Regional News

Weekdays at 8 a.m. & 5:50 p.m.

KVNF's original reporting covers a variety of issues affecting the Western Slope - everything from environmental and energy issues to breaking news and statewide legislative debates. We also feature content from our Rocky Mountain Community Radio partner stations. 

Our news team is always looking for leads. Let us know what's happening in your area, what issues you care about and what you'd like to hear us cover - email us at news@kvnf.org.

Peaches, Peach
flickr.com/bcostin

This year has been a difficult one for fruit growers on the Western Slope.  As fruit picking season develops,  the realities of the weather we’ve seen are evident. 

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."

A Colorado jury cleared the way for the second phase of the sentencing process for James Holmes, who was found guilty of killing 12 people and injuring 70 more in a shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. One week after convicting Holmes, the jury confirmed in a unanimous finding Thursday that he's eligible for the death penalty.

The jury said that when Holmes opened fire in a crowded theater in 2012, he acted in "extreme indifference to the value of human life generally."

It's illegal to employ immigrants without documents. But through voluntary work programs in detention centers, the federal government employs thousands of undocumented immigrants. "The government, which forbids everyone else from hiring people without documents, has effectively become the biggest employer of undocumented immigrants in the country," says Carl Takei, an attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project.

The pay for an eight hour shift in a detention center is $1 a day, or roughly 13 cents an hour.

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. 


Farmers who grow marijuana for Colorado's legal market are running into problems as they try to control mildew and pests. Because of the plant's illegal status at the federal level, a main source of agricultural guidance isn't available to pot farmers.

Attempts to regulate marijuana production often hit another problem, as the plant's wide range of uses sets it apart from many traditional food crops.

Both houses of Congress have now passed versions of the bill that would update the largest federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, for the first time since 2001. They are big, meaty and complicated, and now they have to be reconciled into one messy Dagwood sandwich of a bill to go to the president.

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. 

A last-minute change to an indoor venue due to stormy weather couldn't keep folks away from a dedication ceremony Saturday for Colorado's newest National Monument.  Supporters gathered in bleachers at the Buena Vista High School gym to hear from local, state, and federal officials as they celebrated the designation.

 

The nearly 22,000-acres of public land that stretches from Buena Vista to Salida in Chaffee County along the Arkansas River is well known for its recreation and wildlife. 

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. 

A jury in Colorado has found Aurora theater shooter James Holmes guilty of first-degree murder in the 2012 mass shooting that killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Holmes could now face the death penalty.

The jury of nine women and three men, who heard nearly three months of testimony in the case, deliberated for a day and a half before arriving at a decision on Thursday.

The verdict comes nearly three years to the day after the mass shooting on July 20, 2012, at the Century Aurora 16 theater.

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. 

flickr user ashrunner

Denise Weaver lives in Sanborn Park, near Norwood, Colorado. Weaver and her husband have lived there for 10 years.  For the first time this spring, they heard something they were a little unfamiliar with: some sort of humming coming from the pine trees.  They investigated, and described finding locusts. 

Denise asked around, and eventually a local farmer said that they were cicadas, and not to be worried at all.  Still, she had some questions. 

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. 

State by state, the legal marijuana business is slowly gaining ground. The industry is using both an increasingly favorable public opinion toward marijuana and a newly legal cash flow to try to transform itself into a force in national politics.

The defense for James Holmes, accused of the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting, has rested after trying to prove he was insane at the time of the 2012 attack that killed 12 people and injured 70.

Holmes' attorneys had argued their client was in the midst of a psychotic episode at the time of the July 20, 2012, incident.

Two psychiatrists who testified for the defense said Holmes was insane, but court-appointed doctors testified Holmes knew the difference between right and wrong. The Associated Press adds:

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the "know where your food comes from" movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

Getting a high school diploma is as good for health as quitting smoking.

That's the finding from a study released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Colorado, New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

They found that if every adult high school dropout in the 2010 population had a GED or a regular diploma, 145,243 deaths could be averted.

Fort Carson is faring better than many as part of the Army's efforts to reduce overall troop numbers by 40,000.

The Mountain Post will lose about 365 soldiers, a fraction of the 16,000 once deemed possible

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. 

West Creek Ranch, Unaweep Canyon
Josh Duplechain

A new conservation agreement will permanently protect a 780-acre working ranch in the heart of Unaweep Canyon. 

Mesa Land Trust worked for three years to make the deal happen.  

Ilana Moir with the trust describes why the nonprofit wants to preserve West Creek Ranch, which is along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway.

hash oil
Andres Rodriguez via Flickr

A new law that makes it illegal for individuals to use hazardous materials to make hash oil went into effect on Wednesday.  

Republican Representative Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction co-sponsored the measure. He said it targets ‘home cookers’. 

"We had a problem with explosions all over the state from people trying to manufacture marijuana concentrate using dangerous, explosive, volatile substances such as butane," Willett said. 

Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon as of today.

People 21 and older can now possess up to an ounce of pot when away from home and up to 8 ounces at home. It's also legal to grow up to four plants per household.

Jeff Reynolds

A faulty antenna preamplifier was replaced Monday, July 6th, restoring a clean KVNF signal to the Lake City translator. Tune in to 88.7 FM & let us know how it sounds! You can send reception reports or report problems by emailing signal@kvnf.org.

KVNF is also available as a live internet stream here at kvnf.org.

Thank you for your patience!  Thanks also to Lake City resident (& former KVNF Board member) Ed Nettleton for the use of his jeep!

medical, syringe, IV drug use, WESTCAP, needle exchange, syringe exchange
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Needle exchange programs in Colorado are expanding.

The programs are designed to keep illegal drug users from sharing used needles and spreading deadly diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. And, not too long ago they were illegal in this state. 

Five years ago only one needle exchange operated in Colorado and it was illegal. 

By serving in the Army, Staff Sgt. Patricia King is breaking the rules.

King enlisted 1999 under her birth name, Peter. At the beginning of this year, King — a decorated soldier with three deployments to Afghanistan under her belt — started her gender transition.

Current and former Colorado state Democratic lawmakers are praising the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing same sex marriage nationwide. In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"Today is an amazing day for America and equality, said Democratic former Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino, who served as Colorado’s first gay speaker and helped pass a bill to make civil unions legal in the state.

"I knew we would get to this day in my life time, but never thought it would come so quickly. I am so proud of our nation's ability to move towards full equality for all people. The work is not done to end all discrimination but today was a gigantic step forward."

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