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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HEALTH
6:00 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Emergency Flu Shelter For The Homeless To Open In Mesa County

A medical technician with the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic prepares an influenza shot.
Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District

The state reports more than 2,600 people have been hospitalized because of the flu so far this season. And, St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction has seen its share of those cases. 

Gretchen Gore, with the hospital, says after patients are discharged it’s recommend they rest at home, but that’s not an option for everyone. 

"It was discovered that when we have someone that is homeless they don’t have a warm home to go home to and recover," Gore says.  

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NEWS
3:51 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Remaking The U.S. Government's Online Image, One Website At A Time

Leah Bannon (sitting) works on her laptop at 18F, a GSA project that aims to make government websites more user friendly and change the way government buys IT systems.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:25 am

When you think of the federal government and computers, these days, the image that likely comes to mind is the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

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NEWS
12:18 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Comment Period For Gunnison Drilling Extended

Credit Sarah Sauter/Conservation Center

The public comment period for the Bull Mountain Unit, a proposed development of 146 gas wells in Gunnison County just north of the Paonia Reservoir, has been extended.  The initial 45 day period has been doubled to 90, meaning the BLM is open to comment on their Environmental Impact Statement now until April 16th.  A public meeting about the EIS is scheduled for  Feb. 10 at the Paonia High School.

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AGRICULTURE
11:50 am
Wed January 28, 2015

2015 Likely To Be A Mixed Bag For Colorado Farmers

A global glut of wheat is keeping prices low for farmers.

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 10:34 am

2014 brought with it an abundance of grain for Colorado farmers and it doesn’t look likely to change in 2015. While farmers wait for a rebound, the new year could bring substantive policy change.

Great Plains farmers are unlikely to see relief in 2015 from sluggish commodity crop prices, according to Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs with K-Coe Isom, one of the country’s largest agricultural consulting firms. Kuehl spoke at an economic forecast event in Greeley.

An American rebound from drought, and bumper crops in other parts of the world, have caused a grain glut that has pushed down prices for corn, wheat and soybeans. Farmers are coming off a couple seasons of some of the highest corn prices in years.

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COMMUNITY
10:17 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Local Motion: Forest Service Seeks To Address Spruce Beetle, Aspen Decline In Western Colorado

Spruce beetles have invaded the inner bark of this spruce tree in Hinsdale County, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano

Over the past decade spruce beetles have been causing a big problem in southwest Colorado. And it’s getting worse. The beetle is devouring mature spruce forests and turning them into expanses primed for wildfire.

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NEWS
1:24 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Tiger Skins And Rhino Horns: Can A Trade Deal Halt The Trafficking?

Coleen Schaefer (left) and Doni Sprague display a tiger pelt that was confiscated and is being stored at the National Wildlife Property Repository on the outskirts of Denver. Some 1.5 million items are being held at the facility. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is still under negotiation, would punish wildlife trafficking.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 1:36 pm

If you want a sobering look at the scale of wildlife trafficking, just visit the National Wildlife Property Repository on the outskirts of Denver. In the middle of a national refuge is a cavernous warehouse stuffed with the remains of 1.5 million animals, whole and in parts.

They range from taxidermied polar bears to tiny sea horses turned into key chains. An area devoted to elephants is framed by a pair of enormous tusks.

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POLITICS
4:41 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Tempers Flare Over GOP Moves In Committee At The Statehouse

Colorado Senate GOP Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 7:02 am

Colorado's new Republican Senate has majority flexed their muscles at the state capitol, using their power on the Joint Budget Committee to defund a 2013 law allowing people in the country illegally to obtain a state driver's license. They also struck down a bill to harmonize Colorado's civil unions law with a gay marriage ban that was deemed unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. On top of that, a commission looking at pay equity between men and women was struck down.

With split legislative control and Democrats in charge of the House, how will this impact both parties politically?

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HEALTH
10:02 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Pediatricians Say Don't Lock Up Teenagers For Using Marijuana

A marijuana bud displayed in Denver. Don't legalize pot, the pediatricians say, but don't lock teenagers up for using it, either.
Seth McConnell The Denver Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 12:11 pm

Across the country, efforts to make marijuana more accessible have quickly gained traction. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, and recreational use is also legal in four states and the District of Columbia.

Science, however, hasn't quite caught up. Largely due to its illegal status, there's been very little research done on marijuana's health effects. And researchers don't fully understand how pot affects the developing teenage brain.

This may explain the why the nation's pediatricians have changed their recommendations on marijuana and children.

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ARTS
9:56 am
Mon January 26, 2015

A Japanese Singing Competition Blooms In Colorado

Two performers rehearse a traditional Japanese dance for Denver's 2015 Kohaku Uta Gassen.
Chloe Veltman KCFR

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 10:00 am

At a Buddhist temple in downtown Denver, Junko Higdon is rehearsing a traditional song for one of the local Japanese community's biggest annual events.

Higdon is one of 30 amateur singers competing in two teams at this year's Kohaku Uta Gassen, which means, "red and white singing battle."

"White is for the men, red is for the women and whoever gets the most points out the teams wins the trophy," she says.

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NEWS
9:54 am
Mon January 26, 2015

4-Year Prison Term For Colorado Woman Over Plot To Join ISIS

Shannon Conley's parents, Ana and John Conley, exit the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Denver following their daughter's plea hearing in September 2014.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 9:30 am

Shannon Conley, 19, has been sentenced to four years in prison for trying to travel to Turkey and work as a nurse for the extremist group ISIS. Conley reached a plea agreement over charges of trying to provide support for the terrorist group last fall.

When she was arrested, Conley was living in the Denver suburb of Arvada, where she had initially raised suspicions by visiting the grounds of a church and making notes and drawings. She was arrested months later, after several warnings from FBI agents.

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NEWS
9:45 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Police Investigating Break In At Paonia Pharmacy

There was a break in Thursday night at Hays Drug Store in downtown Paonia.
Laura Palmisano

There was a break in last week at Hays Drug Store in downtown Paonia. 

Police are still investigating, but it appears the burglars stole prescription medication.

Officials say they don't know what kinds of medications were taken yet because they're waiting for pharmacy staff to inventory. 

 According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado has one of the highest rates in the nation for prescriptive pain pill abuse.

HEALTH
6:00 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Flu Quarantine Ends At Mesa County Jail

Health officials say you can reduce the spread of the flu by covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands, and staying home if you are sick.
Credit flickr/breatheindigital

Up to nine inmates with influenza at the Mesa County Jail were quarantined for a five-day period that ended earlier this week. 

Heather Benjamin, with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, says the ill men were placed in two separate pods, or sections, during that time. 

"Those two pods were quarantined in the sense that no new inmates were moved into those pods and no inmates were moved out," Benjamin says.

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NEWS
4:11 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

EPA Head: Climate Change An "Economic Issue" For Aspen

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stands near the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen. On Thursday, she spoke about how action on climate change is critical to economies like Aspen that depend on snow.

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 4:44 pm

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a small crowd in Aspen Thursday that action on climate change is needed now. Administrator Gina McCarthy timed her visit with the Winter X Games, to reach a younger crowd.

McCarthy’s visit was in conjunction with Protect Our Winters, a climate change advocacy group led by snow sports athletes. Standing next to the ski gondola, McCarthy emphasized how action on climate change is critical to economies like Aspen’s.

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SPORTS
9:25 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Athletes: Let the X Games Begin!

Longtime snowboarder Shaun White speaks while decorated rider Kelly Clark (right) and young phenom Chloe Kim (left) listen.

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 11:14 pm

  The X Games have officially begun, with the Women’s Ski SuperPipe Final Wednesday night at Buttermilk. When it comes to new events, there will be a Special Olympics giant slalom race, as well as a gaming center where people attending the event can compete for prizes and their own X Games Medals. This weekend will also have a wider array of events for disabled athletes than in the past. Overall at least three Aspen-area hometown favorites will be gunning for gold. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher was at a press conference with the athletes yesterday, and files this report.

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NEWS
8:07 am
Fri January 23, 2015

TSA Agents Discovered 2,212 Guns At Airport Checkpoints In 2014

TSA agents, like this one at Chicago's Midway International Airport, discovered more than 2,000 firearms at the nation's airports last year — the overwhelming majority of them loaded, according to new data.
Nam Y. Huh AP

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 2:08 pm

The Transportation Security Administration found more than 2,000 firearms at the nation's airports last year — the overwhelming majority of them loaded, the Department of Homeland Security said today.

TSA agents discovered 2,212 firearms — or a little more than six a day — in carry-on bags; 83 percent of them were loaded, the department said.

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POLITICS
8:06 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Senate Says Climate Change Real, But Not Really Our Fault

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against an amendment calling climate change "real and not a hoax."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 12:20 pm

Breathtakingly broad as its jurisdiction may be, the U.S. Senate does not usually vote on the validity of scientific theories.

This week, it did. And science won. The Senate voted that climate change is real, and not a hoax. The vote was 98-1.

The vote was about an amendment to the bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The near-unanimity of the climate change judgment was notable, because so many senators have cast doubt on ideas of "global warming."

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NEWS
6:00 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Colorado Ski Resorts Report Strong Early Season

A skier hitting the slopes in Colorado.
Credit flickr/zachd1_618

Last season a record 12.6 million skier visits were recorded by Colorado resorts. 

Jenn Rudolph is with Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry association that represents 21 ski resorts across the state. She says those resorts are reporting a strong early season. 

"From the beginning of the season which was on Oct. 17 through the end of December we saw the amount of skier visits [reported] was only about 1 percent off of last year’s early season skier visits," Rudolph says.

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NEWS
2:14 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Both Sides Sue Over Gunnison Sage Grouse

Gunnison Sage Grouse
Credit Flick/shellgame

Last November, the federal government listed the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  That doesn’t mean, though, that the fighting over this contentious bird is done.

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NEWS
12:15 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Settlement Puts Drilling Project On Hold In Gunnison Natl. Forest

Treetops in the Gunnison National Forest
Credit Flickr user diwineanddine

Last Friday saw two big developments concerning oil and gas development in the North Fork Valley.

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HEALTH
10:24 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Hits 59 Cases And Counting

People who visited Disneyland in December were at risk of getting an unwelcome souvenir: the measles.
George Frey Landov

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 6:50 am

The measles outbreak that started at Disneyland and one other California theme park is expanding, with 59 confirmed cases in patients ranging in age from 7 months to 70 years. The California Department of Public Health has linked 42 of these cases to people who visited Disneyland or Disney's California Adventure Park.

Initially, cases were linked to people who visited the parks in mid-December, but health officials now say that other people with measles were at the parks in January while infectious and also have spread the disease.

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