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 news@kvnf.org.

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

“It all sounds really nice,” Abrams says. “And then once you go out and do it I can just imagine all the steps involved.”

So instead she pulls out the fake tree from the garage. A mentality that terrifies American Christmas tree growers.

Volunteers of America, food
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A program on the Western Slope that makes sure seniors have enough food to ride out winter storms kicked into gear Monday. 

Workers with Volunteers of America packed “blizzard” boxes at the Senior CommUnity Meals site in Eckert.

The packages contain non-perishable items like tuna, cereal, powdered milk and canned soup.  

  • Western Slope program delivers winter storm food boxes to seniors 
  • El Niño to bring more snow
  • Norwood pharmacy to open soon
  • Palisade High School needs severe repairs
  • Grand Junction police officer suspended, demoted
  • State budget already under discussion

Paonia Town Hall
KVNF

Last week, the town of Paonia’s board of trustees approved a budget for 2016.  The board approved increases in the water rates, personnel cuts, and planned for a major overhaul of the town’s water mains.  To discuss this further, KVNF’s Jake Ryan sat down with town manager Jane Berry and trustees and finance committee members Ross King and Charles Stewart.

Laura Palmisano

Joe Cocker fans, Brenda and Tom Kelley of Grand Junction, Colo. were the winning bidders in the recent auction of Joe Cocker’s 1995 Jaguar. The car was given to KVNF by Joe’s wife, Pam, shortly after his death in December of 2014.  The Kelleys won by just $5 making the final bid $25,705. KVNF’s Ali Lightfoot spoke with the couple about winning the car.

In one of several courtroom outbursts Wednesday, Robert Lewis Dear, who is accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last month, declared his guilt and said he is "a warrior for the babies."

The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether local cities in Colorado can either ban hydraulic fracturing or declare a moratorium. The chamber was filled with a who’s who in the energy world, from policy experts and state and city officials, to top attorneys and environmental activists, highlighting the importance of the cases.

“We’re very, very, serious about not wanting fracking anywhere near us,” said Kaye Fissinger with Our Longmont. She helped spearhead the ballot campaign which Longmont voters passed in 2012. “It was a landslide victory 60 to 40 percent. The people spoke. And the people should be heard.”

The seven justices heard an hour of arguments on the Longmont case, along with an hour of arguments on the five-year fracking moratorium passed by the city of Fort Collins.

Representatives from federal agencies were in Paonia earlier this week.  They held an open house to discuss the Roadless Rule, a defining policy that prevents development in wilderness across the state, except certain areas.  Areas like the North Fork.

Abraham Connection
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The death of a local homeless man due to exposure was a wake-up call for some in Delta County.

"We knew that if we didn’t step up and start helping these individuals that we would have a lot more people die in our community and we wanted to prevent that," said Cheryl Oeltjenbruns, the board president of Abraham Connection, a seasonal homeless shelter in Delta founded six years ago by community members and church leaders.

Parents of children with severe epilepsy have reported incredible recoveries when their children were given cannabidiol, a derivative of marijuana. The drug, a non-psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in cannabis, has been marketed with epithets like Charlotte's Web and Haleigh's Hope.

With two deadly mass shootings in California and Colorado in the past week, this country is again in a fierce debate over gun control.

After the massacre in San Bernardino, President Obama encouraged states to take the lead on preventing gun violence. Both California and Colorado have responded to mass shootings recently by passing tougher gun laws.

Dr Seuss, kid's books, children's books, book
Flickr user: EvelynGiggles

Colorado has room to improve according to a recent report that ranks states based on policies that promote early childhood literacy.

The report looks at seven policy areas tied to early childhood education. Then it ranks states in three categories: crawling, toddling and walking.

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

Delta has hired a new city manager. On Tuesday night, city officials announced David Torgler, the current town manager of Hayden, Colorado, accepted the position.

Officials delivered the news during a city council meeting. 

Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture, food and natural resource sectors each year for the next five years, according to a report from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The American agriculture industry has a problem though; there are not enough grads to fill those jobs. The report projects about two open jobs for every qualified graduate. That’s left the USDA, land grant universities and private industry scrambling to try and bridge the gap.

"Colorful Colorado" may one day need to be referred to as "Crowded Colorado," given the number of people expected to soon move here.

Weld County's population is expected to double to half-a-million – and El Paso County will still be the largest county. It's not just the Front Range; A Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of data from the state demographer and the U.S. Census Bureau shows seven of the 10 fastest growing counties will be on the Western Slope, including Eagle, Garfield and Routt.

The numbers show an estimated 7.8 million people will call Colorado home by 2040. All that growth will take a toll on the state's infrastructure as well as water and other natural resources.

The alleged gunman in Friday’s shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood appeared in court for the first time today. KRCC’s Jake Brownell attended the hearing at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, and has this report:

 

    

As reporters and cameramen awaited the first advisement hearing of Robert Lewis Dear, a line of squad cars formed across the street, in front of the El Paso County Coroner's office.

The two civilians killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday were Ke'Arre Stewart, a father of two and Army veteran who served in Iraq, and Jennifer Markovsky, a mother of two who was reportedly at the clinic to support a friend.

As Colorado Springs held vigils for those killed during a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic, we are learning more about the alleged gunman and his possible motive.

Police say Robert Lewis Dear, 57, killed three people and left nine wounded.

The man arrested after a deadly attack and standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday is Robert Lewis Dear, 57, officials confirm. Police gave an honor guard to an officer who died in the attack.

Update at 3 p.m. ET: Few Details Revealed At News Event

Praising the police response and saying they're relieved that more than three people were not killed, local and state officials offered few details about the case, citing the ongoing investigation during a news conference Saturday afternoon.

Many Health Co-Ops Fold, Others Survive Startup Struggles

Nov 26, 2015

Thousands of Americans are again searching for health insurance after losing it for 2016. That's partly because some large, low-cost insurers — health cooperatives, set up under the Affordable Care Act — are folding in a dozen states.

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 iseechange.org, 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.

coal
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
Coal
NPS

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
CREDIT FLICKR USER: SUSAN RENEE

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.

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