News

Drenaline / Wikimedia Commons

The US Department of Energy approved a project last week that would ship renewable energy directly from Oklahoma’s panhandle to cities in the southeastern United States. The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports that the 700-mile Plains and Eastern Clean Line project was okayed by the feds last Friday. The electricity transmission line will cross 14 Oklahoma counties before passing through Arkansas and ending north of Memphis, Tennessee.

John Moore / Getty Images/Guardian

Last week a group of Hispanic voters urged the United States Supreme Court to block Texas from enforcing its voter ID law, says NBC News.  Lawyers for the League of United Latin American Citizens were joined by one of the state’s Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Marc Veasy of Fort Worth. The legislation requires a photo ID to vote but limits the permissible forms of identification.

Jacob McCleleand / KGOU

In the midst of Oklahoma’s budget crisis, Gov. Mary Fallin has adopted a one-time fix to fund the state’s public schools and prisons over the next year. The solution involved dipping into what is known as the state’s “Rainy Day Fund,” reports member station KGOU. Last week the governor signed two supplemental funding bills that would take $78 million dollars from Oklahoma’s constitutionally mandated savings account.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The staggering frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma has caused many problems, not all of them having to do with geology. The state has now come up with a way to settle disputes that arise because of regulatory actions issued to reduce quakes, reports StateImpact.

cpr.org

With the disappearance of America’s bees, a California tradition is changing, reports Colorado Public Radio. Beekeepers flock to California every spring to watch billions of honeybees pollinate the state's almond trees. But now, many almond growers are switching to a new breed of tree that grows what are known as Independence almonds. These almond trees are special because they’re self-pollinating. That’s good news for farmers, who spend lots of money hiring bees to pollinate their crop.

Laura Erickson / Cornell University

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which the United States signed with Great Britain on behalf of Canada. That treaty and the three that followed — with Japan, Russia and Mexico — form the cornerstones of our efforts to conserve migratory birds, like the Sandhill Crane.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

While many Texans have signed up for Obamacare in recent years, a new study has found that many of them may not understand what they’ve signed up for, reports CNBC. According to new research, people who get health coverage through their jobs or government-run programs like Medicare are generally familiar with terms like premium, deductible and co-pay. But Texans who buy coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace are less comfortable with these terms.

Rick Wilking / Reuters

In the wake of the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado officials approved a number of new gun control laws. The measures passed the Colorado legislature in 2013 and were signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper. The new laws were immediately challenged by supporters of gun rights. But now, reports Reuters, a federal appeals court has ordered a lower court judge to dismiss the challenges to the gun legislation.

Courtney Perry / Minneapolis Star Tribune

Beekeepers on the High Plains might want to keep an eye on a story to the north. Two beekeepers in Minnesota have received compensation from the state’s department of agriculture after their hives were destroyed. The hives were severely damaged last spring by toxic pesticides that had drifted off a neighboring cornfield, reports the Star Tribune.

John Hanna / AP photo

Kansas lawmakers have begun debate on a proposed solution to the state’s school funding crisis. The Kansas Supreme Court has determined that funding for schools in the Sunflower State is not equitable, noting that poor districts often get a raw deal. The court has ordered lawmakers to fix the problem, reports The Wichita Eagle. Debate started last week on a bill that would reshuffle K-12 money in a way supporters hope will meet the court’s order for more equitable funding.

Barbara Damrosch / Washington Post

This spring folks on the High Plains might consider feeding their soil a seafood dinner. When we make soup, it might seem easier to just dump an envelope of dehydrated powder into the pot. But using real leeks and thyme isn’t hard, and it results in a richer and tastier meal. Your soil acts in much the same way, says a recent column in The Washington Post.

Texas makes you tough

Mar 27, 2016
Cindee Talley

I’ve been thinking a lot about the influence of “place” on who we become and whether or not that influence ever wanes.  

In A Strong West Wind, an account of a Texas high plains girlhood, Gail Caldwell writes, “How do we become who we are? The question belongs not just to genes or geography or the idea of destiny, but to the entire symphony of culture and its magisterial march—to Proust’s madeleines and Citizen Kane’s “Rosebud” and anyone’s dreams of being someplace, anyplace, else. I was a girl whose father had taken such pride in her all her life, even when it was masked as rage, that he had lit a fire in me that would stay warm forever. I was the daughter of a woman who, on a farm in east Texas in the 1920s, had crept away from her five younger siblings so that she could sit on a hillside and read—a mother whose subterranean wish, long unrevealed, was that I might become who she could not. Each of us has these cloisters where the old discarded drams are stored, innocuous as toys in the attic. The real beauty of the question—how do we become who we are?—is that by the time we are old enough to ask it, to understand its infinite breadth, it is too late to do much about it. That is not the sorrow of hindsight, but its music: That is what grants us a bearable past.” 

dariennewsonline.com

Easter is about much more than egg hunts and a big ol’ rabbit posing for pictures with little ones. However, in small towns across Kansas such festivities remind winter -weary children and adults that spring truly has arrived. With the promise of sugary treats, hope rises like sap in tots impatient to collect brightly colored eggs tempting them from a green lawn. Their enthusiasm should be bottled and sold.

Venison Pastrami

Mar 25, 2016
Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week for some hands on, step-by-step instructions in making pastrami and corned venison at home! Many people might be surprised to learn that making corned beef (or corned venison) has very much in common with making pastrami. Both tasty sandwiches cuts require curing the meat first. After curing, pastrami is seasoned and either baked or slow smoked. Corned beef or corned venison is slow simmered for a couple hours after curing. Luke goes into great detail this week in describing the process.   

CDC / dailymail.co.uk

The number of people dying from heart disease has been falling, according to a new study reported in The Daily Mail. Heart disease is the world’s leading killer. Rates have dropped significantly in many parts of the US since the 1970s. But the rates of decline vary dramatically according to geographical area. Counties in the North are seeing the fastest declines, sometimes dropping by as much as 84%.

Fort Morgan Times

Colorado saw a late snowstorm this week that shut down airports. But Colorado Plains Medical Center in Fort Morgan has already treated its first rattlesnake bite of the year, reports the Fort Morgan Times.

Last weekend a 12-year-old boy was bitten by a young rattlesnake in the basement of his grandparents' house in Orchard. Colorado Plains treated the patient with antivenin, and he was flown to a Denver hospital for further treatment.

agweb.com

Ag research has done a lot for the High Plains, but it’s not getting the recognition it deserves, according to a senior irrigation engineer at Texas A&M University. Thomas Marek says today’s irrigated agriculture is capable of producing 40 percent more grain with 90 percent less energy and 60 percent less water than in the past, reports agjournalonline.com.

Grant Gerlock / NET News/Harvest Public Media

On nights during Lent in Nebraska, the Friday night fish fry has become an annual tradition. And all of that frying uses up a lot of vegetable oil, which might be thrown out. But one enterprising Nebraskan had a better idea, reports netnebraska.org. At one recent fish fry, 800 people ate more than 200 pounds of fried fish.

Ridin' the Plains

Mar 24, 2016

In A Strong West Wind, an account of a Texas high plains girlhood, author Gail Caldwell evokes a sense of place through many descriptive passages, often involving her father. She writes, for example, “When I was a girl of nine or ten, my dad would take me along on autumn dawns to go quail and dove hunting, out to the far reaches of the Caprock, past towns named Muleshoe and Dimmitt to prairies so remote and unrelenting that even the phone lines seemed to disappear as we drove into morning light.

Chan Lone / Texas Tribune

Late last year a federal judge ordered the State of Texas to reform its foster care laws. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack of Corpus Christi claimed the Texas foster care system violated children's civil rights by subjecting them to rampant neglect and abuse. Judge Jack appointed special “masters” to oversee the reforms, reports The Texas Tribune. The masters are expected to study the system and recommend changes.

KFOR.com

Officials in Oklahoma are now using advanced technology in an attempt to get ahead of the spate of earthquakes caused by fracking and wastewater disposal by oil and gas companies. The technology is much needed, as the third largest earthquake in state history was recorded last month.

New seismic sensors have now been put in place to locate and determine the size of the nearest fault line to the big quake’s location in Fairview, reports KFOR. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has also installed a broadband seismometer, an instrument that locates earthquake sources.

Kansas Sunflowers

Mar 24, 2016

    This week’s sojourn into our series honoring state flowers takes us along the highways, byways, and flatlands of the Sunflower State.  And we’ll renew our quest for an answer to one of botany’s intriguing mysteries. Sunflowers in Kansas can be regarded as a cash crop, a highlight of the flower garden, or one of the most colorful weeds along the roadways.  In any case, they’re a welcome sight. 

BigTexan.com

Falling oil prices have caused many economic woes for West Texas. But the news isn’t all bleak, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Forecast, this year Texas restaurateurs should expect to see a 3.8-percent increase in sales. That will bring total revenue up over $52 billion for the year.

Ryan Kang / AP photo

HPPR listeners in eastern Colorado have probably noticed the explosion in popularity of pot-infused edibles. Marijuana-laced gummy bears, brownies, lollipops and pastries are all the rage in the Centennial State. But npr.org recently asked a burning question: Just how potent are these ganja-laced goodies? The answer? No one really knows.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuter

In America’s presidential race, dark money is expected to explode this year, says The Rural Blog. Dark money is the term used for political spending from secret donors whose names candidates are not required to disclose. During the 2012 election cycle, more than $308 million in dark money was spent on campaigns. Of those secret contributions, 86 percent came from conservative groups.

Brennan Linsley / AP photo

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s marijuana legalization law, reports The New York Times. Two other High Plains states, Nebraska and Oklahoma, had sought to use a rare procedure to attack the Colorado law by going directly to the high court.

travelok.com

This spring is looking to be a dry one in Western Oklahoma, reports NewsOK.com. That’s bad news for ag producers in areas like Roger Mills County. Last spring, Roger Mills saw more rain in a few months than it often does in an entire year. But, unfortunately, the county hasn’t gotten much moisture since.

Wallethub

The economic website Wallethub recently asked some interesting questions about American tax-paying habits, and set out to find answers. Here are some results from the 2016 Wallethub Tax Survey. 11% of those surveyed would clean Chipotle toilets, and over a quarter would get an IRS tattoo, if it meant they could live in a tax-free future. Who do Americans like more than the IRS? 52% of us prefer Pope Francis. But 8% prefer OJ Simpson and one in 10 like Kanye West better than the federal tax-collection entity.

Lindsey Bartlett / Westword

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has unveiled a new program that's a first for the country, reports Westword.com. Under Colorado’s seed certification program, the state will tag hemp seeds with a “CDA Approved Certified Seed” label. The new certification aims to give the industrial hemp industry and its farmers more credibility.

fda.gov

Many states have recently limited prescriptions for opioids, after an increase in overdose deaths has rocked rural America. But the new opioid limits are putting small town doctors in an unenviable position. Physicians must now refuse to prescribe painkillers to patients who actually need them, reports The Rural Blog.

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