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

karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

As anyone who's ever taken a foreign language class knows, it’s hard to learn another language. For immigrants to this country, that challenge can affect their whole lives. According to census data, in 2013, there were more than 25 million people in the United States with limited English proficiency.  And, in Colorado's rural Delta County, a group of refugees from Southeast Asia is trying to overcome this barrier. 

community options
Community Options, Inc.

A local nonprofit that helps individuals with intellectual and development disabilities is constructing a new regional center.

Montrose-based Community Options, Inc. serves six counties on the Western Slope.

Last week, the organization broke ground on a three-acre property near downtown. Right now, it’s renovating one of the buildings on the site. 

CSU Rogers Mesa Agricultural Research Center
Linda Rubick

A group of Delta County stakeholders wants to breathe new life into a shuttered agricultural research center. The Colorado State University facility sits on 83 acres outside of Hotchkiss on Rogers Mesa. 

The property has a residence, classrooms, laboratory space, offices, cold storage, a greenhouse and equipment storage sheds. 

CSU used the site to conduct research on fruit trees, but now the classrooms and laboratories sit empty.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

A Telluride nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs launch their businesses is seeking applicants for its 2016 startup program. 

Telluride Venture Accelerator, an initiative of the Telluride Foundation, started three years ago. 

It brings entrepreneurs to the mountain town for a five-month residency program.  

Irv Halter
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A lack of access to high-speed internet is an issue for rural communities in western Colorado. 

John Hickenlooper
Laura Palmisano

Governor John Hickenlooper and members of his cabinet were in Montrose on Thursday for a community forum.

montrose regional dispatch center
City of Montrose

The city of Montrose is going to create its own regional dispatch center with an estimated price tag of $1.8 million. 

cows, dairy farm
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Across the state 70 facilities are under quarantine for a viral disease that affects livestock.

Small Potatoes Farm
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The state is offering financial assistance to Colorado farmers looking to move away from using flood irrigation. 

fiber optic cable
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Region 10 received $5.2 million grant from the state to develop better broadband access on the Western Slope. 

La Plata County

About a million gallons of contaminated mine water spilled into a tributary of the Animas River in San Juan County on Wednesday. 

black bear
U.S. Forest Service

Three laws sponsored by Western Slope legislators go into effect this week. 

Stephanie Helleckson, North Fork Community Chorus
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The North Fork Valley now has a community chorus. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Stephanie Helleckson, the music director and conductor, of the new vocal group. 

bull moose
Kent Miller / NPS

The moose population on the Grand Mesa is growing. The area is home to more than 400 of the large animals. This Saturday, July 25 is the sixth annual Grand Mesa Moose Day event. 

Mesa County Health Department

Mosquitoes in Mesa County tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Local officials say this is the first confirmed activity of the virus in area mosquitoes this year. 

However, other counties across Colorado have already reported positive tests to the state health department. 

Jennifer House is a state public health veterinarian.  

"We've recently had an increase in the number of positive mosquitoes," House says. "So far we have been able to find West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes in Boulder, Denver, Larimer, Mesa, Pueblo, and Weld counties."

bus, sucap, rroad runner stage lines

This month, marks the one-year anniversary of a regional bus service that connects Durango to Grand Junction. 

The Southern Ute Community Action Programs started Road Runner Stage Lines after Greyhound stopped running the route several years ago. 

KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Clayton Richter, the division director of SUCAP’s Road Runner Transportation, about the service. 

students, nature
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

In science class students learn about the world around them. However, getting kids to make a connection to nature without them experiencing it firsthand is a challenge. That’s why a Western Slope school district in partnership with a state wildlife agency is taking middle school students to the woods. 

Stacy Lischka, a scientist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is surrounded by 15 sixth-graders in a forest on the Grand Mesa. 

She's leading them in lesson on stream ecology. The students are looking for macroinvertebrates, animals without a backbone, in Mesa Creek. 

Creamery Arts Center
Creamery Arts Center

The Creamery Arts Center in Hotchkiss is closing after nearly a decade of operation in the North Fork Valley.

The nonprofit will shut its doors in August. However, this isn’t the end for it. 

Joanne and Linda Tullis, who founded the arts center and own the building, plan on reopening it under a new business plan.  

Pennie Alexander, the Creamy's current co-manager and co-director, says the center will close for the winter, but reopen in the spring with new hours and art offerings and a coffee shop. 

Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles

As of Wednesday, it’s more expensive to get a driver’s license in Colorado.

The Colorado Division Motor Vehicles raised fees for driver services across the board.

It’s now $25 to get a driver’s license. It went up by four bucks. 

It also used to be free to retake the knowledge test or the driving skills test. Now, people have to pay to redo those exams. 

Additionally, the price of a license for an undocumented immigrant increased to about $80, nearly $30 more than last year. 

Paonia Elementary
Laura Palmisano

A Waldolf-inspired education program in Paonia is a step closer to reality. 

The proposed North Fork School of Integrated Studies has enough students signed up to move forward. 

Delta County Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay says it will be a school within a school. 

"We are looking at trying to combine that within Paonia Elementary School as a different program or different option for students in the North Fork Valley," said Clay. 

Intent to enroll forms for the K-4 program were due earlier this month. 

construction, North Fork Valley
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A few years ago, a grassroots program started in Portland to encourage people to adopt solar power. That idea spread across the county and inspired similar initiatives like one in a rural community in western Colorado. 

A crew of six is working to install mounts for solar panels on a residential rooftop in Delta County. 

This home sits atop a mesa that overlooks the North Fork Valley. And, it’s the first to get a sun-powered system through a local pro-solar campaign.  

Mesa County Health Department

Colorado has its first human case of West Nile virus this year. 

Health officials say a Mesa County man hospitalized after contracting the virus is now recovering at home. He’s the first person to be diagnosed with it in Colorado so far this year, according to the state. 

Thomas Orr is a regional epidemiologist at the Mesa County Health Department.  

Millie Hamner

Representative Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, was the vice chair of the Joint Budget Committee this past session and will chair the committee in 2016. KVNF's Laura Palmisano recently interviewed Hamner about the past session, the state budget, educating funding, severance taxes and the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, known as TABOR. 

West Creek Ranch, Unaweep Canyon
Josh Duplechain

A new conservation agreement will permanently protect a 780-acre working ranch in the heart of Unaweep Canyon. 

Mesa Land Trust worked for three years to make the deal happen.  

Ilana Moir with the trust describes why the nonprofit wants to preserve West Creek Ranch, which is along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway.

hash oil
Andres Rodriguez via Flickr

A new law that makes it illegal for individuals to use hazardous materials to make hash oil went into effect on Wednesday.  

Republican Representative Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction co-sponsored the measure. He said it targets ‘home cookers’. 

"We had a problem with explosions all over the state from people trying to manufacture marijuana concentrate using dangerous, explosive, volatile substances such as butane," Willett said. 

Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery, rainbow trout
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 70 fish hatcheries across the country.

In Colorado there are two of these facilities. One is in Leadville. And, the other is outside of the town of Hotchkiss along the banks of the North Fork of the Gunnison River.

This week on the program, we take a tour of the Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery

medical, syringe, IV drug use, WESTCAP, needle exchange, syringe exchange
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Needle exchange programs in Colorado are expanding.

The programs are designed to keep illegal drug users from sharing used needles and spreading deadly diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. And, not too long ago they were illegal in this state. 

Five years ago, only one needle exchange operated in Colorado and it was illegal. 

Felix Belmont
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Guinness World Records lists a 95-year-old woman from Ohio as the world’s oldest professional DJ. However, KVNF’s Felix Belmont turns 97 Sunday, June 28.

Felix has been a volunteer DJ at KVNF for over 35 years.

He hosts a program called Stop Time where he plays big band music from the 20's, 30's and 40's. And, he might just be the oldest volunteer DJ in public radio and...maybe the world.

KVNF’s Laura Palmisano spoke to Felix ahead of his birthday. 

soil, dirt
NRCS Soil Health

A Delta County man is recovering after contracting tularemia. Although it’s the first reported case of the disease on the Western Slope this year, health officials are concerned.

Last year in Colorado 16 people were diagnosed with tularemia.

That's the second highest number of cases in Colorado since 1983 when there were 20 cases, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Paonia Elementary
Laura Palmisano

The Delta County School Board has approved a Waldorf inspired education program in Paonia.

For the past three years, a group of parents and educators in the North Fork Valley have tried to open a Waldorf inspired charter school.  

The school board and the state board of education denied their charter recognition.

However, the group worked with district officials and school administrators to come up with a compromise.

It would create a K-4 program inspired by the Waldorf model at Paonia Elementary School.