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
8:54 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Fed Land Control, I-70 Tread Bills Debated At The Capitol As Time Ticks Down

KUNC File Photo

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 7:13 am

As the state Legislature enters the home stretch, lawmakers recently debated a measure to study whether to transfer federal lands to the state. Another bill aimed at relieving congestion on Interstate 70 heading through the mountains also became contentious. There's not much time left for these debates, the annual session ends May 6.

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NEWS
2:03 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Opening Statements To Begin Monday In Colorado Theater Shooting Trial

An artist's sketch of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes, from an April 2013 court appearance.
Bill Robles Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 4:39 am

It's been nearly three years since 12 people were killed in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight premier of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.

James Holmes' legal team admits he was behind the massacre, but there are two key questions: Was he insane, and should he be put to death?

Tom Teves says his son Alex made a split-second decision to shield his girlfriend when the gunman stormed the theater and began firing into the crowd.

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NEWS
11:21 am
Fri April 24, 2015

6 Million People Visited Colorado National Parks Last Year

Colorado National Monument
Credit National Parks Service

A new federal report finds in 2014 national parks saw a record number of visitors. And, those tourists generated nearly $30 billion in economic activity. 

Colorado has a dozen national parks. More than 6 million people visited these sites last year, according a National Park Service report. 

It says tourists contributed more than $370 million in visitor spending to local gateway communities. And, the study says that spending supported 5,800 jobs in the state. 

Overall, NPS estimates national parks had an economic impact of $552 million on Colorado’s economy.  

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COMMUNITY
8:49 am
Fri April 24, 2015

Paonia Students Clean Up River­side On Earth Day

Poppy Lightfoot, 14, searches for trash in the woods next to North Fork of the Gunnison River on Earth Day.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

In honor of Earth Day on Wednesday, a group of middle schools students in Paonia volunteered to clean up trash along the river. 

Armed with black trash bags and work gloves more than 20 seventh and eighth grade students are searching for rubbish in the woods near Paonia High School.

The area is next to the North Fork of the Gunnison River, a tributary of the Colorado River. And, these middle schoolers are here for a community service project coordinated by the Western Slope Conservation Center, a local nonprofit.

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ARTS
8:07 am
Fri April 24, 2015

'Vermilion' Finds New Magic In The Old West

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 12:29 pm

History may be written by the victors, but alternate history is written by anyone with a lust for the past — both established and imagined. Molly Tanzer's imagination is keener than almost anyone's. Her new novel, Vermilion is a work of alt-history that finds a fresh kind of magic in the mingling of fact and fantasy. In the book's wild vision of 1870, the North won the Civil War with the help of a race of intelligent, talking bears. A similarly endowed species of sea lion keeps shop in the streets of San Francisco.

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NEWS
1:50 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Approval Sought Again For Gravel Pit In Montrose County

A satellite image from Google Earth that shows the site of the proposed Uncompahgre Gravel Pit in Montrose County west of State Highway 550.
Credit Google Earth

Two years ago, the Montrose County Commissioners denied a special use permit to construct a gravel pit.

The commissioners cited concerns over the location of the haul road, the length of time the asphalt plant would operate and the size of the pit as reasons for denying the permit.

However, the commissioners encouraged the applicant to reapply if they could address those concerns. 

The Montrose County Planning Commission will hold a public meeting Thursday to hear feedback on the proposed Uncompahgre Pit. 

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NEWS
9:48 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Current, Former Colorado Govs. Make A Pitch For School Testing

Gov. John Hickenlooper joined by former Democratic Governor Roy Romer and Republican Governor Bill Owens. They spoke about the importance of standardized tests in schools as the legislature debates the issue.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 3:51 pm

Two former governors, Roy Romer and Bill Owens, joined current Gov. John Hickenlooper at the state capitol to urge lawmakers not to go too far in reducing the numbers of standardized assessments school children take. This comes as legislators are debating several bills to lower the number of exams.

Republican Bill Owens said it's important to have standards and test against those standards to see if students are learning what they should, and to evaluate schools and teachers.

"Our friends from the left and the right for differing reasons, don't want to test, don't want to measure, don't want to have accountability," said Owens. "This is stunning to me."

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NEWS
4:49 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Missing Texas Teen Found Dead Below Highway Outside Of Ouray

Red Mountain Pass outside of Ouray, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano

A missing 18-year-old from Texas was found dead in Colorado on Thursday. 

Rescue workers recovered the body of Edgar Alfredo Vargas from the canyon below U.S. 550 on Red Mountain Pass outside of Ouray, according to a release.

The Ouray County Coroner's Office identified Vargas.

The El Paso teen was reported missing last week. Officials say a search in the area for him started last Friday. 

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Colorado Recovery Not Equal

Credit Solar Energy International

The latest Colorado jobs report shows some communities across the state still struggle with high unemployment. 

State economists say for the past four months, Colorado’s unemployment rate has stayed at 4.2 percent. That figure is still below the national unemployment rate of 5.5 percent.

Alexandra Hall is chief economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

"The labor force in Colorado is continuing to grow and the number of people employed are continuing to grow," Hall says.  

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AGRICULTURE
4:25 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Bill For Colorado Farm-To-School Expansion Takes A Small Step

A worker prepares school lunch at the Greeley 6 school district's centralized processing facility. Greeley 6 is able to take advantage of locally available foods with the help of the facility.
Jeremy West

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 3:25 pm

A bill to expand farm-to-school programs in Colorado initially cleared the state House Tuesday, but it still faces objections from some lawmakers who call it unnecessary.

House Bill 1088 [.pdf] would set up grants to help farms and ranches meet federal safety standards to they could sell their locally produced food to schools.

"This program boosts our economy, it creates jobs, and we have schools right now who want to buy more local food from our farmers and the supply chain does not exist," said bill sponsor Representative Faith Winter (D-Westminster).

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AGRICULTURE
9:37 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Study To Compare Agritourism in Colorado, California

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Colorado State University is surveying farmers and travelers for a study on agritourism.

Earlier this year, nearly 800 farmers across Colorado received a questionnaire from CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The survey asks producers about agritourism. The university wants to know what portion of their business comes from the industry, how they attract tourists and what challenges they face.

The study is partnership between CSU and the University of California, Davis.

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NEWS
11:16 am
Mon April 20, 2015

'This Is Going To Be Too Hard': Keeping Kids From Using Pot

Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Sun April 19, 2015 9:00 am

Public perceptions of marijuana have come a long way. Once a symbol of the counterculture, pot has become part of the culture.

In Colorado, it's part of everyday culture.

Colorado has allowed medical marijuana since 2001, but voters amended the state constitution in 2012 to allow private marijuana consumption for adults aged 21 or older. The first-ever stores to sell state-regulated recreational pot opened their doors on Jan. 1, 2014.

The law has raised serious concerns for parents and those working with kids to keep young people away from drugs.

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NEWS
3:01 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Anti-Test 'Opt-Out' Movement Makes A Wave In New York State

A school bus passes a sign encouraging parents to have their children opt out of state tests in Rotterdam, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:25 am

Across New York state this week, some students are refusing to take a test, and they're not getting punished for it. The test is a Common Core-aligned, federally mandated exam, and students, parents and educators are part of what they're calling the opt-out movement.

Opt-outs made news last week in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few. The objections are similar everywhere. But no state is posting numbers like New York.

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NEWS
5:46 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Funding For Successful Colorado Contraceptive Program In Limbo

State officials say the program helped 30,000 get IUDs.
Credit flickr/stickypearls

An amendment to the state budget that would’ve continued a program credited with reducing teen pregnancies and abortion was killed this week. However, a controversial bill that would do the same thing cleared its second reading in the House on Friday. 

House Bill 1194 would provide $5 million to continue a program that helps low-income young women and teens access long-acting birth control. 

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ENVIRONMENT
2:50 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

As Lake Mead Levels Drop, The West Braces For Bigger Drought Impact

Lake Mead is at its lowest levels since it was built in the late 1930s.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:05 pm

The historic four-year drought in California has been grabbing the headlines lately, but there's a much bigger problem facing the West: the now 14-year drought gripping the Colorado River basin.

One of the most stunning places to see its impact is at the nation's largest reservoir, Lake Mead, near Las Vegas. At about 40 percent of capacity, it's the lowest it's been since it was built in the 1930s.

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HEALTH
9:31 am
Fri April 17, 2015

The State Of The Cancer Nation

Matt Stiles and Christopher Groskopf/NPR

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 6:40 pm

While a cure for cancer remains elusive, we already know how to keep many cases of the disease from developing in the first place.

People can reduce cancer risks by keeping a healthful weight and avoiding cigarettes.

But smoking, obesity and other major cancer risk factors remain common, and they still vary widely across the country.

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NEWS
5:39 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Vision To Close North Fork Classrooms

Vision Charter Academy won't offer classes at its Paonia campus next school year.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Vision Charter Academy, a public charter school with three campuses in Delta County, won't offer classes at its North Fork campus next school year.  

Parents of students at Vision’s school in Paonia received the news Thursday via email.

Teri Kinkade the executive director of Vision Charter Academy wrote the letter.

In her email, Kinkade tells parents Vision’s board met earlier this week and decided to no longer offer classes at its Paonia location.

She cites a 'lack of interest' and 'declining enrollment' as reasons for the board’s decision.

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NEWS
4:00 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Citing A 'Gap' In Law, Cadman Introduces Fetal Homicide Bill

Colorado General Assembly

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 12:25 pm

Following a March attack in Longmont where a mother's unborn child was cut from her womb, Colorado's Senate President has introduced a fetal homicide bill. As written, Senate Bill 268 [.pdf], would define a person as an unborn human being from conception until birth for the purposes of homicide and assault cases. It's expected to draw vigorous debate at the statehouse.

"Frankly crime victims deserves justice, society demands justice," said Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs). "Currently there's a significant gap in Colorado."

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NEWS
11:43 am
Thu April 16, 2015

DMEA Forum Focuses On FERC Petition And Broadband

An example of fiber optic cable shown at a meeting in Paonia.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The Delta Montrose Electric Association is a cooperative meaning its customers are its owners.

DMEA wants to hear what its consumers think about its desire to purchase more locally produced energy and it potentially entering the internet service game. 

Two months ago, DMEA filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

"What we are asking FERC to rule on is to declare Tri-State a public utility which would allow us then to enter into agreements with qualifying facilities,"  DMEA CEO Jasen Bronec says.

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EDUCATION
10:48 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Real-World Math: A Bit Of Trig And Hay For The Horses

With the math done, student Kendall Hood works the plasma cutter.
Jenny Brundin Colorado Public Radio

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 4:52 pm

Building a giant steel bale feeder is hard. Try it.

Problem No. 1: Unless you live in ranch country, you probably don't even know what it's supposed to look like — regardless of whether you can build one.

Problem No. 2: Arc welding is involved.

Problem No. 3: Getting it right requires some serious math.

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