Jonathan Baker

Several fires burned throughout the Texas Panhandle this weekend, on a Sunday that was windy even by West Texas standards. One fire near the northwest loop of Amarillo ultimately burned 400 acres of grassland before being conquered by firefighters from Potter County Fire, the Texas A&M Forest Service, and the Amarillo Street Department.

Last week, a bill that would raise hunting and fishing fees in Colorado passed the Colorado Senate.

As The Denver Post reports, the Senate unanimously passed the measure, which would allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife to raise fees – as well as the price for park passes - to support conservation programs and chip away at a $45 million maintenance backlog on 11 dams owned by the division.

Kansas Fire Service

State officials said yesterday that the recent rain helped emergency responders across Kansas put out the latest wave of wildfires. Sixty-two wildland fires burned more than 17,000 acres between March 14th and 18th. The wildfires initially broke out in Rice county but were followed by fires in eight other counties -- including Barber and Reno, which were affected by fires earlier in March as well.

Update: Texas Panhandle Wildfires

17 hours ago
Texas A&M Forestry Service /

Over the weekend, several fires broke out across the Texas Panhandle.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the County Line fire that started in Hartley County on Thursday and spread into Oldham and Moore counties burned 15,682 acres. It is now 100 percent contained.

The second largest fire, the Old Muddy Road fire, began in Potter County Sunday and burned 4,480 acres as of Monday morning, at which time it was 65 percent contained.

War and the Ruling Class

21 hours ago

I’m Jonathan Baker, a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’m the discussion leader for this month’s book club read, A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton.

The theme for the Radio Readers Book Club this spring is World War I, but Wharton’s novel isn’t your usual war novel. This is no Red Badge of Courage or All Quiet on the Western Front. In fact, there are no scenes of violence or bloodshed at all in Wharton’s book. Instead, Wharton examines the effects of the Great War on those left behind, the parents and aunts and uncles and volunteers in the cities, who are left to helplessly await news of their children at the front.

US Air Force

The Texas unemployment rate rose slightly in the most recent numbers, up 4.2% for January. As KFYO notes, the jobless rate in the Lone Star State is slightly higher than the national figure, which stands at 4.1%. Annual employment growth for January in Texas was 2%, marking 93 consecutive months of annual growth.

Amarillo’s unemployment rate, at 2.8%, is significantly lower than the statewide rate. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s jobless rate held steady at 4.1%, a tenth of a point lower than Texas’s.

KUT/Texas Tribune

Lambda Legal has settled with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in the case of Passion Star, a transgender woman who claimed prison officials didn’t protect her from sexual and physical abuse while incarcerated in male prisons.

From The Texas Tribune:


I never camped out as a kid.  My parents weren’t campers.  We didn’t even own a tent.  At the time, I felt righteously indignant.  What kind of childhood doesn’t include sleeping in a tent at the lake?  I swore, when I grew up and had kids of my own, I would never, ever, ever, put them through the human rights violation of NOT camping. 


Mar 17, 2018

Join High Plains Public Radio Saturday at 1 p.m. as we welcome the new show, SONGBIRDS. 

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, host Valarie Smith will be toasting to Irish musicians.  Tune in for the likes of Cara Dillon, Janet Devlin, Damien Rice and more.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke at the campfire in front of his cabin this week and learn one of his simple, but very tasty camp recipes.

We don't always have a lot of time for cooking on fishing or hunting camps, but this tasty recipe takes canned beans and sausages to the next level!

High Plains Public Radio is thrilled to announce TWO NEW MUSIC SHOWS highlighting the best in folk, roots, acoustic, Americana and more—and they're BOTH hosted by regional DJs, born and raised on the High Plains! Don't forget to tune in THIS SATURDAY and catch HPPR's exclusive new programs, Songbirds and What the Folk?

Family, War and Loss

Mar 16, 2018
Jason Harper / Hays, Kansas

I’m Jason Harper from Hays, Kansas, for HPPR’s Radio Readers Spring Read commemorating the 100-year anniversary of WWI. I’m responding to A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton.

A Son at the Front is about a family and how a boy's parents try to use their social influence to keep their son from the front lines of the First World War. Yet the son secretly joins the infantry and his father's resultant intense reactions are central to the novel's development. 

Jason Boyett

A podcast about the Texas Panhandle has been gaining a good deal of attention in recent months.

Author Jason Boyett, who grew up in Amarillo, says he started the “Hey Amarillo” podcast for a couple of reasons. The project allows him to give back to his hometown, and it also provides panhandle residents with a chance to hear from people who live near them but aren’t necessarily like them.

Recent guests include Amarillo mayor Ginger Nelson, a DACA recipient, and an NAACP board member, and a young entrepreneur.


Farmers are going to attempt to appeal to President Donald Trump about his trade policies via television.

As Politico reports, the 30-second ad is sponsored by  Farmers for Free Trade, an advocacy group that wanted to make the case that foreign retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and other pending trade restrictions will have a potentially devastating impact on their exports, if China and other trading powers decide to boost tariffs on soybeans, wheat and other farm goods.


Hays-based non-profit Sunflower Electric announced at the end of February that it will purchase energy from the Johnson Corner Solar Project when it opens in 2019.

As the Hays Daily News Reports, the 240-acre solar facility in Stanton county will likely be Kansas’s largest solar plant and will produce around 55,000-megawatt hours, annually. That’s around 1% of the total energy that Sunflower Electric and its sister company Mid-Kansas Electric produce.

L. A. Huffman

When we were kids, my brother Bruce had a knack for finding arrowheads on the pasture hills surrounding our family’s farm. Once, he even found a point resting in the grass at the base of a neighbor’s light pole. I would drag sharp edges of against my palm and imagine braves racing bareback over our once unfenced pastures.

But despite the fact that these artifacts practically littered the ground beneath my feet, I grew up ignorant of Indian history. I didn’t know that many of the battles I’d seen on TV and at the movies, between cowboys, or cavalry, and Indians had taken place right in the Kansas-Colorado border region where we lived.

Derek Klingenberg of Peabody, Kansas is kind of a farmer celebrity. His Youtube channel which has over 70,000 subscribers, features everything from ag-themed pop-music parodies to trombone covers, but what really caught our attention was his cow art.

Tuesday, Klingenberg took his cow art to the next level, when he posted a video where he herded his cows to spell out the word “Hi,” and took a snapshot from outer space. 

I’ve long admired McFarland juniper trees—capable of growing to towering heights like an Italian Cyprus, but sturdy enough to withstand the severe High Plains droughts and wind. It had been a long-time dream to add one of these majestic trees to my landscaping, but would I actually be able to locate one?

CC0 Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Senate has passed a law that would make it legal for adoption companies to refuse services to same-sex couples.

As The Tulsa World reports, the measure passed by a vote of 35-9 and now heads to the House for consideration. LGBTQ advocacy groups decried the Senate vote.

Ben Kuebrich / High Plains Public Radio

A proposal by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disabled Services (KDADs) to locate a halfway house for sexual predators in Dighton is drawing strong opposition.

Hundreds of residents attended a town hall meeting held by the state Tuesday night to voice their opposition to the project. The proposed reintegration facility would house up to 16 convicted sexual predators that have served their sentences, undergone rigorous therapy, and shown good behavior. Similar facilities already exist in Osawatamie, Parsons, and Larned.

Indians in WWI

Mar 14, 2018

The results of World War I on Native peoples in the United States were profound, as the war led to citizenship and, slowly, to a greater participation in constitutional rights. During World War I, Native troops contributed to victory as soldiers and support staff. The Native-language code talkers provided invaluable intelligence services.

Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma lawmakers are looking at expanding the state’s Stand Your Ground law to include places of worship.

As KOSU reports, the law known as Stand Your Ground gives people who kill or seriously wound someone in self-defense immunity from prosecution — even if they didn’t try to evade the danger first.

Legislators are looking to expand the law to cover churches, synagogues and mosques and any other “building, structure or office space … used for worship services.


Updated March 13 with details of settlement — U.S. corn growers, grain-handling operations and ethanol plants will see a slice of a $1.5 billion settlement Monday in a class-action lawsuit over a genetically engineered variety made by Swiss-based Syngenta AG. 

CC0 Creative Commons

A school district on the edge of Amarillo is now allowing certain teachers to carry concealed weapons, leaving some to wonder if the rest of Amarillo’s schools may be next.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the 900-student Highland Park ISD on Amarillo’s eastern edge has posted signs reading that the district, “has adopted policies that allow certain employees to carry concealed weapons on school property for the protection of our students and staff.”

National Archives

I’m Jonathan Baker, a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’m the discussion leader for this month’s book club read, A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton. The theme for the Radio Readers Book Club this spring is World War I—which means the theme is really war itself. Some military historians consider the American Civil War to be the first “modern war,” as many of the elements of post-Industrial Age warfare were in place during that event. Yet World War I was the first conflict to use mechanized weapons on such a massive scale that the earth itself seemed to shake from the trauma.

darinrmcclure / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma’s state employees announced this weekend that they will join the state’s teachers in a walkout early next month if lawmakers do not meet the teachers’ demands for increased pay and school funding.

As The Oklahoman reports, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association board of directors met on Saturday and approved a work stoppage plan if the state legislature doesn’t agree to $213 million in state employee pay raises by April 2.

Texas City Prairie Preserve / Wikimedia Commons

During the primary elections in the Texas Panhandle this year much was heard about a heavily funded far-right group called Empower Texans, and how the group was trying to meddle in Panhandle elections. Republicans like State Congressman Four Price and State Senator Kel Seliger were targeted by the group, who funded primary challengers to try to torpedo these lawmakers’ re-election bids.

This wasn’t just happening in the Panhandle, either—Empower Texans employed their hardball tactics in races across the state. And they came up mostly empty-handed.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Of Mice And Men

Mar 10, 2018
Creative Commons

We live, as many High Plains listeners know, in a very old rambling house.  Living in a structure that some might call decrepit, though I much prefer the term, “historical,” does have drawbacks.  In addition to the astronomical heating bills, the six toilets to clean, and the ever-present sifting of dust from the 1930’s that shakes out of the lathe and plaster when the wind blows in Kansas (and the wind always blows in Kansas), we sometimes have to contend with mice.  

Luke Clayton

In today's High Plains Outdoors, Luke discusses planning a summer fishing trip to Canada. There is a wide array of options when planning a trip; everything from five-star lodges to "do it yourself" camps. Prices of these fly-in trips vary greatly.

In today's show, Luke tells about his trip last summer where cost, including float plane, lodging in a comfortable cabin, fish cleaning, and boat and motor was just under $1,000 US dollars.


Windhorst, KS is one of those prairie communities that doesn’t exist anymore except for a lonely church and outbuildings.  Oh, there is a brown and white road sign pointing past a steep railroad track embankment over which the spire of the ornate church peeks 

I’m Kathleen Holt of Cimarron, KS and I’ve driven over that track to explore the historic church and outbuildings mostly because I am curious about the lives and dreams of those who built this impressive facility in – well, in the middle of nowhere it would seem.