News

Duncan Banner

Those who choose to drink and drive in Oklahoma will soon face a tougher penalty.

As The Duncan Banner reports, Governor Mary Fallin has signed a law that will result in an ignition interlock on all Oklahoma offenders’ vehicles after their first offense. Previously, the state only required the interlock for multiple offenders and first-timers with a .15 blood-alcohol level.

amarillo.com

Despite a slight drop in the rankings, Canyon is still one of the safest towns in Texas, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

"I guess it’s fair to say that younger siblings follow their older siblings to college. There can be many reasons behind that. But, today I am going to tell you all why I followed my sister to college and how her journey affected my journey in ways that I would have never imagined."

Father's Day is coming up this weekend, and it made me think back on my own father -- a man with wit, wisdom, and a unique collection of sayings. On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll share some of his more choice expressions, sage advice, and a little history that shaped him into the man and father that he was. 

I will always cherish my many memories of my dad, and I hope this segment honors the many wonderful fathers across our region. Happy Father's Day, to listeners across the High Plains.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Two weeks after the conclusion of a rancorous legislative session, the State of Texas now officially has a budget. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the $217 billion document into law this week—but not before vetoing $120 million in funding to various state programs. As The Texas Tribune reports, areas receiving funding cuts include poor communities near the Mexican border and environmental groups. Abbott also slashed funding that would have improved air quality in Texas.

Wikimedia Commons

West Texas A&M University in Canyon took a big hit this week, as the budget approved by Governor Greg Abbott slashed funding to the school by almost $2 million.

Meanwhile, the A&M flagship university in College Station received a hefty increase of $14 million in funding.

Programs receiving cuts at WT include agricultural research and small-business development. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum also had its funding slashed.

LT. SETH FRIZZELL / HOLCOMB COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Areas of south central Kansas ravaged by March 6 wildfires could take decades to rebuild.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the fire that started March 5 in Oklahoma and spread north at 50 mph burned 600,000 acres in Kansas, making it the largest wildfire in state history.  Area ranchers lost 5,000 cattle and more than 1,000 miles of fencing and most of the ranches suffered more than $1 million in damages, much of it uninsured.

CC0 Public Domain

Marijuana operations are currently prohibited in Prowers County, Colorado, but members of a local economic board recently discussed the dramatic tax growth other Colorado communities have seen from the sale of marijuana in their towns.

Texas Standard

This week the radio newsmagazine Texas Standard asked a question that Panhandle folks have been wondering for years. Where exactly does West Texas begin? And why are those of us in the northernmost part of the state referred to as “West Texans”?

The answer, surprisingly , may have to do with oak trees.

Big Pool's big mural featured in time-lapse video

Jun 14, 2017
Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

Garden City’s Big Pool is featured in a time-lapse video by the Wichita Eagle, showcasing its recent transformation.

Garden City artist Justin Brown recently gave the Big Pool’s bathhouse a facelift of sorts, spending day and night spray-painting a multi-colored mural on the exterior of the building that includes an abstract lion and elephant, a bird that appears to be emerging from blue and purple ocean waves, as well as a brightly-colored beach ball.

50STATES.COM

A sales tax hike to improve Colorado roads will not make it to the ballot in November.

As The Denver Post reports, FixItCO, a coalition pushing for the sales tax hike, made the announcement last week, but the organization is pledging to renew its efforts for the 2018 election.

Courtesy photo / San Antonio Express News

Texas’s most prominent and controversial new law may be in trouble already.

In the short time since Gov. Greg Abbott signed the controversial “sanctuary cities” bill into law, at least six Texas localities have filed lawsuits in opposition to the order. Now, as The Huffington Post reports, the federal judge in charge of one of those lawsuits issued a separate ruling this week that indicated he may be sympathetic with plaintiffs who would like to see the law struck down.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Last week Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a new budget, and green groups were cheered to see what appeared to be a boost in funding to environmental agencies.

However, as StateImpact reports, it appears those funding boosts were nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Traffic-related deaths on the uptick in Kansas

Jun 13, 2017
POLHUDSON.LOHUDBLOGS.COM

There’s a troubling new trend in Kansas – traffic fatalities.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, through the end of May, there have been 174 traffic deaths across Kansas, according to AAA, representing a 13 percent increase over the same period from a year ago and a 44 percent jump from 2015. It is the most fatalities in the state through any May of the past five years.

A spokesperson with AAA said it works out to an average of one per day.

LM Otero / Houston Chronicle

Health officials announced last week that the threat from the Zika virus in Texas is much lower than it was last year. As The Houston Chronicle reports, the mosquito-borne disease has ebbed in Central and South America, and the risk of mosquitos carrying the virus across the Texas border has lessened.

Likewise, the number of international travelers carrying the disease into the United States is expected to wane this year. But, not all medical professionals are expressing optimism.

Dale Denwalt / The Journal-Record

Despite a years-long crisis that has led to dozens of rural hospital closures across the U.S., there are signs of life for at least one facility in Western Oklahoma.

USDA boosts forecast for wheat production

Jun 12, 2017
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday boosted its forecast for wheat production.

As Reuters reports, the USDA raised its forecast for overall winter wheat production from 1.246 billion bushels to 1.250 billion bushels

The report was expected to reflect a decrease in overall production to 1.239 billion bushels.

Polis throws hat in the ring for Colorado governor

Jun 12, 2017
Office of Congressman Jared Polis

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis joined the ever-increasing ring of candidates running for governor of Colorado.

Polis announced his plans to enter the race during an interview with The Denver Post on Sunday.

Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, says he wants to work at a state level to fight the Trump Administration – that he can do more good working in Colorado on renewable energy and improving education than he can in Washington right now.

GERALD B. KEANE

A travel website has named Dodge City – that’s right, Dodge City – as the most beautiful town in Kansas.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

After waiting almost two weeks to answer the question of whether he would call Texas lawmakers back to Austin for a special session to tackle the controversial bathroom bill, Governor Greg Abbott announced on Sunday that he would indeed call a special session.

As The Texas Tribune reports, Abbott expects Texas Legislators back in the capital in mid-July.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

This year, Oklahoma lawmakers indicated once again that they were going to give teachers in the state raises. And, once again, the state Legislature failed to deliver.

The House even passed two budgets, one containing educator raises and one without them—and ultimately passed the one without raises.

Lawmakers couldn’t even pass a $1,000 teacher raise to keep up with inflation.

Jim Malewitz / Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a law that supposedly defangs the state’s controversial Voter ID law, the nation’s most stringent such law.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, opponents of the former law aren’t backing down, saying instead that the new law does nothing to fix the old law’s discrimination—nor does it absolve Texas Republican lawmakers of their effort to disenfranchise minority voters.

Creative Commons

In response to passage of a controversial immigration enforcement measure, a 15,000-member association of attorneys and law professors are relocating a 2018 convention out of Texas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which was scheduled to hold its three-day event in Grapevine, Texas next year, said Senate Bill 4’s “dangerous, destructive and counterproductive proposals” go against the group’s mission.

CC0 Public Domain

Colorado schools will soon get funding to voluntarily test for lead in their drinking water.

As The Denver Post reports, House Bill 1306 received bipartisan backing and plenty of support from school and health officials. Lead in drinking water can lead to long-term health problems in children.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the measure into law last week.

NPS.GOV

The Kansas Legislature passed a budget bill Saturday, which marked the 113th day of the Legislative session.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the two chambers took up the budget bill, which was hacked out during hours of negotiations that ended Friday between the two legislative bodies, with sometimes considerable disagreement about allocations.

CC0 Public Domain

Increased income limits through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development may increase opportunities for rural families to own their own home.

As the High Plains Journal reports, the USDA announced the new 2017 income limits for its direct and guaranteed home ownership loan programs that may make more households eligible to obtain 100 percent financing.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Back in 2012 when voters swept a wave of Tea-Party Republicans into power, Oklahoma lawmakers looked admiringly to their neighbor to the north. Gov. Sam Brownback and his fellow Kansans had begun drastically cutting taxes in expectation that the move would result in a windfall of state revenue.

Creative Commons

Before my students read a section of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca’s travel journal about his exploration of Texas, I had them write directions from their house to a nearby destination. It sounded like a simple assignment until I add these qualifiers. They couldn’t use man-made landmarks or addresses in their instructions, nor could they use vehicles or GPS systems. They were limited to foot travel, and they needed to depend on the sun and stars for directions.

Luke Clayton

Luke makes salami-flavored meat sticks, using a sausage stuffer. He uses a Snack Stick sampler kit from Butcher Packer Supply www.butcher-packer.com, which contains everything needed for making 10 pounds of salami, deer hunter blend or teriyaki-flavored snack sticks.

Pu Ying Huang / KUT

The number of refugee families that the State of Texas has helped resettle has dropped drastically this year, reports KUT.

Part of the reason: Despite the fact that President Trump’s travel ban has been repeatedly struck down by Federal courts, the effort has still wreaked havoc on refugee resettlement in Texas.

Aaron Rippenkroeger, president and CEO of Refugee Services of Texas, explains that the Texas resettlement system has a lot of moving parts.

Pages