News

Legislature grapples with school finance future

Mar 14, 2017

TOPEKA – The Kansas Supreme Court gave an “F” to the Legislature for fulfilling its Constitutional duty to adequately fund public schools, and some legislators were steamed when they returned to work last week for first time since the March 2 decision.

“There’s nothing that says they’re the supreme authority over us,” said Rep. John Whitmer, R-Wichita.

Did they make any suggestion whose taxes we should raise? Whitemer asked.

The Supreme Court ruling did not require a specific additional sum or even flatly order more money, although that’s the interpretation.

KHOU

A newly proposed bill in the Texas Legislature would outlaw red light cameras in Texas, reports KHOU.

A hearing was held on the measure, which is known as Bill 88, last week. Some Texas law enforcement agencies showed up to oppose the bill; they say stoplight cameras decrease accidents in the intersections where they’re installed.

However others in Texas, including the largest city in the state, disagree. Houston removed its red light cameras several years ago.

James Gibbard / Tulsa World

A group of Oklahoma residents grew upset last week after a Republican Oklahoma lawmaker asked them to fill out a questionnaire that they described as “hateful.”

As KFOR reports, State Rep. John Bennett greeted three Muslim students who recently visited his office in honor of Muslim Day, a celebration of the Islamic faith at the State Capitol. Bennett responded to the students’ visit by handing them a questionnaire.

Tulsa World

As the United States—and the State of Oklahoma—remain mired in fights over women’s rights in the twenty-first century, The Tulsa World has published a reminder of Oklahoma’s past.

Edward A. Ornelas / Austin American-Statesman

A federal court has ruled that Texas Republican Legislators tried to discriminate against voters of color when they redrew district lines in 2011, reports The Austin American-Statesman.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that lawmakers drew a map that intentionally diluted the voting power of Latino and black citizens.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Wildfires that have been sweeping across the heart of cattle country since last weekend could decimate some ranchers’ herds. Fires have been reported in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

The largest of the fires spread from the Oklahoma Panhandle into southwest Kansas, and has consumed more than 800,000 acres of prime grassland. Todd Domer, of the Kansas Livestock Association, says the losses have been devastating.

Kansas Senate commitee approves medical marijuana bill

Mar 12, 2017
iStockphoto

A Kansas Senate committee approved a bill Thursday that would allow doctors and physicians to prescribe and dispense “non-intoxicating” cannabinoid medicine, medicine that’s derived from marijuana.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

High Plains wildfires killed countless numbers of pigs, cattle and other livestock last week.

As Reuters reports, a wildfire killed thousands of hogs at Smithfield Foods, Inc.’s hog farm in Laverne, Okla.

Wildfires also killed close to 2,000 hogs at two of Seaboard Foods’ farms south of Perryton, Texas.

About 1.2 million acres burned in the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and adjacent parts of southwestern Kansas within a 24-hour period last week.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management

As many of the grassfires in Kansas were brought under control by the end of last week, emergency workers and residents began picking up the pieces in Lane County, where an estimated 18,000 acres burned. An estimated 39,000 acres burned in neighboring Hodgeman and Ness counties.

56 mumps cases being reported in Kansas

Mar 12, 2017
Centers for Disease Control / Wikimedia Commons

56 cases of mumps have been reported in Kansas, prompting the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to urge Kansans to take precautions. 

As The Wichita Eagle reports, 56 mumps cases have been reported in Kansas since March 4.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the cases were reported in Atchison, Barton, Crawford, Douglas, Ellis, Finney, Franklin, Johnson, Marshall, Riley, Rooks and Thomas Counties.

Texas Department of Transportation

“Don’t Mess with Texas” is the phrase that has come to symbolize the Lone Star State, more than any other slogan. It’s a source of pride to the state’s residents, and it’s used by people all over the world to poke fun at the bravado and swagger of Texans. But older Texans will remember when the phrase was merely a slogan used to remind Texans not to litter on the highway.

It's all in the perspective

Mar 10, 2017

Last week I wrote about my gardening efforts to encourage black swallowtail butterflies to lay eggs. My hopes were that these would become caterpillar hordes that would munch my fennel and dill until bare stems remained. We’re almost at the naked stick stage, and I’ve learned that folks don’t always see things my way. We’ve had friends and family drop by to enlighten me about my insect cultivation practices.

Luke Clayton

I truly believe that really great anglers are born with an uncanny ability to catch fish or at least the burning desire to learn how to catch fish.  Stubby Stubblefield who resides on the shores of Lake Fork in east Texas is a good case in point.  “Stubby” spent his time as a touring bass pro in his younger years, guided for years for a variety of species and then, about 12 years ago, decided to slow down and concentrate on catching catfish.

A beautifully tough place to live

Mar 10, 2017
Sarah Nishimuta / Woodward News

It's hard for people who don't make their living on a ranch or farm, growing crops, grassland and cattle to understand how this week's fires have devastated residents here.

Last night I had someone who does not live here call me and try to console me by saying, "Well, ash is good for the grass." All I could say to that was "Wha?"

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

What's being called the Starbuck Fire in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma continued to burn on Thursday.

As ABC News in Amarillo reports, Beaver County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Shadden said the fire was about 30 miles long and 25 miles wide as of Thursday morning, as crews continued to work on hot spots and flare-ups from the fire.

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

TOPEKA – Legislation is in the works that would provide tax assistance to farmers, ranchers, homeowners and utilities that have suffered losses from wildfires.

“We are working on it right now. We’re working with the Revisor’s to use similar language that we used last year,” said Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Rocky Mountains can be blamed for the 50 to 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that spread an unprecedented number of wildfires in the Sunflower State and other areas of the High Plains region over the past several days.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, low-pressure areas tend to set up just east of major mountain formations and that routinely occurs in eastern Colorado.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

Farmers are being hailed as heroes in the battle against a northeastern Colorado wildfire that broke out Monday.

As The Denver Post reports, as a wildfire fueled by high winds ripped across farm land northeast of Sterling in Logan County and rapidly approached the small town of Haxtun in Phillips County, farmers from the area drove their tractors to dig fire lines to aid a small army of volunteer firefighters.

Mash them. Hash them. Slice, dice, or fry them. No matter how they're prepared, the potato remains one of the world's most popular side dishes. However, a little research will unearth quite a history.

On this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains, we'll dig up the dirt on this radical root vegetable -- from it's little-known origin story to it's controversial reception across the globe.

Whether whipped into wig dust, carved for a crime, or impaled for juvenile amusement, this shape-shifting spud has certainly seen a lot through its many eyes.

Flickr Creative Commons

Last month was the hottest February on record in Texas, topping every February since record-keeping began in the 19th century, reports The Texas Observer.

This should come as no surprise to West Texans, as some Panhandle counties approached temperatures of 100 degrees in the dead of winter. All-time records were set at weather stations across the state, and this winter is on pace to be the hottest ever in the Lone Star State.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is looking to store water underground, in hopes of staving off future catastrophe.

Steve Sisney / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma has yet another invasive species that’s causing headaches in the state, alongside feral hogs and eastern red cedar. As NewsOK reports, the Bradford pear tree was once confined to front lawns and mall parking lots, but now the tree has broken free and is spreading out into open prairie land.

The tree began to move into unwanted areas 10 years ago. Now the Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council has put the Bradford pear on its invasive species watchlist.

US Census Bureau / Sacramento Bee

California appears to be sending many of its poorer residents to Texas, while taking in wealthier residents from other states, according to The Sacramento Bee.

In the first fifteen years of this century, California lost more people than it gained. But a closer look at the numbers shows an economic trend: The people leaving the Golden State tended to be poorer, and many lacked college degrees.

Todd Wiseman / Becca Aaronson / The Texas Tribune

Republicans in Congress unveiled their healthcare plan this week, and the proposed legislation has many in Texas scratching their heads. As The Texas Tribune reports, the effects of the proposed plan in the Lone Star State are unclear.

Anne Davis 773 / Flickr Creative Commons

A newly proposed law in Oklahoma would allow property owners to shoot down drones flying over their land, reports Ars Technica.

However, the law would conflict with federal legislation that says it’s illegal to shoot at aircraft. The federal law includes drones in its definition of “aircraft.”

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

At least seven deaths, massive losses of land and livestock, are being blamed on wildfires that erupted across the High Plains Monday.

As CNN reports, wildfires across the region consumed more than 1 million acres by Tuesday night and killed people five in Texas, one person in Oklahoma and one person in Kansas.

The fires in the Texas Panhandle claimed at least five lives, including three ranchers who were trying to save their cattle in the Texas Panhandle.

Bob Jagendorf / Wikimedia Commons

Kansas is gaining international attention for a bill that would compensate wrongfully convicted Kansans.

The weekly British newspaper The Economist recently published a story about the bill, which would give wrongfully convicted Kansans $80,000 for each year spent in prison.

HPPR's Living Room Concert Series presents Santa Fe folksinger: DAVID BERKELEY

Live in Amarillo ~ Friday, March 10th
Chalice Abbey (2717 Stanley)
Doors @ 7p | Show @ 7:30p

Suggested Donation: $15
RSVP online or call 806.367.9088

Sihuatl - Mujer - Woman: International Women's Day

Mar 8, 2017
Xánath Caraza / Conjuro - Mammoth Publications, 2012

Sihuatl

By Xánath Caraza

Tlatoli, tlen mo nenemilia ipan to tenshipal.

Ti kamatics campa ne

kuatinijic tlayeyekapa miyotia.

Huan tlaejekapa tlamasi kama ki totomosa no tonal

Ni sasilia to teko tlen ki ajamatij no lalamikilis.

Mujer

By Xánath Caraza

Palabra que se disuelve entre los labios.

Encantamiento de los bosques

con sus aromas más exquisitos.

Viento suave que toca el alma,

susurro de dioses que encanta mi razón.

Water in Native American Ledger Art

Mar 8, 2017
Northern Cheyenne leader Wild Hog / Mandeville Library and Plains Indian Ledger Art Publishing Project

Cheyenne people, who are two nations today, Southern and Northern, live in Oklahoma and Montana. Their 19th century relatives drew glyphic images on hide and then paper, often ledger books obtained from traders. Water in a plains ledger art scenery has importance in surprising ways.

Water is essential for courtship. Young women fetched water for their families every morning and evening, so

references to water suggests trysts. George Bird Grinnell writes about courtship, a woman would appear unchaperoned, “on her way to get wood or water.” The man “stepped up beside her, and threw his arms and his blanket around her, quite covering her person with the blanket. Then he held her fast and began to talk with her.” (Grinnell 1, 132; Wild Hog-Schoyen, plate 9). In an image attributed to Northern Cheyenne leader Wild Hog, a well-dressed man, his braids wrapped in otter fur, wears a bright red blanket. He accosts a woman wearing a fancy belt and dress. Her legs and face are painted red. This is no chance meeting, as both are dressed up. In the image, a blue circle represents a spring or small lake. Dashes lead away from the blue water, which are her steps. The steps meander, indicating the leisurely walk of the courting couple. They are in no rush to part company.

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