News

Google Earth/Dallas Morning News

The tiny Central Texas town of Sidney neglected to hold school board elections for a decade. Instead, board members kept extending their own terms, reports The Dallas Morning News. Most taxpayers in Comanche County didn't even notice the lack of elections. Then came an anonymous complaint to the State Auditor's office “about a school district that forgot democracy.”

Suzanne Kreiter / Boston Globe/Getty

A majority of Americans say they still go to work even when they’re sick, reports South Dakota Public Radio. And this tendency can have a very negative effect on the nation’s public health at large. Over half of people who work in public places like hospitals and restaurants report going to work when they have a cold or the flu. Many of these people work with food.

Randall Derrick

Texas Panhandle independent filmmaker Randall Derrick will be releasing a film this weekend in Amarillo. The movie examines a mysterious and little-known incident in Llano history.

Perjury of Time explores the true story of a double mass homicide that occurred along the Canadian River about 1450 AD. Archaeologists excavating in the Canadian River flood plain near Fritch discovered a Native American burial that contained the complete skeletons of twenty-one men, women and children. Eleven skulls without bodies were also uncovered.

Grant Gerlock / NET News/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to agricultural biotechnology, Federal regulations are falling behind the times, says NET Nebraska. “There’s a lot of technology sitting on the shelf in Nebraska, and Illinois, and Missouri that’ll never see the light of day because of [Federal] regulations,” explains plant scientist Tom Clemente.

artbandito / Creative Commons

Economies are continuing to weaken among ten Western and High Plains states with large rural populations, reports The Columbia Missourian. The info comes from a monthly survey of bankers. Those surveyed hailed from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Luke Spencer / Atlas Obscura

If you want to excavate a shipwreck, you don’t have to buy a submarine and go cruise the Caribbean. You need only travel to certain cornfields in Kansas, as Atlas Obscura recently reported.

David Hawley and his team of explorers have an unusual focus: They locate and excavate 19th century steamboats—ships that sank in the Missouri river and now lie beneath fields of rustling corn.

AP photo

Last year was the hottest planet Earth has experienced since humans began keeping records over a century and a half ago. Before 2015, the warmest year on record was . . . 2014. And this year is on pace to be—once again—the hottest ever. As The Guardian put it this week, “we’re living in astonishingly hot times.”

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media
Prowers Journal

As folks go traipsing into the wild this summer, it’s important to remember some basic facts about rabies. Luckily, The Prowers Journal was there this week for High Plains readers. Here are the highlights:

This week's episode of "Growing on the High Plains" jabs into the secret life of A-G-A-S-T-A-C-H-E. How do you pronounce that? You'll have to listen to find out! Truly, it can be pronounced many ways, just as it's also known for its many spikes of blooming color. Enjoy this in-depth peek at a southwest native, also known as hyssop, that can add beautiful brushstrokes across your High Plains garden. 

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Chickens aren't a traditional pet. But with chicken coops springing up in more and more urban and suburban backyards, some owners take just as much pride in their poultry as their dog or cat. So much so that they're primping and preening them for beauty contests.

AP photo

Democrats are eyeing the Senate hungrily, with their chances of winning back the chamber looking more promising month by month. Kansas now looks to be in play, and the Dems have been hoping to expand the playing field even further into red territory, reports The New York Times.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Texas has, traditionally, been a powerhouse in national Conservative politics. The last Republican president hailed from the Lone Star State, as did the runner-up in this year’s GOP primary runner-up. But that status may be changing. For the first time in a long time, Texas voters failed to select the eventual winner of the primary season.

Scotty J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly/The Guardian/Getty

In 1999, the federal government found big tobacco companies guilty of racketeering under the US’s RICO law, traditionally used to go after organized crime syndicates. The Feds found that big tobacco had knowingly funneled money to fake research groups whose job it was to disseminate “science” claiming that smoking wasn’t, in fact, bad for you.

MZMO / Flickr Creative Commons

As the threat of Zika increases, scientists are searching for creative ways to stem the tide of mosquitos in the United States. One answer may come in an animal that has traditionally been the stuff of classic horror movies: bats.

“In the United States, the vast majority of bats are insectivorous bats,” Dianne Odegard recently told Texas Standard. Odegard is a “bat rehabilitator” in Austin.

Dan Boyce / PBS/Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

On the worst day of Greta Horner’s life, she was dressed in a burlap robe, waiting by the window for her husband to come home from work.

The couple was down to one car. The other one was in the shop. She donned the costume for a play, set in Old Jerusalem, later that morning, part of Vacation Bible School at the church. She just needed the car to get there. 

Chris Carlson / AP photo

Last year Lincoln Clean Energy proposed a plan to cover 2,400 acres of the Texas Panhandle with a solar farm. The initiative would have cost $320 million, and been capable of powering 40,000 homes, reports Fuel Fix.

But now, months later, the project is stalled due to one problem: No one wants to buy the electricity.

Chris Nickels / NPR

Americans now hold a staggering $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And last week, Prairie Public News asked an important question: How did we get here? To get to the bottom of the question, PPN interviewed journalist Lance Williams of The Center for Investigative Reporting. Williams recently co-reported an in-depth piece for the center’s radio show Reveal. Here are some highlights of his responses:

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

In Oklahoma, insurance revenues for home health care dropped last year in comparison to previous years. At the same time, the price of home healthcare rose 2.5 percent over last year, reports member station KGOU. In fact, healthcare costs are rising in every area of health care in Oklahoma.

It’s not just in Oklahoma; home health care costs are going up nationwide. The reason? More Medicare providers are trying to keep chronically ill patients out of hospitals.

Terry Jeanson / Texas Escapes

Immigration in Texas doesn’t seem to be slowing, notes The LA Times. Almost 45,000 immigrants have crossed the border since October, most from Central America. The small Texas town of Alice has found itself reeling after the oil bust, and the influx of immigrants hasn’t helped the town’s fortunes. But now a British correctional company has offered itself up as an “unexpected savior.”

Rural Blog

It seems that every week some enterprising individual invents a new use for drone technology. As The Rural Blog noted last week, drones have been used for wildlife research and preservation, for catching other rogue drones, and even for end-of-life care.

NOAA / Flickr Creative Commons

The cloud patterns that surround planet Earth appear to be changing their formation, according to PrairiePublic.org. A new study attributes the shift to global warming. The study used satellite data dating back to the 1980s to track cloud patterns.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

A successful program in Michigan that helps hungry families buy more healthy food is expanding across the country.

Public Domain

A new report predicts that construction will be the fastest growing sector of Nebraska’s economy through 2018, says Net Nebraska. The study predicts that construction employment in Nebraska will reach a record level this year and continue to grow. The sector is expected to expand by almost 10 percent over 2007 levels. Much of the construction growth will be due to state tax dollars for roads projects.

nature.mdc.mo.gov

In the past week, I met a garden neighbor.  Apparently, this blue/green juvenile racerunner lizard moved from his burrow or wherever his last digs were into my 12 x 18 foot raised-bed garden.  Our hilltop is too rocky to support an in-ground garden, so we had to create our own little haven for tomatoes, peppers, onions, and okra.  Mr. Psychedelic must enjoy the insects that also call the Salsa in the Makings Ranch home, and he is now dining al fresco under the tomato vines.

While I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds, this little character’s reptilian movements alarmed me to leap swiftly to my feet.  After all, we live on a sunny, rocky hilltop that translates into perfect snake habitat.  I have found it is best to be on the lookout since slithery things live here too.  After my brain settled and eyes focused, I realized the new garden guard was a cute little lizard called a racerunner.

blackhillsenergy.com

Black Hills Energy has purchased a natural gas transmission pipeline in southwest Kansas from Anadarko Natural Gas Co., reports The Garden City Telegram. The Kansas natural gas utility closed on the sale this week of the 37-mile length of pipeline.

American BBQ Secrets

Jul 15, 2016
Elena Heatherwick / Guardian

Texans take their barbecue seriously. So do other denizens of the High Plains, for that matter. Brad McDonald, an journalist from the South, recently set out to explain to the British readers of the UK newspaper The Guardian exactly how to go about making great American barbecue.

Patrick Michels / Texas Observer

The Observer has published a thoughtful examination of what it means to be a legal guardian in Texas. When all other efforts have been exhausted, guardianship is used to protect people from neglect or abuse. But the situation all too often leads to neglect and abuse—and results in the removal of legal rights. Due to an aging populace and scattered families, guardianships are increasingly common in the Lone Star State.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska.

He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call “the chain” – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

“You’ve been working there for three hours, four hours, and you’re working so fast and you see the pigs going faster, faster,” he says. 

Pratt Tribune

From Kansas Agland:

In spite of the wildfire that burned nearly 400,000 acres of grassland in Barber and Comanche counties, farmers and ranchers continue to look to better times and a renewed commitment to their farm and ranch operations.

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