News

Dale Daniel

A functioning playa provides water to recharge the aquifer. There's also a whole community of wetland plants and invertebrates that need the very shallow water found in a healthy playa. These plants and invertebrates provide food for migrating birds. But when a playa has a pit, it is like "pulling the drain in a bathtub" and it no longer holds water very well. Rehabilitating playas by filling pits restores natural function to those wetlands.

Kansas has the highest rate of students starting at a two-year public institution and finishing with a degree from a four-year college or university. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center's annual report lists only five states above 20 percent. They are: Kansas, Texas, Iowa, North Dakota, and Virginia.

A Texas state senator says, "when you fail to invest in your infrastructure, your infrastructure deteriorates." The Lone Star state is seeing that up close and personal.

protecttheharvest.com

Right-to-farm has made its way to the Sooner State.  It’s a topic that puts agriculture at odds with environmentalists and animal rights advocates reports StateImpact Oklahoma.

The right-to-farm amendment recently passed by a narrow margin in Missouri. 

Now there’s a similar bill in Oklahoma.  Rep. Scott Biggs is sponsoring the measure.  He’s a Republican from Chickasha. 

If it passes it will add this to the state constitution:

Jeff Bell

When our land is not covered with a brief blanket of white, “this is the time of the year when the grass is a dormant shade of brown and trees are denuded of leaves,” says Jeff Bell. 

Bell is a travel blogger.  His website is called Planet Bell

He usually leaves his camera in the case when he goes home to western Oklahoma.  But, this year he made an effort to get out and take photos, trying to see the land in a new light. 

The results are stunning.

All my married life, I’ve loved attending local auctions.  Part of the charm of these gatherings is seeing friends and neighbors and catching up with one another’s busy lives or listening to the auctioneer’s clever patter.  Another reason these events draw me  is the chance to see history and sometimes buy a little chunk of someone else’s story.  Unfortunately, there comes a time when those little pieces of other’s lives add up to enough stuff to clutter my closets to overflowing.  Before anything bursts, I need to take action.

Luke Clayton

Curing and smoking ham at home is very easy. Pictured here are the hams from a 50 pound porker I took on a recent hunt. You can do this yourself!

Here how:

Order a packet of maple sugar cure from Frisco Spices www.friscospices.com. You will actually receive two packages of cure which is plenty for even a couple of ten pound hams. 

Mix a packet of cure with two quarts of water to create the brine. Place hams into the brine and place in refrigerator.

There is an upside to lower oil prices. StateImpact Texas takes a look at consumer trends. Lower prices at the pump might mean more tourists for gems like Palo Duro Canyon.

http://cjonline.com/

Twice as many Kansas children would be in poverty without government aid reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.  Data just released from Kids Count shows government programs have kept over 100,000 Kansas kids out of poverty the past few years.

The Kansas child poverty rate would double to 30 percent without assistance.

The data measures the time period of 2011 to 2013.

More of the story, including reactions to the data from Shannon Cotsoradis, president of  Kansas Action for Children is available from the Topeka Capital-Journal. 

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill that would allow Kansans to carry a concealed gun without a permit. Currently, residents must go through training and pass a background check before they are issued a permit to carry a hidden weapon.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle voted in favor of the bill but with reservations. She says she has heard “legitimate concerns” from Kansans.

The latest poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune shows the federal government isn't winning any popularity contest with Texans.

The Perfect Houseplant

Feb 25, 2015
greenacres4u.com

A trip to the supermarket produce section can result in great beginnings for growing your own bromeliads.  This week's Growing on the High Plains looks at a popular tropical plant that doesn't take a lot of care and pays off with beautiful blooms for weeks on end.

Kansas said Nebraska used more than its fair share of water out of the Republican River in 2005 and 2006. The Supreme Court agreed, and ordered Nebraska to pay up.

According to a recent survey, Kansas is the only state with an increased number of uninsured.

Josh Davis / rollingstone.com

Sometimes you’ve got to leave home… to see home.  That’s how Rolling Stone says it was for Ryan Culwell. 

Rolling Stone’s Andrew Leahey writes:

Wickipedia Creative Commons

The Sierra Club is calling on Kansas lawmakers to protect Kansans from earthquakes and pollution linked to fracking.  

The environmental group is backing two bills at the Statehouse. One would set new requirements for wells using hydraulic fracturing. The other would make drillers provide a risk pool to pay for damages caused by the industry. Until that pool is established, there would be a moratorium on new injection disposal wells in Harper and Sumner counties, where earthquake activity has been unusually high. The Sierra Club’s Joe Spease says the KCC has passed the buck to the legislature—which has shown no interest in taking action.

According to the Kansas Insurance Department, members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and other Blue organizations were also affected by the security breach.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / texastribune.org

Retired Texas state district Judge John Dietz made his first public appearance this weekend.

Deitz spoke at the Association of Texas Professional Educators in Austin.

He says a solution to the state’s unequal and ineffective public education system should come from the Legislature. This report from the Texas Tribune.

He says, "We are dooming a generation of these children by providing an insufficient education, and we can do better."

MIKE GUNNOE / THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Longtime University of Kansas professor and artist Elden Tefft passed away last week at the age of 95.

He leaves behind an important legacy. 

Elden Tefft is probably best known for his bronze sculpture of Moses that sits on KU’s campus. But in the art world, Tefft was a giant. He created the first non-commercial bronze foundry in the United States on KU’s campus, which led to a boom in the craft.

John Hachmeister is a sculpture professor at KU. He came there first as a student in 1969 and spent many years working with Tefft.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The top Democrat in the Kansas Senate says lawmakers haven’t accomplished enough so far this session reports Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.

Legislators are facing a significant deadline this week, which marks the midpoint of their scheduled time in Topeka. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley believes they’re not making enough progress solving problems like a budget shortfall.

What Are Playas?

Feb 23, 2015

 We grew up on the High Plains thinking of those occasionally muddy pasture depressions as "buffalo wallows," "rainwater basins" or "mud holes." Turns out, scientists are learning those playas play a significant role recharging aquifers such as the Ogallala.

Is it time for Midwest exports to Cuba?

Feb 22, 2015
USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it’s time for the U.S. to engage with Cuban markets. But some Republican leaders remain skeptical.

Vilsack, who was in metro Kansas City on Tuesday, says increasing U.S. exports to Cuba could help Midwest farmers.

“The reality is we used to do roughly $600 million of business in that country. It’s about a $1.7 billion dollar market. Wheat is certainly one area, poultry is another area, soybeans is another area.”

Ribbons of Birds

Feb 22, 2015

One of my favorite parts of wrapping presents is creating pretty designs with all kinds of ribbon.  The  paper corners may not be so sharp as one might wish, but I love using  scissors to stretch skinny little green or red Christmas trim into dangling sausage curls.  Somehow sparkly spools of foil, scissors, and tape bring out the creative in me, and I find myself making loop de loops and fleur de lis on my loved one’s gifts.  I’m not sure skill matches imagination, but I love playing with strands of fabric and paper.

Luke Clayton

I recently wrote about how much there is to do in the outdoors this time of year. Well, last week, I took my own advice and brought my words to fruition by first joining goose guide Rick Hrncir with Family Affair Guide Service for a Conservation goose hunt south of Corsicana and later in the week, did some fishing down in east Texas. So, relax in your easy chair and let me recap both outings with you. Hopefully you can find time this week to get out and enjoy some late winter activities.

Dr. Mark Peterson is chair of the political science department at Washburn University, but we may soon get in trouble for telling you this fact. Peterson is a guest commentator for Kansas Public Radio. He offers his thoughts on a bill before the legislature limiting free speech rights of university employees.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant were married Thursday morning in Austin. The county clerk issued the couple a marriage license based on a court order. Theirs is Texas' first same-sex marriage. The order, the county clerk's office confirms, will only apply to this one couple, one of whom is "medically fragile."

schiffner.com

Obamacare enrollment grew by nearly 70 percent in both Kansas and Missouri during the most recent sign-up period, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of Kansans enrolled in health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplace increased to 96,226 from 57,013. Missouri enrollment jumped to 253,969 from 152,335.

texastribune.org

Texas State Senator Kel Seliger is working to fast-track a bill giving school officials the option to graduate high school students who have failed state exams.  This report from the Texas Tribune.

Seliger says students who are doing well in school shouldn’t be kept from getting a high school diploma because of a standardized test.

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts met privately with more than a dozen industry groups recently. He says over-regulation is a common theme regardless of the organization. He also said reducing trade barriers and improving federal assistance for ag research are priorities.

Ryan E. Poppe / tpr.org

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spelled out six critical items that needed to be tackled immediately during his first State of the State address on Tuesday. Those agenda items ranged from fixing Texas’ school finance system to funding border security at the highest level in the state’s history. These items are actual bills that Abbott has assigned to various lawmakers and is hoping to have fast tracked through the legislative process. 

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