Austin Cope


Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.

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Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the electrical utility cooperative that provides power to many rural areas of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, has relied on coal and fossil fuels to generate the bulk of its power for many years. Now, Tri-State is beginning a rapid shift towards increasing renewable energy. But as KSJD's Austin Cope reports, undoing years of fossil fuel influence may be challenging.

Austin Cope / KSJD

Three members of the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District Board signed a petition supporting a district-funded recall election for Lance McDaniel, the school board member representing District A, according to an open records request filed by KSJD News.

Austin Cope / KSJD

Like many medical facilities in the United States, Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez has been stretched to capacity during the ongoing COVID-19 surge. According to Marc Meyer with Southwest Health System, approximately a dozen hospital staff have recently tested positive for the virus. Although their exposures were found to have occurred outside of the hospital, the resulting staff shortages have added to the challenges the hospital is facing.

Austin Cope / KSJD

In response to an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, Montezuma County has reopened its emergency operations center. According to its manager, Jim Spratlen, the center coordinates between various county, state, and public health organizations to mitigate the impacts of the virus.

KSJD Screenshot / Montezuma County/YouTube

Some of the Montezuma County Commission’s responses to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases have included reopening the county emergency operations center, monitoring the number of hospital beds available, and coordinating information between departments and agencies.

However, masks are generally absent from their initiatives.