Laura Palmisano

Senior Reporter/Producer

Laura is a senior reporter and producer for KVNF Community Radio. You may also on occasion hear her host Morning Edition and Local Motion on KVNF. Laura has worked at public radio and television stations in Phoenix and Tucson. Her work has aired on NPR, the BBC, Harvest Public Media and the Rocky Mountain Community Radio exchange. She was a 2015 fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow  Award and an Award of Excellence from the Colorado Broadcasters Association. Laura also has experience as a videographer and video editor. She graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.  

Ways to Connect

Shavano Valley Petroglyphs
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Shavano Valley outside of Montrose, Colorado contains petroglyphs drawn by hunters and gatherers, Ute Indians and other indigenous people. Archaeologist Carol Patterson has studied these drawings for over a decade. Through the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose she leads guided tours of the rock art site. This week on Local Motion, we'll go on that tour with Patterson. 


Sharing Ministries Food Bank
Laura Palmisano/KVNF

Sharing Ministries Food Bank recently broke ground on its new facility in Montrose, a much needed expansion officials with the organization say.  The new warehouse will triple the regional food bank's capacity.  In the past five years, Sharing Ministries has seen a 92 percent increase in the amount of people needing food assistance. Officials say the new building will help them keep up with the growing demand. 

West Elk Mine
WildEarth Guardians

The last fully operational coal mine in the western part of the state announced layoffs Thursday.

The West Elk Mine outside of Paonia is owned by Arch Coal. The company filed for bankruptcy in January and says it’s letting go of 80 workers.

Habitat For Humanity of the San Juans

Montrose-based Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans is marking several milestones including its 25th anniversary and 50th home built.

  • Body found inside burning mobile home in Olathe
  • Mudslide closes road on Uncompahgre Plateau 
  • DMEA at-large candidate interviews 
  • Governor Hickenlooper unveils new book

Jake Ryan/KVNF

The economic downturn in the fossil fuel industry is not only affecting profits and jobs; it’s also impacting funding for state projects.

coal miner, Paonia Town Park, mining
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Thirty-five years ago this month, an explosion at the Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine outside of Redstone, Colo. killed 15 coal miners. Rob Mulford worked at the mine. He wasn't there that day, but the weight of the tragedy is still with him. Mulford now lives in Alaska, but he recently came back Colorado, to honor his friends and fellow miners who died. He joined KVNF's Laura Palmisano in the studio to talk about the tragedy and a book he's writing.

  • Runaway Delta teen found safe
  • Racial profiling data collection bill initially passes House
  • SEI launches Delta County solar campaign
  • An interview with the new director of the National Renewable Energy Lab  

  • Ballots for special district election mailed out
  • Presidential primary bill about to be unveiled
  • Will Colorado schools finally allow medical marijuana? 

Rob Mulford, coal miner, Paonia Town Park
Laura Palmisano

Thirty-five years ago today, April 15, 1981, an explosion at the Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine outside of Redstone, Colo. killed 15 coal miners. Rob Mulford worked at the mine. He wasn't there that day, but the weight of the tragedy is still with him. Mulford now lives in Alaska, but he's back, to honor his friends and fellow miners who died. 

  • I-70 thru Glenwood Canyon fully open
  • Peabody announces bankruptcy, sale to Bowie falls through
  • Colorado schools slow to allow medical marijuana, lawmakers want a change

rockfall, glenwood canyon
Tracy Trulove / CDOT

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon is fully open nearly two months after rockfall caused major damage.  

In mid-February, I-70 closed for nearly a week. Then it reopened to head-to-head traffic followed by single-lane openings in each direction.  

Elsewhere Studios, art
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Elyse Mische is a mixed-media illustrator from the Midwest. She's in Paonia, Colo. for a three-month artist residency at Elsewhere Studios. The organization brought her to town as the first-ever recipient of its fashion designer residency. She's designing a line for the upcoming Paonia Fashion Show, taking place May 20-21. In this segment, Mische talks about her line and creative process. 

  • Bill to allow medical marijuana in schools clears state House committee
  • Bill seeks to fund emergency cleanup at legacy mining sites in Colorado
  • Conservation groups oppose Congressman Tipton’s Thompson Divide lease swap
  • USGS releases report on human-induced earthquakes
  • Law enforcement across Colorado participate in spring DUI enforcement campaign 

  • Regional municipal election roundup
  • Scramble for delegates put Colorado's GOP back in the limelight
Flickr via Jeffrey Beall

As coal mining continues to decline in Delta County, communities are struggling. People are moving away. The school district is losing students. Unemployment remains high. 

In the small town of Hotchkiss, some see marijuana as a way to bring in much needed revenue and think it’s time to reconsider the local ban.  

In the upcoming April municipal election, Hotchkiss voters face three questions.

rolling coal
Jim Hill / KUNC

With a few adjustments, owners can modify their diesel truck exhaust to spew out a thick, black smoke. It’s called rolling coal.

"People riding bikes or pedestrians get blasted by this," says Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood.  

downtown Ridgway

A major road improvement project in Ridgway is set to start next week.

The project includes widening State Highway 62 through the town and adding a turn lane. Additionally, the main streets through downtown will be paved for the first time (in Ridgway's 125-year history) and landscaping, public art, curbs, and gutters will be installed. 

Scott Mills
City of Ouray

An officer with the City of Ouray Police Department was killed in an accident on U.S. 550 on Monday.  

Sgt. Scott Mills, 51, was riding his motorcycle while off-duty when a truck collided with him on the highway between Ouray and Ridgway.  

Crisanta Duran, Kerry Donovan, Millie Hamner
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

This week on the program, we'll hear interviews with three Democratic state lawmakers who recently came to Paonia for a constituent meet-and-greet. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Colorado House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kerry Donovan at the event. They discussed the current legislative session and bills the lawmakers are sponsoring. 

medical equipment, health

A coalition in Montrose is working to create a nonprofit health center that provides physical, mental and dental services under the same roof.

The Community Dental Clinic is collaborating with the Center for Mental Health and the Delta-Montrose Technical College on the project. 

Melanie Hall, the executive director of the clinic, says the new site will be called PIC Place, which stands for Partners in Integrated Care.

Bowie #2 Mine, Coal Mine
WildEarth Guardians

Another coal mine will shut down in Western Colorado. Bowie Resource Partners is idling the Bowie #2 Mine near Paonia.

In a release, the company cites the continued decline of the coal market as the reason for the closure.

The mine currently employs 108 people. Bowie estimates 68 full-time positions will be eliminated in April, but by July, nearly everyone will lose their job. 

rolling coal
Jim Hill / KUNC

Police in Montrose will be cracking down on ‘coal rollers’.       

When a vehicle with a modified exhaust quickly accelerates in order to spew out a black cloud of smoke, it's called ‘rolling coal’. Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn says over the past several months the department has received numerous complaints from residents about diesel trucks doing this.

rockfall, glenwood canyon
Tracy Trulove / CDOT

Updated 2/21/16

The closed portion of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon reopened Sunday evening, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

However, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said intermittent road closures are planned over the next several days. 

"We think we are going to be in this combination of the pilot car configuration open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m then closing down from 9 a.m. til 4 p.m.," said Ford. 

CDOT said the pilot car program will guide traffic through a six-mile long closure that's down to a single lane. 

cigarette, smoking
Flickr via Raul Lieberwirth

Cigarette sales in Colorado are up for the first time in nearly a decade.

The decline in cigarette sales started in 2004. That’s when Colorado voters approved boosting the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 64 cents. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said after that cigarette sales plummeted from around 300 million packs a year to a low of 193.2 million in 2014. 

However, last year sales ticked up by 1.1 million packs. 

solar panels
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Last year, two nuns from Pakistan visited Paonia. Sister Samina Iqbal and Sister Maria Daniel came to the North Fork Valley to take more classes at Solar Energy International. Through the nonprofit school, the nuns with the Sisters of Loretto have learned how to install and troubleshoot solar systems. Samina and Maria say they are the only women in Pakistan doing solar installation. And, they’ve set up systems at missions, schools and homes.

smoking, no smoking sign
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. 

In Colorado, it kills more people than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents, suicide, and murder combined. It claims about 5,000 lives in the Centennial State every year. Despite this fact, state data shows nearly 16 percent of Colorado adults smoke. 

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Colorado has seen its first avalanche fatality of the season.

Officials say on Thursday afternoon, snowmobilers riding in the Ruby Range west of Crested Butte triggered the avalanche.  

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says one of the riders was 'caught and buried' on a day ranked considerable for danger. 

Millie Hamner

Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillion, is the chair of the state Joint Budget Committee this session. She’s also the vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. The Western Slope lawmaker recently spoke to KVNF about what big budget issues will be debated at the capitol this session. 

Stephen Butler via Flickr (CC-BY)

This week on the program, we'll hear Governor John Hickenlooper's State of the State address. The speech was originally recorded on Jan. 14, 2016.