News

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Some regulatory freezes instituted by President Donald Trump could be damaging to the country’s farm belt, according to some agricultural groups.

As Reuters reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will delay implementation of this year’s biofuels requirements along with 29 other regulations finalized in the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to a government notice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will delay rules affecting livestock.

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A bill that would increase the penalty for texting while driving is gaining traction in Colorado after friends of a couple killed in an accident caused by texting and driving testified at the state capitol.

As The Denver Post reports, friends of Brian and Jacque Lehner, who were killed when a woman who was driving drunk and texting on her phone struck the couple’s motorcycle, told lawmakers Wednesday that it’s time to stiffen the penalties for doing so.

Luke Clayton

The process of curing and smoking ham is easy and something than anyone can accomplish at home.

Quilted treasures

Jan 28, 2017

I’d be the first to tell you I’m not a quilter and unlikely to become one unless catastrophe requires me to recycle old clothing remnants into blankets to warm me or my loved ones in the cold of winter. While I don’t have patience to construct such intricate coverlets, I admire those who do. When our youngest daughter learned to quilt in a high school sewing class, I was thrilled she’d continue a family tradition that has waned since my great-grandmother last sorted through her ragbag to come up with pieces to create a lovely blue and red star heirloom that my mother treasures.

Mattie Hagedorn / Wikimedia Commons

Researchers say U.S. adults only get half their recommended amount of daily fiber. That can cause many of us to reach for “whole grain” breads at the grocery store.

But now, as TIME magazine reports, nutritionists are warning consumers to be careful not to get duped. Not all whole grains are created equal.

Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman

The death of an inmate at the Clements Unit outside of Amarillo is being investigated as a homicide, reports The Amarillo Globe News. The prisoner was initially taken to the medical clinic after an altercation with his cell mate, but medics who treated the man later said they believed he had been the victim of starvation and neglect.

If Only We . . .

Jan 27, 2017
Wayne Hughes, Amarillo

“Water.” Regardless who uses the word it means exactly the same thing in every language.  Without it, we perish before the sun sets on the sixth day without it.  When it is scare, hard to find, we abandon all other pretenses of civilization and seek after it with deadly determination, whether we’re alone in the middle of the desert or a mighty nation whose crops may fail in the coming spring.

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An Oklahoma senator is making yet another attempt to get more money for teachers in the Sooner State. As the Palm Beach Post reports, Senator David Holt has proposed a bill that would give all Oklahoma teachers a $10,000 raise.

Last year, Holt proposed a similar bill that died in the legislature.

Then, last November, Oklahoma voters rejected a one-cent sales tax increase that would have given their teachers raises.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

Lane County farmer Vance Ehmke calls himself one of those guys who sees a dark cloud in front of every silver lining.

Ehmke, who sells certified seed, harvested the best wheat crop of his lifetime in June. But as a glut of grain piled high at many Kansas elevators, commodity prices collapsed, sending producers into a farm crisis not seen since the 1980s.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

MEADE – Off a dirt road on an abandoned farmstead in Meade County, Rex Buchanan searched for a metal pipe hidden in tall weeds.

Back a few decades ago, the search would have taken much longer – almost like finding a needle in a haystack. But GPS pinpointed the location and sure enough – in the middle of the thickest clump – a tube is sticking out of the earth.

Chuck Grimmett / Creative Commons

A surprising number of Republicans support legalization of marijuana.

Quartz reports showed that 60 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana, including 42 percent of Republicans, some of whom live in conservative states or even serve in their state’s legislature.

Texas is among five states with current marijuana reform bills that have been introduced for consideration in upcoming sessions.

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Several Kansas counties could be impacted if President Donald Trump pulls federal funding away from what the Center for Immigration Studies refers to as sanctuary counties.

According to KWCH , six counties in Kansas are considered sanctuary counties by the Center for Immigration Studies - Finney, Butler, Harvey, Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties.

Water and Replenishment

Jan 26, 2017
Karen Madorin - Logan, Kansas

Welcome to High Plains Public Radio Readers Book Club, an on-air, on-line community of readers exploring themes of common interest to those who live and work on the High Plains.  In this, our third Book club series, Water and Replenishment is our theme.   In our region, defined by low precipitation, few running rivers, and aquifers with slow rates of replenishment, water is in great demand.  Can we insure we have enough water -- for cooking and cleaning, for livestock and crops, for feedlots and plants, for reservoirs and swimming pools? for everyone?

From Sea to Desert to Today

Jan 26, 2017
Karen Madorin, 2015

What an irony that a landscape geographers and surveyors titled The Great American Desert first existed as a series of shallow inland seas. Over several geologic periods, vast waters supported varied marine life, etched inlets and beaches, while dissolving and depositing sediment. A hike through the resulting rugged hills and canyons reveals fossils that confirm this. A view of derricks and pump jacks sucking  compressed ancient life to the surface cancels any doubt about this terrain’s origin.

Studying Great Plains geology instructs that Paleozoic and Mesozoic waters deposited the region’s shale, limestone, and sandstone foundations over a period of 480 million years. Once salt waters dried, rains fell and channeled into streams and rivers that etched that soft stone landscape. It left what writer Harry Chrisman calls a ladder of rivers and streams connecting one watershed to another.

“Civilization has been a permanent dialogue between human beings and water.” – Paolo Lugari (Colombia)

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” – W.H. Auden

“Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, From Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In a hog barn in rural Iowa, veterinarian Paul Thomas’s approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig’s back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

“He’s just sleepy,” Thomas says, and by the time he’s spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

In the next room, Thomas hears something different.

Grace Hood / Harvest Public Media

Update 1/25/2017: The Agricultural Research Service rescinded its initial directive in an email to employees Tuesday evening.

We've all seen them.

Those curious mirrored balls, perched among the pansies, gracing the gladiolas, and reflecting a fish-eye panorama of the garden in which it resides?

Well, these ocular orbs have a long history! On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll round out your knowledge of these garden globes, including a personal story of how I acquired my own.  

Deborah Cannon / Austin American-Statesman

The Texas Senate Finance Committee held its first hearing of the new session this week, and things got off to an unusual start when the subject of school funding was broached.

Republican Chairwoman Jane Nelson appointed state Sen. Larry Taylor to lead the education group, then promptly directed Taylor to forget existing school finance law. Instead, Nelson said Taylor should propose an entirely new system of funding public schools in Texas.

“Start with a clean state,” Nelson said, “and look at how to fix the system.”

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There are 313,000 victims of human trafficking in the state of Texas, according to a new groundbreaking study by the University of Texas. That puts the number of human trafficking victims in the state at fifty percent larger than the entire population of Amarillo. As The Austin American-Statesman reports, 80,000 of those victims are minors involved in sex trafficking.

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This week the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the State of Texas that would have restored the state’s controversial voter ID law.

As The New York Times reports, Chief Justice John Roberts left the door open for the Supreme Court to consider the case after further proceedings in the lower courts.

The Oklahoman

The number of new oil rigs has soared recently in Oklahoma, as well as nationwide, The Tulsa World reports.

The rise of the rigs can be attributed to recent optimism in the oil and natural gas sectors.

According to the oilfield service company Baker Hughes, the number of rigs in the U.S. jumped by 35 this week. That’s the largest weekly gain in almost five years. Oklahoma added seven new rigs.

Passport issuance delays expected through 2018

Jan 25, 2017

If you’re planning a vacation outside of the U.S. this year and are needing to either get a passport or renew one beforehand, it might be wise to start that process very soon.

As The Huffington Post reports, the U.S. State Department has issued warnings about a big increase in passport renewals and applications through 2018.

In an effort to improve emergency response for structure fires in and around Hays, the Hays Fire Department and Ellis County Rural Fire Department recently joined forces for a new automatic aid agreement.

Grace Hood / Harvest Public Media

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s main research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), received an email from the division’s chief of staff ordering them to stop publicizing their work.

“Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents,” the email from Sharon Drumm reads, in part. “This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Colorado is being sued by an environmental group over the state’s controversial plan to kill mule deer predators.

San Antonio Express News

Nuclear power plants could be on their way out of the Lone Star State. As the San Antonio Express-News notes, Texas’ nuclear fleet is confronting some of the same issues that have led to plant closings in other states.

The main reason? The success of wind power, combined with oil market oversaturation due to fracking technology.

Norman Transcript

Many employers in Oklahoma have begun to push back against state cuts to higher education.

Last year, higher education funding in Oklahoma was slashed by more than $150 million. The cuts amounted to 16 percent of the overall state budget for higher ed.

Now, as the Norman Transcript reports, some Oklahoma businesses are done sitting on the sidelines.

American Life League / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend, Texas had plans to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds in the state. But that plan was blocked late last week by a federal judge, who postponed the ruling on whether the women’s health care provider should be removed from Medicaid coverage.

The funding ouster was initially planned for this past Saturday the 21st. But, as Texas Monthly reports, a federal court now says Planned Parenthood can continue to receive funding until Feb. 21st, while the court deliberates further.

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The hearing impaired, among others, can now text 9-1-1 in emergencies. 

As The Prowers Journal reports, the Prowers County Emergency Telephone Authority now offers that option as an integrated service to its 9-1-1 network and 9-1-1 equipment.

There are certain situations that call for a text to 9-1-1 rather than a call.

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