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KVNF Regional Newscast: May 19, 2022

Lucas Brady Woods
Steve Underwood, a forest management expert, manages a prescribed burn near the San Juan National Forest. Burns are one way to mitigate ips beetle infestations, but they won't solve the root problems driving the bugs' spread.

Video footage from a security camera where two close-range shootings were recorded was introduced at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday in the Paonia double murder from February. Delta County Independent reports the prosecution contends the man in the video shooting Michael Arnold and Donna Gallegos is Mark Burns, who remains in custody for the killings. However, the suspect is wearing a bandana over half his face, a hooded sweatshirt, ball cap and gloves duct-taped onto his wrists. Arnold’s public defender Patrick Crane argued it is not possible to confirm the identity of the shooter from the footage. The hearing went on all day, with most testimony coming from detective Sergeant Tyler Becker. The purpose of the hearing was to establish whether there is enough probable cause for the charges to proceed. The hearing will continue next week. It will also determine whether law enforcement can continue to hold Burns without bail on the basis that the proof is evident he committed the capital crimes.

Current and former Mind Springs Health workers who came forward to tell the Colorado News Collaborative what they experienced at the troubled western slope mental health center, say they were not interviewed by any of three state regulatory bodies last year. CoLab reports 29 workers, whose accounts date back to 2012, include serious legal and ethical breaches. Supervisors made them make up diagnoses for patients to justify treating them, diagnose patients with disorders they did not have in order to qualify for costly, Medicaid-funded treatment they did not need, and show progress among all patients they were assigned to assess, including those whose symptoms had not actually improved. State funding for the center hinged partly on the success of its treatment. The whistleblowers say Mind Springs falsified assessments of patients’ conditions for at least nine years in an effort to make treatment programs seem more effective and secure state funding. CoLab’s investigation into Mind Springs included state agencies’ longtime failure to regulate community mental health centers.

A new Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives will be housed in the Colorado Department of Public Safety. Governor Jared Polis backs Senate bill 150 passed in the final days of the state legislative session. The new office will connect the indigenous community to officials with a board composed of tribal representatives, law enforcement, and social services workers. Colorado Sun reports the cost to build the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s capacity to work on cases of missing or murdered indigenous people, is about a half-million dollars. Stan Hilkey, executive director of the Department of Public Safety, cautioned the new law creates a broad scope of work with expectations beyond the mission of his office preferring to situate the new office within the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. That didn’t happen and he’s not happy about it, but we will soon learn how this plays out. Denver has the seventh highest number of cases in the nation, among U.S. cities. Far too many missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are not included in law enforcement records, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute. The Colorado Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Task Force is an informal group of native women who helped create Senate Bill 150. They found more than 50 cases of missing and murdered indigenous people in Colorado.

Bark beetles are tiny insects that burrow into the bark of pine trees to lay their eggs, often killing the tree in the process. They are common across the west and can spread across huge areas of woodland. One way to mitigate beetle outbreaks is through prescribed burns. But as KSJD’s Lucas Brady Woods reports for Rocky Mountain Community Radio, drought conditions fueling their spread aren’t so easy to address.

FEATURE (4:10)

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Gavin Dahl is a writer and producer with a passion for community media. He worked for KVNF from July 2020 to July 2022. He won awards and recognition for his KVNF reporting from the Colorado Broadcasters Association and Society of Professional Journalists. His writing has been published by The Montrose Press, The Sopris Sun, Boulder Weekly, Raw Story, Radio Survivor, Boise Weekly, and The Austin American-Statesman. He graduated from The Evergreen State College with a BA in media production and community organizing.
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