News

Michael Gabler / Wikimedia Commons

Texas officials are warning that the pig apocalypse may soon be upon us.

Now, as CBS News reports, Texas is fighting back big time against the rampant proliferation of feral hogs. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller this week approved the use of a pesticide specifically designed to target wild pigs.

Daniel Acker / Bloomberg News

Last week, for the first time ever, the Great Plains derived more power from wind turbines than it did from any other source.

As Bloomberg reports, last Sunday the vast power grid stretching from Montana to the Texas Panhandle reportedly received 52 percent of its energy from wind sources.

KVII

Amarillo is experiencing a small business boom, reports KVII.

David Dickerson, Assistant Director of the Small Business Development Center at West Texas A&M, noted that a number of new locally owned operations have popped up downtown, and in south Amarillo. The Town Square Village on Soncy Road, on the western edge of town, has also seen rapid growth.

According to the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, over 100 new businesses have joined the Chamber since last year.

In search of profit, some conventional farmers may go local

Feb 22, 2017
Bryan Thomas / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

It’s a classic conundrum that comes up every time you’re cleaning out the fridge: the package label says the food is past its prime, but it’s not moldy or smelly.

Do you give it a chance or toss it in the trash?

For a great number of consumers it’s the latter, but now some of the largest food retail trade groups are hoping to settle the score and clear up the confusion in hopes of keeping more food in bellies, rather than sending heaps of food to landfills.

Native American Perspectives on Water

Feb 22, 2017
Frank Henderson / Metropolitan Museum Collection

Denise Low’s grandfather of Delaware Indian heritage was among the dislocated Eastern Natives who settled on the Kansas Plains of the 19th Century.  As one might guess, history and heritage both are important to her story as they are for many Native American poets and writers.

Today, Denise, a former Kansas Poet Laureate and a valued friend to the Radio Readers Book Club, explores shares the thoughts of some of her colleagues around the topic of water.

In the near desert Great Plains, waterways define the land for Native peoples.

Moran's memo: A farm crisis in the High Plains

Feb 21, 2017
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas

As a resident of the community, I was pleased to learn that Manhattan, Kansas, is set to host the first Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill hearing – a fitting location chosen by my colleague Chairman Pat Roberts to kick off formal discussions on the challenges and opportunities in authorizing our next farm bill.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety made a massive bust in the Texas Panhandle last week, reports KVII.

The DPS says that an officer made a routine traffic stop in Carson County on Thursday, in the middle of the afternoon. In the trunk, the trooper found 145 pounds of marijuana, in tape-wrapped packages.

NewsOK.com

The Oklahoma Legislature may soon give public school teachers a raise, reports The Oklahoman.

The proposed law lays out a three-year plan, under which Sooner teachers would receive an increase of $1,000 in the first year. When the three-year term is over, teachers in the state will have seen a total pay increase of $6,000 per year.

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A Kansas mother testified before Kansas lawmakers Monday about legalizing marijuana for medical use.

As KSN reports, Melissa Ragsdale’s 7-year-old son has been using legal hemp oil to relieve symptoms of epilepsy.

Ragsdale, who along with others testified before the Senate’s health and human services committee Monday, said that while her son has improved, more is needed.

KCUR

A bill that would have expanded Medicaid in Kansas was tabled Monday by the House Health and Human Services Committee.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the action effectively ends chances that the bill will be passed this session under legislative deadlines.

Hitchhacking / Flickr Creative Commons

As Colorado’s oil and gas industry begins to recover from one of the hardest downturns in recent memory, some communities have launched fights against proposed projects that they say are larger in scale.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, residents of Garfield County and the cities of Greeley and Broomfield have launched fights against proposed projects.

jeffsmallwood / Flickr Creative Commons

While Texas has garnered national news for its poor treatment of foster kids, Oklahoma has quietly been amassing a far more troubling record.

As The Tulsa World reports, a report has found that Oklahoma had more cases of foster-care abuse and neglect in 2015 than any other state.

Amy Bickel

With their water wells dropping, two farmers from the far southwest corner of Kansas flew a 1967 Cessna Wednesday morning to Topeka – all in support of hemp.

Farmers Darren Buck and Reid Shrauner didn’t have quite the journey as some of their fellow Morton County residents, who left before sunlight to support a bill that they think could boost their county’s struggling economy and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.

Paul Locke / Flickr Creative Commons

Oil and natural gas operations may be linked to childhood cancer, according to a new study by the University of Colorado.

As The Denver Post reports, children who grow up near oil and gas drilling are statistically more likely to contract leukemia between the ages of five and 24. The study was peer-reviewed, and published in an online multidisciplinary journal last week.

CGP Grey / Flickr Creative Commons

Oil prices appear to be rebounding from their slump, leading to optimism in High Plains oil fields.

But, as The New York Times reports, there’s one important element of the recovery that still hasn’t come through: jobs.

Frac sand in demand with uptick in oil rigs

Feb 20, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With an uptick in oil rigs, concerns about the supply of frac sand, the key component of drilling, are also arising.

As Business Insider reports, oil producers have added hundreds of rigs in U.S. oil fields from Texas to North Dakota. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. rig count hit 591, the highest since October of 2015.

Wikimedia Commons

Several agriculture groups are sending letters to President Donald Trump in support of opening up trade, but with the new president’s recent exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership along with his threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, some farmers and ranchers are starting to worry their entire industry will experience collateral damage as a result.

Clinic for refugees opens in Garden City

Feb 20, 2017
City of Garden City, KS

There’s a new clinic in Garden City, Kansas that aims to provide the community’s refugee population with healthcare and language services.  

As the Garden City Telegram reports, Dr. John Birky, CEO of the New Hope Together clinic, said the organization is dedicated to improving the physical, spiritual, and socioeconomic well-being of refugees in the community through healthcare services, English language learning and mutually beneficial relationships.

JONATHAN BAKER / Canyon, Texas

I’m Jonathan Baker, a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’ve been asked to talk a little about this month’s Radio Readers Book Club Read, The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols. I read this book twenty years ago, after a friend of mine got a forearm tattoo of the tequila-toting Latino skeleton illustration from the cover of the book. I figured there must be something worth investigating in Nichols’s novel if my friend, a Jewish agitator from Austin, would get permanent ink dedicated to a story of Chicanos in northern New Mexico. So I read it. And I loved it.

NY - http://nyphotographic.com/

Citizens of Garden City, Kansas and Amarillo, Texas participated in yesterday’s “Day without immigrants” protest, intended to showcase the role immigrants play in the national economy.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, the absentee rate at Garden City public schools Thursday was higher than usual, with 18.5 percent of the district’s 7.713 students absent. And nearby Tyson Fresh Meats, the area's largest employer of immigrants, also reported higher absenteeism, did not provide specific numbers.

KFDA

A celebrated Amarillo teacher has invited President Trump’s new Education Secretary to visit the Texas Panhandle, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Shanna Peeples made news across the country two years ago when she was named the National Teacher of the Year. She was personally given the award by Barack Obama, and had a private lunch with the former president in Washington.

Floflo88 / Wikimedia Commons

An editorial in The Dallas Morning News is calling cattle ranchers “the first casualties of Trump's trade wars.”

Texas State University Journalism Professor Richard Parker noted several ways that Trump’s trade policy may hurt beef markets.

Kansas Geological Survey

Thanks to timely rains last year, Mount Hope-area farmer Jeff Winter figures on some of his fields he pumped half the amount of water that he normally uses to irrigate his crops.

So did many central Kansas farmers. And it showed. 

While the Ogallala Aquifer continues to decline, the Equus Beds and Great Bend Prairie aquifers saw rises as irrigators shut down their wells more often in 2016.

"We didn't have to pump as much, and we shut off more frequently," said Winter, who also is on the Equus Beds board. He added that on a few fields, he pumped even less.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week as he recaps a recent two day outdoor adventure with some good friends.

First, it was trophy blue catfish at Lake Tawakoni in northeastern Texas with guide David Hanson and friends Larry Weishuhn, Rick Lambert (country music singer Miranda Lambert’s dad), and Jeff Rice.

Mud blessings

Feb 18, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

Chinese philosophers are on to something with their Yin and Yang concepts. Light balances dark, silence/noise, joy/sorrow, and in our case, mud offsets dust.

Yes, mud. Icky, gooey, sticky mud. Like cat hair, it latches onto anything it touches, finding its way from roads, yards, and pastures onto shoes and pant legs and into homes. It finds its way into the oddest places—a speckle stuck to a grocery sack, a chunk dropped by the door, a smear on a purse.

City of Garden City, KS

In Kansas, some rural towns are booming while others are dwindling. Garden City, Kan., for instance, attracts people from across the globe. The population is young, growing, and extremely diverse.  And the large immigrant community provides the workforce that fuels the local economy.  None of this happened by accident, as the story notes.  Frank Morris reports.

Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appears to have made a good number of enemies within the agency he’ll soon helm, and he hasn’t even started the job yet.

As The New York Times reports, employees of the Environmental Protection Agency mounted an organized campaign to call their senators and plead that they vote against Pruitt to head the agency.

Water - Dividing or Connecting

Feb 17, 2017
CONNY BOGAARD, Holcomb KS

The Milagro Bean Field War by John Nichols is a story about Mexican farmers reclaiming their lost rights and their lost lands from the hands of evil land developers. The story starts with one individual and his rebellious act to tap into an irrigation system to start a bean field to sustain him and his family. This simple act, of course, is not without consequences. Seeing the farmer and his bean field inspires the neighbors to also stand up against the developers and take back what is theirs. It is a wonderful story about people coming together to fight injustice, as well as the power of one individual to inspire change. 

The story reminds me of a small village in Honduras that I visited on a mission trip not long ago. Our goal was to build a water system to provide clean running water to every household in the village. The problem these villagers had was not the absence of water, or even the loss of their land, but simply the lack of resources because they were poor.  After years of lobbying with their government these people had given up hope that their situation would ever improve. Until one individual saw an opportunity.

Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle

Texas has become the first state to actively throw its support behind President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, reports The Houston Chronicle.

On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief with the 9th circuit court of appeals. The brief formally affirms  Texas's support of Trump’s White House and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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