Laura Palmisano

Senior Reporter/Producer

Laura is a senior reporter and producer for KVNF Community Radio. 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 was a 2015 fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow  Award and an Award of Excellence from the Colorado Broadcasters Association. Laura also has experience as a videographer and video editor. She graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.  

Ways to Connect

Marijuana Plant
flickr.com/cwhitfield

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
flickr.com/adrianclarkmbbs

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
flickr/breatheindigital

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.

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.

innovation
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
SUCAP

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
milliehamner.com

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. 

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