Depth, context, backstory, research and human narrative — WyoFile strives to deliver more to our readers than just the blow-by-blow of the daily news cycle.
In a state with too few reporters it’s rarely easy and 2018, with its dizzying array of rapidly developing issues, held more than enough breaking news to keep WyoFile and Wyoming hopping. Economic diversification, LGBTQ rights, water development, state vs. federal power struggles and government transparency all stayed in the headlines. From a fast and furious legislative budget session (complete with a controversial “critical infrastructure” protection bill), through hard-fought elections and a historic battle over grizzly bear hunting, to the sentencing of Michael J. Ruffatto and the overturning of data-trespass laws the stories kept coming.
Yet the WyoFile team managed to step back occasionally from the chaos, widen the lens and dig a little deeper to reveal the forces at work behind the headlines and consider what they mean for the people, places and body politic of Wyoming.
The 12 stories below are a collection of staff favorites — stories that we feel best represent Wyoming in 2018 and our ongoing efforts to capture it on the page.
As the debate over LGBTQ issues continues to heat up, this narrative of a gay Riverton teen’s persecutors and allies found that for some Wyoming residents, standing up against bullying is a reflex that comes with being part of the community.
WyoFile examined the Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives and his approach to crafting and passing controversial education funding legislation. Did the high school football coach go the length of the field, or just gain some yards in Wyoming’s ongoing education funding struggle?
News of hunting guide Mark Uptain’s death by grizzly bear initially brought as many questions as answers. WyoFile tracked the story for weeks, then asked critical questions to bring the events into focus and publish officials’ information — some of it contradictory.
One reporter brought the Two Elk scandal to light and tracked the twisting tale of greed, fraud and government ineptitude for more than a decade. WyoFile founder Rone Tempest tells the story as it looked from behind his reporter’s notebook.
A negotiation over surface coal leasing between a Crow family and Cloud Peak Energy turned bitter, resurfacing some of the West’s most persistent questions.
WyoFile charted the paths of Robbie Ramirez and Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Colling — from shared high school experience, through disparate struggles, to fatal collision.
Conservationists called foul over a long-running effort to sort out Wyoming’s Wilderness Study Areas. They said rules were changed, deadlines moved and bargaining options unfairly limited by D.C. meddling after years of good-faith, local collaboration.
It was a year of turmoil for Wyoming’s coal industry. Buffeted by economic forces beyond their control, union members in Kemmerer fought payouts for mid-level managers while trying to save their pensions and health care.
Years after water contamination was discovered in central Wyoming, an independent assessment indicated the sources of pollution. WyoFile’s coverage of the new development offers perhaps the most comprehensive explanation yet of the long-running saga.
The history of a prominent geographic feature in the Wind River valley reminds many of Chief Washakie and his leadership.
The ex-candidate asked other GOP also-rans whether they want to explore new law to keep voters from choosing primaries on election day. The story was the first sign that Foster Friess’ involvement in Wyoming politics would carry on past his surprising but unsuccessful election bid.
Temporary water transfers allow water-rights holders to sell the rights to billions of gallons of state-owned water for millions of dollars. Almost none of it goes to Wyoming.