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 & Journalism'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
5:26 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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COMMUNITY
8:49 am
Fri April 24, 2015

Paonia Students Clean Up River­side On Earth Day

Poppy Lightfoot, 14, searches for trash in the woods next to North Fork of the Gunnison River on Earth Day.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

In honor of Earth Day on Wednesday, a group of middle schools students in Paonia volunteered to clean up trash along the river. 

Armed with black trash bags and work gloves more than 20 seventh and eighth grade students are searching for rubbish in the woods near Paonia High School.

The area is next to the North Fork of the Gunnison River, a tributary of the Colorado River. And, these middle schoolers are here for a community service project coordinated by the Western Slope Conservation Center, a local nonprofit.

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NEWS
1:50 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Approval Sought Again For Gravel Pit In Montrose County

A satellite image from Google Earth that shows the site of the proposed Uncompahgre Gravel Pit in Montrose County west of State Highway 550.
Credit Google Earth

Two years ago, the Montrose County Commissioners denied a special use permit to construct a gravel pit.

The commissioners cited concerns over the location of the haul road, the length of time the asphalt plant would operate and the size of the pit as reasons for denying the permit.

However, the commissioners encouraged the applicant to reapply if they could address those concerns. 

The Montrose County Planning Commission will hold a public meeting Thursday to hear feedback on the proposed Uncompahgre Pit. 

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NEWS
4:49 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Missing Texas Teen Found Dead Below Highway Outside Of Ouray

Red Mountain Pass outside of Ouray, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano

A missing 18-year-old from Texas was found dead in Colorado on Thursday. 

Rescue workers recovered the body of Edgar Alfredo Vargas from the canyon below U.S. 550 on Red Mountain Pass outside of Ouray, according to a release.

The Ouray County Coroner's Office identified Vargas.

The El Paso teen was reported missing last week. Officials say a search in the area for him started last Friday. 

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Colorado Recovery Not Equal

Credit Solar Energy International

The latest Colorado jobs report shows some communities across the state still struggle with high unemployment. 

State economists say for the past four months, Colorado’s unemployment rate has stayed at 4.2 percent. That figure is still below the national unemployment rate of 5.5 percent.

Alexandra Hall is chief economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

"The labor force in Colorado is continuing to grow and the number of people employed are continuing to grow," Hall says.  

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AGRICULTURE
9:37 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Study To Compare Agritourism in Colorado, California

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Colorado State University is surveying farmers and travelers for a study on agritourism.

Earlier this year, nearly 800 farmers across Colorado received a questionnaire from CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The survey asks producers about agritourism. The university wants to know what portion of their business comes from the industry, how they attract tourists and what challenges they face.

The study is partnership between CSU and the University of California, Davis.

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NEWS
5:46 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Funding For Successful Colorado Contraceptive Program In Limbo

State officials say the program helped 30,000 get IUDs.
Credit flickr/stickypearls

An amendment to the state budget that would’ve continued a program credited with reducing teen pregnancies and abortion was killed this week. However, a controversial bill that would do the same thing cleared its second reading in the House on Friday. 

House Bill 1194 would provide $5 million to continue a program that helps low-income young women and teens access long-acting birth control. 

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NEWS
5:39 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Vision To Close North Fork Classrooms

Vision Charter Academy won't offer classes at its Paonia campus next school year.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Vision Charter Academy, a public charter school with three campuses in Delta County, won't offer classes at its North Fork campus next school year.  

Parents of students at Vision’s school in Paonia received the news Thursday via email.

Teri Kinkade the executive director of Vision Charter Academy wrote the letter.

In her email, Kinkade tells parents Vision’s board met earlier this week and decided to no longer offer classes at its Paonia location.

She cites a 'lack of interest' and 'declining enrollment' as reasons for the board’s decision.

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NEWS
11:43 am
Thu April 16, 2015

DMEA Forum Focuses On FERC Petition And Broadband

An example of fiber optic cable shown at a meeting in Paonia.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Delta Montrose Electric Association is a cooperative meaning its customers are its owners.

DMEA wants to hear what its consumers think about its desire to purchase more locally produced energy and it potentially entering the internet service game. 

Two months ago, DMEA filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

"What we are asking FERC to rule on is to declare Tri-State a public utility which would allow us then to enter into agreements with qualifying facilities,"  DMEA CEO Jasen Bronec says.

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NEWS
11:35 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Dispute Over Control Of Montrose Hospital Continues

Credit flickr.com/adrianclarkmbbs

The Montrose County Board of Commissioners and the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees are in an ongoing dispute over control of operations at the hospital. The battle has ended up in court several times.  

Late last year, both parties agreed to mediation so they could avoid a lawsuit. In a few weeks, that mediation is set to begin. 

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ARTS
3:59 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

North Fork Valley Inspires Outdoor Mural

Artist Artist Maya Arthur Jensen created the painting mounted to the front of the Harvester Building in Paonia.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

There's a new work of outdoor art on display in Paonia. 

The Harvester Building in downtown now has a landscape oil painting mounted to the front it. 

Artist Maya Arthur Jensen created the piece.

"The gentleman who owns the building and I got together in March of last year and he wanted to fancy up his building a bit," Jensen said. "We discussed different designs and different ideas and eventually we came up with a portrait of the valley floor."

The painting looks like a snapshot taken from one of the mesas that overlooks Paonia. 

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NEWS
9:20 am
Wed April 8, 2015

High Country News To Host Megadrought Discussion On KVNF

Credit flickr.com/markallanson

  

Tonight at  six on KVNF, Paonia-based environmental magazine High Country News will host a live discussion on megadrought. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE STREAM AT 6 PM MDT.

KVNF's Laura Palmisano talks to High Country News Associate Editor Brian Calvert about the event. 

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NEWS
2:15 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Beverage Producers, Farmers Hope To See Agritourism Grow In Delta County

An array of beverages produced in Colorado's Delta County.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

In 2013, tourists spent more than $17 billion dollars in Colorado. And, agritourism is one industry that’s drawing visitors to the state.

In Paonia last Wednesday, local beverage producers and farmers discussed what they could do to increase agritouirsm in Delta County. 

About 30 people are at the Hive Paonia. There are vineyard owners, cider producers and farmers.

They are discussing challenges they face when it comes to attracting visits to the area. 

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NEWS
11:56 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Bill Calls For Study Of Colorado's Bears

Credit U.S. Forest Service

A bill that calls for the state to study black bears advanced at the capitol Wednesday.  

H.B. 1304 instructs Colorado Parks and Wildlife to study the management of black bears in the state. They are they only known species of bear still found in Colorado. 

Republican Representative Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction is co-sponsoring the measure.

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NEWS
1:49 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

State Awards Millions Of Dollars For Local Municipal Projects

The town of De Beque received $2 million from DOLA to help build a new fire station.
Credit De Beque Fire Protection District

More than $34 million in grants from the state will go to local communities for public improvement projects.

Forty communities across the state received grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). 

Hotchkiss got $1.1 million to upgrade the town’s sewer system. De Beque received $2 million to help build a new fire station. The state awarded Mesa County $1 million for road and structure improvements. 

The Montrose Recreation District got $1.9 million to expand its community recreation center. And, Cedaredge received nearly $2 million. 

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LOCAL MOTION
12:59 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Local Motion: Autism Awareness

Sanni Ceto, a Paonia-based artist with autism, poses with her artwork on display at the Blue Sage Gallery through April 4, 2015.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

April is National Autism Awareness Month. In observation of this, KVNF's Laura Palmisano interviewed Temple Grandin, a well-known advocate for people with autism and a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, Sanni Ceto, a Paonia-based artist who has autism, and Dr. Jim Ball, the executive chair of the Autism Society’s Board of Directors and a behavior analyst who works autistic people.

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ARTS
6:00 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Paonia Art Show Highlights Ability

Rhoda Yago poses with her artwork on display at the Blue Sage Gallery in Paonia.
Laura Palmisano KVNF

A new art show in Paonia seeks to challenge the way people think about individuals with disabilities. 


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NEWS
1:10 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Colorado National Parks Grapple With Lack Of Funding For Repairs

According to a federal report, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park needs $5.5 million for maintenance and repair projects.
Credit NPS

A new report estimates national parks need $11.5 billion to address maintenance and repair projects. The National Park Service report finds Colorado parks alone could use more than $200 million dollars.

KVNF’s Laura Palmisano speaks to Sandra Snell-Dobert, a spokesperson for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area. 

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ARTS
5:59 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Using Shakespeare To Combat Bullying In Colorado Schools

Actors Sarah Adler, left, Ben Griffin, center, and Bethany Talley perform "Twelfth Night" at Paonia Elementary School.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Bullying is still an ongoing issue and telling kids to be nice to each other isn't always enough. That's why educators are getting creative.

In Colorado, some schools are using Shakespeare to get kids talking about violence and bullying and what they can do to prevent. 

More than 120 students are sitting on the gymnasium floor of Paonia Elementary. 

These third through sixth graders are here to see a play. 

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NEWS
11:13 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Program Trains Soldiers For Careers In Solar

LCpl. Aponte, front, and Sgt. McConnell move a solar module.
Credit Solar Energy International

The U.S. Department of Energy is piloting a program that trains military personnel for careers in the solar industry. The Reach for the Sun course is designed for people exiting the service and returning to civilian life. Paonia-based Solar Energy International is leading two of the three pilot programs including one at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. KVNF’s Laura Palmisano speaks to Kathy Swartz, the executive director of SEI, an educational nonprofit, about the project.

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LOCAL MOTION
10:40 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Local Motion: Delta County's Lake City Roots

This historical mural in downtown Paonia features Samuel Wade and Tony Bear. Wade is the founder of Paonia.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The North Fork Valley in Delta County opened to settlers in the early 1880's. The founders of Paonia, Hotchkiss and other communities in the area lived in Hinsdale County's Lake City before coming to the valley. As part of our Local Motion episode on community roots, KVNF's Laura Palmisano interviewed North Fork Valley historian and author Chuck Farmer to find out more about the area's connection to Lake City. Farmer co-authored the book "In the Footsteps of the Hotchkiss Brothers" with his wife Mary.

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NEWS
10:39 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Eckert Crane Days Draws Birders, 'Craniacs'

In March and April thousands of greater sandhill cranes fly over Delta County in Colorado as part of their spring migration.
Carole Scott Photography

This past weekend was the 15th annual Eckert Crane Days event. People from across Colorado came to Delta County to witness the spring migration of the sandhill crane. 

It’s a clear morning at Fruitgrowers Reservoir in Eckert. There are about 30 people here waiting to see a flock of greater sandhill cranes take flight.

"We have it on 45 power so we so that we can bring the cranes in close," Susan Chandler-Reed with the Black Canyon Audubon Society says.

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HEALTH
10:30 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Medicare Factoring Patient Satisfaction Into Payments Affects Local Hospitals

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The federal government has changed the way it pays hospitals through Medicare. It now factors in patient satisfaction. To discuss the affects on a local hospital, KVNF’s Laura Palmisano speaks with Jason Clecker, the CEO of Delta County Memorial Hospital. Over 60 percent of DCHM patients are on Medicare.

To see how your local hospital scored visit http://ow.ly/KGQk4

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