News

Shamrocks, leprechauns, pots o’ gold make me think instantly of St. Patrick’s Day, a joyous spring celebration.  As a child, I was sure the old stories must be true and anyone lucky enough to stumble upon the rainbow’s end would find a leprechauns’ pot of gold. I was also certain that mortals rarely, if ever, find that arc’s end.

Luke Clayton

Did you know that there are big bore air rifles on the market shooting over 500 foot pounds of energy which is more than ample for harvesting any animal in North America?

I've been shooting and hunting with air rifles for the past couple years and highlights this week what I considers to be the perfect air rifle for hunting hogs, predators and exotics. It's an easy to handle 45 caliber carbine sporting a 20 inch barrel. 

Widespread agreement, no action yet on increasing overpumping penalties in Kansas.

When it comes to the decline in oil prices, over 40 percent of Texans say it will impact businesses positively in their region. However, more than 50 percent say the fall is bad for the state's economy.

A bill that barely passed last fall in Missouri is one step closer to November 2016 ballots. The bill is to amend Oklahoma's state Constitution.

Millions of veterans nationwide now have a card that's supposed to improve their access to health care.  But, there are doubts about whether the VA is really serious about the new Veterans Choice program.

The Choice program is meant to let veterans get care from private providers if they live at least 40 miles from a VA healthcare facility, or if they face longer than a 30-day wait for an appointment. At a recent hearing, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran told Secretary Robert McDonald the VA seems to be putting its own welfare ahead of what’s best for veterans. 

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A Kansas lawmaker is pushing to make fantasy sports legal in Kansas. Republican Representative Brett Hildabrand has introduced a bill that would change state law to specifically allow fantasy sports. He says the state is not currently enforcing the ban on fantasy football and similar games, and he wants to prevent future enforcement.

“I want to make sure on down the road in this growing industry that we do not begin prosecuting average law-abiding citizens who are just trying to participate in a friendly pastime,” says Hildabrand.

The abortion procedure where instruments are used to grab and remove a fetus in pieces advanced from a Kansas House committee. The full Kansas House will now consider the bill.

Designer Spuds

Mar 11, 2015
potatopro.com

    

What's new in the latest 'tater talley?  Well, small is hot and colors are definitely in fashion as new, creamy, and even two-toned potatoes take to the runway.  This year the Mancini garden plot will feature some haute cuisine, as well as some tried-and-true old favorites.  And we'll take a quick look at the pros and cons of  the traditional St. Patrick's Day planting of potatoes.

Jay Ricci / amarillo.com

Have you noticed the two cement towers a few miles east of Amarillo and ever wondered… what in the world? 

The pair are remaining sentinels of the Amarillo Air Force Base writes Jay Ricci for the Amarillo Globe News. 

The military men and women and most of the buildings are gone.  What remains are rusted-out pieces of metal, sidewalks leading nowhere, lonely street signs at intersections with no traffic, and the two rusty water towers.

Texas State lawmakers are hearing testimony this week on a controversial bill aimed at limiting the type of ordinances and rules that city councils can pass.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

 An effort to repeal a 10-year-old law that gives the children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition is alive in the Legislature. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the measure remains bottled up in a committee. 

New Kansas ethanol plant turning crop residue into fuel

Mar 10, 2015
Bryan Thompson

Five months after its grand opening, a massive new-generation ethanol plant in the southwest corner of Kansas is undergoing final adjustments as it prepares to begin full-scale production. The plant, built by a Spanish company with financing from the U.S. Department of Energy, is designed to produce clean-burning fuel — not from corn, but from the bits and pieces of crops left in farmers’ fields after harvest.

Attendees might have come to the 13th annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival expecting good food, music, and a chance to see thousands of migrating Canadian and Snow geese, but this year they got even more: a dust storm complete with tumbleweeds; snow cancellations; encounters with elk, road runners, big horn sheep; and petroglyphs in Picture and Carrizo Canyons.

Imagine eHarmony for agricultural employers and workers. That’s how western Kansas farmer Mark Pettijohn describes Nebraska-based Hansen-Agri-placement.

No one really knows why the High Plains are so high in elevation, but researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado are proposing a new explanation.

Darryl Birkenfeld / Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Many playas on federal grasslands in southeast Colorado, southwest Kansas, New Mexico and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles have pitted playas. There's a cooperative effort underway to rehab some of these playas. Restored playas mean shallow water will return. When that happens, plants will burst forth, providing seeds the birds like, and attracting insects, a good source of protein.

KHI News Service

News that Gov. Sam Brownback has softened his position on Medicaid expansion wasn’t exactly racing through the Statehouse on Thursday.

But it certainly had some legislators buzzing.

In remarks Wednesday to conservative lawmakers in Missouri, Brownback said if the Kansas Legislature presented him with a budget-neutral expansion bill, he would likely sign it, according to a report in the Missouri Times.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Republican leaders in the Kansas Legislature have unveiled a plan to toss out the current school funding formula and go to a block grant system for the next two years.

Republican Ty Masterson chairs the Senate’s budget writing committee. He says the bill would increase spending by $300 million for Kansas K-12 schools.

Despite a flu shot and obsessive hand washing to avoid this season’s germ, it found me.  If folks tell you it’s bad, believe them.  If they add it lasts forever, it’s true.  After a week and a half indoors, struggling to overcome primary and secondary symptoms, cabin fever set in.  Climbing the walls had new meaning. I needed a dose of outdoor therapy to help me battle sniffles, coughs, and headaches left in the wake of this super virus.

Luke Clayton

I like to keep our weekly visits lighthearted and hopefully share a bit of information and knowledge I’ve gleaned from kicking around in the outdoors the past half century. But occasionally I feel the need to “vent” a bit about outdoor related topics. What are your feelings about “hunting” wild hogs from helicopters? Let’s look at the many facets of this often controversial subject.

Discussion was limited to four questions decided prior to the second regional water planning meeting in WaKeeney. Halting water declines at their current levels led one table’s discuss to the conclusion of “no irrigation and more education.” Water quality and nutrients steered to criticism of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the division of Water Resources for proposed regulations. Another group discussion asked the question, “How do you get people from broadly different backgrounds to come together, sit down, and discuss solutions?”

cpr.org

For the first time in more than a decade enrollment in the federal food stamp program fell in Colorado reports Colorado Public Radio.  The rate dropped to 8.6 percent in 2013 according to data released from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The previous year close to 10 percent of Coloradoans received food stamps.

Colorado enrollment rates increased sharply during the recession. 

Only 3.3 percent were enrolled in 2000.  

John Hanna / The Topeka Capital-Journal

When it comes to Kansas universities and the budget, there are winners and there are losers.  This report from The Topeka Capital-Journal.  A Senate subcommittee took $9.4 million from the budget of the University of Kansas main campus in Lawrence, and gave $7.4 million of it to the KUMC expansion program in Sedgwick County.  $2 million must be diverted to medical student scholarships.

Three legislative bills before the Nebraska Unicameral are being called "a corporate assault on family farmers and rural communities." They lift the ban on packer ownership for hogs, replace county zoning of livestock facilities with a statewide matrix, and provide infrastructure grants to "livestock friendly" counties to facilitate large-scale livestock development.

Houseplant name games

Mar 4, 2015
ourhouseplants.com

A look at several botanicals that are often best known by their common monikers.  Burro's tail, string of pearls, and mother-in-law's tongue are long lasting houseplants that have earned a place in my home because they can take the heat, both in and out of the kitchen.   

Quail were once plentiful in Texas. But, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials the population has fallen over 60 percent in the last 30 years, and it continues to crash reports Texas Public Radio. A group of ranchers are working to restore habitat and bring back native birds.

Despite long-held suspicions that Oklahoma’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stay silent amid pressure from oil company executives. State Seismologist Austin Holland admits “intense personal interest” from energy company executives, but says it never affected his scientific findings.

Agriculture seems to be under attack by the Kansas legislature reports Amy Bickel for Hutch News. Bickel says in the last two weeks two ag taxation bills could generate more than $900 million combined. That could mean a big difference in the budget gap. But, it would increase agriculture land values by an average of 473 percent.

The Kansas Farm Bureau with support from the Kansas Corn Growers Association is working to put a price tag on saving the prairie chicken. Their message is economic disaster. Jim Sipes is a farmer in Stanton County. There’s been a large reduction in the amount of intent to drill permits that began prior to the drop in oil prices. Sipes says the decrease is largely due to the $46,000 to $83,000 mitigation fee per drilled well companies have to pay for disrupting the bird’s habitat. He says it’s even worse for the wind industry. Three projects have been stopped, and the mitigation fee for each wind tow is $400,000 to $1 million depending on the value of the habitat. There’s also a fee for transmission lines which is roughly $870,000 a mile. These costs are associated with the species having the threatened tag. If the chicken is listed as endangered, it will change everything.

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