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
5:37 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Garfield County Lands Nation's First Aerial Firefighting Research Center

Credit The U.S. Army via Flickr

Colorado has announced the location for a 'first of its kind' aerial firefighting research facility.

The Rifle-Garfield County Airport will be home to the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting.  

"So virtually everything we do in wildland firefighting will be subject to be looked at by this center of excellence," Paul Cooke, the director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, says. 

He says the center will test and evaluate existing and new technologies used in aerial firefighting. 

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NEWS
10:33 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Economic Development Bill Progresses At State Capitol

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A bill to find ways to boost economic development in highly distressed regions of Colorado has cleared the state House. 

The bipartisan measure calls for the creation of a working group that identifies areas in Colorado that are struggling. 

The group would make recommendations to the legislature on how to improve the economies of these distressed regions. 

Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver is one of the bill’s sponsors.  

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LOCAL MOTION
2:18 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Local Motion: Addressing The Needs, Wants Of Colorado's Growing Senior Community

Credit flickr.com/sparkleglowplug

In 2010, 10 percent of Colorado’s population was over the age of 65.

The state ranked fourth lowest in the nation for people in this demographic. However, this age group is rapidly growing according to the Colorado Demography Office.  

It’s projected this age cohort will more than double to nearly 1.3 million people over the next 20 years. 

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HEALTH
10:12 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Delta Hospital Seeks To Extend Federal Payments

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

For the past three years, Delta County Memorial Hospital has been participating in a pilot program that's allowed it to collect more money from Medicaid and Medicare for its services. 

The program will sunset in 2017, but the hospital doesn't want to that to happen. That's why it's lobbying federal lawmakers to support two bills that would extend it.  

Additionally, the hospital wants to see if it can change its classification in effect making those larger payments permanent, but to do that it also needs federal support. 

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NEWS
1:19 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Home Kitchen Producers, Lawmakers Hope To See Cottage Food Law Expand

Monica Wiitanen adds wood to her outdoor oven that she uses to bake bread.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Cottage food laws are on the books in almost every state. These statutes allow people to make food products in their home kitchens and sell their goods directly to consumers. In Colorado two bills would expand the state's three-year-old Cottage Foods Act.  

Monica Wiitanen is adding wood to her outdoor brick oven. She uses it to bake artisanal breads that she makes in her home kitchen. 

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Federal Hemp, Marijuana Bills Backed By Colorado Congressmen

A bill in the U.S. Senate would legalize industrial hemp.
Credit flickr/edwardthebonobo

A federal bill to legalize industrial hemp farming has the backing of a Colorado Congressman. 

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. 

The bill would remove industrial hemp from the marijuana definition in the Controlled Substance Act thus allowing farmers to grow it.

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

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NEWS
5:24 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Congressman Scott Tipton Checks In On Delta County During Western Slope Tour

Congressman Scott Tipton at the Delta County Courthouse for a meeting with the commissioners on Wed., March 11, 2015.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

U.S. Representative Scott Tipton stopped in Delta on Wednesday as part of his tour of the Western Slope. 

At a meeting with the Delta County Commissioners Tipton discussed economic issues, broadband, rural health care, energy and tax reform. He also gave a congressional update. 

KVNF's Laura Palmisano interviewed Tipton during his visit.

Tipton represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District which covers most of the western part of the state. 

He's also scheduled to meet with the Ouray County Commissioners on Thursday in Ridgway.

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NEWS
4:51 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Bill To Aid Colorado Volunteer Fire Depts. Signed Into Law

Credit flickr/mgabelmann

A bipartisan bill to help Colorado volunteer fire departments organize and get funding was signed into law Wednesday. 

Governor John Hickenlooper approved the Volunteer Fire Department Organization Act along with 20 other bills. 

The act helps not-for-profit, non-governmental, volunteer fire departments gain official recognition and makes them eligible to receive state assistance grants. 

State fire officials estimate there are up 60 volunteer fire departments across Colorado that this bill could assist.

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ARTS
6:06 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Paonia Inspires Local Fiber Art Installation

Adriana Villagran, left, and Amber Imrie-Situnayake, right, worked together to create the fiber art installation.
Laura Palmisano KVNF

An interactive art installation on display now at the Blue Sage Gallery in Paonia was inspired by local residents and businesses. 

It’s Thursday night in Paonia. Elsewhere Studios is packed with people.

They’re here to see the work of the artists who are wrapping up their residencies.

On the second-floor of the studio is an art installation created by two women from California.

The upper portion of the display is a canopy of sticks arranged like an upside down bird’s nest with threads hanging down from it.   

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NEWS
9:22 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Bill To Expand Colorado Cottage Foods Act

Under the the Colorado Cottage Foods Act products like bread can be made by producers in their home kitchens and sold directly to consumers.
Credit flickr/chiotsrun

A bill to expand the Colorado Cottage Foods Act is scheduled to get its first hearing Tuesday afternoon.

KVNF's Laura Palmisano speaks to Democratic Representative Millie Hamner about the act and the expansion bill she's co-sponsoring. 

The bill is assigned to the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee.

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NEWS
7:00 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

Water Sports Park Opens In Montrose

Marine veteran Jared Bolhuis tests the waves in a kayak before the park opened.
Credit Welcome Home Montrose

There’s still snow on the ground, but that’s not stopping people from enjoying a new water park on the Western Slope. 

The city of Montrose has finished construction two months ahead of schedule on its Water Sports Park. The recreation area is now open to the public. 

The park utilizes a section of the Uncompahgre River. Montrose created ‘wave stimulators’ so people can kayak, paddle board, raft and swim in the waves.

City Engineer Scott Murphy explains how it works.

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NEWS
6:23 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Sheriffs, Prosecutors Sue Colorado Over Marijuana Law

A medical marijuana plant grown in Colorado's Delta County.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Colorado has been under fire lately over Amendment 64.  The state is currently being sued by neighboring states and a Washington, D.C. organization over recreational marijuana.  Now, Colorado is being sued by its own sheriffs. 

Six sheriffs from across Colorado and sheriffs and prosecutors from Nebraska and Kansas are plaintiffs in the suit. Governor John Hickenlooper is named as the defendant.

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NEWS
11:09 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Colorado Cottage Foods Act Sees Possible Expansions

Under the the Colorado Cottage Foods Act products like bread can be made by producers in their home kitchens and sold directly to consumers.
Credit flickr/chiotsrun

A bill to expand the Colorado Cottage Foods Act is scheduled to get its first hearing early next week. 

The act allows people to sell certain products made in an unlicensed home kitchen directly to consumers. 

House Bill 1102 seeks to broaden it. Republican Rep. Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction is one of the bill’s sponsors.

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Facing Financial Woes North Fork Ambulance Looks For Solutions

The North Fork Ambulance Association is the only emergency medical services provider in the North Fork Valley. It's staffed by volunteer emergency responders.
Credit North Fork Ambulance Association

The North Fork Ambulance Association is facing a large budget deficit. 

The association has been operating in Delta County for 46 years. 

"We are the only emergency response in the valley for medical," Kathy Steckel, the organization's executive director, says. "The next closest emergency medical comes out of Delta."

The nonprofit has five employees and about 50 volunteer emergency responders. 

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Facing Financial Troubles North Fork Ambulance Asks Public For Solutions

More than 25 people attended the North Fork Ambulance Association's meeting in Hotchkiss on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The North Fork Ambulance Association is facing a large budget deficit.

That’s why the organization is hosting a series of meetings to gather ideas from the community on what to do about the problem. The first meeting was in Hotchkiss on Thursday night. 

The association is the only ambulance service provider in the North Fork Valley. About 50 volunteer emergency responders staff it. 

The nonprofit is funded by paid memberships, grants from the state, charging non-members for ambulance services and donations. 

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HEALTH
1:58 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Hickenlooper Announces Campaign To Reduce Rx Drug Abuse

Credit flickr/macwagen

This week Governor John Hickenlooper announced a new campaign seeking to reduce prescription drug abuse and misuse in Colorado.

In partnership with the University of Colorado the state has launched its “Take Meds Seriously” campaign.

Robert Valuck, a professor of pharmacy at CU, is part of a statewide consortium created by the governor to address prescription drug abuse in Colorado.  

"We say safe use, safe storage [and] safe disposal," Valuck says ."And that’s what our public awareness campaign is all about." 

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HEALTH
10:02 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Therapeutic Specialist Discusses Recreation Program For Western Slope Seniors

Volunteers of America offers a senior therapeutic recreation program on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Paonia.
Credit Laura Palmisano

February is National Therapeutic Recreation Month. Volunteers of America has therapeutic recreation programs for seniors in Montrose and Delta counties. KVNF's Laura Palmisano speaks to Anne Johnson, a therapeutic specialist, who oversees the program. 

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NEWS
5:22 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

With Gratitude Veterans Craft Canes For Fellow Vets

Vietnam veteran Gary Gratton carves an eagle head.
Laura Palmisano

Throughout history, the eagle has symbolized strength and courage.

It’s been called “the king of the skies” and in mythology it was often a messenger for the gods.

And now the eagle is also becoming a symbol of gratitude.

Military veterans on the Western Slope are handcrafting canes decorated with the head of an eagle for fellow veterans. 

Gary Gratton leans over a lathe. He’s sanding a piece of basswood shaped like an eagle’s head.

Gratton retired from the Marines as an officer. He spent some of his career fighting in Vietnam.

"I’ve spent 27 years serving my country," he says. "Now I want to serve my community." 

Gratton volunteers at the Warrior Resource Center in Montrose.

There he helps coordinate the Eagle Head Cane Program.  

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NEWS
6:02 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Teen Pregnancy and Dropout Prevention Bill Advances At State Capitol

HB 1079 seeks to extend and expand a pilot program known as the teen pregnancy and dropout prevention program.
Credit flickr/isnow

A Colorado bill aimed at preventing teen pregnancy and keeping kids in school cleared the state House last week. 

The bill seeks to extend and expand a pilot program known as the teen pregnancy and dropout prevention program. 

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HEALTH
6:00 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Health Officials Want You To Give Your Heart Some Love

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says heart disease kills more than 600,000 Americans each year.
Credit flickr/proudlove

It's common to see candy and paper hearts in February, but medical professionals also want you to think about your own heart this month. KVNF's Laura Palmisano speaks to Mark Leach the director of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation at Delta County Memorial Hospital. In recognition of National Heart Month, they discuss heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the United States. 

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NEWS
11:14 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Body, SUV Recovered Below Red Mtn. Pass Outside of Ouray

The rented SUV that was pulled from below Red Mountain Pass outside of Ouray on Thursday.
Credit CDOT

Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton was closed for most of Thursday while emergency personnel recovered an SUV along with the body of a missing man.

Officials say the body of Jin Junge of Denmark was recovered along with a rented white Cadillac Escalade that fell more than 400 below the highway.

Junge was reported missing by family members on Feb. 4.

The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office says GPS equipment installed in the rental vehicle helped them find it.

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NEWS
5:33 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Bill To Aid Colorado Volunteer Fire Depts. Heads To Governor's Desk

Credit flickr/mgabelmann

A bipartisan bill aimed at helping volunteer fire departments organize and get funding heads to the Governor’s desk. 

HB 1017 cleared the state Senate on Tuesday. 

The measure would create the Volunteer Fire Department Organization Act. 

Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, is one of the bills sponsors.

"It will be one of the first bills that will be presented to the Governor to sign into law," Hamner said.

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NEWS
2:43 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Mesa County Plans To Sue Feds Over Grouse Listing

The Gunnison Sage Grouse is found in parts of Utah and Colorado. It’s estimated there are only 4,800 of them left. The largest population of the species, about 4,000 grouse, inhabits the Gunnison Basin.
Credit Flick/bryanto

Mesa County is showing its support for Colorado’s decision to sue the federal government over the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse.  

"We believe that state of Colorado’s decision is solid,"  Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis said. "We join several other counties in doing that [including] Gunnison County [and] Garfield County." 

McInnis said the Mesa County Board of Commissioners has instructed the county attorney to draft a notice of intent to sue over the listing. 

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Colorado Bills To Require Photo ID For Same-Day Voter Registration

Credit Laura Palmisano

Two Republican sponsored bills that would require a photo ID for same-day voter registration get their first hearing at the state capitol Wednesday. 

In 2013 state Democrats overhauled Colorado election laws. Republicans protested the changes especially the provision allowing voters to register on Election Day.

GOP lawmakers want people to show a photo ID to do this.

Two bills scheduled to be taken up by the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee address this topic.

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NEWS
5:41 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Bill To Aid Colorado Volunteer Fire Departments Progresses

Credit flickr/mgabelmann

A Colorado bill aimed at helping volunteer fire departments organize and get funding has already cleared the House and is progressing in the Senate. 

HB 1017 would create the Volunteer Fire Department Organization Act.  

It would help non-governmental, not-for-profit volunteer fire departments gain official recognition and make them eligible to receive state funding.  

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NEWS
12:34 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Montrose Health Center Gets $422K To Prevent Youth Pot Use, Abuse

The Center for Mental Health in Montrose got a $422,000 grant through Colorado marijuana tax dollars to help prevent youth pot use and abuse.
Credit flickr.com/prensa420

The Center for Mental Health in Montrose has received a grant through marijuana tax dollars to help prevent youth pot use and abuse. 

The $422,000 grant, awarded by the state of Colorado, was announced this week. 

The center will share the funds with 16 other organizations across the Western Slope that work with young people. 

The Delta County School District will receive the most funding with a $100,000 grant.

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ENVIRONMENT
10:56 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Colorado Sues Feds Over Gunnison Sage Grouse Listing

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse.

Last November, the grouse was listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 

After the announcement, Colorado along with environmental groups and local governments threatened to sue. 

On Wednesday the state filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the listing.

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NEWS
10:48 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Mesa County School District Tries To Combat Student Drug Use With Education

Cody Roark, left, and Nick Cunningham oversee Pathways, a new Mesa County Valley School District drug intervention program for students.
Credit Laura Palmisano

A year after recreational marijuana stores opened, Colorado is still trying to determine the impact on youth who aren't legally allowed to use pot.

Recently released data shows that in the last school year drug incidents in Colorado middle and high schools reached a ten-year high and certain districts standout in the data including the Mesa County Valley School District.

Mesa County District officials say they are trying to address the problem through more education. 

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NEWS
6:35 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Mesa County School District Cites Marijuana Legalization For Rise In Student Drug Cases

Last school year, Grand Junction High School reported 51 drugs cases to the state. The school had the highest number of drug incidents within Mesa County Valley School District 51 last year. It's also the largest school in the district.
Credit Laura Palmisano

A year after recreational marijuana stores opened, Colorado is still trying to determine the impact on youth who aren't legally allowed to use pot.

Recently released data shows that in the last school year drug incidents in Colorado middle and high schools reached a ten-year high and certain districts standout in the data.

Last year, Mesa County Valley School District 51 also reported more student drug cases than it had in the past ten-years.

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HEALTH
6:00 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Child Health Lags In Colorado, Report Finds

Credit Flickr.com/dis_patch

A report that grades Colorado on the health of its citizens gave the state high marks for adult health, but mediocre scores for child health.

The 2015 Colorado Health Report Card uses indicators like obesity, poverty and access to medical care as ways to measure the overall health of people in the state. The Colorado Health Foundation puts out the report. 

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