News

Sales at farmers markets are slowing dramatically, but that's not necessarily bad news for farmers.

Liberty Theater (Amarillo Downtown, Inc.) / myhighplains.com

The Liberty Theater could be getting a chance at a second life reports Channel Four News in Amarillo. 

The historic theater was built in 1921.  It was the only place African-Americans were welcome.

It’s been vacant for years, but a group of people are working to redevelop the building into a place for artists to perform.

kscorn.com/

Hundreds of corn farmers across the state of Kansas attended Corn School this year reports Seedbuzz.  If you wonder what producers learn at corn school, here are some lessons they took away:

  • You have to soil test.  David Mengel is a soil fertility specialist at KSU.  He shared this quote from North Dakota counterparts, "Producers would not dare go to the field without checking the oil in their tractor engine. One should approach soil testing in the same manner."
     

Diana Krall chose, once again, to do the unexpected with her latest release.  ‘Wallflower’ is a collection of some of the most iconic pop tunes from the 60’s and 70’s- Eagles, Elton John, Beatles, Crowded House and more.  Given the choice of material, the choice of David Foster as producer and arranger is an inspired one. We will take a trip down memory lane with ‘Wallflower’ this week on High Plains Morning.  

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

When Jon Slutsky’s dairy farm in Wellington, Colo. is fully staffed, it’s a moment to celebrate. A full roster of employees at Slutsky’s La Luna Dairy is rare these days.

“We’re doing really well with our employee base,” Slutsky said. “A year ago, we couldn’t say that. We were short.”

With the farm’s 1,500 cows waiting to be milked, Slutsky and his wife Susan Moore felt panicked, worried they didn’t have enough hands on deck to milk about 200 cows per hour.

coloradopreservation.org/

2016 is the centennial year of the National Park Service.  President Obama’s budget request for the coming year includes $3 billion for the bureau’s critical conservation, preservation, and recreation mission reports the Lamar Ledger.  That’s a boost of almost $433 million.

The national parks in southeastern Colorado plan on using the increase to add seasonal park rangers, deliver more educational programs, and address maintenance backlogs.

Alexa Roberts is the superintendent of Bent’s Old Fort and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic sites.  She says the President’s budget highlights the importance of investing in a historic effort to attract and host more visitors.  It also helps leverage additional private philanthropy for the parks. 

ninetyone.canby.k12.or.us

Kansas is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to kids taking advantage of the Summer Food Service Program.  Only 7 percent of eligible children participate.  That’s the lowest in the nation reports the Hays Daily News.

One reason for dismal participation rates in a state where one out of every four children live in poverty could be the lack of serving sites. 

The Kansas State Department of Education reports there are 40 counties statewide with no serving site.  The only counties in northwest Kansas with summer programs are Ellis, Russell, and Smith counties. 

endorevblog.com

Fans of the Pulitzer Prize winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” know Harper Lee is planning to release an unexpected sequel to the famous story later this year.  But, you may not know the private author has ties to the Sunflower State reports KSN.

Before she was internationally recognized for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee spent some time in Garden City working on another famous book.

Laurie Oshel is the assistant director of Finney County Historical Society.  She says, “Lee came to Garden City in late 1959, early 1960 with Truman Capote.”

pintrest.com

A look at the history and development of one of the largest plant groupings in the world.  As with many other life forms, these fragile tropical plants are facing a questionable future in the wild, which makes their development in botanical gardens, protected areas, and commercial outlets all the more valuable.

newschannel10.com

Hundreds of people in Amarillo are now receiving health care who normally would not be able to afford it reports Madison Alewel for NewsChannel 10.

Heal the City is a free clinic in the San Jacinto neighborhood.  It’s open every Monday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The clinic is the brainchild of Dr. Alan Keister. After making several medical missions to Central America, Keister knew there was a mission to complete right here in Amarillo.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A Kansas Senate committee is looking at rewriting part of the public school funding formula. The Legislature passed a bill increasing one type of school aid last year, but when it was all said and done, the cost had risen beyond their initial estimates. Kansas Public Radio’s Stephen Koranda reports the bill would change how it's calculated and reduce that type of education spending by $40 million dollars.

A refresher course on Zilmax.

wsj.com

No-till farming is a practice where plant material is left to shield the soil and to decay.  A process that produces valuable nutrients.  It also increases production and water content in soil, and requires fewer input costs says Scott Ravenkamp.  He’s a farmer from the eastern Colorado town of Hugo. 

This report comes from Kansas AgLand.

Lance Feikert no-till farms near Bucklin, Kansas, southeast of Dodge City.  He estimates only about one-fourth of the land around him is no-till.

thepoliticalinsider.com

Kansas Rep. Tom Sloan is trying to piece together a Medicaid expansion proposal he hopes Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP conservatives might consider according to the Kansas Health Institute

The moderate Republican from Lawrence is borrowing elements from other conservative governors that have received or are seeking federal approval for more private-sector approaches.

The state’s budget shortfalls won’t make things any easier.  The bill has to find a way to cover the state’s share of expansions costs for several years. 

gunwatch.blogspot.com

There are several bills allowing Texans to openly carry handguns facing the legislature this session.  But, they have some challenges reports the Amarillo Globe News

State Rep. John Smithee is the senior lawmaker in the Texas Panhandle delegation.  He says, “There’s two issues:  one is how strict your licensing is, and two is where you could take your open carry and what restrictions would be placed upon it.”

The Amarillo Republican says he hasn’t take a formal position on the matter yet.

Smithee doesn’t expect lawmakers to debate the proposed bills until March. 

J.N. Stuart/Flickr Commons

The lack of fire as a management tool on the Great Plains has permitted indigenous and foreign woody plants to encroach on prairie grasslands, reducing Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat. Through the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative, NRCS can help producers and range managers remove woody invasive species – through burning, cutting and spraying. We tell one Oklahoma Panhandle rancher's experience participating in the NRCS initiative.

PARTICIPANTS:

Jordan Shearer
Beaver Co. Rancher
Slapout, OK

Megan Verlee / cpr.org

As of yesterday there’s only one place in Colorado for undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license reports Colorado Public Radio.

The licensing program is funded by an extra fee charged on undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses, but the DMV needs approval from the legislature’s budget committee before spending the money its collected.

If an Oklahoman has a serious mental illness and gets arrested for a nonviolent crime, whether he goes to prison or gets enrolled in a diversion program largely depends on where they live reports KGOU.

Only 16 counties in the state have mental health courts.  The only two in Western Oklahoma are in the southern counties of Comanche and Cotton according to the Oklahoma Government website.

The virus that devastated hog farms last year could be slowing down, and that could mean lower prices at the grocery store.

theguardian.com

Watching how much my toddler granddaughter loves books reminds me of a seven-year-old,  toothpick-legged child who thought she was a big girl when her momma handed her anallowance on Saturday mornings. Along with that shiny dime, that little girl’s mother permitted her to trek uptown-- first to the dime store and then to the library. The coin was spent in no time.  It took much longer to wander up and down the bookshelf aisles searching for the perfect three or four titles to carry home so she could escape into those well-turned pages for a week of exciting adventure.

kansasagnetwork.com

Feral hogs are expanding their range, and now reside in more than 40 states.  They cause about $1.5 billion in damage every year reports Kansas Agland.

Charlie Lee is a wildlife management for Kansas State University Research and Extension.  He says the pigs damage crops, can kill young livestock and wildlife, destroy property, damage plant communities, and can carry diseases that threaten livestock.

That’s why the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, wants to reduce feral hog damage on a national level.

agrilife.org

Some of the deadliest jobs in the nation are in rural places.  The Washington Post reports lumberjacks, fisherman, and pilots run the greatest risk at work.  In general, people who work with heavy machinery like combines, oil rigs, or tractors are a good deal of danger.

Farming, ranching, truck driving is about twice as hazardous as being a police officer. 

Transportation accidents account for 40 percent of all deaths on the job.

Tom Roeder / gazette.com

The Pueblo Chemical Depot is working to destroy America’s largest stockpile of Cold War-era mustard gas shells reports the Gazette.

The depot plans to blast its first shell with its explosive destruction system in March.  There are almost 800,000 rounds stored at the 23,000-acre depot.

There are plans to expand operations next year.  A separate plant costing $725 million should be at full bore by that time.  It will render more than 55 chemical shells harmless every hour, 24 hours a day.

thewildbeat.com

This week, Luke discusses some of his views on hunting on HIGH PLAINS OUTDOORS. It's important for hunters to show respect for the animals and birds that they hunt. Granted, wild hogs are a problem for many in the south and southeast but swine, for many decades have been a staple food source. Even though wild hogs present problems to landowners, they are still animals and, as wild hogs, game animals. They should be treated with respect by hunters.

The Southwest Information Office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A recent study shows Oklahoma women are among the lowest full-time wage earners in the country reports KGOU

Oklahoma tied with Louisiana for the bottom spot.  Women in those states make an average of $591 per week.  That’s 78 percent of the median weekly earnings of their male counterparts.

Looking at the listening region:

texastribune.org

Despite concerns that the undocumented immigrant population in Texas is growing, it’s remained stable in recent years reports the Texas Tribune. 

In fact, more than half of the state’s undocumented immigrants have lived in Texas for more than 10 years according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.

Texas has the second-largest undocumented immigrant population in the country—about 1.5 million people.  California has about twice as many.

Yields are expected to be as good as last year, but commodity crop prices will make it a hard season to survive.

Houseplant Basics

Jan 28, 2015
countrysideindustries.com/

A look at some of the most popular and easiest houseplants to keep you in greenery for the cold season.  Skip looks at the four basics needs of a healthy houseplant, and how to create a suitable environment in often overheated winter homes. 

eustis.org

Colorado had the biggest proportional unemployment drop in the nation reports the Denver Post.  The rate lowered from 6.2 percent to 4 percent in 2014.

Colorado added 62,300 jobs.  That’s the nation’s best job gain.

Alexandra Hall is the labor department’s chief economist.  She says the state’s high diversified economy will help the state weather low oil prices—at least for a while.

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