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Washington Post

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were good times for the High Plains. Back then, much of the rural plains was growing rapidly. But, as The Washington Post reports, much of America’s rural farm country has been depopulating for a very long time. In fact, more than half of the counties in the nation are in population decline. That means their peaks are long behind them.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Texas is one of only nine states where you can still vote a straight ticket, notes The Texas Tribune. That means, voters in the Lone Star State are still able to go into the voting booth and select a single party, thus voting for each of that party’s candidates straight down the ballot. Straight-ticket voting generally benefits the party in power—in Texas’s case, the Republicans.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Despite a delayed wheat harvest this year, Oklahoma may be looking at one of the strongest ingatherings in recent memory, reports KGOU. That’s because heavy rains caused the delay. For the second year in a row, Mother Nature was kind to Oklahoma farmers. Nevertheless, many farmers are still recovering from years of drought that only recently retreated. Even worse: Some climatologists warn the drought might be returning soon.

Reuters

In a time when technology so often seems to be tearing us apart, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of how the internet can bring us together. The ride-sharing services known as Lyft and Uber recently left Austin in protest of strict local regulations about who could drive for the companies.

Andrew Whitaker / Hutchinson News

The annual wheat harvest has begun in Kansas. Kansas Agland captured farmers Brett Mott and Russell Molz cutting wheat and delivering it to the grain elevator. Photos by The Hutchinson News's Andrew Whitaker.

National Park Service/CPR

It looks like Western Colorado may be sitting on quite a bit more energy than experts believed. In fact, as Colorado Public Radio reports, the western part of the state has 40 times more natural gas than previously thought. However, it’s unlikely the extra gas will produce another oil boom, as tapping the energy would only send prices lower.

amarillo.com

A man who devoted his life to dance and the arts in the Texas Panhandle has died, reports Amarillo.com. Neil Hess joined the outdoor musical drama Texas in its inaugural year, serving as choreographer. He later worked his way up to directing the beloved musical, running the show from 1985 until 2001.

kmuw.org

An Oklahoma environmental group recently filed a lawsuit seeking to force oil companies to reduce the wastewater fueling the earthquakes that have ravaged the state. But now, Oklahoma oil and gas companies are asking a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

akronohio.gov

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The Obama administration on Wednesday moved to sharply limit short-term health insurance plans, which a growing number of consumers have been buying even though they offer less coverage than what the Affordable Care Act decreed all people should have.

Tom Corser / Wikimedia Commons

A controversial transmission line that would carry wind power to the east from Kansas is gaining more support, reports The Wichita Eagle. The 780-mile Grain Belt Express line will transmit wind power from western Kansas across Missouri and further eastward. And now a group representing Missouri municipal utilities has signed up for space on the transmission line.

Travis Morrisse / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

Kansas net farm income in 2015 hit a 30-year low, reaching a level not seen since the 1980s farm crisis.

Accrual net farm income across 1,159 Kansas Farm Management Association farms averaged $4,568, drastically down from a five-year average of $120,000.

Center for Disease Control Public Health Image Library

It’s a tiny virus, visible only with an electron microscope, but it could wreak major havoc this summer if it’s not contained. As the weather warms and mosquitos arrive, the Zika virus could spread further through Texas, The Houston Chronicle reports.

fertilome.com

It’s looking like the weed-killer atrazine is in for a long uphill battle, reports Politico. The EPA recently assessed the widely sprayed substance as harmful to animals and plants. But last week agriculture industry groups charged that the federal agency’s study is based on a misguided scientific review.

Continental Resources/WSJ

Even with today’s low oil prices, producers are still finding places where they can profitably drill. In Oklahoma and West Texas, notes The Wall Street Journal, some companies are still managing to thrive in today’s struggling oil economy. One area of Oklahoma known as the Stack, for example, is still producing solid returns.

Getty Images/WSJ

If you’re feeling unproductive at work, maybe you should consider standing up. Stand-up desks have been gaining popularity in recent years. The newest trend is something called a “stand-capable” desk. That’s a desk that can be converted to standing or sitting positions. And a new study reported in The Wall Street Journal shows that these desks often increase productivity.

Kristi Koser / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

At the grocery store, processed foods like cereal, crackers and candy usually maintain the same price for a long time, and inch up only gradually. Economists call these prices “sticky” because they don’t move much even as some of the commodities that go into them do.

Take corn, for example, which can be a major food player as a grain, a starch or a sweetener.  

There's a new study out. It shows that health providers in states that expanded Medicaid are doing much better than providers in states that didn't expand the program.

Andrew Whitaker / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

STAFFORD – They aren’t painting the town red. Not yet.

But a group of dreamers are envisioning their Main Street’s empty storefronts as something more than storage space for someone’s clutter.

J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

35 endangered black-footed ferrets are being returned to Wyoming, reports The Topeka Capitol-Journal. The species was for a time believed to be extinct. Then, 35 years ago, a few of the critters were rediscovered in the wild on two ranches in the western part of the state. The Wyoming ferrets are just a few of the 220 captive-bred ferrets that will be released this year across the High Plains. Besides Wyoming, ferrets will be released in Montana, Colorado and Kansas.

Emily Deshazer / Topeka Capital-Journal

Over the past 18 years Kansas has been paid slightly more than $1 billion by tobacco companies, officials said Monday. As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the money has come from annual payments to compensate for the health consequences of smoking. The money came as part of a 1999 legal settlement to resolve claims by 45 states, including Kansas.

Luke Clayton

Howdy, Folks!  It's your ole buddy, Luke Clayton, and I tell you, if you were to tell me 20 years ago I'd be fishing on Lake Fork for sand bass, I'd say you were absolutely crazy.

But, time changes everything, and today that's exactly what I'm doing with my buddy, Larry Large.  So, grab a glass of iced tea, put your feet up, and jump in the boat with us.

www.goodlifegarden.ucdavis.edu

Picking and shelling peas is a labor of love, not practicality. After three evenings bent over knee-high vines finding and shelling full pods, I conceded the payoff—healthy calories—doesn’t match effort expended. Some folks might wise up and start buying canned or frozen peas at the market, but they’d miss what some researchers call the intangibles.

Swarm Season has beekeepers hunting for new hives

Jun 9, 2016
Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Late spring is swarm season, the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. Swarms of bees leave the nest, flying through the air, hovering on trees, fences and houses, searching for a new home.

Ann Saphir / Reuters

Oil prices are creeping up, and that means energy companies are tentatively starting to drill again, Reuters reports. Many drillers are starting to be optimistic that this time they really are on the other end of the horrific two-year slump. The downturn has caused oil outfits to shed employees and hemorrhage profits. Now as wells in the West Texas Permian Basin are again becoming profitable, producers are finally taking baby steps to crank up output.

Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

With all the talk of third party candidates this year, the difficulty of such a proposition sometimes gets lost amid the noise. The Texas Tribune reported this week that a third party prospect would have to face almost impossibly high hurdles in the Lone Star State. The main obstacle: The deadline has already passed.

Patrick Michels / Texas Observer

There’s a major movement afoot in American politics, notes The Texas Observer, but it’s seldom mentioned by name. It’s known as dominion theology, or dominionism, and Texas is one of it’s main strongholds. It began as a fringe evangelical sect in the 1970s, but now dominion theology has grown to reach the highest levels of power in the Lone Star State. Dominionism fundamentally opposes the separation of church and state.

kshs.org

Today we'll talk with Anthony Zukoff.  He's an expert in Ecology, Zoology, and Entomology.  We'll get to know a little about the man, what took him from his roots on the East Coast to the High Plains of Southwestern Kansas.  

You can ask Anthony questions by searching for "Friends of Sand Sage Bison Range" on Facebook or by emailing him at: AZukoff@gmail.com

Joey Bunch / Denver Post

A women’s organization in Colorado has drawn the attention of The Denver Post for giving its highest marks to Democrats. On a recent scorecard of Colorado legislators, the Women’s Lobby of Colorado gave almost every Democrat a score of 100.

Paul Lowry / Texas Tribune

Slumping oil prices aren’t just hurting oil and gas companies. Many landowners see the effects when they visit their mailbox, reports The Texas Tribune. The energy downturn is eating into the monthly checks royalty owners receive for oil production on their property. However, while it’s little comfort, the slowing income can also mean their tax bills will plummet.

Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune

The Texas Governor’s office seems to have a problem appointing replacements to state boards and commissions in a timely manner. According to The Texas Tribune, the state now has 336 holdover appointees. Those are people whose terms have expired but whose replacements have not been named.

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