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.

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Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, there is a bronze chest filled with gold and precious gems. The search for this hidden treasure has become a hobby for some, an obsession for others, and for one recent searcher — a fatal pursuit.

The man behind the treasure is Forrest Fenn, an 85-year-old millionaire, former Vietnam fighter pilot, self-taught archaeologist, and successful art dealer in Santa Fe, N.M.

"No one knows where that treasure chest is but me," Fenn says. "If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me."

EIA

A recent federal report looks at changes in how the United States generates its electricity. It shows a significant drop in the amount of power coming from coal. 


The Colorado Democratic and Republican parties recently wrapped up their caucuses on Super Tuesday. The 2016 Democratic caucus was notable for the unexpected large turnout – while the GOP canceled their presidential preference poll. Either way, there were gripes. Two lawmakers are planning to introduce a bill to change the state's caucus system and instead add a presidential primary.

Peyton Manning, the NFL's all-time leading passer and its winningest starting quarterback, told the Denver Broncos that he is retiring, a spokesman for team says.

Manning is stepping away from the game after winning his second Super Bowl and after 18 seasons.

medical equipment, health
flickr.com/adrianclarkmbbs

A coalition in Montrose is working to create a nonprofit health center that provides physical, mental and dental services under the same roof.

The Community Dental Clinic is collaborating with the Center for Mental Health and the Delta-Montrose Technical College on the project. 

Melanie Hall, the executive director of the clinic, says the new site will be called PIC Place, which stands for Partners in Integrated Care.

Amber Kleinman / iSeeChange

Temperatures across the Western Slope have been pleasant for the past month or so.  At iseechange.org, we’ve seen a few postings noticing the spring-like weather, and some concerns.


Voters in 12 states either went to the polls or caucused on Super Tuesday. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won Colorado's Democratic caucuses. He also grabbed victories in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and in his home state. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the big winners of the night, each taking seven states, on the busiest night so far of the 2016 election season.

Colorado's Republican Party did not take a preference poll for the presidential race – so no winner was declared in the state for the GOP.

Super Tuesday was a big night for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They each captured seven states in their respective Democratic and Republican races, extending leads over their remaining rivals.

Bowie #2 Mine, Coal Mine
WildEarth Guardians

Another coal mine will shut down in Western Colorado. Bowie Resource Partners is idling the Bowie #2 Mine near Paonia.

In a release, the company cites the continued decline of the coal market as the reason for the closure.

The mine currently employs 108 people. Bowie estimates 68 full-time positions will be eliminated in April, but by July, nearly everyone will lose their job. 

The biggest group of voters politicians will have to woo this November are the ones who often don't get a say in which candidates make it to the general election ballot.

Turned off by the partisan wars in Washington, 39 percent of voters now identify themselves as independent rather than affiliated with one of the two major political parties, according to a 2014 analysis by the Pew Research Center. Self-identified Democrats accounted for 32 percent of the electorate, Republicans 23 percent.

Colorado's Republican and Democratic caucuses will be held on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016. There's a difference this year though. Colorado's Republican Party leaders canceled their traditional presidential preference poll at the precinct caucuses. The state's Democrats will conduct a poll.

2016 has brought record turnout and excitement to GOP presidential primary events – especially with the emergence of Donald Trump as the party's frontrunner. Why would the state's Republicans pass on that? We asked Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

A lot of visitors to Colorado figure they might give the state's good ganja a try, but they might not be prepared for the effects. When it comes to bad weed trips, out-of-staters have been doing much worse than Colorado residents and are going to the ER more often since recreational sales of marijuana began in 2014.

A bill that would have allowed terminally ill patients to take medication to end their own lives has failed in the Colorado Legislature. The main sponsors asked lawmakers to defeat the bill before it could be debated by the full House.

"The choice we made today, was to give you the relief from having to have this conversation because we know many of you have deeply held convictions that make you uncomfortable with this bill," said state Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver). "We are doing you this favor, to not have this debate, but make no mistake the voice of the people of this state will be heard."

rolling coal
Jim Hill / KUNC

Police in Montrose will be cracking down on ‘coal rollers’.       

When a vehicle with a modified exhaust quickly accelerates in order to spew out a black cloud of smoke, it's called ‘rolling coal’. Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn says over the past several months the department has received numerous complaints from residents about diesel trucks doing this.

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.

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Colorado is the only state in the country where it is illegal to capture rainwater for use at a later time. State lawmakers are once again debating whether to allow residents to use rain barrels to collect precipitation that falls from their roofs.

"This is really straightforward," said Representative Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge), one of the main sponsor's of House Bill 16-1005 [.pdf]. "You could use that water when you see fit, for your tomato plants or flower gardens."

Colorado lawmakers are divided over whether a hospital provider fee should be reclassified in the state budget so it doesn't count toward the state's revenue limit under the Tax Payer's Bill of Rights.

rockfall, glenwood canyon
Tracy Trulove / CDOT

Updated 2/21/16

The closed portion of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon reopened Sunday evening, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

However, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said intermittent road closures are planned over the next several days. 

"We think we are going to be in this combination of the pilot car configuration open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m then closing down from 9 a.m. til 4 p.m.," said Ford. 

CDOT said the pilot car program will guide traffic through a six-mile long closure that's down to a single lane. 

It's well-known that Americans are not getting enough sleep. But some parts of the United States do it better than others. If you bed down in Minnesota, South Dakota or Colorado, you're likely getting seven or more hours a night. But you're less in luck if you live in Hawaii, where only 56 percent of adults get enough rest.

Amber Kleinman / iSeeChange

The skies have cleared up over the Western Slope lately, but a lot of snow fell on Colorado. That's good news for water supplies, but that might change, depending on how the desert storms hit in the spring. 

cigarette, smoking
Flickr via Raul Lieberwirth

Cigarette sales in Colorado are up for the first time in nearly a decade.

The decline in cigarette sales started in 2004. That’s when Colorado voters approved boosting the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes by 64 cents. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said after that cigarette sales plummeted from around 300 million packs a year to a low of 193.2 million in 2014. 

However, last year sales ticked up by 1.1 million packs. 

Colorado Department of Transportation

After a large rock slide, state officials expect the closure of I-70 to continue until at least Saturday. The rock slide occurred in Glenwood Canyon early Monday morning, and then again Monday evening. Since then, the highway’s been closed.  Inclement weather is delaying efforts to remove dangerous conditions.

On April 20, 1999, when Sue Klebold heard about a shooting incident at Columbine High School, her thoughts immediately turned to her 17-year-old son, Dylan, who was a senior there.

"In the very beginning, I didn't know what to think," Sue tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I was aware that there was a shooting incident occurring at the school. I didn't know if Dylan was in danger, if someone was trying to shoot him, if he was doing something."

State legislators discussed a number of law enforcement and criminal justice bills this past week along with some other controversial measures.

The crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Mich., is making a public health message like this one harder to get across: In most communities, the tap water is perfectly safe. And it is much healthier than sugary drinks.

That's a message that Dr. Patty Braun, a pediatrician and oral health specialist at Denver Health, spends a lot of time talking to her patients about.

Law enforcement officials would love to have a clear way to tell when a driver is too drugged to drive. But the decades of experience the country has in setting limits for alcohol have turned out to be rather useless so far because the mind-altering compound in cannabis, THC, dissolves in fat, whereas alcohol dissolves in water.

smoking, no smoking sign
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. 

In Colorado, it kills more people than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents, suicide, and murder combined. It claims about 5,000 lives in the Centennial State every year. Despite this fact, state data shows nearly 16 percent of Colorado adults smoke. 


State lawmakers are debating whether terminally ill patients with less than six months to live should be allowed to take medication to end their own lives. It's just one of several controversial bills being debated under the gold dome.

A bill to expand a state program to offer driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Colorado will be introduced at the state capitol later in February. The original law [.pdf], which Democrats passed when they controlled both chambers in 2013, allows undocumented immigrants who have lived in Colorado for at least two years and have paid taxes to get a license, if they pay an extra fee.

"I want to know when I'm driving that the people driving next to me know the same rules as I do. Especially when you come from a different country, road signs might look different," said Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), sponsor of a new bill that would expand the program to 32 driver's license offices across the state.

"They deserve the opportunity to show that they are willing to be a part of our community, willing to play by the rules."

Colorado could be the next state to allow hunters to wear florescent pink. A Democratic proposal to give hunters the option of wearing pink – in addition to the traditional safety orange – has passed the Republican controlled Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

"I hunt because it's a treasured time with my dad and my brothers," said Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Vail), a big game hunter and sponsor of Senate Bill 68 [.pdf]. "And the stories that happen in hunting camp are the stories that my family tell over and over again."

Peyton Manning is once more on top of the world. The Denver Broncos quarterback — a future Hall of Famer in what may be his final season — is once more a Super Bowl champion. The Broncos have beaten the Carolina Panthers, 24-10.

The game fell well short of a quarterback duel, though. Again, it was the Denver defense that led the way, harassing Cam Newton, forcing turnover after turnover and even tacking on a score of their own.

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