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Long distances, rugged topography and scattered population centers are among several barriers to providing broadband Internet service to Colorado’s rural areas.

As The Denver Post reports, the state’s broadband map shows vast stretches of the state – especially on the Eastern Plains and across the mountains – with slow to no internet service.

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Lawmakers remain concerned about potential snags as Kansas wraps up years of work on migrating driver’s license records from an old mainframe computer to newer infrastructure ahead of a January launch date. 

Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater, a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Information Technology, asked legislative auditing staff Friday whether the state might see a repeat of the technical woes that plagued the first phase of the same project five years ago. 

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A new law in Texas would allow hunters to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons. But now, balloonists in the Lone Star State are refusing to offer the opportunity to participate in the activity, citing logistical problems.

The Texas Tribune recently spoke with many balloonists and insurers across the state, and they all said they hadn’t heard of anyone planning to hunt hogs from hot air balloons.

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United States Congressman Mac Thornberry, who represents the Texas Panhandle, was one of four Texas lawmakers who voted against sending billions in relief funding to those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

None of the Texas lawmakers who opposed the bill represented coastal regions.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the House approved the $15 billion in aid to support the hurricane relief effort.

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Hurricane Harvey didn’t just devastate human lives; the storm likely killed thousands of head of livestock as well.

As Texas Standard reports, the full effect of the hurricane on the cattle industry in Texas won’t be known for some time.

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It’s no secret that Oklahoma is facing as major teacher crisis. But, as Oklahoma Watch reports, within that larger crisis is another problem. The state suffers from an increasingly dwindling pool of special education teachers.

Kansas Ranchers Paying It Forward

Sep 10, 2017
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As smoke from Montana and Wyoming makes its way across the High Plains, Kansas ranchers impacted by wildfires earlier this year are paying it forward.

As The Hutch News reports, six months ago, Clark County rancher Steve Hazen was on the receiving end as truckloads of hay and supplies came from all directions to his hometown of Ashland.

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As Luke explains, there’s something special about hunting on one of the big farms in Kansas, and that’s the deer.

His guest this week, Larry Weishuhn fondly recalls hos own deer hunting trips to Kansas. He drew a tag for the Sunflower State this season and is excited about the opportunity to put one of those bruiser Kansas bucks on the meat pole!

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One of the best parts about grandchildren is seeing the world through their lens. Our youngest, a just turned one-year-old, visited recently. While her mom, dad, and gramps were organizing furniture and hunting gear, she and I wandered to the nearby park. Swings and slide held her interest for a while, but she most enjoyed toddling around, spying, and collecting last autumn’s sycamore balls. Due to the dry winter, most of them were still solid. In short time, she’d filled both tiny hands and the crooks of her elbows with tawny treasure.

Beethoven loved being close to nature, and often left Vienna to work in the country. These rural sabbaticals inspired Beethoven's only programmatic work: Symphony No. 6, also known as the "Pastorale." We'll hear this monumental work this week on Amarillo Symphony Presents.

Texas Looks To Improve Troubled Foster Care System

Sep 7, 2017
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A number of laws took effect earlier this month meant to improve Texas’s child welfare system.

As KUT reports, the state’s foster care system was deemed unconstitutional and “broken” by a U.S. District Judge in Dec. 2015, following several reports about Texas kids dying from neglect and abuse while in foster care.

That led to a series of bills aimed at overhauling the system, including Senate Bill 11, which establishes a model that increasingly privatizes the foster care system.

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Even though oil and gas drillers have suffered through about three years of low oil prices, some of Colorado’s largest energy companies still seem optimistic.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Anadarko Petroleum pumped 33 million barrels of oil in the state last year, making them the state’s largest driller. 

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Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced it would be rescinding DACA – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that currently protects children of parents who came to the U.S. illegally from deportation

The majority of DACA recipients, more commonly referred to as “DREAMers,” are from Mexico, but according to Quartz, the remaining one-fourth come from all over the world, primarily El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll have a special report from Pumpkin Paradise -- part two of our three-part series. And this time, we'll hear from field correspondent, Bryan Bihorel.

Trudge through the mud with us, as Steve and Janet Weidner reveal the pumpkins' progress across their 12-acre pumpkin patch in Sublette, KS. We'll learn a about squash bees, cucumber beetles, and reproduction -- pumpkin style.

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Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says President Donald Trump promised not to cut a key crop insurance program that benefits Kansas farmers. The promise comes despite the fact that Trump placed reductions to the program in his budget proposal.

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Almost 50 million rural Americans lack access to sufficient dental care.

As Mother Jones reports, in large swaths of the country it can be difficult to make a dental appointment even if you have private insurance. And for Americans who rely on Medicaid, it can be practically impossible to find dental care in small towns. Fewer than half of the dentists in the United States accept Medicaid, and many of those who do are in the cities.

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The small town of Cross Plains, Texas, recently held a literary festival to honor the most famous West Texas writer you’ve never heard of.

Robert E. Howard lived in Cross Plains during the 1920s, and that’s where he created his most famous character, Conan the Barbarian.

As The Texas Observer recounts, Howard lived in a clapboard house with his physician father and chronically ill mother. He converted a porch to a tiny bedroom, and there he wrote pulp stories for up to 12 hours a day.

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19 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, including much of the High Plains region.

In this modern age, hundreds of small towns across America are essentially cut off from progress. Over the past few years, major American telecommunications companies have shown little interest in expanding broadband into rural America, saying such expansion isn’t cost effective.

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Some in Colorado are concerned about President Donald Trump’s announcement that the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, or DACA, will end, while others believe the change is needed. 

As Colorado Public Radio reports, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA - which protects children of parents who came to the U.S. illegally from deportation -  after six months if Congress cannot find a legislative solution.

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The future of coal as a power source in Colorado is waning quickly, reports The Denver Post.

Over the past decade, Xcel Energy Colorado has shuttered a number of coal plants, and the utility behemoth is now arguing for shutting down two coal-burning facilities in Pueblo 10 years ahead of schedule.

Kansas City District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Wikimedia Commons

Next year’s Kansas gubernatorial election is already shaping up to be a fascinating and unusual contest, reports The Garden City Telegram.

News recently broke that former Wichita Rep. Mark Hutton will announce his candidacy, and that brings the total number of gubernatorial candidates to 11.

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The Oklahoman tapped by President Donald Trump to lead NASA is drawing criticism from some prominent leaders in the Senate.

As POLITICO reports, Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine’s nomination was met with opposition from both of Florida’s senators, who see the selection of a strong NASA administrator as a matter of great importance to their state.

Laura Buckman / Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Continuing a dramatic reversal on voting rights under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice is asking a federal appeals court to allow Texas to enforce a photo voter identification law that a lower court found discriminatory.

HPPR thanks FolkWest for their hard work making the Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs, CO an enchanting, surreal weekend with a phenomenal lineup.

Here are a few flashes of the fest! 

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A construction crew unearthed more than it bargained for while working on a fire and police building in Thornton, Colorado last week. In among the rocks and soil, the crew discovered a 66-million-year-old Triceratops fossil.

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The percentage of Oklahomans who smoke is lower than ever before, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

As KFOR reports, in 2015 a little over 22 percent of Oklahoma residents smoked tobacco. As of last year, the rate had fallen to 19.6 percent.

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West Texas A&M University has selected a site for its new football stadium, reports Amarillo.com.

As university president Walter Wendler announced last week, the new stadium will be located on Russell Long Boulevard in Canyon, on the north side of the campus near the other athletic facilities.

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The Texas Panhandle may be headed for an ecological disaster.

As The Texas Observer reports, the Llano Estacado could be undone by conservation efforts put in place to save the region from the Dust Bowl. At issue is the Texas Panhandle’s natural predilection for encouraging wildfires.

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A professor of Energy Management at Rice University in Houston is warning that Hurricane Harvey may have a bigger effect on the nation’s oil supply that previously thought.

In an editorial in the D.C. political newspaper The Hill, Bill Arnold writes that Harvey is only the latest in a series of factors that have put pressure on the production, refining and distribution of crude in the U.S.

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Oklahoma’s woes are now so dire that the state is making news in the United Kingdom. Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article about Oklahoma, asking the question “Can anyone fix this failing state?”

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