Laura Palmisano

Senior Reporter/Producer

Laura is a senior reporter and producer 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 (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

Uncompahgre Gravel Pit
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. 

Highway 550, Red Mountain Pass, Ouray
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. 

solar panel, solar workers, Solar Energy International
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.  

Produce, Vegetables, Thistle Whistle
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.

IUD, birth control
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. 

Vision Charter Academy, delta montrose technical college paonia campus
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.

fiber optic cable
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.

medical equipment, health
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. 

Harvester Building, north fork valley art
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. 

dry river bed, drought
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. 

wine, beer, juice
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. 

black bear
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.

De Beque, fire truck
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. 

sanni ceto, blue sage gallery
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.

Rhoda Yago, Blue Sage Gallery
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

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


Black Canyon of the Gunnison
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. 

Colorado Shakespeare Festival, acting
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. 

solar panel, solar workers, Solar Energy International
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.

paonia mural, samuel wade
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.

greater sandhill cranes
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.

Delta County Memorial Hospital, Urgent Care
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

helicopter, firefighting, wildfire, Aerial Firefighting
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. 

Economy, North Fork Valley
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.  

hands, senior citizen
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. 

Delta County Memorial Hospital, Urgent Care
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. 

Monica Wiitanen, outdoor oven
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. 

hemp plants
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.

Scott Tipton
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.

firefighter gear
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.

Adriana Villagran, Amber Imrie-Situnayake
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.   

Pages