Laura Palmisano

Senior Reporter/Producer

Laura is a senior reporter and producer for KVNF Community Radio. She covers seven 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 (Arizona PBS & KJZZ) and Tucson (Arizona Public Media). 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 & Journalism's fellowship on immigrant families. She also has experience as a 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. 


Ways to Connect

razorback sucker, fish
Laura Palmisano

Some native fish in the Colorado River and its tributaries are struggling to stay afloat.  Invasive species, dams and water diversions all complicate the recovery of endangered fish in those waterways.  One long-standing program ties together federal and state agencies with regional groups to help these cold-blooded creatures make a comeback.

Flickr user: oatsy40

Arch Coal recently said that it might file for bankruptcy. The St. Louis-based company operates the West Elk Mine near Somerset and is the second largest coal company in the U.S. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Robert Godby, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming, who tracks the coal industry, about the announcement.  

DMEA, Delta Montrose Electric Association, Marv Ballantyne
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Delta Montrose Electric Association hosted an energy efficiency forum in Hotchkiss on Tuesday night.

About 45 people attend the forum at Hotchkiss Memorial Hall.

DMEA set up informational tables about energy efficiency programs the co-op offers such as rebates for LED light bulbs and energy efficient appliances.  

There was even an interactive display where people rode a stationary bike to see how much energy it took to light up an incandescent bulb versus an LED one.  

Delta County Library District, Paonia Library, Delta County Libraries
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Delta County Library District is experiencing a shake-up in leadership.

Last Wednesday, the library board placed district director Annette Choszczyk on paid administrative leave. On that same day, John Gavan, the district’s IT manager, resigned in protest.

In an email, Gavan says Choszczyk was a “highly capable and effective library director.”  

rico, snow, houses

A program that assists low-income Coloradans with their winter heating costs is accepting applications.

Last year, the Colorado Low-Income Energy Program, or LEAP, helped 81,000 households with their heating bills.  

delta, downtown delta colorado
Flickr user: J. Stephen Conn

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Nov. 10, 2015  because the city announced Dana Schoening withdrew his application. 

Delta is hoping third time’s the charm for its city manager search.

In April, Delta’s then city manager Justin Clifton left for a job in Arizona. The city launched the search for his replacement in May. 

vote, flag, voting
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Voters across the Western Slope overwhelming approved broadband measures. 

Communities across the region asked residents to opt-out of Senate Bill 152. The decade-old state law prevents local governments from providing internet services or spending money on broadband infrastructure unless residents overturn it.  

Voters in Gunnison, Delta and Ouray Counties approved opt-out measures. Residents in Crested Butte, Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Cedaredge, Delta, Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride also passed similar ballot issues.  

going out of business sign, economy
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

This week on Local Motion, we discuss the economy in Delta County and local efforts to improve it. KVNF's Laura Palmisano speaks to Delta County Commissioner Bruce Hovde, Michelle Haynes, the executive director of Region 10,  and Trish Thibodo, the executive director of Delta County Economic Development. 

River Valley Family Health Center

A health center in Olathe that primarily serves low-income and uninsured patients is expanding.  

River Valley Family Health Center is opening a location in Montrose this week. A majority of the health center’s patients are on Medicaid or don’t have insurance.  

ice climbing, Ouray Ice Park, Ouray Ice Festival
JT Thomas

Tiny beetles are causing big problems for Ouray Ice Park.  

Fir engraver beetles are destroying the white fir trees climbers use as anchors. 

"As trees are dying, all of a sudden we have a serious loss of safe anchoring options for climbers within the park," said Mike Macleod, the president of the park’s board of directors. 

Macleod said the park is installing alternative anchoring in areas of the park where trees were traditionally relied upon.

saw peter, karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Saw Peter is Karen. That’s an ethnic group in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  And for more than 100 Karen refugees in rural Delta, Colo., he’s the go-to person for advice, translation and other essential information.

Like the other refugees in this community, life hasn’t been easy for Peter.

As a young man, he smuggled his family to Malaysia because the government in Myanmar seized their farm and threatened to kill them.

internet, broadband
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Governments and organizations across the Western Slope say slow and unreliable broadband is hindering economic development. That’s why communities across the region want voter support this fall on measures that would allow them to try and address the issue. 

Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Two Colorado communities hard-hit by the downturn in the coal industry received federal grants last week to help diversify their economies.

The Obama administration awarded Region 10, an organization of six counties on the Western Slope, a $1.2 million grant. Moffat County also got $50,000.

Delta County Memorial Hospital
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Over the summer, Delta County Memorial Hospital ended its partnership with the North Fork Clinics. The relationship lasted for a little over a year. DCMH had taken over managing the clinics in Paonia and Hotchkiss. After the hospital announced it was returning management to the two physicians who previously owned the clinics, the facility in Hotchkiss closed and one of the physicians left.

Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Two local organizations are partnering to create a business and resource center in Delta County.

Delta County Economic Development (DCED) and Region 10 are now sharing workspace in downtown Delta. 


A coal mine near Paonia is laying off more workers.

Bowie Resource Partners announced on Tuesday that it's eliminating nearly 100 jobs at the Bowie #2 Mine.

Stephen Butler via Flickr (CC-BY)

In the 2016 legislative session, Democratic state Representative Millie Hamner will chair the Joint Budget Committee. Hamner represents House District 61. It covers parts of Delta and Gunnison counties along with Summit, Lake and Pitkin counties. As part of a district tour, she stopped in Paonia over the weekend. KVNF's Laura Palmisano sat down with Hamner in the studio to discuss school funding, the state budget and the upcoming legislative session.

Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, Hemson Creek, Lake City
Lake Fork Valley Conservancy

A Hinsdale County nonprofit recently received a sizable state grant to help it with a public access easement along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife awarded the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy $33,000.

Montrose County in western Colorado is an agricultural community. Everything from apples to zucchini is grown there. However, not everyone knows what’s in season, how they can access it or how to prepare it.

The Local Farmacy Rx program is trying to change that. Through it low-income families learn how to eat healthy locally. 

karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

This week on Local Motion, we explore learning English as a second language. First, we'll hear from University of Colorado, Boulder linguist Maria Thomas-Ruzic. She's worked in the ESL field for over 40 years. Thomas-Ruzic explains why English is a basic need for immigrants in the United States and the challenges adult learners face.

Elsewhere Studios
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

This week Colorado Creative Industries, the state’s art agency, announced this year’s recipients of its Colorado Creates grant program.

It awarded 168 grants to organizations across the state. In the KVNF listening area, groups in Delta, Gunnison, Mesa, Ouray and San Miguel counties got funding.

black bear
U.S. Forest Service

State wildlife officials have concluded that a bear didn’t attack and maul a hunter over the weekend on the Grand Mesa. 

On Saturday, a man in his late 60s reported he was attacked by a bear. He told Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials he was parked on his ATV near Powderhorn Ski Resort when a bear attacked him causing him to drive over a small cliff into rocks below. CPW says the episode left him  with extensive but non-life threatening injuries.  

bull moose
Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The Grand Valley had an unusual visitor last week. Colorado Parks and Wildlife received calls about a moose in Grand Junction near Orchard Mesa. 

"As curious as that may sound it turned out to be true," said JT Romatzke, the area wildlife manager. "We did respond and did indeed find a young bull moose in the Grand Valley."

Marijuana Plant

The state of Colorado is having a pot holiday, well sort of, on Wednesday, Sept. 16. It's lifting the 10 percent sales tax people pay on recreational marijuana and the 15 percent excise tax paid by the industry.

This is a result of the voter-approved Tax Payers Bill of Rights, known as TABOR. To help explain how this law works and is applied, KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Richard Collins, a law professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

medical equipment, health

A significant increase in syphilis cases in Colorado has health officials concerned.

Between January and July of last year, there were 164 early stage syphilis cases recorded in the state. During the same period of this year, there were 255 early syphilis cases. That’s a 56 percent increase.


Dr. Daniel Shodell, with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says across the U.S. infection rates are going up including here in Colorado. 

Sherbino Theater
Sherbino Theater

This year the Sherbino Theater in Ridgway turns 100 years old. The theater is known for the musical acts and guest lecturers it brings to the Western Slope. On Friday, there will be an anniversary celebration at the theater that includes vaudeville style performances, silent films and of course a birthday cake. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Courtesy of Greg Owens

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is now an International Dark Sky Park. 

"Being an international dark skies park means the Black Canyon has exceptional starry nights [and] an environment that's great for people and wildlife, but it’s also a place where an exceptional amount of astronomy education takes place," said Nick Myers, a lead interpreter at the site.

vote, flag, voting
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Voters in Cedaredge will decide on two ballot questions this November. The town’s board of trustees unanimously approved the items last week.  

The first question deals with Senate Bill 152. It’s a decade old state law that prevents local governments from providing internet service to residents unless the people over turn it. 

John Hickenlooper
Laura Palmisano

On this episode of Local Motion, we’ll hear from Governor John Hickenlooper and members of his cabinet who spoke at a forum in Montrose last month. First, Irv Halter, the director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, speaks. Then John Swartout , a senior advisor to the governor, talks about sage grouse. And lastly, Hickenlooper delivers his remarks. 

tissue box, sick, illness, cold

Delta County is seeing a spike in pertussis, also known as whooping cough, cases. The highly contagious respiratory disease causes uncontrollable coughing and can make it difficult for people to breathe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says whooping cough can be fatal, especially to young children under a year old.

Between July and August, Delta County saw seven confirmed cases of the disease.

Bonnie Koehler, the deputy director of the county health department, says this uptick in cases is concerning.