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

Fort Carson is faring better than many as part of the Army's efforts to reduce overall troop numbers by 40,000.

The Mountain Post will lose about 365 soldiers, a fraction of the 16,000 once deemed possible

construction, North Fork Valley
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

A few years ago, a grassroots program started in Portland to encourage people to adopt solar power. That idea spread across the county and inspired similar initiatives like one in a rural community in western Colorado. 

A crew of six is working to install mounts for solar panels on a residential rooftop in Delta County. 

This home sits atop a mesa that overlooks the North Fork Valley. And, it’s the first to get a sun-powered system through a local pro-solar campaign.  

Mesa County Health Department

Colorado has its first human case of West Nile virus this year. 

Health officials say a Mesa County man hospitalized after contracting the virus is now recovering at home. He’s the first person to be diagnosed with it in Colorado so far this year, according to the state. 

Thomas Orr is a regional epidemiologist at the Mesa County Health Department.  

Millie Hamner

Representative Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, was the vice chair of the Joint Budget Committee this past session and will chair the committee in 2016. KVNF's Laura Palmisano recently interviewed Hamner about the past session, the state budget, educating funding, severance taxes and the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, known as TABOR. 

West Creek Ranch, Unaweep Canyon
Josh Duplechain

A new conservation agreement will permanently protect a 780-acre working ranch in the heart of Unaweep Canyon. 

Mesa Land Trust worked for three years to make the deal happen.  

Ilana Moir with the trust describes why the nonprofit wants to preserve West Creek Ranch, which is along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway.

hash oil
Andres Rodriguez via Flickr

A new law that makes it illegal for individuals to use hazardous materials to make hash oil went into effect on Wednesday.  

Republican Representative Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction co-sponsored the measure. He said it targets ‘home cookers’. 

"We had a problem with explosions all over the state from people trying to manufacture marijuana concentrate using dangerous, explosive, volatile substances such as butane," Willett said. 

Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon as of today.

People 21 and older can now possess up to an ounce of pot when away from home and up to 8 ounces at home. It's also legal to grow up to four plants per household.

Jeff Reynolds

A faulty antenna preamplifier was replaced Monday, July 6th, restoring a clean KVNF signal to the Lake City translator. Tune in to 88.7 FM & let us know how it sounds! You can send reception reports or report problems by emailing

KVNF is also available as a live internet stream here at

Thank you for your patience!  Thanks also to Lake City resident (& former KVNF Board member) Ed Nettleton for the use of his jeep!

medical, syringe, IV drug use, WESTCAP, needle exchange, syringe exchange
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Needle exchange programs in Colorado are expanding.

The programs are designed to keep illegal drug users from sharing used needles and spreading deadly diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. And, not too long ago they were illegal in this state. 

Five years ago only one needle exchange operated in Colorado and it was illegal. 

By serving in the Army, Staff Sgt. Patricia King is breaking the rules.

King enlisted 1999 under her birth name, Peter. At the beginning of this year, King — a decorated soldier with three deployments to Afghanistan under her belt — started her gender transition.

Current and former Colorado state Democratic lawmakers are praising the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing same sex marriage nationwide. In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"Today is an amazing day for America and equality, said Democratic former Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino, who served as Colorado’s first gay speaker and helped pass a bill to make civil unions legal in the state.

"I knew we would get to this day in my life time, but never thought it would come so quickly. I am so proud of our nation's ability to move towards full equality for all people. The work is not done to end all discrimination but today was a gigantic step forward."

Felix Belmont
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Guinness World Records lists a 95-year-old woman from Ohio as the world’s oldest professional DJ. However, KVNF’s Felix Belmont turns 97 Sunday, June 28.

Felix has been a volunteer DJ at KVNF for over 35 years.

He hosts a program called Stop Time where he plays big band music from the 20's, 30's and 40's. And, he might just be the oldest volunteer DJ in public radio and...maybe the world.

KVNF’s Laura Palmisano spoke to Felix ahead of his birthday. 

In 1922, seven Western states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and California — drew up an agreement on how to divide the waters of the Colorado River. But there was one big problem with the plan: They overestimated how much water the river could provide.

As a result, each state was promised more water than actually exists. This miscalculation — and the subsequent mismanagement of water resources in those states — has created a water crisis that now affects nearly 40 million Americans.

Darcie Rose

The unusually wet spring has made some mushroom foragers very happy. 

soil, dirt
NRCS Soil Health

A Delta County man is recovering after contracting tularemia. Although it’s the first reported case of the disease on the Western Slope this year, health officials are concerned.

Last year in Colorado 16 people were diagnosed with tularemia.

That's the second highest number of cases in Colorado since 1983 when there were 20 cases, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Despite state lawmakers failing to pass a bill to fund the effort, a program to provide long acting reversible birth control to young, low-income women in Colorado is being extended for another year.

The long acting contraceptives, according to state figures, have helped cut teen pregnancy rates in the state by 40 percent. Abortions have gone down too.

Paonia Elementary
Laura Palmisano

The Delta County School Board has approved a Waldorf inspired education program in Paonia.

For the past three years, a group of parents and educators in the North Fork Valley have tried to open a Waldorf inspired charter school.  

The school board and the state board of education denied their charter recognition.

However, the group worked with district officials and school administrators to come up with a compromise.

It would create a K-4 program inspired by the Waldorf model at Paonia Elementary School. 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

A federal decision issued Thursday says the Delta-Montrose Electric Association is obligated to purchase power from qualifying facilities.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision means DMEA can buy more locally produced power.

Previously, the electric cooperative could only buy five-percent of its energy from providers other than Tri-State, a wholesale power supplier in four states.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Courtesy of Greg Owens

The sixth annual Black Canyon Astronomy Festival starts today and runs through Saturday, June 20. 

The festival takes place at the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park outside of Montrose. The event is put on with the help of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.

KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Art Trevena, the group’s vice president, to learn more about this year’s festival. 

Ride the Rockies kicked off its second day with a 96 mile ride from Grand Junction to Hotchkiss on Monday.

Hundreds of riders braved the heat and a steep climb over the Grand Mesa. 

The ride ended in Hotchkiss where cyclists didn’t descend onto the town all at once. Some rode in small groups and others were riding solo.

Carrie Yantzer, the principal of Hotchkiss K8, and a few other supporters greeted people as they peddled past.

Yantzer said she’s happy to see Ride the Rockies return to town. 

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that companies can legally fire employees for using medical marijuana, even off duty.

The decision is based on the case of Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic who takes medical marijuana to control muscle spasms in his legs. Dish Network fired him from his job as a customer service representative in 2010 after he failed a random drug test. Coats then sued for unlawful termination.

The marijuana industry has a pesticide problem. Many commercial cannabis growers use chemicals to control bugs and mold. But the plant's legal status is unresolved.

The grow room at Medical MJ Supply in Fort Collins, Colo., has all the trappings of a modern marijuana cultivation facility: glowing yellow lights, plastic irrigation tubes, and rows of knee-high cannabis plants.

"We're seeing a crop that's probably in it third or fourth week," says Nick Dice, the owner.

Now that marijuana use is legal in Colorado, can employees be fired for lighting up a joint in their free time?

That was the question before the Colorado Supreme Court this term and on Monday it came to a conclusion: Yes, you can get fired.

The case was brought by Brandon Coats, who sued Dish Network after it fired him for using his "state-licensed ... medical marijuana at home during nonworking hours."

While Colorado has experienced much needed rain this spring, fire officials are still expecting an average fire season.

"The moisture has helped considerably, at least to forestall the onset of the fire season, which we know is coming," said Paul Cooke, the Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

The addition of two specialized planes that can spot a wildfire in its very earliest stages means that the state should be better prepared for the fire season. Specialized equipment like this though, means the cost of fighting wildfires in Colorado and the west continues to go up – and officials at every level are planning accordingly.

rainbow trout
Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

State wildlife officials say rainbow trout populations in Colorado are finally on the rebound after they were hard hit by whirling disease in the 1990's. KVNF’s Laura Palmisano spoke to Eric Fetherman, an aquatic research scientist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to learn more about the recovery of the fish. 

downtown Olathe

The town of Olathe recently received a large grant for a walkway expansion project.

Olathe got nearly $226,000 through the federal Transportation Alternative Program. The Colorado Department of Transportation distributes the funds to communities.

"The scope of the project is to provide additional walkway for a section of town that has a high volume of pedestrian traffic," Patty Gabriel, Olathe’s town administrator, said.  "And, it would connect our Olathe Middle & High School with our Olathe Elementary School."

In prison, Brian Nelson lived in solitary confinement. That meant 23 hours a day in a small cell. No human contact, except with guards — for 12 years straight.

Then, his prison sentence for murder was over. One moment he was locked down. The next, he was free.

NPR and The Marshall Project, an online journalism group that focuses on the criminal justice system, investigated the release of tens of thousands of prisoners from solitary confinement to find out how many prisoners, like Nelson, go straight from solitary to the streets.

Mesa County Health Department

May was the wettest month on record, according to federal data. Colorado also saw its fair share of precipitation last month. 

This increased moisture could mean more mosquitoes and this has health officials concerned. 

The insects reproduce in standing water so when it rains a lot in can create ideal breeding habitat for them. 

Thomas Orr, a regional epidemiologist at the Mesa County Health Department, says more mosquitoes could lead to more cases of West Nile.

Sally Jewell, the Secretary of the Interior and Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, came to Colorado Tuesday to urge a change in how the federal government pays to fight catastrophic wildfires.

"The solution is for these fires to be looked upon in the same way we look at tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, they're natural disasters and they should be funded as such," Vilsack said.

Interior's Jewell agrees the funding mechanism should change.

It's been a month since Colorado lawmakers wrapped up their 2015 legislative session at the state capitol, but the work is far from over. Many of the bills that failed this year will likely be back next session and some long-standing issues may already be poised to go before voters in 2016.