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.

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

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Nov. 10, 2015  because the city announced Dana Schoening withdrew his application. 

Delta is hoping third time’s the charm for its city manager search.

In April, Delta’s then city manager Justin Clifton left for a job in Arizona. The city launched the search for his replacement in May. 

Climate change isn't just something to worry about here on Earth. New research published today shows that Mars has undergone a dramatic climate shift in the past that has rendered much of the planet inhospitable to life.

About 3.8 billion years ago, Mars was a reasonably pleasant place. It had a thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that kept it warm. Rivers trickled into lakes across its surface. Some researchers think there might even have been an ocean.

vote, flag, voting
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Voters across the Western Slope overwhelming approved broadband measures. 

Communities across the region asked residents to opt-out of Senate Bill 152. The decade-old state law prevents local governments from providing internet services or spending money on broadband infrastructure unless residents overturn it.  

Voters in Gunnison, Delta and Ouray Counties approved opt-out measures. Residents in Crested Butte, Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Cedaredge, Delta, Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride also passed similar ballot issues.  

Work crews in Honolulu recently dismantled wooden shacks and tents that lined city streets and housed almost 300 people.

It was the latest example of a city trying to deal with a growing homeless population, and responding to complaints that these encampments are unsafe, unsanitary and, at the very least, unsightly.

Last month, Madison, Wis., banned people from sleeping outside city hall. And in New Port Richey, Fla., the city council voted to restrict the feeding of homeless individuals in a popular park.

Efforts to fund much-needed repairs to Amtrak's Southwest Chief line got an extra boost Monday as the U. S. Department of Transportation awarded $15.2 million to the project.  Combined with matching funds, the grant, known as a TIGER grant, totals $24.5 million.

 

A teenage girl is believed to have contracted bubonic plague from a flea on a hunting trip, according to Oregon health officials. The Crook County girl got sick five days after the trip started on Oct. 16; she's been hospitalized in Bend, Ore., since Oct. 24.

Staff Sgt. Eric James, an Army sniper who served two tours in Iraq, paused before he walked into a psychiatrist's office at Fort Carson, Colo. It was April 3, 2014. James clicked record on his smartphone, and then tucked the phone and his car keys inside his cap as he walked through the door to the chair by the therapist's desk.

Paonia Town Hall
KVNF

After years and years of embezzlement, a criminal case, and prison time, the town’s dealings with Kirstin Chesnik are coming to a conclusion.  On Tuesday night, the town accepted the terms of a civil settlement with Chesnik.

River Valley Family Health Center

A health center in Olathe that primarily serves low-income and uninsured patients is expanding.  

River Valley Family Health Center is opening a location in Montrose this week. A majority of the health center’s patients are on Medicaid or don’t have insurance.  

While millions will watch the third Republican presidential debate on TV, just 1,000 people will get tickets to see the event in person in the massive Coors Events Center on the scenic University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

CNBC, the cable network sponsoring the debate, didn't respond to questions about why the 11,000-seat arena would remain mostly empty.

Colorado will take center stage Wednesday when the Republican Party's presidential hopefuls hold their third debate at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Along with a recent visit from Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, CU students are saying all the activity is engaging younger voters ahead of 2016.

The state is politically purple, but Boulder is famously liberal, making the GOP debate a rare encounter with the conservative movement. Yet, mobilizing younger voters will be key to any electoral win, and both parties will be spending a lot of time in swing states like Colorado.

ice climbing, Ouray Ice Park, Ouray Ice Festival
JT Thomas

Tiny beetles are causing big problems for Ouray Ice Park.  

Fir engraver beetles are destroying the white fir trees climbers use as anchors. 

"As trees are dying, all of a sudden we have a serious loss of safe anchoring options for climbers within the park," said Mike Macleod, the president of the park’s board of directors. 

Macleod said the park is installing alternative anchoring in areas of the park where trees were traditionally relied upon.

saw peter, karen refugees
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Saw Peter is Karen. That’s an ethnic group in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  And for more than 100 Karen refugees in rural Delta, Colo., he’s the go-to person for advice, translation and other essential information.

Like the other refugees in this community, life hasn’t been easy for Peter.

As a young man, he smuggled his family to Malaysia because the government in Myanmar seized their farm and threatened to kill them.

crested butte, camping
Gloria Dickie / High Country News

Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Crested Butte, a mountain resort town on the Western Slope. This July, saw more people recreating in and around town than ever before. But, Crested Butte is small. So small there aren’t enough houses for the town’s low­-wage workers to rent. And, short-­term vacation rentals are gobbling up whatever housing is available, forcing workers out. 

internet, broadband
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Governments and organizations across the Western Slope say slow and unreliable broadband is hindering economic development. That’s why communities across the region want voter support this fall on measures that would allow them to try and address the issue. 

Local tax and spending issues, as well as city council and mayoral races largely dominate Colorado's 2015 election. There is only one statewide question, which asks voters whether the state can keep marijuana tax money it's already collected to pay for school construction, law enforcement and other programs.

If that's a question that sounds familiar – that's because it is. Proposition BB will actually be the third time Colorado voters have weighed in on taxing marijuana.

flickr user question_everything

It’s been a weird year for weather in Colorado. With a winter so warm and dry that trees bloomed in January, hay farmers started having flashbacks to the drought of 2012. But by spring, rains did come to Colorado, and the wet weather has been good news - for some.

As part of a special iSeeChange collaboration with  KDNK in Carbondale, and KSJD in Cortez, Amy Hadden Marsh and KVNF's Jake Ryan started looking at how the hay markets fared this year. 

Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Two Colorado communities hard-hit by the downturn in the coal industry received federal grants last week to help diversify their economies.

The Obama administration awarded Region 10, an organization of six counties on the Western Slope, a $1.2 million grant. Moffat County also got $50,000.

Small town doesn't quite describe Bethune, Colo. It spans just 0.2 square miles and has a population of 237. There's a post office, but it's open only part time. There's not a single restaurant, and the closest big store is in Kansas.

That didn't stop Ailyn Marfil from moving to Bethune a couple of months ago. In fact, she thinks it's a pretty exciting place to live. "I was looking for speed and action, and so Bethune gave me speed and action. More than I expected," she says.

Delta County Memorial Hospital
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Over the summer, Delta County Memorial Hospital ended its partnership with the North Fork Clinics. The relationship lasted for a little over a year. DCMH had taken over managing the clinics in Paonia and Hotchkiss. After the hospital announced it was returning management to the two physicians who previously owned the clinics, the facility in Hotchkiss closed and one of the physicians left.

The Republican field to challenge Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is still very much up in the air, but some possible contenders have not ruled out entering the race.

Bennet's seat is one of 10 Democratic seats across the nation the party must defend in 2016. So far Republicans do not have a clear front-runner. Bright prospects including Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler have both decided not to run.

Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Two local organizations are partnering to create a business and resource center in Delta County.

Delta County Economic Development (DCED) and Region 10 are now sharing workspace in downtown Delta. 

Black-footed ferrets have "a lot of hair, big bad teeth and a bad-boy attitude," says Kimberly Fraser. She and other federal wildlife officials are re-introducing the rare creatures to the prairie in a suburb of Denver.

"They're a native species. They belong here," says Fraser, an outreach specialist with a program to re-introduce the ferrets in 12 states from Montana to Texas.

Colorado is well-known for its outdoor recreation, but Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to take it to the next level - by making it even easier for people to access open space and parks. In addition to a previously unveiled Colorado the Beautiful Initiative, the governor has also pledged $100 million to create and connect bike trails.

"The ultimate goal is connecting everyone from Denver to the foothills and mountains to the west," said Tom Hoby, Jefferson County's director of open space and parks.

For plein-air painters - that's French for "open air" - creating a work of art can be tough. Even just pronouncing it. Some say "plane air."

"The French call it 'plen air' – 'en plein air,' actually, and they are the ones who coined the term," said plein air painter Danna Hildebrand.

As a retired professor of 28 years from Sheridan College in Wyoming she would know, though she won't fault you for mispronouncing it. Pronunciation is the least of the challenges artists face when they hit the trail with their easels.

Whole Foods Market has announced that by April of next year it will stop sourcing foods that are produced using prison labor.

The move comes on the heels of a demonstration in Houston where the company was chastised for employing inmates through prison-work programs.

Michael Allen, founder of End Mass Incarceration Houston, organized the protest. He says Whole Foods was engaging in exploitation since inmates are typically paid very low wages.

The cost of getting into some national parks increases on Thursday.

The rates will go up despite the fact that visitation at parks is up, which means bigger crowds, congested traffic and busier visitor centers. But more people aren't translating into a big boost for park budgets. For example, visitation at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is up 20 percent so far this year and Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion are also seeing double-digit increases. The parks are also seeing the strain. About 100 parks are planning an entrance fee hike.

Coal
NPS

A coal mine near Paonia is laying off more workers.

Bowie Resource Partners announced on Tuesday that it's eliminating nearly 100 jobs at the Bowie #2 Mine.

Stephen Butler via Flickr (CC-BY)

In the 2016 legislative session, Democratic state Representative Millie Hamner will chair the Joint Budget Committee. Hamner represents House District 61. It covers parts of Delta and Gunnison counties along with Summit, Lake and Pitkin counties. As part of a district tour, she stopped in Paonia over the weekend. KVNF's Laura Palmisano sat down with Hamner in the studio to discuss school funding, the state budget and the upcoming legislative session.

Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, Hemson Creek, Lake City
Lake Fork Valley Conservancy

A Hinsdale County nonprofit recently received a sizable state grant to help it with a public access easement along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife awarded the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy $33,000.

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