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

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.   

bread
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.

kayak, Montrose water sports park
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.

Marijuana Plant
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.

bread
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.

North Fork Ambulance Association
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. 

public meeting, North Fork Ambulance Association
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. 

prescription, pill bottles, medication
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." 

paonia senior center, volunteers of america
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. 

Gary Gratton, woodworking
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.  

Pregnancy Test
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. 

heart
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. 

vehicle wreck
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.

firefighter gear
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.

Gunnison Sage Grouse
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. 

vote, flag
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.

firefighter gear
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.  

marijuana, pot
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.

Gunnison Sage Grouse
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.

Cody Roark, Nick Cunningham, pathways, Mesa County Valley School District
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. 

Grand Junction High School, counseling center
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.

Kids, Children
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. 

flu shot, vaccine
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District

The national measles outbreak has state and local health officials concerned. 

Last month 102 people from 14 states were reported to have measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of those cases was reported in Colorado and a majority of them are part of an outbreak linked to a California amusement park.  

That’s why state and local health officials are urging adults to get vaccinated and parents to inoculate their kids against the disease.

On this week's Local Motion, we’ll hear a roundup of some of the regional reporting that KVNF and partner stations have done.

Pregnancy Test
flickr/isnow

A Colorado bill aimed at preventing teen pregnancy and keeping kids in school will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee Friday morning. 

HB1079 seeks to extend and expand a pilot program known as the teen pregnancy and dropout prevention program. Republican Rep. Don Coram of Montrose co-sponsored the legislation. 

Coram says the pilot program has been running for over a decade in Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties.

downtown Paonia, Grand Ave Paonia
Laura Palmisano

A bill that aimed to help rural Colorado communities during times of economic crisis was killed in committee this week.  

The bill was sponsored by freshman Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, who represents seven counties including Delta, Hinsdale and Gunnison.   

Donovan says the bill would’ve allowed the state to react quickly with financial assistance when there’s an economic emergency in a community like a plant shutdown or industry-wide layoffs. 

solar panels
flickr/theentiremikey

A bill that seeks to give grants to schools for alternative energy projects will be taken up by a state Senate committee next week. 

A federally funded program that started in 2007 gave grants to public school for wind energy projects. In Colorado 16 schools took advantage of it. 

The money for that program has since dried up, but a bill introduced by Democratic State Senator Kerry Donovan of District 5 seeks to revive it at the local level. 

St. Vincent Hospital
St. Vincent Hospital

It seems Lake County’s only hospital won’t be closing. A new partnership has saved St. Vincent General in Leadville.

Last November, St. Vincent Hospital announced it was planning to close in March due to financial issues. A property-tax increase that would have helped the hospital pay for much-needed repairs was turned down by voters. 

Now, things are looking better for St. Vincent General. This week the hospital’s board entered a verbal agreement with Centura Health, a Colorado-based company.

mark miller
San Juan Mountain Guides via Facebook

Tragedy has struck the ice climbing community of Ouray. A local climbing instructor died while guiding clients in San Juan County last week.

Mark Miller, 50, was guiding clients on an ascent near Eureka last Friday. It’s reported an ice bulge broke when Miller was climbing off-rope causing him to fall to his death. 

Miller taught ice climbing for over 20 years. He worked as an instructor for San Juan Mountain Guides.

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