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

vote, flag, voting
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Voters in Cedaredge will decide on two ballot questions this November. The town’s board of trustees unanimously approved the items last week.  

The first question deals with Senate Bill 152. It’s a decade old state law that prevents local governments from providing internet service to residents unless the people over turn it. 

On a research farm north of Fort Collins, Colorado, in a secret location, buried in the middle of a corn field, grows Colorado’s newest and most buzzed about commodity crop -- industrial hemp.

It’s almost harvest time at the farm, and soon researchers at Colorado State University will be adding bushels of hemp next to the usual, familiar piles of corn, wheat and oats.

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family, but it’s lacking in psychoactive properties. Instead, it’s grown more for fiber and oil. But decades of prohibition have left academia lacking in published scientific research about the plant’s very basic properties.

John Hickenlooper
Laura Palmisano

On this episode of Local Motion, we’ll hear from Governor John Hickenlooper and members of his cabinet who spoke at a forum in Montrose last month. First, Irv Halter, the director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, speaks. Then John Swartout , a senior advisor to the governor, talks about sage grouse. And lastly, Hickenlooper delivers his remarks. 

tissue box, sick, illness, cold

Delta County is seeing a spike in pertussis, also known as whooping cough, cases. The highly contagious respiratory disease causes uncontrollable coughing and can make it difficult for people to breathe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says whooping cough can be fatal, especially to young children under a year old.

Between July and August, Delta County saw seven confirmed cases of the disease.

Bonnie Koehler, the deputy director of the county health department, says this uptick in cases is concerning.

flickr user witnessoflight

Many people move out to the Western Slope to get away from city life and enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature.  When those sounds disappear, though, it can be concerning.

When President Obama spoke to the Democratic National Convention in Colorado seven years ago, he tried to call a truce in one of the nation's long-running social debates.

"We may not agree on abortion. But surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country," he said to applause.

Not long after that, Colorado launched an experiment aimed at doing just that. The results have been dramatic — but efforts to expand the program using taxpayer money have hit a political roadblock.

Oil drilling on Colorado's populous Front Range has forced more interactions between communities and the energy industry – and that's caused tension. At the recent annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, one of the discussions centered on how to improve relations between the industry and the public.

It's an ongoing issue that the state will tackle in a new rule making hearing.

karen refugees, esl class
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

As anyone who's ever taken a foreign language class knows, it’s hard to learn another language. For immigrants to this country, that challenge can affect their whole lives. According to census data, in 2013, there were more than 25 million people in the United States with limited English proficiency.  And, in Colorado's rural Delta County, a group of refugees from Southeast Asia is trying to overcome this barrier. 

The number of Coloradans who don't have health insurance has dropped by about half since President Barack Obama's signature health care law went into effect. The state's uninsured rate fell from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 6.7 percent in 2015. Not only does the Colorado Access Health Survey say that the uninsured are at a record low, it also finds that more people have enrolled in Medicaid.

community options
Community Options, Inc.

A local nonprofit that helps individuals with intellectual and development disabilities is constructing a new regional center.

Montrose-based Community Options, Inc. serves six counties on the Western Slope.

Last week, the organization broke ground on a three-acre property near downtown. Right now, it’s renovating one of the buildings on the site. 

Robert Gabriel

Formerly serving on the Colorado Court of Appeals, Richard Gabriel will soon be sworn in as Colorado's next State Supreme Court Justice. Justice Gabriel will assume his new role on Sept. 1, which follows the retirement of Justice Gregory Hobbs. Ahead of his appointment, Gabriel sat down for a discussion about his view of politics in the judicial process, why he became a lawyer, and some of his significant cases. 

CSU Rogers Mesa Agricultural Research Center
Linda Rubick

A group of Delta County stakeholders wants to breathe new life into a shuttered agricultural research center. The Colorado State University facility sits on 83 acres outside of Hotchkiss on Rogers Mesa. 

The property has a residence, classrooms, laboratory space, offices, cold storage, a greenhouse and equipment storage sheds. 

CSU used the site to conduct research on fruit trees, but now the classrooms and laboratories sit empty.

iSeeChange: Hazy Days

Aug 27, 2015
helicopter, firefighting, wildfire, Aerial Firefighting
The U.S. Army via Flickr

Something’s in the air.  Ridgway resident Sue Husch noticed last week the same thing a lot of people on the Western Slope noticed: smoke.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

A Telluride nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs launch their businesses is seeking applicants for its 2016 startup program. 

Telluride Venture Accelerator, an initiative of the Telluride Foundation, started three years ago. 

It brings entrepreneurs to the mountain town for a five-month residency program.  

A program to provide long acting reversible contraceptives to low-income women has been funded for another year. About a dozen health and community foundations have stepped up to provide the funds, something the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had been working overtime to try and secure.

Students are heading back to school, but the road to graduation for this the incoming crop of seniors varies by high school. The reason? Unlike other states, Colorado does not have a set requirement for what it takes to receive a diploma.

Creating a standard is an ongoing debate and one that state lawmakers tried to answer in 2007 and 2008 when they approved legislation requiring a minimum statewide requirement.

The Justice Department is trying to make it easier for Native American tribes to gain access to national crime databases. Federal authorities say the program could prevent criminals from buying guns and help keep battered women and foster children safe.

The issue of who can see information in federal criminal databases might sound boring, until one considers a deadly shooting at a high school in Washington state last year.

A beautiful ballerina and a handsome prince are at the heart of the world's most famous ballets. Sleeping Beauty. Swan Lake. The Nutcracker, of course.

And at training grounds for future dancers, plenty of girls hope to someday wear the prima ballerina's tutu.

But it's become a challenge to find the boys who will one day form the other half of the pas de deux.

'Cooties And Stuff'

Wade Hanson

As wildfires continue to rage in the Northwest, Colorado has had a relatively mild season.  It’s unsure, though, if it will stay that way. 

Irv Halter
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A lack of access to high-speed internet is an issue for rural communities in western Colorado. 

Jake Ryan

The 35th annual Telluride Mushroom Festival took place this month. 

John Hickenlooper
Laura Palmisano

Governor John Hickenlooper and members of his cabinet were in Montrose on Thursday for a community forum.

Like a lot of students, 17-year-old Nick Bain says he really likes his school, but sometimes it can feel like a chore.

"It just feels a little bit like you just have to keep doing one thing after another, but without a whole lot of thinking about an education in general," says Nick.

So one day he decided to write down what he was doing every 15 minutes at the Colorado Academy in Denver.

montrose regional dispatch center
City of Montrose

The city of Montrose is going to create its own regional dispatch center with an estimated price tag of $1.8 million. 

cows, dairy farm
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Across the state 70 facilities are under quarantine for a viral disease that affects livestock.

The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

Initially the agency downplayed the incident and provided little information. So Navajo President Russell Begaye traveled to the source of the toxic spill and posted a video of it on Facebook.

In the video, he stands in front of the still-leaking mine.

iSeeChange: Dead Finches

Aug 14, 2015
Flickr User quinet

Earlier this summer, we received an observation over at about finches.  Ann Cabillot  had a mystery: dead purple finches found across Paonia.

Small Potatoes Farm
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

The state is offering financial assistance to Colorado farmers looking to move away from using flood irrigation. 

This year's El Niño is shaping up to be a whopper — potentially surpassing the one in 1997, which was the strongest on record, the National Weather Service says.

That could be good news for drought-stricken California, but not-so-good for places such as the Philippines and Indonesia, which typically experience below-normal rainfall or drought conditions during El Niños.