News

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the five-year drought has been broken in Oklahoma, the rain was too much and too late for many wheat farmers, says StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR stations. This year, the wheat crop was ready before the fields were dry. Though the rain was certainly more welcome than the alternative, many wheat fields were too soggy for combines and other heavy equipment to be employed.

After Lightning Strike, A Kansas Town Fades Away

15 hours ago
Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

The Hutchinson News reports the story of Esther and Dean Lamm of Bristow, Kansas. If you haven’t heard of Bristow, you’re not alone. Nothing remains of the town but an old cemetery; the rest has been consumed by wheat fields. Esther and Dean were married on July 21, 1957, in the Bristow Methodist Church in Osborne County.

Colorado Remembers the Pony Express

Jun 29, 2015
Frank Reese / Flickr

Last week, on a warm Wednesday evening, 600 riders raced on horseback across the northeastern corner of Colorado. The riders were retracing the route of the legendary Pony Express, to commemorate the mail service’s 155th anniversary.

14% of Colorado Residents Use Marijuana, Study Finds

Jun 29, 2015
Chuck Grimmett / Creative Commons

NPR member station KRCC reports that a new study has found that 14% of Coloradoans use marijuana. The Colorado state Health Department reports that of those 14%, one third use pot every day. Almost one if five of state marijuana users drive after using the substance. A little over half of Colorado residents have never tried pot.

Harper's Weekly

Shortly after the end of the Civil War, Lieutenant Colonel George Custer sent an Army search party to search for the Lieutenant Lyman Kidder and his men, who had gone missing. The searchers soon came upon the men, lying dead on the open plains, some with as many as 50 arrows. Kidder’s party had been set upon by a Sioux and Cheyenne war party.  Kidder was killed, along with an native scout and ten enlisted men.

Texas to Create Gold Bullion Depository

Jun 29, 2015
Bullion Vault / Flickr Creative Commons

In regional news, Texas has signed a law to establish the creation of a “Texas Bullion Depository,” a vault to hold gold bullion and increase the stability of Texas’s gold reserves. The gold that will be put in the vault, worth more than $660 biillion, is currently being held in a bank in Manhattan, Reuters reports.

James Taylor’s ‘Before This World’ is his 17th studio record, and his first #1 record on the Billboard charts.  These new songs were written over the last 2 years in a self –imposed seclusion in a friend’s apartment in Rhode Island.  James has said that he didn’t feel he could write a new song unless he had an isolated, distraction-free environment in which to write.  Recorded at his home studio, ‘Before This World’ was worth the 13 year wait since ‘October Road’ in 2002.   Tune in to High Plains Morning this week to hear 'Before This World' in it's entirety. 

Art on the Move

Jun 29, 2015

Frequently, I see ornate box turtles crossing a country road or highway. Because I like this home-carrying little reptile, I dodge these little speed bumps. While seeing them slowly lumber across the road triggers a smile, I hadn’t thought much about these Kansas state reptiles until recently.

This summer, I’ve been waking up early to enjoy the cool morning air as I water, weed, and pick veggies. A bonus of rising with the sun is meeting some of my yard neighbors that hide during the heat of the day.

Harry Pears / Creative Commons

More wind power is headed to the High Plains. A Spanish steel company has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in the Texas panhandle, according to the Houston Chronicle. GRI Renewable Industries said it intends to build a wind tower plant in Amarillo that would employ 300 people and build 400 towers a year.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The High Plains Journal has reported on concerns of High Plains farmers about the returning presence of sugarcane aphids to the region this season, which could be a threat to sorghum yields. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts have suggested that hybrid pearl millet might be an alternative for growers.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

The Hutchinson News has reported a deeply touching story about a mother in Ulysses, Kansas, who finds herself in a struggle for her life. Becky Teeter was always the tower in her household that everyone leaned on. She and her husband Monty adopted two children in the eighties, and their family grew in strength and love over the years. Monty realized his dream of owning his own irrigation company.

Putin Encourages Texas Secession

Jun 27, 2015
Creative Commons

Politico.com reports that Vladimir Putin has cast his eye toward the Lone Star State. The US’s lead role in imposing sanctions on Russia after the country’s annexation of the Crimea and incursions into the Ukraine has fostered Russian resentment against America. Now Putin has engaged his propaganda machine to encourage fringe groups who would like to see Texas secede from the US.

In the Great Smoky Mountains, A Lightning Bug Symphony

Jun 25, 2015
Ryan Atkins

Just for fun, while there's still some summer left, here's a travel idea to see one of nature's most magnificent light shows. During hot summers on the High Plains, we still get a chance to see lightning bugs dancing at twilight. But the Great Smoky Mountains National Park takes it to a new level.  

Rural Job Growth Rebounds

Jun 25, 2015
Marcella Gadson / Google Creative Commons

After a decline earlier this year, job growth in rural America is back on track, reports The Daily Yonder. This April saw 232,000 more jobs in rural counties than during the same period a year ago. In addition,  the unemployment rate in rural areas has fallen from 6.2 percent a year ago to 5.4 percent in that time.

A study by Texas A&M University has found that rural living can be deadly. A lack of emergency services in outlying areas is costing lives, notes The Rural Blog. The study found that, during an emergency, those living more than 30 minutes from an emergency health-care facility have a 46 percent mortality rate, compared to only 21 percent for those living within 30 minutes of a hospital.

"Resting" Barbecue Improves Flavor

Jun 25, 2015
Joshua Bousel / Flickr

For many years barbecue aficionados have had a problem. After the meat had finished cooking, every method of keeping the barbecue warm throughout the day until it could be served resulted in dry meat. Steam tables turned it to mush, heat lamps zapped the moisture from it, and leaving it in a pit cooked the meat even further and dried it out.

tortoiseforum.org

A look at a seasonal bug that's not really a garden pest but more of an outdoor nuisance at this time of year.  Buzzing incessently around any bright light to be found, and then crashing into anything that stands in their way, junebugs are a favorite menu item for toads.  So I put out the welcome mat for toads big and small, giving them right-of-way on garden paths and offering a cool dark hiding place during the day.  When it's suppertime, I leave the light on outside and offer the toads the best table at the Junebug Cafe.

Oklahoma to Allow Online Voter Registration

Jun 24, 2015
Vox Efx / Creative Commons

A new law will allow Oklahoma voters to register online, reports the Southwest Times Record. The law, which goes into effect November 1st, authorizes a secure online system that will accept voter registration applications from voters with a valid Oklahoma Drivers License or ID card.  The new measure is one of several election reforms proposed by Senator David Holt, a Republican from Oklahoma City. More than two dozen other states already have electronic voting systems.

A Remembrance of Black Wolf, a Forgotten Kansas Town

Jun 24, 2015
Legends of Kansas / Public Domain

The Legends of Kansas website has posted a fascinating history of a Kansas ghost town known as Black Wolf, which was situated on the north bank of the Smoky Hill River. Located halfway between Ellsworth and Wilson, the town began as a station on the Union Pacific Railroad.

US Public School Funding Still Unfair, Report Suggests

Jun 23, 2015
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study finds that public school funding continues to be unfair across America, reports the watchdog website schoolfundingfairness.org. Despite the country’s economic recovery, states have been slow to restore public school funding to the levels they experienced before the recession. Students living in impoverished areas suffer the most.

Big Companies Expand Testing of Organic "Biopesticides"

Jun 23, 2015
Dan Charles / NPR

One of the biggest hurdles farmers have faced in recent years is the sticky problem of how to kill weeds organically. As conventional farmers fall under increasing pressure to use fewer toxic chemicals, they have begun to search for less pernicious methods of eliminating weeds, according to NPR.com. One answer is microbe-produced pesticides, known as biopesticides.

Take a great singer-songwriter-Amos Lee- add the renowned Colorado Symphony and put them together in one of the most spectacular live venues in the country-Red Rocks Amphitheater.  The result is this week’s featured CD.  Recorded on August 1, 2014, ‘Live at Red Rocks’ is a mix of tunes from all 5 of Amos’ previous records.  We will listen to it this week on High Plains Morning. 

Donnle Nunley / Flickr Creative Commons

The Rural Blog reports that minimum wage is severely inadequate to support a single-parent home in the United States. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, workers in Hawaii would need to earn $32, in California $27, and in New York $26 an hour to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment.

Panhandle Corn Crops May Recover from Wet Conditions

Jun 23, 2015
killermart / Flickr Creative Commons

Many Texas and Oklahoma panhandle corn producers have had to delay planting due to wet conditions produced by record levels of rain in recent months.  The High Plains Journal reports that corn farmers are considering planting corn hybrids that mature earlier, or perhaps planting other crops such as grain sorghum.

Barclay Gibson

While many towns in the Texas Panhandle have grown over the last century, others have dwindled in population, and some have been almost completely forgotten. The website texasescapes.com has a section dedicated to the ghost towns of the panhandle, where you can learn about the forgotten past of the Llano Estacado.

William C. Johnson

The town of Eads in Kiowa County, Colorado, was already familiar with wildlife tourism. The community saw the cleanup and preservation of a wetland south of town as an economic development opportunity, which would attract birders to the habitat to observe local and migrating waterfowl. A ConocoPhillips grant, administered through Playa Lakes Joint Venture, got the project rolling.

Public Domain

In this age of chain restaurants and big box stores, the Dodge City Daily Globe has published an important reminder about the first people who lived in the Dodge City Area. These people did not live in cities or towns. Instead they moved in camps as they followed the Buffalo across the plains. The Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Arapaho, were nomadic, and they used the buffalo for virtually all of their needs, including food, shelter, and tools. The slaughter of the buffalo was no accident.

The Evolution of the Great American Combine

Jun 22, 2015
Edmund Garman / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Agland has a report on how much wheat combines have evolved over the last century. According to the ag website, harvesting wheat a century ago involved cutting wheat stalks with a horse drawn binder and gathering them in bundles. The bundles were then stacked into windrows to dry, after which a giant steam-powered threshing machine separated the wheat kernels from the straw. The entire process was extremely labor intensive.

Daniel P. Sink of Vernon, Texas / Public Domain

According to historian Barry Scobee, Comanche Chief Quanah Parker once appeared in Big Bend seeking peyote. Glenn’s Texas History Blog reports that Parker arrived at the Lempert Hotel in Fort Davis in the waning years of the 19th century in search of the hallucinogenic cactus. It’s unclear when the Comanche first began using peyote in their shamanistic ceremonies, but anthropologist Omar C.

Study Links Fracking to Low Birth Weight

Jun 22, 2015
todbaker / Creative Commons

A new study has linked hydraulic fracturing with low birth weight, according to The New York Times. Scientists studied almost 16,000 live births in southwest Pennsylvania, categorizing mothers by their proximity to sites where fracking was taking place. The study found that babies born in high exposure areas were 34% more likely to be small for their gestational age.

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