HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

Wikimedia Commons

West Texas A&M University in Canyon took a big hit this week, as the budget approved by Governor Greg Abbott slashed funding to the school by almost $2 million.

Meanwhile, the A&M flagship university in College Station received a hefty increase of $14 million in funding.

Programs receiving cuts at WT include agricultural research and small-business development. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum also had its funding slashed.

Traffic-related deaths on the uptick in Kansas

Jun 13, 2017
POLHUDSON.LOHUDBLOGS.COM

There’s a troubling new trend in Kansas – traffic fatalities.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, through the end of May, there have been 174 traffic deaths across Kansas, according to AAA, representing a 13 percent increase over the same period from a year ago and a 44 percent jump from 2015. It is the most fatalities in the state through any May of the past five years.

A spokesperson with AAA said it works out to an average of one per day.

Kansas scores 15th among the 50 states for overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 “Kids Count” report.

The state’s relatively high overall ranking is driven by its No. 7 ranking for kids’ economic well-being, based on indicators like housing affordability and employment security for parents.

LM Otero / Houston Chronicle

Health officials announced last week that the threat from the Zika virus in Texas is much lower than it was last year. As The Houston Chronicle reports, the mosquito-borne disease has ebbed in Central and South America, and the risk of mosquitos carrying the virus across the Texas border has lessened.

Likewise, the number of international travelers carrying the disease into the United States is expected to wane this year. But, not all medical professionals are expressing optimism.

Dale Denwalt / The Journal-Record

Despite a years-long crisis that has led to dozens of rural hospital closures across the U.S., there are signs of life for at least one facility in Western Oklahoma.

CC0 Public Domain

Increased income limits through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development may increase opportunities for rural families to own their own home.

As the High Plains Journal reports, the USDA announced the new 2017 income limits for its direct and guaranteed home ownership loan programs that may make more households eligible to obtain 100 percent financing.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

This year, Oklahoma lawmakers indicated once again that they were going to give teachers in the state raises. And, once again, the state Legislature failed to deliver.

The House even passed two budgets, one containing educator raises and one without them—and ultimately passed the one without raises.

Lawmakers couldn’t even pass a $1,000 teacher raise to keep up with inflation.

NC ND / Creative Commons

A new report finds that the Texas prison populace has been growing smaller, ever since reforms were instituted ten years ago.

Stuart Seeger / Flickr Creative Commons

During the legislative term that concluded last week, Texas lawmakers approved a measure that would legalize certain unrecognized stem cell therapies.

As STAT.com reports, this means Texas is the first state legislature to explicitly give these experimental treatments the go-ahead.

But the deal isn’t done yet; Gov. Greg Abbott still has to sign the bill.

amarillo.com

The Amarillo Independent School District voted this week to give all Amarillo public school teachers a $1,500 raise, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees voted for the raises unanimously, 6-0. The plan gives raises to all AISD employees, not just teachers, and it comes with a price tag of over $5 million.

KVII

The Texas Legislature passed a new budget last week, and the plan included a healthy chunk of change for Texas Tech University's proposed veterinary school in Amarillo.

Shawn Sheehan / The Washington Post

Low teacher pay in Oklahoma has led to a high-profile defection. This week Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year announced he’s moving to Texas.

Shawn Sheehan currently teaches special education in Norman, and in addition to winning the award last year he was also a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

Sheehan says he loves teaching, and wouldn’t want to do anything else, but he just can’t do it in Oklahoma anymore. As a result, he and his wife have accepted positions in Texas, where teachers are paid at much higher rates.

Colorado teachers to receive gun training

May 29, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Colorado teachers will soon receive gun training, which is being welcomed by school officials in rural areas who say teachers and others need to be trained to stop armed assailants since local law enforcement easily could be miles and miles away.

NTSB/Amarillo.com

The National Travel Safety Board has released documents related to a massive train collision last year that occurred outside of Panhandle, Texas. The accident resulted in the deaths of two train conductors and an engineer.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, after the reforms of the Affordable Care Act, Colorado’s uninsured rate dropped from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 6.7 percent in 2015 and about 500,000 people in the state gained health insurance coverage and about 400,000 people got covered through expanded eligibility of Medicaid.

Community After School Program

Many working parents in Oklahoma are having a hard time affording programs to occupy their children while they’re working, according to OklahomaWatch.

Both after-school programs and summer camps can be extremely costly, which means they sometimes aren’t an option for parents struggling to make ends meet.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The threat of the Zika virus is likely to return to Texas this summer, and, as KUT reports, one of the biggest difficulties health experts are coming up against is a gap in knowledge among citizens. A recent study conducted by the University of Texas’s Medical Branch has found that many vulnerable Texas women aren’t aware of their risk for infection.

NewsOK.com

According to a new study, life expectancies in some parts of Oklahoma are growing at a more rapid pace than in others.

NewsOK reports that the Oklahoma Panhandle has exhibited a marked increase in life expectancy since 1980, showing a gain of between four and five percent, one of the strongest surges in the state.

Lindsay Pierce / The Denver Post

The United Health Foundation has released its rankings of the healthiest and least healthy states for seniors, and the results show Colorado seniors to be much healthier than their counterparts in other states in the HPPR listening area.

Creative Commons

Law enforcement can be a thankless job. Even so, there are almost a million cops in America, most of whom work diligently to protect their communities.

The personal finance website Wallethub has produced a list of the best and worst states to be a police officer.

Editor5807 / Creative Commons

A new reports shows that bad roads in Oklahoma are costing taxpayers $5 billion annually.

As News 9 reports, the study by the national transportation group TRIP finds that Oklahomans currently spend almost $2 billion dollars on fixing their cars. Another billion is spent on traffic accidents, and the state sees yet another $2 billion in lost productivity yearly, due to traffic jams and delays.

Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature has been hard at work this month trying to come up with a budget. And among those watching the proceedings closely, says The Texas Tribune, few have more to lose than Texas’s colleges and universities.

Even as enrollments continue to rise statewide, many schools are likely to see funding cuts. That means less money for more students.

KSN

This week, officers of the Garden City Police Department were called out to investigate a potential threat of violence at Garden City High School.

As KSN reports, this is the third Garden City arrest made in recent weeks, related to teenage bullying or threats of violence.

RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Colorado Republicans have now pulled the plug on a bill that sought to repeal the state’s health care exchange, reports The Denver Post.

Meanwhile, rural hospitals received a bit of good news. The Colorado Legislature has passed a bill preventing $528 million in cuts to hospital funding. Some conservative lawmakers opposed the bill, as they say it will only lead to more spending and debt. Instead, they said the measure should have gone to the voters.

Fort Hays State University will soon have a new addition, thanks to the generosity of two former students.

As Fort Hays State University News reports, Richard and Dolores Fischli recently committed $5 million to build a center for student success on the university campus – a facility that will be a convenient one-stop-shop for students to access academic, medical and mental health support.

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY

Colorado State University recently broke ground on a $20 million center for its meat science program.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Greeley-based meatpacking giant JBS USA provided much of the money for the facility, which the company and university say will help “advance best practices in food safety, meat sciences and animal handling and welfare.”

Flickr Creative Commons

Some High Plains states are proposing bills that would allow climate change denial to be taught in public schools, under the rubric of “academic freedom,” reports Vice.

Stock Photo/Norman Transcript

The number of incarcerated inmates in Oklahoma has reached 62,000, reports The Norman Transcript.

The state’s prisons are currently at 109% capacity. Back in December the state of Oklahoma hit a new prison population record of 61,000. Now, in only four months, 1,000 inmates have been added to that record.

WFAA

A Texas teacher and Army veteran is taking on what he calls state-endorsed shaming at public-school cafeteria counters.

As WFAA reports, Kelvin Holt says he became concerned when he saw a cafeteria worker admonish a child who didn’t have enough money to pay for her meal, then tossing the food out and giving the child a lesser substitute.

Bies / Flickr Creative Commons

In the State of Texas, the death rate for new mothers is now higher than any other place in the developed world.

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