News

Kansas net farm income rebounds somewhat, but ag economy continues to slump

May 30, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS CC0

Kansas average net farm income rebounded somewhat last year to $43,161 from a dismal stretch the previous year when income fell to $6,744 – the lowest in 30 years. 

Other areas of the state were more affected by the slumping farm economy. In northwest Kansas, farmers averaged $389 and south-central farms averaged a loss of $5,352.

Meanwhile, southeast Kansas farms fared better than in other areas, with average net farm income of $109,344.

Northeast Kansas income averaged $48,197, southwest at $39,615 and north-central at $34,205.

www.kansastravel.org

What do General George Armstrong Custer, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok have in common?  They were all at Fort Hays in its early years and they will all be returning to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Historic Fort Hays at the “Salute to Fort Hays, 150 Years Guarding the Plains” event on June 17 and 18.

NTSB/Amarillo.com

The National Travel Safety Board has released documents related to a massive train collision last year that occurred outside of Panhandle, Texas. The accident resulted in the deaths of two train conductors and an engineer.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Among the many battles between the Texas House and Senate during the past session, one of the most acrimonious involved the Senate’s wish to slash funding for disabled children in Texas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a staunch supporter of cutting funding for speech, physical and occupational therapy services for kids with disabilities, calling the programs wasteful. Speaker of the House Joe Straus was hoping to restore that funding this session.

Shawn Sheehan / The Washington Post

Low teacher pay in Oklahoma has led to a high-profile defection. This week Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year announced he’s moving to Texas.

Shawn Sheehan currently teaches special education in Norman, and in addition to winning the award last year he was also a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

Sheehan says he loves teaching, and wouldn’t want to do anything else, but he just can’t do it in Oklahoma anymore. As a result, he and his wife have accepted positions in Texas, where teachers are paid at much higher rates.

JUSTIN1569 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

You’ve got about nine minutes’ warning before a tornado strikes – except in Kansas. But a recently passed federal law is aimed at improving that.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, a review of warnings issued by National Weather Service meteorologists shows that the average lead time given to the U.S. public on tornado warnings dropped from 15 minutes in 2015 to nine minutes in 2016.

In Kansas, however, the average lead time increased from 13.7 minutes in 2007 to 14.26 today.

MICHAEL GABLER / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A window in time has been discovered in Stanton County, Kansas, one that dates back some 10,000 years and involves bison and Paleoindians, Native Americans' ancient ancestors.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, in 2002, an archaeology team from the University of Kansas dug out a portion of Bear Creek in Stanton County that revealed bison skeleton, all bunched up shoulder to shoulder, stretching nearly half the length of a football field.

What was found provided a window in time that points to human daring.

Colorado teachers to receive gun training

May 29, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Colorado teachers will soon receive gun training, which is being welcomed by school officials in rural areas who say teachers and others need to be trained to stop armed assailants since local law enforcement easily could be miles and miles away.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

Forget that trip to Disneyland with the family this summer.

Instead, more people should try to see Kansas through Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe’s eyes.

These two Kansas promoters see every town as a unique theme park that folks can travel to this summer.

“For those people who have explorer attitudes, Kansas has an infinite amount of spots to go,” said Penner, director of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation. “Little things add up to a great adventure.”

Kansas Department of Corrections

Nearly 150 mental health inmates currently held at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility will be transferred to the El Dorado Correctional Facility, as part of plan to convert the former into a medium-security prison.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Lawmakers in Texas are fed up with educators having sex with students.

The number of teachers having inappropriate relationships with their students has been rising, and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt has even called the problem a “statewide plague.”

KFOR

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is growing  frustrated with the slow pace of criminal justice reform in her state.

As KFOR reports, last week Fallin lamented the fact that 10 separate criminal-justice bill had failed to make it to her desk.

Oil prices dropped five percent last week after OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to cut oil supplies at a level less than investors were expecting.

Texas Legislature passes $217 billion two-year budget

May 28, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Texas lawmakers approved a $217 billion, two-year budget Saturday.

As The Texas Tribune reports, both chambers of the Texas Legislature voted to approve the budget, which will boost funding for the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency and avoid serious reforms to the state’s much-criticized school finance system.

The budget is shored up by $1 billion from the state’s savings account and $2 billion from a pot of funding intended for highway projects.

Hickenlooper signs Colorado budget into law

May 28, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With a stroke of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pen, Colorado’s $26.8 billion budget that boosts school funding, averts cuts to hospitals and secures funding for a new state-led program to combat homelessness, was signed into law Friday.

As The Denver Post reports, the final version of the bill includes a $185 per-pupil increase in education funding and $15 million new spending on an affordable housing program aimed at helping the homeless,

Psychedelic garden guard

May 28, 2017
NATURE.MDC.MO.GOV

In the past week, I met a garden neighbor.  Apparently, this blue/green juvenile racerunner lizard moved from his burrow or wherever his last digs were into my 12 x 18 foot raised-bed garden.  Our hilltop is too rocky to support an in-ground garden, so we had to create our own little haven for tomatoes, peppers, onions, and okra.  Mr. Psychedelic must enjoy the insects that also call the Salsa in the Makings Ranch home, and he is now di ning al fresco under the tomato vines.

Luke Clayton

In a matter of days, Luke will be heading north to Iskwatikan Lake Lodge to join a few friends for five days of fishing, cooking and eating fish and enjoying the pristine wilderness country.

A trip to this area is well within the means of most people. Tune in and learn how to plan your trip of a lifetime!

Cassandra Pollock/Alexa Ura / Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers finally approved a budget this weekend, but the news was overshadowed by the rancorous issue of rights for trans Texans. This session, the so-called “bathroom bill” that targets transgender citizens has dominated the headlines. As of Saturday the Legislature remains locked in a stalemate over the matter, reports The Texas Tribune.

NewsOK.com

Late Tuesday night, as the clock struck midnight, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced two budget bills that had been eagerly awaited for weeks.

As The Oklahoman reports, one of the bills includes funding for teacher pay raises, and the other doesn’t. The bills were introduced at 11:14 p.m., and the House budget committee had 46 minutes to approve them before midnight, to meet a procedural deadline. Legislators now have a few days to review the bills.

Reynaldo Leal / Texas Tribune

A little-noticed bill in the Texas Legislature has drawn the attention—and the alarm—of health care professionals.

As The Texas Tribune reports, House Bill 3236 would speed up the process by which promising, experimental drugs can get into the hands of terminally ill patients.

On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I've decided to thaw out an old memory of a particularly harsh winter and the devastation of vegetation that it brought to our region.

But don't worry! It's not all frozen ground and brittle branches. This is a story that celebrates the pioneer spirit of the Plains. Despite nature's cruel cull during the winter of '91, what sprouted from the loss was a renewed sense of stewardship, community, and loving memorial. 

Wikimedia Commons

TOPEKA – Sen. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City, will try to ax a proposed $120 annual charge to water right owners to finance public schools.

“It has nothing to do with utility bills,” Estes said at the Monday afternoon meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance.

Senate Bill 251 contains the Senate’s proposed school finance formula and it would levy a $2.25 monthly charge on residential water, electric and natural gas bills. For non-residential customers, the monthly charge would be $10 on each of the three utilities.

Kansas Public Radio

The filing deadline isn’t until next June. But candidates already are lining up for what could be the toughest job in Kansas: succeeding Gov. Sam Brownback.

Four hopefuls are at least tentatively in the race and several more are thinking about getting in, including some Republican heavyweights.

Who?

Well, Kansas Secretary of State and political lightning rod Kris Kobach for one. Interviewed at the Kansas Republican Party’s state convention earlier this year, he said, “I am taking a very serious look at the governor’s race.”

Typically dry Arkansas River flowing water, for now

May 24, 2017
Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

There has been a rare sight in the normally dry Arkansas River south of Garden City lately – flowing water.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, as much as two feet of water has been running through the normally dried out river bed – the result of wetter weather conditions upstream.

Laura Skelding / Texas Tribune

Earlier this week we reported on how Dan Patrick, the Texas Lt. Gov., was threatening to send the state Legislature into a special session if the state House of Representatives didn’t approve the so-called “bathroom” bill, as well as a measure that would make it difficult for communities to raise property taxes.

Creative Commons

A bill that would place a statewide ban on texting while driving in Texas has cleared the Texas Senate, KUT reports.

The measure outlasted a last-ditch effort by the Senate to substantially weaken the bill. It now moves forward in its original form, back to the House, where it’s expected to be approved again as no changes have been made. Then, the bill will head to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, where it will become law barring a veto by Abbott.

Anonymous Cow / Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to labor force growth and rates of certain crimes, Amarillo doesn’t measure up to similar cities, according to a new study reported by The Amarillo Globe-News.

The study, from a group called Avalanche Consulting, found that Amarillo has more violent crime and property crime than comparable cities like Lubbock, Chattanooga, and Rochester, Minnesota.

ABBIE FENTRESS SWANSON / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country’s most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Today on High Plains Morning, we had Scott Stine live in the studio to talk about the Bad Magik Musik Fest that takes over Sam Houston Park this SATURDAY from noon to 9p. It's famliy-friendly, dog-welcoming, and features community-minded local vendors, artists, food, and fun.

Flickr Creative Commons

Yesterday HPPR looked at the balance of power among Republicans and Democrats in state legislatures across the High Plains. Today we thought we’d have a look at the tally when it comes to governorships and national officeholders in our listening region.

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