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 and Inside Energy

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

Amber Kleinman / iSeeChange

Harvest is done on the Western Slope.  All the cherries, peaches,  apples, and pears have been picked and sold, and now frost and snow is settled in.  Over at, several people were keeping track of the long growing season and the turn to winter.  

razorback sucker, fish
Laura Palmisano

Some native fish in the Colorado River and its tributaries are struggling to stay afloat.  Invasive species, dams and water diversions all complicate the recovery of endangered fish in those waterways.  One long-standing program ties together federal and state agencies with regional groups to help these cold-blooded creatures make a comeback.

Flickr user: oatsy40

Arch Coal recently said that it might file for bankruptcy. The St. Louis-based company operates the West Elk Mine near Somerset and is the second largest coal company in the U.S. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Robert Godby, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming, who tracks the coal industry, about the announcement.  

DMEA, Delta Montrose Electric Association, Marv Ballantyne
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Delta Montrose Electric Association hosted an energy efficiency forum in Hotchkiss on Tuesday night.

About 45 people attend the forum at Hotchkiss Memorial Hall.

DMEA set up informational tables about energy efficiency programs the co-op offers such as rebates for LED light bulbs and energy efficient appliances.  

There was even an interactive display where people rode a stationary bike to see how much energy it took to light up an incandescent bulb versus an LED one.  

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Monday that Colorado would accept Syrian refugees. President Barack Obama said the U.S. would receive at least 10,000 Syrian refugees within the next year, but a growing list of Republican governors pledged to block refugees from relocating to their states.

"We can protect our security and provide a place where the world's most vulnerable can rebuild their lives," said Hickenlooper in a statement.

Coal In Decline

Nov 11, 2015

A conversation with Elizabeth Shogren of High Country News about bankruptcy and mine closures. 

Delta County Library District, Paonia Library, Delta County Libraries
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Delta County Library District is experiencing a shake-up in leadership.

Last Wednesday, the library board placed district director Annette Choszczyk on paid administrative leave. On that same day, John Gavan, the district’s IT manager, resigned in protest.

In an email, Gavan says Choszczyk was a “highly capable and effective library director.”  

After five years on the job, Colorado's Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia announced that he is stepping down from the position and as head of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Garcia will leave his dual-role to helm a higher education policy group for the western U.S., the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

rico, snow, houses

A program that assists low-income Coloradans with their winter heating costs is accepting applications.

Last year, the Colorado Low-Income Energy Program, or LEAP, helped 81,000 households with their heating bills.  

When The Alpaca Bubble Burst, Breeders Paid The Price

Nov 9, 2015

Known for their calm temperaments and soft fleece, alpacas looked like the next hot thing to backyard farmers. The market was frenetic, with some top of the line animals selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the bubble burst, leaving thousands of alpaca breeders with near-worthless herds. Today, craigslist posts across the country advertise “herd liquidations” and going out of business deals on alpacas, some selling for as low as a dollar.

It’s just one more chapter in a long line of agricultural speculative bubbles that have roped in investors throughout history, throwing money at everything from emus to chinchillas to Berkshire pigs to Dutch tulips, only to find themselves in financial ruin after it bursts.

Harriet Kelly has one word to describe the day she stopped driving four years ago: miserable.

"It's no fun when you give up driving," she says. "I just have to say that."

Kelly, who lives in Denver, says she was in her 80s when she noticed her eyesight declining. She got anxious driving on the highway, so decided to stop before her kids made the move for her.

"I just told them I'd stop driving on my birthday — my 90th birthday — and I did. And I was mad at myself because I did it," she says, laughing. "I thought I was still pretty good!"

delta, downtown delta colorado
Flickr user: J. Stephen Conn

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Nov. 10, 2015  because the city announced Dana Schoening withdrew his application. 

Delta is hoping third time’s the charm for its city manager search.

In April, Delta’s then city manager Justin Clifton left for a job in Arizona. The city launched the search for his replacement in May. 

Climate change isn't just something to worry about here on Earth. New research published today shows that Mars has undergone a dramatic climate shift in the past that has rendered much of the planet inhospitable to life.

About 3.8 billion years ago, Mars was a reasonably pleasant place. It had a thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that kept it warm. Rivers trickled into lakes across its surface. Some researchers think there might even have been an ocean.

vote, flag, voting
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Voters across the Western Slope overwhelming approved broadband measures. 

Communities across the region asked residents to opt-out of Senate Bill 152. The decade-old state law prevents local governments from providing internet services or spending money on broadband infrastructure unless residents overturn it.  

Voters in Gunnison, Delta and Ouray Counties approved opt-out measures. Residents in Crested Butte, Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Cedaredge, Delta, Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride also passed similar ballot issues.  

Work crews in Honolulu recently dismantled wooden shacks and tents that lined city streets and housed almost 300 people.

It was the latest example of a city trying to deal with a growing homeless population, and responding to complaints that these encampments are unsafe, unsanitary and, at the very least, unsightly.

Last month, Madison, Wis., banned people from sleeping outside city hall. And in New Port Richey, Fla., the city council voted to restrict the feeding of homeless individuals in a popular park.

Efforts to fund much-needed repairs to Amtrak's Southwest Chief line got an extra boost Monday as the U. S. Department of Transportation awarded $15.2 million to the project.  Combined with matching funds, the grant, known as a TIGER grant, totals $24.5 million.


A teenage girl is believed to have contracted bubonic plague from a flea on a hunting trip, according to Oregon health officials. The Crook County girl got sick five days after the trip started on Oct. 16; she's been hospitalized in Bend, Ore., since Oct. 24.

Missed Treatment: Soldiers With Mental Health Issues Dismissed For 'Misconduct'

Oct 29, 2015

Staff Sgt. Eric James, an Army sniper who served two tours in Iraq, paused before he walked into a psychiatrist's office at Fort Carson, Colo. It was April 3, 2014. James clicked record on his smartphone, and then tucked the phone and his car keys inside his cap as he walked through the door to the chair by the therapist's desk.

Paonia Town Hall

After years and years of embezzlement, a criminal case, and prison time, the town’s dealings with Kirstin Chesnik are coming to a conclusion.  On Tuesday night, the town accepted the terms of a civil settlement with Chesnik.

River Valley Family Health Center

A health center in Olathe that primarily serves low-income and uninsured patients is expanding.  

River Valley Family Health Center is opening a location in Montrose this week. A majority of the health center’s patients are on Medicaid or don’t have insurance.  

While millions will watch the third Republican presidential debate on TV, just 1,000 people will get tickets to see the event in person in the massive Coors Events Center on the scenic University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

CNBC, the cable network sponsoring the debate, didn't respond to questions about why the 11,000-seat arena would remain mostly empty.

Colorado will take center stage Wednesday when the Republican Party's presidential hopefuls hold their third debate at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Along with a recent visit from Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, CU students are saying all the activity is engaging younger voters ahead of 2016.

The state is politically purple, but Boulder is famously liberal, making the GOP debate a rare encounter with the conservative movement. Yet, mobilizing younger voters will be key to any electoral win, and both parties will be spending a lot of time in swing states like Colorado.

ice climbing, Ouray Ice Park, Ouray Ice Festival
JT Thomas

Tiny beetles are causing big problems for Ouray Ice Park.  

Fir engraver beetles are destroying the white fir trees climbers use as anchors. 

"As trees are dying, all of a sudden we have a serious loss of safe anchoring options for climbers within the park," said Mike Macleod, the president of the park’s board of directors. 

Macleod said the park is installing alternative anchoring in areas of the park where trees were traditionally relied upon.

saw peter, karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Saw Peter is Karen. That’s an ethnic group in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  And for more than 100 Karen refugees in rural Delta, Colo., he’s the go-to person for advice, translation and other essential information.

Like the other refugees in this community, life hasn’t been easy for Peter.

As a young man, he smuggled his family to Malaysia because the government in Myanmar seized their farm and threatened to kill them.

crested butte, camping
Gloria Dickie / High Country News

Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Crested Butte, a mountain resort town on the Western Slope. This July, saw more people recreating in and around town than ever before. But, Crested Butte is small. So small there aren’t enough houses for the town’s low­-wage workers to rent. And, short-­term vacation rentals are gobbling up whatever housing is available, forcing workers out. 

internet, broadband
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Governments and organizations across the Western Slope say slow and unreliable broadband is hindering economic development. That’s why communities across the region want voter support this fall on measures that would allow them to try and address the issue. 

Local tax and spending issues, as well as city council and mayoral races largely dominate Colorado's 2015 election. There is only one statewide question, which asks voters whether the state can keep marijuana tax money it's already collected to pay for school construction, law enforcement and other programs.

If that's a question that sounds familiar – that's because it is. Proposition BB will actually be the third time Colorado voters have weighed in on taxing marijuana.

flickr user question_everything

It’s been a weird year for weather in Colorado. With a winter so warm and dry that trees bloomed in January, hay farmers started having flashbacks to the drought of 2012. But by spring, rains did come to Colorado, and the wet weather has been good news - for some.

As part of a special iSeeChange collaboration with  KDNK in Carbondale, and KSJD in Cortez, Amy Hadden Marsh and KVNF's Jake Ryan started looking at how the hay markets fared this year. 

Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Two Colorado communities hard-hit by the downturn in the coal industry received federal grants last week to help diversify their economies.

The Obama administration awarded Region 10, an organization of six counties on the Western Slope, a $1.2 million grant. Moffat County also got $50,000.

Small town doesn't quite describe Bethune, Colo. It spans just 0.2 square miles and has a population of 237. There's a post office, but it's open only part time. There's not a single restaurant, and the closest big store is in Kansas.

That didn't stop Ailyn Marfil from moving to Bethune a couple of months ago. In fact, she thinks it's a pretty exciting place to live. "I was looking for speed and action, and so Bethune gave me speed and action. More than I expected," she says.