Laura Palmisano

Senior Reporter

Laura is a senior reporter for KVNF Community Radio. She covers eight counties on Colorado's Western Slope. 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's a 2015 fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journliam's fellowship on immigrant families. She also has experience as a producer, videographer and video editor. Laura graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. While attending ASU, she reported for Cronkite News and the State Press. She was also a Scripps Howard intern for ABC15 in Phoenix. 

  

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NEWS
5:00 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

State's Immigrant Driver's License Program Reopens Offices, Takes New Appointments

The state program allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card.
Credit Flickr/cryptozoologist

The state’s Division of Motor Vehicles immigrant ID program is once again scheduling appointments. And next week the DMV will reopen two locations to handle applicants. 

The program started last year. It allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card. 

Originally, five DMV locations offered these IDs . And, the program is self-sustaining through fees.

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COMMUNITY
9:55 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Local Motion: Seed Libraries, Seed Saving

Sarah Pope shows off seed packets available at the North Fork Seed Library, which is inside of the Hotchkiss Library.

This week on Local Motion, we'll learn about seed libraries and seed saving.

KVNF's Laura Palmisano interviews seed librarian Sarah Pope about the North Fork Seed Library in Hotchkiss. She also talks to Mark Waltermire of Thistle Whistle Farms, based in Delta County, about seed saving and attorney Neil Thapar with the Sustainable Economies Law Center about challenges seed libraries are facing.

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NEWS
3:13 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

Paradise Theatre Named Historic Landmark

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Paradise Theatre in Paonia is now a Historic Landmark. Last November, the Friends of the Paradise Theatre applied for the designation. And, last week the Delta County Commissioners approved it. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Tom Stevens, the vice president of the theatre's board, about the designation.

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NEWS
5:19 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

West Slope Homeless Shelter To Stay

Haven House is a long-term homeless shelter that serves families and individuals in six counties in western Colorado.
Credit Haven House

A transitional housing program for homeless families on the Western Slope now has a permanent home. 

Haven House will remain in Olathe. 

"We are happy to report that the housing authority that owned the building has agreed to our contract for the purchase," Larry Fredericksen, the executive director of the nonprofit faith-based shelter, says. "The closing is set for May 28."

Earlier this month, Haven House got a notice from the Montrose County Housing Authority saying it had sold the two-acre site.

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NEWS
4:10 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

West Slope College Goes Tobacco-Free

More than 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. are tobacco-free, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
Credit Flickr/smartsignbrooklyn

A college on the Western Slope is joining the growing number of higher education institutions that ban tobacco products.

The Delta-Montrose Technical College will be a tobacco-free school.

"All forms of tobacco products including smoking and smokeless tobacco or chew and e-cigarettes are banned," John Jones, the college's director, said.

He said it was a two-year process to get the policy in place.

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NEWS
4:41 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Western Slope Communities Get Workplace Wellness Grant

Delta County will oversee the $630,000 state grant to create a regional workplace program in six counties.
Credit flickr/ashkyd

Six counties on the Western Slope have received a large grant to promote workplace wellness.  

The $630,000 grant is from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Over the next three years, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray, and San Miguel counties will share the funding to create a workplace wellness program. 

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NEWS
11:52 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Haven House Nears Goal To Buy Property, Keep Shelter Open

Credit Haven House

The future of a transitional housing program for homeless families on the Western Slope is uncertain. 

Haven House needs to raise $345,000 by Friday to buy the property where it operates. 

The shelter opened in Olathe four years ago. It has 30 units where homeless families and individuals can stay for an extended period.

"Certainly between Grand Junction and Durango there is nothing like it," Larry Fredericksen, the president of the nonprofit faith-based shelter, said.

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NEWS
4:59 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Rep. Coram On The 2015 State Legislative Session

Don Coram talks about House Bill 1006 at its signing ceremony in Montrose on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The 2015 state legislative session has come to an end. KVNF's Laura Palmisano caught up with Republican Rep. Don Coram at a recent bill signing event in Montrose. He represents House District 58, which covers Montrose, San Miguel, Dolores and Montezuma counties.

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ARTS
4:17 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Grand Junction Photography Project Looks Beyond The Badge

Suzette Freidenberger is a patrol officer with the Grand Junction Police Department.
Credit Nathan Lopez Photography

This week is National Police Week. It is an occasion to honor officers who died in the line of duty. 

The time of remembrance this year comes on the heels of protests against police in major cities across the U.S. and a national debate on police tactics. 

In a local effort to increase understanding between law enforcement and the public, a Western Slope photographer is trying to get people to look beyond the badge and see the person in uniform.

Photographer Nathan Lopez moved to Grand Junction seven months ago from Oregon.

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NEWS
5:02 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Montrose Library District Faces Grim Budget Deficit

The Montrose Library in downtown Montrose, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Great Recession officially ended in 2009, but communities on the Western Slope are still feeling its effects.

In Montrose County, unemployment remains high and property values have not returned to pre-recession levels.

Paul Paladino, the director of the Montrose Regional Library District, said low property values affect the libraries.

"We are funded 90 percent from property taxes," said Paladino.

He said since 2013, the library system has faced a $420,000 budget deficit and is dipping into reserves to help make up for that loss.

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NEWS
3:37 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Bill To Fight Invasive, Thirsty Plants

Governor John Hickenlooper talks about House Bill 1006 at the bill's signing ceremony in Montrose.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

On his tour of the Western Slope this week, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill to create a grant program to help communities fight invasive plants that threaten riparian areas in Colorado.

House Bill 1006 creates the Invasive Phreatophyte Grant Program.

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill at a ceremony in Montrose on Tuesday.

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NEWS
5:25 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Grant Will Boost Shooting Range, Gun Center In Cameo, Once A Coal Town

The state gave Palisade a $2 million severance tax grant to help fund a regional sports shooting complex at Cameo.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The state collects severance taxes from companies that extract nonrenewable resources in Colorado. Some of this money goes to communities in the form of large grants. Most of these grants go to communities to help build fire stations, upgrade water systems, restore historic sites, and aid with other infrastructure or economic development projects. The program is also providing funds for a shooting range on the Western Slope. 

Roger Granat is the 73-year-old mayor of Palisade. He grew up there. And as a boy, he would often visit the neighboring community of Cameo. 

"The general store and the post office sat over here on our right," Granat said on a recent visit to the old town site.  

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NEWS
5:26 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Severance Taxes Critical To Colorado Communities

Ouray got a $200,000 grant from the state to develop a master plan to reconstruct its hot springs pool with the help of severance tax dollars.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

    

Severance taxes are a vital source of funding for communities across Colorado. This tax applies to revenue the state collects from mining and energy extraction. Half of these funds go directly to communities affected by those activities. The other half goes towards grants for infrastructure and economic development.  

"We have just under a million gallons of hot, natural spring water that flows into the pool," said Patrick Rondinelli, the city administrator of Ouray, while visiting the city's hot springs pool. 

"There’s always been ponds in the early years that were in this location and then finally in the late 1920’s a formal swimming pool was built on this very site," he said.  "And, it’s been maintained in that condition in some variation. There’s been some changes made to it but basically in this same very site all these years."  

Rondinelli said Ouray closes the pool in the spring for about a week to clean it and do basic repairs. The site attracts about 135,000 visitors a year and is a major tourism draw for the small mountain community.

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COMMUNITY
11:24 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Local Motion: Reporting On Immigrant Issues

Atlanta
Credit Laura Palmisano

This episode of Local Motion is a reporter's notebook from Atlanta. KVNF's Laura Palmisano traveled there last month for fellowship training. She is one of 15 journalists from across the U.S. selected by the Institute for Justice & Journalism (IJJ) for its 2015 fellowship on immigrant families.

In Atlanta, the fellows attended workshops and presentations put on by immigration experts, reporters and advocacy organizations. Palmisano brought her recording gear to interview presenters and other journalists. 

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NEWS
4:38 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

District 51 Buys Food Truck To Feed Needy Students

A design of what District 51's new food truck might look like.
Credit District 51

In Mesa County, 42 percent of children qualify for free or reduced lunch.  

During the summer, many of these same kids qualify for a meal program when school is out. 

Usually Mesa Valley School District 51 offers this program at four or five schools, but this year there’s only enough funding to have it at two.

However, this summer the district plans on bringing meals to some students.

With the help of a $50,000 grant from the Western Colorado Community Foundation it purchased a food truck from Denver. 

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NEWS
5:25 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Local Schools Bring In Experts To Teach Kids About Money

Autumn Lettau with NuVista Federal Credit Union teaches sixth-graders at Centennial Middle School in Montrose, Colo about financial literacy.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Many states require students be taught financial literacy. However, Colorado is one of the few that also tests on it. To help students learn, some schools are bringing outside experts into the classroom. 

Six teams of students are playing a quiz game similar to Jeopardy. The purpose of the game is to gauge the financial literacy of sixth-graders who just completed a weeklong course on the topic. 

"I wish that somebody had taught me this when I was this age,"Autumn Lettau with NuVista Federal Credit Union says.

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NEWS
5:20 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Region 10 Seeks Input On Econ. Development Ideas For Delta, Gunnison Counties

The North Fork Valley is an agricultural area in Delta County know for its organic farms.
Credit Laura Palmisano

Over the past two years, hundreds of coal miners in Delta and Gunnison counties lost their jobs.

The decline in the coal industry has affected western Colorado. That’s why Region 10, an association of local governments, hired Utah-based consulting firm Better City.

The company is analyzing ways to foster economic growth in the area. And, the firm recently unveiled its first recommendations on how to do that.

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NEWS
1:08 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Bill Aims To Draw New Businesses To Struggling Colorado Communities

A going out of business sign in Paonia. The Colorado town is in a county with high unemployment and a sluggish economy.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A bipartisan bill introduced in the state legislature this week looks to give struggling Colorado communities a jump-start. 

Senate Bill 282 would create ‘tax-friendly zones’ in up to 30 highly distressed counties across the state. 

"We are talking about areas that have the highest unemployment and lowest wages," said bill sponsor House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, D-Denver. 

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NEWS
4:59 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Construction Starts On $28M Montrose Recreation Center

If construction stays on schedule, officials estimate the Montrose recreation center will open in the fall of next year.
Credit KVNF / Laura Palmisano

On Friday, hundreds of people attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the new multimillion-dollar recreation center in Montrose.  

The facility has an estimated price tag of $28 million. 

"Tracking the whole history, it’s probably going on almost two decades of effort to bring a recreation center to Montrose," Ken Sherbenou, the executive director of the Montrose Recreation District, says. 

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NEWS
11:21 am
Fri April 24, 2015

6 Million People Visited Colorado National Parks Last Year

Colorado National Monument
Credit National Parks Service

A new federal report finds in 2014 national parks saw a record number of visitors. And, those tourists generated nearly $30 billion in economic activity. 

Colorado has a dozen national parks. More than 6 million people visited these sites last year, according a National Park Service report. 

It says tourists contributed more than $370 million in visitor spending to local gateway communities. And, the study says that spending supported 5,800 jobs in the state. 

Overall, NPS estimates national parks had an economic impact of $552 million on Colorado’s economy.  

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