News

Skyrocketing appraisal rates in some Texas counties could have homeowners paying more this year even with the increased Homestead Exemption. That’s according to analysis put together by the Texas House Ways and Means Committee on the last days of the session. Dale Craymer is a budget expert with the Texas Taxpayer and Research Association and says in areas like Bexar County where appraisal rates rose by almost 12-percent, you will likely pay more this year. Craymer says on average homeowners will still save $130 on their property taxes, but for those living in those more populated counties, that $130 is off of the thousands of dollars they may owe. At the Start of the session Governor Greg Abbott stressed to lawmakers that they pass some form of property tax relief and that its impact be long-lasting. But even Abbott says this session’s property tax relief effort was just a starting point to keep rates from skyrocketing in the future.

Egg imports from the Netherlands will be soon be allowed under a new decision from the U-S Agriculture Department. As Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports, that’s because the huge outbreak of bird flu in the Midwest has hurt supplies.

Jerod Foster

ConocoPhillips has teamed with Playa Lakes Joint Venture for more than 25 years to provide in-kind assistance and funds to provide conservation grants -- seed money to get conservation and habitat projects off and running. We talk about the importance of this non-federal source of money, which gets leveraged time and again by federal or state funds to make conservation/habitat projects happen.

Plaintiffs in a settled lawsuit say not enough progress is being made to improved the foster care system in Oklahoma. The Pinnacle Plan is a result of the suit claiming the Oklahoma Department of Human Services had policies leading to the harm of abused and neglected children in state custody. The plan contains a list of specific improvements to be met by 2017, complete with progress goals along the way. Plaintiffs have written a letter to program monitors asking them to push for faster change. A spokeswoman for the department says a written response will be given by today.

Pantex will soon have safety issues resolved says a top official from the National Nuclear Security Administration. The two program-related issues were revealed during a Code Blue review by the NNSA. A code blue review is similar to a safety review. The two issues are not related. One problem was about ensuring proper documentation required was complete. The other was related to weapons shipping container safety. Frank Klotz is a NNSA Administrator. He says these aren’t a safely issue for the public or for Pantex employees. He says the concerns are because they are ultra-cautious about everything they do, and becaue of the type of work they do.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is so in favor of the new tax plan, he was lobbying lawmakers by phone from the hospital where his first grandchild was born Sunday. Brownback says the budget has been thoroughly discussed and it's past time to get it done and move forward. The tax plan increasing sales and cigarette taxes, and rolling back some of the 2012 tax breaks for businesses was already passed by the Senate.

Eilen Jewell’s new release ‘Sundown Over Ghost Town’ is the sound of change.  Becoming a mother and returning to her home town of Boise, Idaho have instilled a sense of growth and maturity to these songs.  We will listen to 'Sundown Over Ghost Town' this week on High Plains Morning.  

Fawn Nurseries

Jun 7, 2015

Years ago our family tent-camped at Slough Creek Camp Ground, a primitive site at the north end of Yellowstone National Park where wildlife is abundant and close. That particular summer, the area’s fawn population had exploded. Does led babies to the stream bank directly across from our tent. While my husband fished, transfixed little girls and I watched the tiny creatures scamper and nurse while their mommas browsed and occasionally cleaned a baby. This is my fondest memory of camping with small children.

Luke Clayton

Well, howdy there folks!  It's big bass time on Lake Fork in East Texas.  As a matter of face, it's not just big bass time, but it's trophy bass time!  This week, I'm talking with guide Seth Vanover about the most effective method of catching trophy largemouth bass.   

Seth has perfected his method of catch and release.  He has Lake Fork Cat and Crappie.

Calendar Confusion

Jun 3, 2015
denimandplaid.blogspot.com

This spring's harvests of blooms and berries have really been a guessing game.  A bin-buster harvest of strawberries came at least a month earlier than usual, along with irises.  But normally plentiful peas and other cool-weather crops seem to playing a waiting game.  I have to place the blame on an on-again-off-again winter weather season, but what else is new in our corner of the world.

The Texas State Climatologist has declared the statewide drought effectively over. But, the main source of the Lone Star State's water supply hasn't recharged, and that's the aquifers. The biggest benefit of recent rains to the underground supply is less water is being pumped to the surface.

Today is the final day of the Texas Legislature for this session. Lawmakers worked over the weekend to get some bills ready for approval. There was consensus on Friday that the one bill they had to pass was the state's two-year budget.

The Texas legislation requiring state public universities to allow handguns in dorms, classrooms, and campus buildings is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Abbott says he'll sign the measure.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will veto the reduction of any business income tax cuts says the Kansas secretary of revenue.

If a budget isn't passed by June 7, Kansas state workers will be going home without pay.

No Place for Sissies

Jun 1, 2015

We invited a French exchange student to share our lives for six weeks one summer. Her first question after she deposited her luggage in the bedroom was, “Do you have tornadoes here?”

It takes a flood

May 29, 2015
Luke Clayton

This time last year, we were in the midst of a drought that seemed to be unending. Week after week, we watched our lake levels drop steadily. The outlook for ground nesting birds such as wild turkey and quail seemed bleak. Moisture is important for a good hatch and possibly even more necessary for the survival of young birds. Last year, there was very little ground cover in many areas to conceal newly hatched birds. Our stock ponds which often serve as private fishing hotspots were drying up. What a difference a couple of months make!

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed today on new quotas for the amount of renewable fuels blended in to our gasoline. The E-P-A plan would increase the total volume of renewable fuels at gas pumps. But it actually cuts the amount of ethanol made from corn.

In an ironic twist of fate, the building that once housed the seat of law and order is becoming the very thing that took some to face the judge In an ironic twist of fate, a distillery will call the courthouse home. The Dodge City Courthouse and old city hall is being renovated to become Boot Hill Distillery. Hays Kelman is a co-owner. He says whiskey will be the main attraction, but it takes a few years to age, so the business will also produce vodka, gin, white whiskey and red eye whiskey. Kelman is partners with his father and Chris Holovach. They’ll be using grain from their farms in Haskell and Scott Counties. Kelman says they want to keep everything as local as possible. A fall opening is planned.

KTWU

 The host of a long-running Kansas public television is leaving his position reports KPR.  Dave Kendall is the host of Sunflower Journeys.  He says he’s been part of producing the program about Kansas since 1987.

Kendall says the advent of new technology has made the program available to everyone online. 

Snack Pak explosion

May 28, 2015

Childhood hunger is one of the most overlooked and underreported problems in our region. An Amarillo couple’s volunteering experience with America’s Promise at Margaret Wills elementary prompted them to connect with Snack Pak 4 Kids. Today Snack Pak provides more than 3,700 weekend sack lunches for around 50 schools in the Amarillo ISD very week. Snack Pak provides more than 6,000 in 34 other school districts in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. Dryon Howell says the program is making a difference. He’s been involved in Snack Pack for Kids since 2010. Howell says kids can’t learn if they’re hungry. And Snack Pak is making a difference… a measurable difference. Howell says 2/3 of AISD teachers surveyed in the last three years have seen an academic improvement because of the program.

wikipedia.org

This week we'll look at the hows and whys of growing gourds, on both an ornamental or functional level.  Related to squash and cucumbers, few varieties are popular as edibles, but numerous types can serve in various ways.  Most of the work of producing gourds comes not with the growing but with how they are treated after the harvest.  Curing and cleaning are the first steps in a process that can produce bird houses, feeders, nifty containers, or art objects.

Recent rains might have pushed the drought out of our minds, but climate scientists say the hot, dry weather is a glimpse into the future, and Oklahoma is a good place to study what adaptations will work.

Amarillo can use its red light cameras can keep for at least another two years because the Texas Legislature won’t approve a statewide ban this session. The Texas House Transportation Committee killed a bill that would have gradually phased out the electronic equipment photographing vehicles running red lights.

Kansas legislators put a $25 limit on the amount of cash welfare recipients can obtain. It's hard to overstate the significance of this action. Many households without enough money to maintain a minimum balance in a conventional checking account will pay their rent and their utility bills in cash. A single mother with two children seeking to withdraw just $200 in cash could incur $30 or more in fees, which is a big chunk of the roughly $400 such a family would receive under the program in Kansas.

Morning Edition featured a story that reminds us to take a moment to remember what this day is about. If you missed it, follow the link.

What is this three day weekend all about? What are the traditions of Memorial Day? Take the quiz from the Washington Post and find out how much you know about a holiday many will say marks the beginning of summer.

The new release from Dar Williams-‘Emerald’- is her 11th release and her first record since 1995’s ‘The Honesty Room’ that has not been released by Razor & Tie Records.  ‘Emerald’ features several special guests including Richard Thompson, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche.  We will listen to ‘Emerald’ this week on High Plains Morning.

solarlivinginterns.blogspot.com

It is that time when Kansas cars, driveways, and tops of heads wear purplish reminders of a passing bird’s mulberry feast. Everyone saw it coming as pale fruits of this native tree first turned from white to bright red then matured to black-purple. Not so long ago, Jayhawk-state residents looked forward to this early spring fruit as one of summer’s first harvests. Now days, most folks consider these berries a mess to clean up.

wikipedia.org

The past couple weeks have brought rain, rain, sorely needed rain.  It’s also saturated the ground and left some standing water.  That’s the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.  This report from KGOU.

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