday…the plane was on fire after the crash but fire trucks responded quickly. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash and the airport will not release additional information until the investigation is complete.  

5:15 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Revised Food Safety Rules Could Legalize Raw Milk Shares

Irina Zhorov

Revisions to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s proposed food safety rules could make it easier to obtain raw milk. Raw milk is unprocessed, unpasteurized milk. The originally proposed food safety rules said that raw milk could only be used by the sole owners of a milk cow and their families or guests.

Manager of Consumer Health Services, Dean Finkenbinder, says the word ‘sole’ was removed after about 130 people spoke out at public meetings and a public hearing.  

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5:22 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Obesity Rates Predicted to Rise Significantly by 2030

Obesity rates in Wyoming could rise from 25% now to 57% of the population by 2030. That's according to a study by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report predicts that most states will see comparable increases.

Chronic Disease Epidemiologist for Wyoming’s Department of Health, Joe Grandpre, says Wyoming doesn't have state-run programs dedicated to obesity prevention, but initiatives like heart and diabetes programs address it.   

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5:44 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Wyoming is enjoying a good Sugar Beet year

The Western Sugar Cooperative has kicked-off its sugar beet harvest in the Lovell area.

The early harvest normally begins around September tenth, but started almost a week earlier this year due to expected high yields. Western Sugar’s Agricultural Manager for the region, Randall Jobman, says the company is pleased with the crop.

We’ve had an above average growing season, a lot of heat units, we had a decent type of spring without a lot of frost, we expect an above average crop, to possibly even a record crop.

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Open Spaces
4:02 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Cowboy Joe IV will pass along the reigns this football season

Cowboy Joe IV makes his way off the field with his handlers during University of Wyoming's first home football game of the 2012 season. He’s retiring this season, and will be replaced by Cowboy Joe V.
Irina Zhorov

With the start of football season, comes the start of Cowboy Joe’s work season. Cowboy Joe, if you don’t know, is one of two University of Wyoming mascots. He’s a pony with a lot of attitude who arguably has more admirers than the football players themselves. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that the current mascot is actually Cowboy Joe four, and he’s passing the reigns to Cowboy Joe five.

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7:03 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Sheep Herder Hill Fire 50% Contained

The Sheep Herder Hill fire near Casper remains fifty percent contained. There are currently 354 people fighting the fire and evacuations remain in place.  Public Information Officer, Susan Ford, says that at least 37 homes have been destroyed.

Ford says wet, colder weather has helped fire fighters with the blaze, but this weekend promises hot, dry conditions once again.

9:44 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Wyoming introduces new capital source for small businesses

A small business investment company out of Jackson is ready to invest in qualified Wyoming businesses.

The Enhanced Capital Wyoming Fund operates under the Wyoming Business Council’s Small Business Investment Credit Program, which helps Wyoming companies grow and create jobs. To qualify, businesses must by headquartered in the state, and employ fewer than one hundred people, 60-percent of whom must be local.

Credit Program Manager, Ryan Whitehead, says Enhanced Capital is just another alternative to existing capital sources.

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Open Spaces, Wyoming Public Media
4:12 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

August 31st, 2012

The creeks that Orville Johnson’s cows would normally drink from are dry this year.
Willow Belden

Drought, hay shortage mean tough economic times for Wyoming ag industry
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this year’s hay crop will be the worst in decades, because of the drought. Hay is already in short supply, and prices have spiked. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports that the hay shortage is forcing ranchers to make tough choices and could have a lingering economic impact on the state’s ag industry.

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Open Spaces
3:41 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Gender wage gap persists in Wyoming

The gender wage gap in Wyoming is the largest in the nation. And that’s not news, either…it’s been this way for years. Groups around the state are working to fix it through policy, training programs, and education, but Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that it could be the state’s industries that keep the gap firmly in place.

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8:23 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Problems Arise in Additional Testing at Riverton Uranium-Contaminated Site

US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy is gearing up for new, one-time testing at the contaminated Uranium Mill Tailings site in Riverton.

A uranium mill in the 1960s left the groundwater there with high levels of uranium, and the DOE is still monitoring it. Additional testing is supposed to help the agency update their computer model, which predicts progress of clean-up at the site.

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8:15 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Updates to School Lunch Program Bring Healthier Meals

Wyoming’s kids will have healthier school lunches this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture teamed up with the Institute of Medicine to develop menu standards that are more nutritious. The biggest changes include calorie and sodium limits, more whole-grain foods, more fruits and vegetables, and a ban on trans fats.

Wyoming Department of Education’s Nutrition Program Supervisor, Tamra Jackson, says the changes are positive.   

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5:20 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Voter Turnout Lowest in 30 Years for Primaries

Voter turnout for the primary election this year was the lowest in over thirty years. Just under 50% of registered voters came to cast their ballots. State Election Director, Peggy Nighswonger, says she’s not sure why the numbers are down.

"None of our congressional races were close. There were some close legislative races. But usually turnout is kind of generated by some close local races, you know commissioner races, or…those kinds of things, that kind of bring the turnout up. I really don’t know what the apathy is all about here." 

11:09 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Senator Phil Nicholas Wins in District 10

State Senator Phil Nicholas won the Republic nomination for the District 10 Senate seat, defeating Anne Alexander. Nicholas won with 57 percent of the vote.

This was Alexander’s first campaign, and she says she was floored by the number of votes she got.

“I have no legislative experience at all and it made me feel confident that maybe we got some of our message out and it just kind of felt like a good vote of confidence even if we didn’t win.”

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Open Spaces
5:27 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Coal production slows, prices drop

The Jim Bridger coal fired power plant has already had to retrofit its stacks with cleaning technology and plans to do more work in the next couple of years.
Irina Zhorov

Coal production and coal prices are down and stakeholders are offering up lots of reasons as the cause, from weather to new policies and competing fuels. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that it’s a combination of all these factors. 

Irina Zhorov: There is no doubt coal is struggling right now. Karim Rahemtulla is the Senior Correspondent for investment blog Wall St. Daily.

Rahemtulla: The predominant trend that’s in the market right now is a slowdown in consumption, directly related to coal, not necessarily other energy sources.

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Open Spaces
5:17 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Cleaner technology could give Wyoming coal a bright future

Professor KJ Reddy, right, and others working on the project inspect the flue gas and fly ash reactor before running more tests.
Irina Zhorov

In the midst of a coal slowdown nationwide, not all is dark. Wyoming has been investing millions in research that would make coal a clean, viable resource in the future, despite its dirty reputation. The state has also been making strides towards friendship and collaboration with other big coal stakeholders, like China. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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