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.

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NEWS
5:15 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Gov. Hickenlooper Inks Cottage Foods Expansion Bill

Bread made in a home kitchen under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act.
Credit KVNF / Laura Palmisano

A bill signed into law Friday broadens the state's three-year-old cottage foods act. 

House Bill 1102 expands the number of homemade items people can make and sell under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act

It adds pickled vegetables, tortillas, fruit empanadas and flour to the list.

Earlier this year, Monica Wiitanen of Delta County spoke in favor of the measure to state lawmakers in Denver.  

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NEWS
11:05 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Hantavirus Kills Three In Colorado, Sickens A Fourth

Deer mice are the primary carriers of the hantavirus in Colorado.
Credit John Good / National Parks Service

Health officials said a Garfield County man who contracted hantavirus is now recovering at home, but the disease has killed three others in Colorado so far this year.

The Sin Nombre Virus is a strain of hantavirus found in the Four Corners states.

"Rodents, deer mice in particular, shed the virus in their urine and droppings," said Thomas Orr, a regional epidemiologist at the Mesa County Health Department, "and then when humans come in contact with those droppings they breathe in the virus." 

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HEALTH
3:07 am
Thu June 4, 2015

State Obamacare Exchanges Experience Growing Pains

An Access Health CT location in New Britain, Conn.
Courtesy of Access Health CT

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 9:50 am

The states that set up their own insurance marketplaces have nothing to lose in King v. Burwell, the big Supreme Court case that will be decided by the end of June. But that doesn't mean those states are breathing easy.

With varying degrees of difficulty, all of the state-based exchanges are struggling to figure out how to become financially self-sufficient as the spigot of federal start-up money shuts off.

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NEWS
3:07 am
Thu June 4, 2015

Trial Of Aurora Theater Shooting Suspect Could Be A Battle Of The Experts

Jurors in the trial of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes will hear differing expert opinions about whether Holmes was legally insane at the time of the shooting.
Andy Cross AP

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 7:21 am

In the trial of James Holmes, prosecutors spent the first month re-creating the night of the shooting. But this isn't a question of whether Holmes killed 12 people at the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. The question has always been: Was he insane at the time?

For prosecutors, detailing that night is critical in exploring Holmes' mindset. During the process, jurors watched a lengthy, videotaped psychiatric examination. It was ordered by the court after Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

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NEWS
9:58 am
Wed June 3, 2015

Local Nonprofit Now Providing Legal Aid For Immigrants

Credit Jake Ryan / KVNF

Two employees of the Hispanic Affairs Project, a Western Slope nonprofit, recently got certified to offer legal aid to immigrants. 

The organization is helping people who can’t afford to hire an attorney.  

"I’m an immigrant myself and I know how difficult, complicated and sometimes very frustrating the immigration process can be," said Marketa Zubkova with HAP. 

It took her two years to become an accredited legal representative.

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NEWS
12:09 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Program That Teaches How To Eat Healthy Locally Expands

AmeriCorps VISTA Michelle Amiott, center, works at a community garden in Montrose County, Colo.
Credit Valley Food Partnership

A program that teaches families in Montrose and Olathe about eating healthy locally is expanding.

Local Farmacy Rx started last year.  

"The meaning behind [the name] is your food is your medicine, sort of speak,"said Abbie Brewer, a coordinator for LiveWell Montrose Olathe.

The organization oversees the program. 

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NEWS
5:25 pm
Thu May 28, 2015

Colorado's Growth Brings A Call To Link Water And Land Planning

This almost 9 acre parcel of land just off Highway 36 in Westminster will be home to 65 single family detached houses. This is one of the last undeveloped parcels of land in city limits, and unlike older developments, it will have a lot less lawn.
Maeve Conran KGNU

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 11:37 am

Colorado has experienced massive population growth in the last few years, a that trend is projected to continue. Finding enough water to meet the demands of the booming Front Range has city planners closely looking at how new developments can be built with conservation as a key component.

"The 2040 forecast for Colorado is about 7.8 million people, increasing from about 5 million in 2010," said Elizabeth Garner, the state demographer. "How will we deal with it? Where will we put them? How will we provide water resources and other resources, whether it takes 20, 30, 40, 50 years to get there?"

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NEWS
2:00 pm
Thu May 28, 2015

Feds Announce New Plans For Sage Grouse Protection

Bob Wick, Bureau Of Land Management Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 7:49 am

The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service has announced a new plan to protect the greater sage grouse from extinction, while hoping to prevent the bird from being added to the endangered species list.

The sage grouse population has dropped from 16 million birds to less than half a million, mainly due to lost sagebrush habitat. The bird's range spans 11 western states including Colorado.

"As land managers of two-thirds of greater sage grouse habitat, we have a responsibility to take action that ensures a bright future for wildlife and a thriving western economy," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at the announcement in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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NEWS
10:10 am
Thu May 28, 2015

Hickenlooper Stands By Embattled Human Services Director

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Department of Human Services Executive Director Reggie Bicha with an award the state won from the National Center for Adoption. Bicha has been under fire from state lawmakers who say they want major changes in the dept.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 11:32 am

Earlier in May a majority of state lawmakers signed a letter to the governor expressing concerns over what they said are disturbing issues within the Colorado Department of Human Services. The letter states that the state is over prescribing psychotropic drugs to youth in corrections and foster care, and that the department fails to adequately supervise the county run foster care system.

In their first public appearance since lawmakers called for overhaul – or possibly firing the executive director – Gov. John Hickenlooper stood by Reggie Bicha.

"They are among the best in the United States, [that] doesn't mean they're perfect," said Hickenlooper. "Running a Department of Human Services is the hardest job in state government, because there's zero tolerance, it's like public safety. We all expect absolute perfection."

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NEWS
5:00 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

State's Immigrant Driver's License Program Reopens Offices, Takes New Appointments

The state program allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card.
Credit Flickr/cryptozoologist

The state’s Division of Motor Vehicles immigrant ID program is once again scheduling appointments. And next week the DMV will reopen two locations to handle applicants. 

The program started last year. It allows undocumented immigrants in Colorado to get a driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card. 

Originally, five DMV locations offered these IDs . And, the program is self-sustaining through fees.

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NEWS
2:33 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

Questions Remain About How To Use Data From License Plate Scanners

License plate scanners have helped police locate stolen vehicles and have even assisted in murder investigations. But with their ability to track a person's every move, skeptics worry about privacy.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 5:52 pm

License plate scanners have become a fact of life. They're attached to traffic lights, on police cars — even "repo" staff use them. All those devices have created a torrent of data, raising new concerns about how it's being stored and analyzed.

Bryce Newell's laptop is filled with the comings and goings of Seattle residents. The data comes from the city's license plate scanner, acquired from the police through public disclosure requests. He plugs in a license plate number, uncovering evidence of long-forgotten errands.

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NEWS
9:35 am
Wed May 27, 2015

It Was A Quiet Session At The Colorado Statehouse For Oil & Gas

Ken Lund Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 6:59 am

Energy development is always a hot topic at the statehouse, but 2015 was oddly quiet. Even with recommendations from a task force studying the issue, state lawmakers did little this past session where oil and gas drilling is concerned. As a result, some of the more long-standing issues as local control and public health concerns are still simmering.

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NEWS
3:13 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

Paradise Theatre Named Historic Landmark

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Paradise Theatre in Paonia is now a Historic Landmark. Last November, the Friends of the Paradise Theatre applied for the designation. And, last week the Delta County Commissioners approved it. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Tom Stevens, the vice president of the theatre's board, about the designation.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:19 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Farmers Step Up To Solve Rocky Mountain National Park's Pollution Problem

Jim Cheatham, a biologist with the National Parks Service, wants Rocky Mountain National Park to stay beautiful. That's why he's working to prevent excess nitrogen from coming into the park.
Stephanie Paige Ogburn KUNC

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 12:39 pm

It’s May in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on a mountainside 10,829 feet above sea level, snow is falling. It’s pelting Jim Cheatham, a biologist with the National Park Service. Shrugging off the cold, Cheatham seizes a teachable moment. This snow, he said, holds more than just water.

“Chances are it’s carrying the excess nitrogen we’re talking about,” mused Cheatham.

For the past eight years, the biologist has spent most of his time thinking about how nitrogen pollution is changing the park’s forests, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. He’s also been looking for a way to stop it.

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NEWS
10:39 am
Mon May 25, 2015

CDOT Approves $1 Million for the Southwest Chief

Amtrak's Southwest Chief travels from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
Steve Wilson Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 1:41 pm

The Colorado Department of Transportation Commission voted unanimously to approve $1 million to help preserve the Southwest Chief rail line in southern Colorado. It's part of a route that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The aging track needs major upgrades or Amtrak will have to reroute the line out of Colorado and parts of New Mexico and Kansas. The train stops in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad, in southeastern Colorado.

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NEWS
5:19 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

West Slope Homeless Shelter To Stay

Haven House is a long-term homeless shelter that serves families and individuals in six counties in western Colorado.
Credit Haven House

A transitional housing program for homeless families on the Western Slope now has a permanent home. 

Haven House will remain in Olathe. 

"We are happy to report that the housing authority that owned the building has agreed to our contract for the purchase," Larry Fredericksen, the executive director of the nonprofit faith-based shelter, says. "The closing is set for May 28."

Earlier this month, Haven House got a notice from the Montrose County Housing Authority saying it had sold the two-acre site.

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NEWS
2:53 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

Paonia Eagles Win State Track Championship

Top Left to Right: Coach Randall Palmer, Courtney Van Vleet, Mckenna Palmer, Coach Brian Mitchum, Coach Brent McRae, Morgan Hartigan, Jeze Fabijanic , Ashley Van Vleet, Cheyanna Christian, Taylor Carsten, Coach Scott Reinks -- Bottom Left to Right: Randy Rapke, Kassidy Rapke, Brianna Van Vleet, Emily Pieper, Marisa Edmonson, Easton Hartigan, Brooklynd Ericson, Deon Jensen, Chelsea Meilner, Shira Woods, Brooke Hillman
Credit Tannille Van Vleet

The Paonia High School Girls Track team are state champions, again.  Last weekend the Eagles won their third state championship in a row.  To talk about the event, KVNF's Jake Ryan sat down with Ashley Van Vleet and Chelsea Meilner.

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HEALTH
9:31 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Heart Risk Factors May Affect Black Women More Than White Women

African-American women may be more sensitive to metabolic abnormalities like high triglycerides or low good cholesterol.
iStockphoto

African-American women can be at risk of heart disease even if they don't have metabolic syndrome, a study finds.

That's a problem, because the current thinking is that metabolic syndrome — defined as high triglycerides, bad cholesterol, abdominal fat, high blood pressure and impaired glucose metabolism — is the big risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

The picture with women appears to be a lot more complicated, especially when you compare women in different racial or ethnic groups.

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POLITICS
4:16 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

The Ballooning Importance Of The 'Latino Vote,' In 3 Charts

People vote on Election Day 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 9:29 am

As 2016 campaigns heat up, Republicans are working to boost their momentum among Latino voters, and the numbers make it easy to see why.

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NEWS
4:10 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

West Slope College Goes Tobacco-Free

More than 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. are tobacco-free, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
Credit Flickr/smartsignbrooklyn

A college on the Western Slope is joining the growing number of higher education institutions that ban tobacco products.

The Delta-Montrose Technical College will be a tobacco-free school.

"All forms of tobacco products including smoking and smokeless tobacco or chew and e-cigarettes are banned," John Jones, the college's director, said.

He said it was a two-year process to get the policy in place.

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NEWS
11:50 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Thompson Divide Swap Gets Delta County Support

Several counties across the Western Slope have supported the Thompson Divide lease swap.  Delta County was one of the last holdouts, but they made their decision on Monday.

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NEWS
4:41 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Western Slope Communities Get Workplace Wellness Grant

Delta County will oversee the $630,000 state grant to create a regional workplace program in six counties.
Credit flickr/ashkyd

Six counties on the Western Slope have received a large grant to promote workplace wellness.  

The $630,000 grant is from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Over the next three years, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray, and San Miguel counties will share the funding to create a workplace wellness program. 

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NEWS
11:52 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Haven House Nears Goal To Buy Property, Keep Shelter Open

Credit Haven House

The future of a transitional housing program for homeless families on the Western Slope is uncertain. 

Haven House needs to raise $345,000 by Friday to buy the property where it operates. 

The shelter opened in Olathe four years ago. It has 30 units where homeless families and individuals can stay for an extended period.

"Certainly between Grand Junction and Durango there is nothing like it," Larry Fredericksen, the president of the nonprofit faith-based shelter, said.

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HEALTH
9:38 am
Mon May 18, 2015

How We Store Food At Home Could Be Linked To How Much We Eat

Do food-laden environments really contribute to obesity or is it the other way around?
Photo illustration/Ryan Kellman/NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 4:40 pm

Keeping food out of sight could be a way to keep it out of your mouth. That's the hunch of Charles Emery, a psychologist at Ohio State University, anyway. His latest research suggests that how food is set up around the house could be influencing how much people eat and, ultimately, how heavy they might be.

There are a lot of factors that scientists say explain obesity — defined as a body-mass index over 30 — from genetics to lifestyle changes to socio-economic status.

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NEWS
4:59 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Rep. Coram On The 2015 State Legislative Session

Don Coram talks about House Bill 1006 at its signing ceremony in Montrose on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The 2015 state legislative session has come to an end. KVNF's Laura Palmisano caught up with Republican Rep. Don Coram at a recent bill signing event in Montrose. He represents House District 58, which covers Montrose, San Miguel, Dolores and Montezuma counties.

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ARTS
4:17 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Grand Junction Photography Project Looks Beyond The Badge

Suzette Freidenberger is a patrol officer with the Grand Junction Police Department.
Credit Nathan Lopez Photography

This week is National Police Week. It is an occasion to honor officers who died in the line of duty. 

The time of remembrance this year comes on the heels of protests against police in major cities across the U.S. and a national debate on police tactics. 

In a local effort to increase understanding between law enforcement and the public, a Western Slope photographer is trying to get people to look beyond the badge and see the person in uniform.

Photographer Nathan Lopez moved to Grand Junction seven months ago from Oregon.

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NEWS
5:02 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Montrose Library District Faces Grim Budget Deficit

The Montrose Library in downtown Montrose, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Great Recession officially ended in 2009, but communities on the Western Slope are still feeling its effects.

In Montrose County, unemployment remains high and property values have not returned to pre-recession levels.

Paul Paladino, the director of the Montrose Regional Library District, said low property values affect the libraries.

"We are funded 90 percent from property taxes," said Paladino.

He said since 2013, the library system has faced a $420,000 budget deficit and is dipping into reserves to help make up for that loss.

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NEWS
4:41 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

EPC Commissioners Approve Settlements

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 1:52 pm

El Paso County Commissioners have voted to approve two settlements in claims brought against the Sheriff’s office, former Sheriff Terry Maketa, and former Undersheriff Paula Presley.  The claims allege lost income and benefits due to a hostile work environment.

 

County Attorney Amy Folsom said at Tuesday morning’s commissioner’s meeting that her office has analyzed the risk of liability and evaluated the potential cost of litigation in each case.

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NEWS
3:37 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Bill To Fight Invasive, Thirsty Plants

Governor John Hickenlooper talks about House Bill 1006 at the bill's signing ceremony in Montrose.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

On his tour of the Western Slope this week, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill to create a grant program to help communities fight invasive plants that threaten riparian areas in Colorado.

House Bill 1006 creates the Invasive Phreatophyte Grant Program.

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill at a ceremony in Montrose on Tuesday.

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NEWS
12:16 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Do We Talk Funny? 51 American Colloquialisms

Jennifer Maravillas Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 7:25 pm

Has American English become homogenized? Have our regional ways of saying particular things — sometimes in very particular ways — receded into the past? Or do we talk as funny as ever?

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