News

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In late April, fires raged across the Oklahoma landscape, devastating farming communities.

And as The New York Times reports, relief bales of hay began arriving before the flames were even quenched. The hay is a much-needed respite for farmers and ranchers in the Sooner State, with the cylindrical bales serving as a way to feed cattle who have found themselves in a charred and bleak landscape.

pantex.org

Many hundreds of workers have fallen ill due to work performed over the years at the Pantex nuclear arms facility northeast of Amarillo.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, since an employee compensation program began in 2000, over $171 million has been doled out to 1,300 workers and their families, to compensate for various forms of cancers contracted while working with nuclear materials at the plant.

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The month of May has long been considered the start of Colorado’s wildfire season so first responders, the insurance industry and government officials are warning homeowners to plan ahead.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the forest service recommends maintaining 100 to 200 feet between thin standing trees and structures; to mow standing grass to less than six inches; and to remove flammable vegetation within 15 feet of homes.

Book lovers, mark your calendars! On Sunday, May 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. CST, HPPR Radio Readers invites you to a live, on-air, book discussion for the 2018 Spring Read: "WWI-Perspectives."

Don’t miss a spirited discussion of our four books with panelists from Panhandle-Plains Historical MuseumBethel College, & High Plains Public Radio + educators from across our region! The panelists will explore themes raised in the discussion of the book through contributed Radio Reader BookBytes. Plus, it will stream live on HPPR's Facebook page!

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In the wake of last week's controversial passage of a bill that would allow Oklahoma citizens to carry guns without any kind of permit or license, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed another controversial bill that would allow adoption agencies to reject gay couples and other couples deemed unfit for parenthood on the basis of religious faith.

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A federal appeals court has ruled that the controversial Texas Voter ID law will be in effect for November's elections.

Last year a lower-court had ruled that the law was discriminatory, as it required voters to bring an ID to the polls in order to cast their ballots.

Poor and minority voters often do not have access to IDs, so critics saw the law as an effort by Republicans to disenfranchise voters who tend to vote Democrat.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: In Sickness And In Health

Apr 28, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I saw this meme last week: “During childbirth, a woman’s pain is so intense that she can almost imagine what it’s like when a man has a cold.”  I am very, very lucky.  Joel is rarely if ever, sick, and when he is, he actually retains most of his humanity.

No, Joel is tough when it comes to the common cold or the odd bout of stomach upset.  It’s when there’s an injury involved that he tends to overreact. 

It's all about the cello this week on SONGBIRDS.  We'll hear from artists like Katie Herzig, Ben Sollee. Monique Clare and more. This episode is inspired by a plain and simple need to indulge in the rich resonating tones that only this instrument can create. Tune in Saturday at 1 pm CST for a cello entree with a side of folk.

Luke Clayton

I believed I mentioned in a previous column that I was heading up to Knox County to hunt turkeys at Ranger Creek Ranch, one of my long-time favorite spots for enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. Well, I’m just back from a couple days of hunting spring gobblers at Ranger Creek with my good friend Jeff Rice. There are no photos of gobblers with 11-inch beards to accompany this week’s column but Jeff and I enjoyed a great time in the spring turkey woods and around camp the evening of the hunt!

Lucio Eastman / Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a controversial gun measure known as the “Constitutional Carry” bill.

As KFOR reports, if passed, the new law would allow anyone who owns a gun to carry it, even if they don't have a permit for it. The bill was successfully passed after much debate, on a 59-28 vote, with heavy support from Republicans. GOP Rep. Collin Walke cheered the bill’s success, saying, “We ought to be able to carry any gun whether we are licensed or not.”

Our Turn At This Earth: After Sand Creek

Apr 26, 2018
Alan Hutchins

“Your grandparents started out right over there,” Tobe Zweygardt said, pointing to a farmed hillside in the distance. It amazed me how much information Tobe, an elderly retired farmer, stored under that billed cap he wore. I knew my father had spent his early childhood in Cheyenne County, but until then hadn’t known where.

There’s a particular square-stemmed annual with fragrant leaves and tubular purple blooms that often polarizes High Plains gardeners. Some say it’s a nuisance. Some consider it a colorful harbinger of spring after a long, drab winter.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about the divisive henbit, a member of the mint family that establishes itself in the fall, matures to thick foliage, and then blossoms in the spring but generally disappears with the first hot spell of summer.

U.S. Census Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

Texas plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into fixing the state’s beleaguered special-education system.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas Education Agency plans to spend nearly $212 million over the next five years to help students with special needs. The news comes in the wake of a 2016 study, which found that Texas had been systemically failing to adequately serve tens of thousands of special needs students statewide.

H2O Radio

By H2O Radio:

"Dryland" farmers on the high plains of Colorado grow their crops with whatever falls from the sky—no irrigation, no pumped groundwater—just what Mother Nature delivers. In recent years some have been trying to innovate to protect their soils and conserve water to prepare for climate change. But they're getting pushback—not only from their neighbors and their own families—but also from the government.

The "Dirty Thirties"

High Plains Morning wants to thank Sarah McQuaid for the phone interview about her video for "Slow Decay," which was inspired by the true story of Bill Conner—a father who biked 1,400 miles across the US to raise awareness about organ donation. 

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Living the life of a Texas farmworker 1has always been a precarious proposition. But as Scientific American reports, the onset of global warming is making this work even more difficult.

Each year, ever-increasing heat, drought and mosquito-borne diseases are causing farm workers to worry on a very personal level about the effects of climate change.

Oklahoma Forestry Service

Weekend showers over Oklahoma helped firefighters in the battle against two large wildfires – one of which was so large that it could be seen from space.

As The High Plains Journal reports, as of Monday, the Rhea fire in Dewey County had scorched around 287,000 acres and the 34 Complex fire in Woodward County had burned close to 63,000 acres. The Rhea fire was 74 percent contained and the 34 Complex fire was 94 percent contained.

“Like Lucinda Williams in a Carhartt jacket, Christy Hays works rugged metaphors into emotionally charged country folk.” —Austin Chronicle

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Don't miss our latest Texas-based singer-songwriter featured as part of the HPPR Living Room Concert Series: Christy Hays!She's a gifted singer-songwriter from Illinois, based in Austin, TX, but regularly pulled into Montana and the Pacific Northwest. Her voice and songwriting will be a real treat for HPPR listeners.

 

Christy Hays - LIVE IN CONCERT

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Two Republican lawmakers in Colorado are looking to prohibit teachers from striking, with the potential for firing, fines or even jail time if they do strike.

As The Denver Post reports, Senate Bill 264, introduced Friday, seeks to prohibit public school teachers and teachers’ organizations from being involved in a strike and would bar districts from paying teachers for any day they participate in a demonstration.

Josh Harbour / special to Kansas News Service

Ashley Leal parks in front of the Plains, Kansas, Community Library. It’s about to close, but she doesn’t care. She pulls out her blue laptop.

“I’m ... using the Wi-Fi,” Leal says with a laugh.

Her home internet was so slow, she came to the library parking lot. Cars often idle there in the evening while their drivers tap into a plodding, but treasured, link to the internet.

“I’m just thankful that we have somewhere to go,” Leal says.

It’s the only free internet in this small western Kansas town. For many people, it’s the only internet, period. Surprisingly, part of the problem and the solution, for rural areas may lie in Netflix traffic.

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Drivers of electric cars in Oklahoma will soon be able to charge their vehicles much more easily.

As The Oklahoman reports, vehicle charging stations will soon be set up at Walmart stores in the Sooner State. The charging stations are being installed by Electrify America, a unit of Volkswagen Group of America. As of now, only four or five Walmarts in Oklahoma will receive the charging stations, with the possibility of more to come in the future.

National Atlas / Wikimedia Commons

A Texas voting case currently before the Supreme Court could change the shape of districts in the Lone Star State and affect the power balance in the State Legislature.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the case concerns gerrymandering, which is the practice of redrawing voting districts to favor one political party. Democrats have charged that, following the 2010 census, Texas Republicans redrew the maps to favor their own real elections and give themselves a larger majority in the statehouse.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I think I’m losing my romantic touch. The other evening I was attempting to flirt with Joel, and I said, “Hey baby, can you do that thing I love so much?” 

He looked up from his newspaper and replied, “The dishes or the laundry?”

Luke Clayton

Turkey season is going strong now and many hunters have already bagged their gobbler and have them in the freezer. But what about those wild turkey legs and thighs? Everyone knows those drumsticks from wild gobblers are too tough to eat, right? WRONG!

In this week's show, Luke tells how to make them fall off the bone tender. He also walks you through the process of preparing smoked wild turkey and sausage gumbo.

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Fire dangers continue to threaten Western Oklahoma, as the state recovers from historic blazes that burned up hundreds of thousands of acres and left dozens of homes in ruins.

However, the Oklahoma Forestry Service had not issued any more red flag warnings as of late Thursday afternoon.

speedofcreativity.org

This week Oklahoma teachers declared victory after their historic walkout and returned to classrooms. The protests resulted in a pay increase of $6,100 per teacher—the largest such raise in state history.

Educators also won raises for support staff such as cafeteria workers, and state lawmakers agreed to increase funding to Oklahoma public schools by a total $70 million in recurring yearly revenue.

Meanwhile, many teachers in Colorado believe it’s their turn now.

Yes, we have no apricots (again)! In theory, apricot trees should thrive in our High Plains climate. They are hardy enough to survive the cold winters, and our dry summers actually aid in the maturation of their soft, sweet summer bounty. So why do our region’s apricot trees only yield fruit every 5 to 10 years?

woodleywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons

Wildfires erupted across Western Oklahoma again on Wednesday.

As The High Plains Journal reports, nearly 325,000 Acres had burned and were still burning as of Wednesday afternoon. This includes 68,000 acres in Woodward County and nearly a quarter of a million acres in Dewey County.

EXCITING NEWS! This Tuesday night in Amarillo, HPPR's listening area has Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, with folk icon Richard Thompson, LIVE IN CONCERT! And right now on High Plains Morning, you can get TWO FREE TICKETS!

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It may be hard to believe given the dry conditions, but fishing in southeast Colorado is better than ever.

This from the Denver Post.

In years past, prairie lakes like the John Martin, Queens and Adobe Creek reservoirs, were teeming with wiper, crappie, catfish and more. But all of the reservoirs on Colorado’s eastern plains can be susceptible to water level fluctuations due to dry conditions.

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