News

jeffsmallwood / Flickr Creative Commons

While Texas has garnered national news for its poor treatment of foster kids, Oklahoma has quietly been amassing a far more troubling record.

As The Tulsa World reports, a report has found that Oklahoma had more cases of foster-care abuse and neglect in 2015 than any other state.

Amy Bickel

With their water wells dropping, two farmers from the far southwest corner of Kansas flew a 1967 Cessna Wednesday morning to Topeka – all in support of hemp.

Farmers Darren Buck and Reid Shrauner didn’t have quite the journey as some of their fellow Morton County residents, who left before sunlight to support a bill that they think could boost their county’s struggling economy and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.

Paul Locke / Flickr Creative Commons

Oil and natural gas operations may be linked to childhood cancer, according to a new study by the University of Colorado.

As The Denver Post reports, children who grow up near oil and gas drilling are statistically more likely to contract leukemia between the ages of five and 24. The study was peer-reviewed, and published in an online multidisciplinary journal last week.

CGP Grey / Flickr Creative Commons

Oil prices appear to be rebounding from their slump, leading to optimism in High Plains oil fields.

But, as The New York Times reports, there’s one important element of the recovery that still hasn’t come through: jobs.

Frac sand in demand with uptick in oil rigs

Feb 20, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With an uptick in oil rigs, concerns about the supply of frac sand, the key component of drilling, are also arising.

As Business Insider reports, oil producers have added hundreds of rigs in U.S. oil fields from Texas to North Dakota. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. rig count hit 591, the highest since October of 2015.

Wikimedia Commons

Several agriculture groups are sending letters to President Donald Trump in support of opening up trade, but with the new president’s recent exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership along with his threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, some farmers and ranchers are starting to worry their entire industry will experience collateral damage as a result.

Clinic for refugees opens in Garden City

Feb 20, 2017
City of Garden City, KS

There’s a new clinic in Garden City, Kansas that aims to provide the community’s refugee population with healthcare and language services.  

As the Garden City Telegram reports, Dr. John Birky, CEO of the New Hope Together clinic, said the organization is dedicated to improving the physical, spiritual, and socioeconomic well-being of refugees in the community through healthcare services, English language learning and mutually beneficial relationships.

JONATHAN BAKER / Canyon, Texas

I’m Jonathan Baker, a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’ve been asked to talk a little about this month’s Radio Readers Book Club Read, The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols. I read this book twenty years ago, after a friend of mine got a forearm tattoo of the tequila-toting Latino skeleton illustration from the cover of the book. I figured there must be something worth investigating in Nichols’s novel if my friend, a Jewish agitator from Austin, would get permanent ink dedicated to a story of Chicanos in northern New Mexico. So I read it. And I loved it.

NY - http://nyphotographic.com/

Citizens of Garden City, Kansas and Amarillo, Texas participated in yesterday’s “Day without immigrants” protest, intended to showcase the role immigrants play in the national economy.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, the absentee rate at Garden City public schools Thursday was higher than usual, with 18.5 percent of the district’s 7.713 students absent. And nearby Tyson Fresh Meats, the area's largest employer of immigrants, also reported higher absenteeism, did not provide specific numbers.

KFDA

A celebrated Amarillo teacher has invited President Trump’s new Education Secretary to visit the Texas Panhandle, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Shanna Peeples made news across the country two years ago when she was named the National Teacher of the Year. She was personally given the award by Barack Obama, and had a private lunch with the former president in Washington.

Floflo88 / Wikimedia Commons

An editorial in The Dallas Morning News is calling cattle ranchers “the first casualties of Trump's trade wars.”

Texas State University Journalism Professor Richard Parker noted several ways that Trump’s trade policy may hurt beef markets.

Kansas Geological Survey

Thanks to timely rains last year, Mount Hope-area farmer Jeff Winter figures on some of his fields he pumped half the amount of water that he normally uses to irrigate his crops.

So did many central Kansas farmers. And it showed. 

While the Ogallala Aquifer continues to decline, the Equus Beds and Great Bend Prairie aquifers saw rises as irrigators shut down their wells more often in 2016.

"We didn't have to pump as much, and we shut off more frequently," said Winter, who also is on the Equus Beds board. He added that on a few fields, he pumped even less.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week as he recaps a recent two day outdoor adventure with some good friends.

First, it was trophy blue catfish at Lake Tawakoni in northeastern Texas with guide David Hanson and friends Larry Weishuhn, Rick Lambert (country music singer Miranda Lambert’s dad), and Jeff Rice.

Mud blessings

Feb 18, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

Chinese philosophers are on to something with their Yin and Yang concepts. Light balances dark, silence/noise, joy/sorrow, and in our case, mud offsets dust.

Yes, mud. Icky, gooey, sticky mud. Like cat hair, it latches onto anything it touches, finding its way from roads, yards, and pastures onto shoes and pant legs and into homes. It finds its way into the oddest places—a speckle stuck to a grocery sack, a chunk dropped by the door, a smear on a purse.

City of Garden City, KS

In Kansas, some rural towns are booming while others are dwindling. Garden City, Kan., for instance, attracts people from across the globe. The population is young, growing, and extremely diverse.  And the large immigrant community provides the workforce that fuels the local economy.  None of this happened by accident, as the story notes.  Frank Morris reports.

Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appears to have made a good number of enemies within the agency he’ll soon helm, and he hasn’t even started the job yet.

As The New York Times reports, employees of the Environmental Protection Agency mounted an organized campaign to call their senators and plead that they vote against Pruitt to head the agency.

Water - Dividing or Connecting

Feb 17, 2017
CONNY BOGAARD, Holcomb KS

The Milagro Bean Field War by John Nichols is a story about Mexican farmers reclaiming their lost rights and their lost lands from the hands of evil land developers. The story starts with one individual and his rebellious act to tap into an irrigation system to start a bean field to sustain him and his family. This simple act, of course, is not without consequences. Seeing the farmer and his bean field inspires the neighbors to also stand up against the developers and take back what is theirs. It is a wonderful story about people coming together to fight injustice, as well as the power of one individual to inspire change. 

The story reminds me of a small village in Honduras that I visited on a mission trip not long ago. Our goal was to build a water system to provide clean running water to every household in the village. The problem these villagers had was not the absence of water, or even the loss of their land, but simply the lack of resources because they were poor.  After years of lobbying with their government these people had given up hope that their situation would ever improve. Until one individual saw an opportunity.

Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle

Texas has become the first state to actively throw its support behind President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, reports The Houston Chronicle.

On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief with the 9th circuit court of appeals. The brief formally affirms  Texas's support of Trump’s White House and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Woodley WonderWorks / Flickr Creative Commons

A new bill being proposed in Oklahoma would forgive student loans for the state’s teachers, reports KFOR.

Rep. Mickey Dollens’s proposed legislation would give Oklahoma teachers student loan forgiveness if they stay at any school for at least seven years. Educators cheered the bill, saying it’s on the right track. But, they added that the new law doesn’t solve the crux of the education problem in Oklahoma, which is low teacher pay.

Wheat's merit debated as acreage falls

Feb 16, 2017
Travis Morrise / The Hutchinson News

While farmers across the central plains were gradually easing away from planting wheat, the Horton brothers were doubling down.

Over the past 10 years, Rick Horton and his younger brothers Matt and Alec put together a business at Leoti, Kansas, that consists of portable wheat seed cleaning and seed treatment along with selling certified seed from more than a dozen varieties they test annually on their own farm.

Tim Evanson / Flickr Creative Commons

Like other High Plains states, Colorado’s oil and gas economy is in a position to help propel it forward.

As The Denver Post reports, oil prices rose after recent OPEC production cuts and are now high enough to motivate producers to put more rigs to work and translate into more domestic production, said Erica Bowman, chief economist with the American Petroleum Institute.

KCUR

  The Kansas House approved a tax bill Wednesday that would raise Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax cuts.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the proposed bill would include an end to a tax cut for roughly 330,000 business owners and generate more than $1 billion over the next two years, according to state estimates.

But Brownback said he won’t sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

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Kansas Magazine is asking people to share their favorite places to eat.

As the Dodge City Globe, the statewide magazine – a division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism – has a survey currently asking for state residents to nominate their favorite local restaurant.

Donde la luz es violeta / Where the Light is Violet.

Feb 16, 2017
XANATH CARAZA / Kansas City

I am Xánath Caraza, and I today will read two bilingual poems from my book Donde la luz es violeta / Where the Light is Violet.

Susurros en la atmósfera

Polvo de oro cubre el agua de Venecia

esta mañana. Las gaviotas no se han

fijado en mí, hace frío en esta barca a

la deriva. El viento salvaje de la laguna

corre por doquier, alborota mi pelo negro.

Voy en busca de Marco Polo, su fantasma.

Los ecos de sus pasos encerrados en este

Today's  installment of Growing on the High Plains  might feel a bit like an audio submission to the Antiques Roadshow, as I share with you the history of my prized collection of authentic McCoy pottery.

More than a century ago, Nelson McCoy  founded his famed stoneware company in Roseville, Ohio. The vessels were noted for their simple, utilitarian design, as well as their durable, high-quality construction. In fact, I can attest that these puppies are indeed resilient -- even in the face of a potential catastrophe.

Ullstein Bild / Chron.com

Spring is approaching, and that means dangerous High Plains animals will be out on the prowl. The Houston Chronicle has published a helpful guide to know what to do in case of trouble.

If you encounter a wild boar, remain calm and move away slowly. If the boar attacks, climb at least six feet off the ground. If you can’t climb, try to stay on your feet.

Standing high above the Eastern Plains of Colorado, east of Limon, stands the “World’s Wonder View Tower,” which during the town’s heyday, was a popular stop for tourists traveling through.

The Colorado Preservation, Inc., has selected the aging tower as one of three of the state’s site in danger of disappearing. 

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

After hundreds of arrests of undocumented immigrants by immigration police, the Trump administration’s increased focus on immigration enforcement has some of the country’s largest farm groups worried.

Douglas Pancoast, HABS delineator

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Fort Hays in its present location, a program about Buffalo Soldiers will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Historic Fort Hays Visitor’s center in Hays, Kansas.  

The program is free and open to the public and will be presented by Barrie Tompkins, a founder of the Nicodemus Buffalo Soldier Association, who has appeared in two TNT movies as a buffalo soldier – 1997’s “Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders,” and 1998’s “The Buffalo Soldiers.”

Podcast sheds light on bison herd tug-of-war

Feb 15, 2017
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There’s a tug-of-war happening in the western United States and the American bison is stuck in the middle.

While some are working to increase bison numbers in the western U.S., others are saying not so fast and the new podcast called Threshold is putting a spotlight on the tug-of-war.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Threshold’s podcast features those on both sides of the issue.

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