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.
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Plains, Kansas is plugging away at addressing an issue facing many small towns on the High Plains – the lack of a grocery store. So far, about $400,000 in funding has been secured through tax credits, grants, donations and fund-raisers. That’s towards a total estimated cost of roughly 1.4 million dollars to buy land, build the new structure, and equip, stock and staff the store.
The project is featured in this a recent New York Times article. While recognizing the determined efforts of community residents, it poses the question of whether the local grocery, if successfully built, will be able to overcome the “Walmart” effect. (Plains is located 25 miles northeast of Liberal, where there’s a Walmart, Dillons grocery and Asian, Mexican and natural food markets.)
There’s one High Plains commodity that’s likely to have another good year in 2015 – beef tongue sales to Japan. Exports were up 150 percent in 2013 and on track to rise even higher in 2014. And demand continues to grow, as do the ways of eating beef tongue in Japan, as this feature article from McClatchy DC explains:
This past Thanksgiving, James Fallow, national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, and his wife Deborah stopped in Guymon, Oklahoma as a “a most anticipated waypoint” on their cross-country trip by small plane. The object of their sojourn that day was the homestead of Caroline Henderson whose “Letters from the Dust Bowl were published in The Atlantic some 80 years ago. Deborah Fallows recounts their flight in, visit to the homestead and Thanksgiving dinner in Guymon in this piece:
A ballot initiative being promoted by a Lakewood, Colorado couple to keep the state permanently on Mountain Daylight Time could make time keeping tricky for those crossing through four Kansas counties on the Colorado border.
With winter on the High Plains comes the season of the tumbleweed. The Russian thistles that dried and snapped from their roots in the fall now rove the western plains with the winter winds, leaving their seed for next year’s crop. As a given part of winter, they’ve made their way into the seasonal holidays as well.
The biggest fight to pass open-carry legislation in Texas could be among advocates of the Second Amendment. The New York Times and Texas Tribune report that conflicts are emerging over how big the changes to the current state law should be. Gun rights supporters say the divide could sink efforts to lift handgun restrictions in the next legislative session.
United States Senator Ted Cruz opposes taxes for both internet access and internet purchases. It's not a position that's popular with schools. libraries or Main Street merchants, as reported in this article from the The Texas Tribune.
Eighty years ago, Caroline Henderson wrote from her homestead in the Oklahoma panhandle for The Atlantic magazine. Her popular regular installments, "Letters from the Dust Bowl", brought the reality of the daily grit and grind of the Dust Bowl to a national audience.
A new style of luxury gun club is popping up around urban areas. They’re known as “guntry clubs” for their resemblance to country clubs, and are a far cry from dingy strip mall facilities or the rural shooting ranges with outhouse facilities known on the High Plains. The New York Times has this profile of these new clubs, featuring the Centennial Gun Club in the Denver area:
The FAA’s proposed rules for flying drones pose a basic problem for rural users. The rules are based on two purposes of use, hobby versus commercial, rather than where the drone is being flown, a wide open rural area versus near an urban airport. Consequently, many potential rural uses such as checking crops or inspecting powers lines will fall under the proposed commercial rules applied to all areas of the U.S.
The 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre passed recently and the use of the term “massacre” has carried great significance and stirred continued debate across the years. It also played into the planning and naming of the current memorial on Colorado’s eastern plains as "The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site." That story is told in historian Ari Kelman’s 2013 book “A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek” pub
Kent Haruf, who brought to life the stories of people and town life in eastern Colorado, died at age 71 on Sunday. His fictional town of Holt, Colorado is based on three actual towns where he grew up and is captured in his trilogy of novels “Plainsong” (1999), “Eventide” (2004), and “Benediction” (2013).
Many books have been written about Woody Guthrie and photographs of the Dust Bowl are recognized around the world. Now there is a graphic novel, Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads, that tells the story of Guthrie with imagined dialogue and stark, sepia colored illustrations.
Cheaper, purer imports of crystal meth made in Mexico are resulting in fewer meth labs in the fields and remote areas of states where they had become a major problem. In Missouri, data for 2014 to date indicates that lab seizures will be down a third from last year and one-half from 2012. In Oklahoma, they are projected to be down by about half from last year. Meanwhile deaths from meth use are rising and distribution rings for the imported meth are reaching into smaller communities in Oklahoma.
When explorer Stephen Long led his expedition across the western Great Plains in 1819-1820, it was during a period of widespread drought. With only a single reference point in time, he concluded the area “is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence”. He also marked the region on his maps as the “Great American Desert”, a label used by other map makers for decades to come.
Last week analyst admitted that previous Kansas budget projections had been overly optimistic and agreed on a lower forecast that leaves a gap of $279 million dollars to be filled by June. It’s already a grim situation but an analysis by the Upshot from the New York Times contends the new forecast may still be overly optimistic. It projects this year’s remaining shortfall could be over $300 million dollars higher.
Gambling wasn’t viewed as a moral issue in need of prohibition under the state constitution when Kansas joined the union in 1861. It wasn’t until the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives brought hundreds of cowboys to Kansas railheads in the 1860s and gambling became part of the colorful life of cowtowns such as Dodge City that it became a matter of public concern. In 1868 Kansans acted to outlaw all games of chance for money.
Revenue numbers for July through September, the first three months of fiscal year 2015, suggest Kansas’ revenue gap is permanent, not temporary. Analysis by the The Upshot projects the deficit for the fiscal year could be $250 million more than the already estimated $350 million
National attention is turning to Kansas as the possible key to the balance of power in the U.S. Senate with the withdrawal of the Democratic nominee and the continued lead in polls by independent candidate Greg Orman.