News

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Over the past few years hundreds of teacher have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. This mass exodus of teachers has left the state desperate to fill the empty classrooms, reports member station KOSU. One such teacher said he’s bringing in $30,000 more per year, along with his wife, teaching in Arkansas. He thinks the reason Arkansas pays more is because their taxes are higher. “The difference in Oklahoma,” he said, “is tax cut, tax cut, tax cut.”

Yahoo News

Oil has become incredibly plentiful and cheap recently. So cheap, in fact, that at least one company has suggested that buyers should be paid to take a certain type of low-quality crude. The company is owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Laura Buckman / New York Times

Texas is a place where wealth is often measured in acres instead of dollars. And for the past several decades, land prices have followed the price of oil. But oil prices have now collapsed from more than $100 a barrel 18 months ago, to a mere $29 a barrel. And The New York Times reports that some investors are seeing the oil bust as a real estate opportunity.

Huffington Post

Measured against his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp has been spending far more taxpayer dollars on mailouts to promote his own legacy. According to The Hutchinson News, Huelskamp’s tab for mailings and other mass communications added up to almost $120,000 of taxpayer money. And that’s just over just a nine-month period of last year.

Daily Beast

There’s good news for coffee lovers, according to The Daily Beast’s “Daily Burn” column. Science has been going back and forth for centuries about whether coffee is good for you. Back in the 1500s, java was even blamed for promiscuous behavior.

Public Domain

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Health policy experts say Congress unlikely to approve extension of full federal funding.

With full federal funding for expanding Medicaid set to expire at the end of this year, President Barack Obama is proposing to indefinitely extend the health law provision for any of the 19 states — including Kansas and Missouri — that have not yet adopted the enhanced eligibility.

Creative Commons

The U.S. has two long traditions that have recently been battling for the public heart. We are a nation of immigrants, a melting pot, and we have a long history of welcoming refugees with open arms. But we also have another tradition, of locking down our borders from fear of outsiders.

arbyreed / Creative Commons

The federal government’s Clean Power Plan has caused a seismic shift in the way High Plains states approach their energy policy. The plan, unveiled last year,    gives states flexibility to achieve its mandates for reducing pollution. It sets ambitious but achievable goals. And it allows states to meet these goals in creative ways, instead of dictating the methods. The Clean Power Plan also provides credits for innovative ideas.

getplants4less.com

The staff of the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Central Texas introduced me to the Growing Wild Butterfly Gardening Program, and gave me an opportunity to observe some of their beautiful butterfly habitats.  This week we’ll take a look at some butterfly gardening basics provided by the Texas parks and Wildlife Department and the Urban Fish and Wildlife Program.

Here's a list of recommended plants:  black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, curly parsley, Indian blanket, mealy blue sage, purple cone flower, dill, lemon mint and scarlet sage.

KFOR.com

A well-known resident of an Oklahoma nature reserve has been killed, reports KFOR. Visitors to the J.T. Nickel Preserve near Tahlequah were often greeted by an 8-year-old bull elk, known as “Hollywood.” But last week someone illegally poached Hollywood. His carcass was found, but his head was missing.

Caden Crawford / Creative Commons

Kansas has one of the highest grocery sales tax rates in the country. And the high taxes are causing Kansans to cross over into other states when they shop, says The Shawnee Dispatch. Critics have long complained that the high sales tax rate hurt the finances of low-income families. But now, it’s also putting the pinch on rural grocery stores and local governments, according to a new study.  In 2013, Kansas lost almost $350 million in food sales.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The massive Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal could require some countries to accept more genetically engineered crops.

The TPP is the largest free trade agreement in history, and while not yet approved by Congress, includes the U.S. and 11 other countries along the Pacific Ocean. 

StateImpact Oklahoma

Last week more than 300 angry residents packed an Edmond, Oklahoma, ballroom to voice concerns over a dramatic rise in earthquakes. Now 14 Edmond residents have filed a lawsuit against a dozen oil and gas companies, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. The lawsuit claims the companies acted negligently. It asserts that companies’ use of disposal wells constitutes an “ultrahazardous activity” that “causes or contributes” to earthquakes.

Christopher Connelly / KERA

Meteorologists say basements are one of the best places to take shelter during a tornado. But for some reason, Texas has a woeful lack of basements, according to KUT Austin. Some say the lack of cellars is due to the expansive soil in Texas. When Texas dirt gets wet, it swells. Then it shrinks again in the summer. That makes building basements difficult.

www.examiner.com

By a generation, I missed wearing flour sack clothing. After drying dishes with Grandma’s treasured dishtowels that originated as such containers, I was relieved the Depression was over so I didn’t have to dress in something that started as a bag. However, over decades as I’ve listened to stories of those who did, I realize I missed making memories that people still talk about 70 to 80 years after the fact.

Caninest / Flickr Creative Commons

Colorado officials are resisting a new wolf policy, reports ABC News. The federal government is expanding plans to restore endangered Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest. The attempt to import the predators has now spread to Colorado. About 110 Mexican gray wolves already roam portions of Arizona and New Mexico.

Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has announced a new unit dedicated to combating human trafficking, reports The Texas Tribune. Texas has the second-highest trafficking victim population of any state. Last year Texas had 330 cases of human trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Aaron Marineau / Kansas Agland

Two cattle mutilation cases in McPherson and Harvey counties have law enforcement officials still searching for answers – even delving into cases from more than 40 years ago.

NATURE PHOTOGRAPHERS LTD./ALAMY

Clay Cooper signed the first Lesser Prairie-Chicken conservation plan in Texas, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service "Working Lands for Wildlife" partnership -- an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Creative Commons

Researchers at Princeton University have discovered a disturbing trend. This century is witnessing an increase in mortality of middle-aged white men and women, according to The Center for Rural Affairs. The news comes after decades of progress in white mortality rates.

Filipa Rodrigues / KUT news

A very old craft is taking on some contemporary qualities, reports Texas Standard. It’s called modern quilting, and it’s inspired by modern art. Traditional quilts have followed a column and row format. But new, modern quilters are changing that pattern up.

Norihiro Kataoka / Texas Tribune

A group of Texas officials, including eleven Republican state legislators, are making a new effort to put a stop to high-speed rail travel in Texas.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

New federal guidelines for healthy eating announced Thursday do not urge Americans to eat less meat, delivering a big win to Midwest meat farmers and ranchers.  

USDA.gov

From Kansas Agland:

ELKHART – The Cimarron National Grassland implemented an emergency closure of part of its property in December after seven cattle were found dead.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Driving an oilfield truck in Oklahoma can be deadly, reports member station KGOU. In the past eight years, 36 people in the state have died in crashes involving trucks hauling oilfield wastewater and equipment. According to recent data, seven percent of all truck companies licensed for oil-field work in Oklahoma have been involved in fatal accidents.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Rick Perry has a new job. The former Texas governor and presidential candidate is working with the largest privately held dental insurance company in the country. The company, MCNA Dental, was also the top donor to Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign.

kansascyclist.com

There was a time that I found rumble strips—you know, those zig-zaggy indentions down the middle and sides of highways—to be nothing but obnoxious. They make terrible sounding vibrations when crossed, regardless of whether drivers intend to pass over them or not. They remind me of a dentist using the big drill to grind out a chunk of old filling. My feelings about those asphalt irritations changed the day those rough-carved asphalt concaves saved not only my life but my mom’s. Since then, I’ve new respect for that once disturbing noise.

Luke Clayton

More than 50,ooo people from across the globe streamed into the Dallas Convention Center last weekend to attend the granddaddy of all outdoor expos reports KERA News.  The Dallas Safari Club's Annual Convention is a place  you can find smokers, custom boots, leather cell phone cases, electric buggies, four-wheelers, insulated deer blinds, taxidermy services, hunting trips, guns, and High Plains Outdoors' Luke Clayton.  

Luke says you need a couple days and a good GPS to find your way around.  He found a few of his friends, and talked with them about their products.    

Last year Governor Sam Brownback ordered an investigation to see if Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri were involved in selling fetal tissue. Brownback said he'd block Medicaid funding because of this reason. A recent report from the Board of Healing Arts seems to vindicate the organization.

nps.gov

The Kansas House budget committee has decided to make nice with the state’s judicial branch, reports The Hutchinson News. The committee has introduced a bill to eliminate a budget provision that was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. Controversy erupted in 2014 when the Kansas Legislature adopted a bill to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to select district court judges.

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