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Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has been drawing fire all year from far-right lawmakers, including members of the so-called “Texas Freedom Caucus” in the State House of Representatives, who have called for Straus’s job.

Environmental Protection Agency / Public Domain

A new oil and gas study suggests that hundreds of traditional vertical oil wells in Oklahoma have been damaged by more recently drilled horizontal wells, dug for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

Albert Mock / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s now been ten years since Amarillo’s Western Plaza was demolished, and The Amarillo Globe-News has published a brief remembrance of what was for many years Amarillo’s largest shopping mall.

In fact, upon its construction in 1968 Western Plaza was said to be the biggest mall between Denver and Dallas. The 400,000 square foot shopping mall’s first tenant was Montgomery Ward.

Amarillo Makes Expedia's 15 Must-See Cities List

7 hours ago
Expedia

Amarillo, Texas has made a top 15 list of cities that you should see before the word gets out.

In fact, Amarillo was the only Texas city to make a new Expedia list called 15 under-the-radar cities you need to visit – coming in at the number one spot.

The description of Amarillo on Expedia’s Viewfinder travel blog website, reads as follows:

US Fish and Wildlife Service

As a southwest Kansas farmer takes a path to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer, his daughter is doing her part, as well.

As Kansas Agland reports, Dwane Roth of Holcomb changed his mind about the use of irrigation to water his corn crop a few years ago, after realizing that even though the top couple of inches of soil was dry, the water beneath it was sufficient to water his crop.

Baytownbert / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been called the “Texas Miracle,” the notion that the Texas economy can weather any storm and will continue to sail smoothly while other states founder.

But now, according to a prominent expert on the Texas economy, that miracle may have come to an end.

CCO Creative Commons

Wallace Stegner suggests specific landscapes speak to a person’s heart, and he’s right. Many have a favorite place that roots the spirit. Plants have a similar effect, and that preference is genetic at my house. Mom and I love clematis blossoms. We can’t grow too many or take enough photos of those blooming in our flowerbeds.

We’ve found we can cultivate them in western Kansas if we tenderly nurture them. That says volumes because this plant succumbs easily to heat and drought, natural elements of Kansas summers.

After doing a good bit of testing with the Wing Shot, Luke is convinced it would make a great turkey shotgun when used at reasonable yardages. Luke has a feral pigeon hunt planned next.

He’ll have more on air shotguns in an upcoming segment of High Plains Outdoors. 

Radio Readers BookByte: Two Deer

Sep 21, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS

Deer fascinate me, and sighting them is always magical, maybe because they move so effortlessly, compared to us. Here are two deer poems, “Levitation” and “White Deer Chirascuro.” Chirascuro is an Italian term for high contrast paintings, where black background emphasizes the light.

Levitation

The psychic says ghosts float

above ground. When deer waver

in sunrise fog over asphalt,

I believe. Front-on, only ears show

but sideways, slanting northward,

full bodies appear—soft-tan fur,

solid torsos, brown cherub eyes.

Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

There are a lot of players in farm bill discussions nowadays, and as Politico reports, all of them - in one way or another - are related.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Elise Golan, sustainable development director at the USDA, said the farm bill is flawed in that it segregates by topics such as nutrition, trade, conservation and horticulture.

Wikimedia Commons

The Colorado Department of Corrections is asking the state to add $11 million to this year’s budget to lease a private prison while it attempts to reopen a closed one in Canon City.

As The Denver Post reports, the department of correction’s supplementary budget shows it wants $10.9 million to open a 250-bed private prison because of an unexpected increase in prisoners.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A new Texas law gives financial institutions greater authority to stop transactions that they suspect are aimed at defrauding elderly or disabled clients.

Prompted by a man she had never met, an elderly woman in Dallas County recently decided to sell her home and wire the $200,000 windfall to a mysterious bank account, a victims advocate recalled. 

The man, who claimed to be communicating from Nigeria, promised to marry her. It was all a scam. Today, the woman is homeless.

The Science Of Topsoil And Its Impact On Farming

Sep 21, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

Some farmers and soil scientists are starting to realize that the most important thing you can do is view topsoil itself as a living thing.

As Politico reports, since the invention of the plow, farming has focused on tillage - disrupting the soil to make it productive.

People Of The Plains: Seeds You Sow

Sep 21, 2017
Courtesy

Marshall Hanes had no idea that his life would be changed when he hesitantly took a position to be a youth minister nearly 30 years ago.

In the beginning, Marshall had no experience on teaching the word to other people. When an 8-year-old boy in his group took his life, it motivated him to study and pray harder more than ever before.

Ever since he saw the young boy’s final words tucked in his bible, “Thank you Marshall Hanes”, he knew it was his duty in life to keep ministering to youth.

Several years later, he moved up and taught high school youth. He began to form connections and relate in more ways with them than he ever imagined. Along the way, Marshall not only preached the word of God to many, but also took in and raised several kids as his own. With the support of his wife, Tami and the great God above, Marshall grew to become the best teacher, father, and friend to hundreds of kids. This interview tells an incredible story about how he planted a seed in every kid he came across.

Move over chrysanthemums! There's a hearty new flower in town, and just in time for Autumn.

Today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, we'll get some history on a lovely Fall flower that I'm surprised doesn't get more attention in regional gardens. Meet the aster, whose stellar blooms bring a divine cavalcade of color throughout cooler seasons.  

Wikimedia Commons

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has asked the State Preservation Board to remove a plaque in the State Capitol that honors the Confederacy, reports The Austin American-Statesman. Straus and other critics have charged that the plaque distorts history in order to glorify the Confederacy.

Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Education Department has released a new plan to address the ongoing woes of the state’s education system, reports Oklahoma Watch.

The goals of the plan include reducing the state’s recent reliance on emergency certified teachers and raising the state’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent. The plan will also try to ease hunger in schools, and force underfunded public schools that have gone to a four-day school week to fix their calendars.

50STATES.COM

What’s the difference between a tax and a fee?

As The Denver Post reports, that's the question being asked in three major court cases in Colorado.  

Wikipedia / National Science Foundation

Five Kansas universities will collaborate on an agricultural research project examining the role that microorganisms play in the environment.

As the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Wichita State University and Haskell Indian Nations University will cooperate on the $20 million research project, being funded by the National Science Foundation.

Wikimedia Commons

Texas Senator Kel Seliger formally announced his bid for re-election this week, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

First elected to the state Senate in 2004, Seliger says he is particularly interested in maintaining local control for Texas communities, after the Texas Legislature recently passed a number of bills aimed at weakening the power of Texas municipalities.

Don't miss Rob Gerhardt's traveling photography exhibit, "Muslim American / American Muslim," on display now at Mercer Art Gallery  (801 N. Campus Dr.) at Garden City Community College. He will be hosting a talk this Thursday, Sept. 21st at 7:30 pm CST at the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Auditorium (801 N. Campus Dr.). 

Creative Commons

Last month, Amarillo’s Jenkins Chapel celebrated its 91st anniversary. The little church was packed with visiting worshippers from nearby churches like Johnson Chapel and Mount Zion.

USDA / Wikimedia Commons

A new law will allow Texas school districts to store and distribute leftover food from the cafeteria.

FUTUREPROOF / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The attorneys general from Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, along with about three dozen others have served subpoenas on several opioid manufacturers to determine what role they might have played in the nation’s opioid epidemic. This after the coalition of attorneys general sent a letter asking the insurance industry to re-examine the way it may support over-prescription of the potentially deadly and addictive drugs.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Kansas has earned a D in a new analysis of states’ fiscal health.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, Kansas has the highest taxpayer burden of any Great Plains state, according to an analysis by the Chicago-based group Truth in Accounting, which found that each Kansas taxpayer would have to cough up $7,800 to help the state catch up on funding its liabilities.

Melany Wilks / Colby, KS

Hi, Radio Readers – I’m Melany Wilks talking to you from my home in Colby, KS.

Today, I am bringing you some thoughts that I had as I read Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris.  Our subject discussion is on food and story this quarter.  As I read the book so many stories came into my mind.

Joanne Harris the author places the Francoise Simon in a small town, Les Laveuses. Mirabelle Dartigen shares how her mother wrote all her best recipes down in a book and handed them down to her daughter. In the midst of the recipes were snatches of history of life, especially during WWII.  It reminded me how my mother always wrote in the recipe books she used. She’d write down when it was first used it and what the occasion was.  Then she would write down how she changed the recipe to make it better or easier. 

Stephen Koranda

Over the last year, more than 100 Kansas kids placed in the foster care system had to spend the night in offices instead of homes.  Kids slept on couches or makeshift beds in the offices of the private organizations that handle foster care placement. 
 
Lawmakers and child advocates heard about the issue during a meeting of a foster care task force in Topeka. Republican Representative Linda Gallagher is one of the group’s members.

The City of Stratton, Colorado is looking to engage the community through the arts on November 3rd with a new FIRST FRIDAY ART EXHIBITION!

Thanks to art teacher Bri Hill Kastner, City Council member Lynn Gottmann, and Town Clerk Cindy McCaffrey​, this small town might get a big BOOST on the creativity front.

Radio Readers BookByte: Food Becomes Currency

Sep 19, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Hello, Radio Readers – I’m Jason Harper, food and fiction connoisseur (as well as a solely self-proclaimed chef and author) coming to you from Hays, Kansas. Food is used in several ways throughout Joanne Harris’ Five Quarters of the Orange, fictional WWII exploration of a set siblings. On multiple levels, food peppers this novel and leaves the reader with quite a lot to chew on. 

In my first Book Byte, I discussed how creating a great book is a bit the same as baking a delicious dessert, and then I compared recipe steps from Five Quarters of the Orange to the elements of storytelling.

Today, another food angle in Five Quarters of the Orange is how these characters in the novel use food as a kind of currency — partly as a currency of collusion with German soldiers. Chocolate, oranges, bread, and many more examples feed the storyline.

For centuries, food has been used as a form of money. I would like to serve up the following three morsels of trivia of how food was historically a kind of currency that might tantalize our Radio Readers: 

Wallethub

After the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance rates in America dipped to historic lows. But those uninsured rates are on the rise again, thanks to uncertainty in the insurance markets. And uninsured rates can vary wildly across states.

The personal finance website Wallethub recently set out to find which states had the lowest rates of uninsured citizens.

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