Delta County

Paonia's Water Returns, Boil Order Remains

Mar 6, 2019
Photo courtesy of Kori Stanton

Water is again flowing through faucets in the Western Slope town of Paonia.

Town administrator Ken Knight told residents at a meeting Tuesday evening enough water is being treated and kept in storage to return service to the more than 1,500 people who rely on the town for drinking water. Some residents have been without drinkable tap water for nearly two weeks after officials discovered leaks in water pipes.

Northforker / CC BY-SA 3.0

When Paonia resident Jon Howard went turn on the dishwasher last Friday morning, there was no water to clean the dishes.

Same thing when he went to the bathroom, wanted to take a shower or fill up a glass from the kitchen sink.

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Colorado agriculture officials are taking steps to make industrial hemp -- marijuana’s agrarian cousin  -- more mainstream. They’ve certified three hemp seed varieties, becoming the first state in the country to do so.

A seed certification is akin to a stamp of approval, letting farmers know the plant performs well in Colorado’s soil and climate.

The certification also ensures that farmers won’t break federal law by cultivating plants above the legal threshold for THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Hemp that tests above a concentration of 0.3 percent THC must be destroyed, according to state rules. That threshold was set in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The last fully operational coal mine in the western part of the state announced layoffs Thursday.

The West Elk Mine outside of Paonia is owned by Arch Coal. The company filed for bankruptcy in January and says it’s letting go of 80 workers.

Htoo Ler Moo was 7-years-old when his family arrived in a refugee camp in Thailand. Before the camp, his family lived in a tiny village in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where his parents worked in the fields. They lived in that camp for seven years before they were able to come to the United States as refugees. On Htoo Ler Moo's first day of school in Colorado he only knew basic words like yes, no and hello. Now, he is a high school graduate and looking on to a bigger and brighter future.

Western Slope Sees Change With Coal's Shifting Fortunes

Jun 8, 2015
Theo Stroomer / Special to Inside Energy

To get to Colorado's North Fork Valley, you drive along the area's namesake, the North Fork of the Gunnison River. Rounding a corner northeast of Paonia, past stands of aspen and cliff bands, suddenly you're driving through a coal mine, complete with two-story high piles of black coal and conveyor belts that stretch over the road. There's two more mines down the river and past that a gorgeous green valley filled with orchards and ranches.

Colorado doesn't have the same strong associations with coal mining as Wyoming or West Virginia, but the industry has formed the bedrock of many small town Western Slope economies. Like many other coal regions, production here is down and the area is changing.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

A coal mine in Delta County announced Wednesday it is laying off 150 workers, over 40 percent of its workforce. The Bowie #2 mine layoffs follow the shutdown one year ago of another area mine, which laid off nearly 300 workers.

Colorado's 12 coal mines produced almost 29 million short tons of coal a year, according to 2012 figures from the Energy Information Administration [.pdf]. These latest layoffs are part of a downturn in coal's fortunes, which could continue to affect rural areas of the state that depend on coal for high-paying jobs. 

5 Colorado Counties Test Positive For West Nile

Jun 17, 2014

For the first time in the 2014 season, West Nile infected mosquitoes have been found in 5 Colorado counties.