Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage

A new blazing fast internet connection in Paonia is making it easier for Americans who live far from Colorado to order cowboy hats that make them look like their favorite Western movie stars.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

One morning in mid-February, David Herz went to turn on the faucet in his farmhouse outside the small western Colorado town of Paonia, and nothing came out.

“I thought, ‘Oh, f---. We got a problem,’” Herz said.

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.

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.

Spring Cold Snap Shrivels Colorado Apple Crop

Aug 13, 2015
Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Colorado’s apple orchards are bearing less fruit. Growers are projecting an 80 percent drop in apple production for 2015. The state’s peach producers are facing an average year.

Being a fruit grower on the state’s Western Slope can be precarious. You’re one late season frost away from major crop damage -- which is exactly what happened to apple growers. 

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.

Federal researchers are on a mission to back up the genetic material of the plants and animals that the nation’s food supply depends on. A pair of ranchers in the hills of western Colorado are joining in and are trying to ensure the future of the rare Black Welsh Mountain sheep.

A recent report finds Colorado has more than doubled its number of craft breweries since 2009. 

The state’s craft brewery industry is doing well, according to the report by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

The study, commissioned by the Colorado Brewers Guild, found the state ranks third in the nation, just behind California and Washington, in number of craft breweries.