HPPR People & Communities

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Terry Jeanson / Texas Escapes

Immigration in Texas doesn’t seem to be slowing, notes The LA Times. Almost 45,000 immigrants have crossed the border since October, most from Central America. The small Texas town of Alice has found itself reeling after the oil bust, and the influx of immigrants hasn’t helped the town’s fortunes. But now a British correctional company has offered itself up as an “unexpected savior.”

Lauren Koski / amarillo.com

Wills Elementary in Amarillo has been harvesting produce alongside the brick buildings of the school. And now those fruits and vegetables are going to a good cause, reports Amarillo.com. The food will help refugee and low-income families feed their families. The program is part of a partnership with the High Plains Food Bank.

Nick Cote / New York Times

The West has changed a great deal since the days of thousand-mile cattle drives. Ranchers now employ drones to track livestock, and many have traded in their trusty horses for four-wheelers. But in Colorado and other parts of the High Plains, notes The New York Times, there’s one tradition that hasn’t changed: branding day.

Getty Images

Trivia wiz and 74-time Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings recently reported on strange phenomena on a Kansas farm for Condé Nast Traveler. The 360-acre farm of Joyce Taylor, just north of Potwin, is a quiet place off the beaten path. But a few years ago Taylor, 82, began receiving strange phone calls and visitors.

KDVR

Ever dream of owning a ghost town? Now’s your chance!

The deserted town of Cabin Creek, Colorado, in rural Adams County, is now available for purchase on Craigslist, reports KDVR. “We've had so many people look it`s been amazing,” said the current owner of the town, James Johnson. The road-side village along Highway 36 is available for the tidy sum of $350,000. For that price, you’ll get an old service station, a café, an abandoned motel, and a small house.

NTV

Surrounded by weeds in a remote section of Webster County, Nebraska, sits an unremarkable clearing. You wouldn’t think it was anything special if you stumbled upon it, notes NTV, but if this pasture could talk it would tell you a secret. There used to be a baseball field here, and a legend pitched from its mound. His name was Denton True Young. But most folks know him as “Cy.”

Brennan Linsley / AP photo

Rural voters have been flocking to the GOP in recent decades, reports governing.com.

This year, there are 15 states where rural residents make up more than half the population. Republicans are governors of 11 of them. And the GOP has a chance to pick up the other four in November.

Chelsea Self / Glenwood Springs Post Independent/AP

Bud Gardner is a fixture in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The grizzled-yet-affable man has worked for the city for the last 23 years. He’s a jack-of-all-trades for the city government, mending potholes and fixing water lines.

Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade / US Army

Rural America has always been home to many of America’s veterans. That’s still true today, but the percentage of veterans living in small towns and ag communities is dropping, reports The Daily Yonder.

The reason? Older generations are dying off, while younger generations are more likely than to live in bigger cities. From 2007 to 2014, the percentage of veterans who live in rural areas decreased noticeably.

Wallethub

Independence Day is around the corner, and the personal finance website WalletHub decided to determine which states are the most and least patriotic. The results may surprise you. The site tried to weed politics out of the equation by measure 12 metrics that speak to patriotism.

These included number of active duty military and veterans, voting percentages, and number of volunteers. Virginia was found to be the most patriotic state, while New Jersey is the least.

Skubasteve834 / Wikimedia Commons

Independence Day patriots rejoice! Fireworks go on sale today in parts of the Texas Panhandle, reports the Amarillo Globe-News. Law enforcement agencies are, of course, warning folks to obey local fireworks ordinances. That means possession, manufacture, storage, sale, handling and use of fireworks are prohibited within the city limits of Amarillo.

Amy Bickel / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

CASTLETON – For Sam Grilliot, it’s harvest time, and that means the old Oliver is lumbering through the wheat field.

More often, you find similar antique combines abandoned in a hedgerow. But for Grilliot, the 50-year-old machine is one of the tools he depends on each year.

USDA / Rural Blog

The Washington Post recently reported that many rural areas are past their prime and peaked long ago. But new data from the US Department of Agriculture contradicts that narrative. Rural areas, for the first time ever, experienced a decline from 2010 to 2014. But The Rural Blog notes, that trend appears to be slowing and possibly reversing.

Rural Blog

Iit’s no secret that many rural communities on the High Plains are losing population. But, as The Rural Blog reported this week, part of the problem may be one of marketing. Rural towns often don’t have websites, and the sites that do exist are usually poorly maintained. Sometimes there’s simply not enough information available for people who might want to move to a given town.

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.

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.

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.

Dave Hall / The Guardian

An editor for the British news site The Guardian recently went on a trek with a team of Oklahoma stormchasers. His expectations were low—he knew seeing a tornado was rare, even for these intrepid weather watchers.

Lindsey Bauman / Hutchinson News

From Harvest Public Media:

The blue bus is still going.

Once wheat harvest swings into operation around Lane County, probably by mid-June, the bus will rumble down dusty county roads.

In an earlier life it had been a school bus. But it was transformed long ago into a makeshift kitchen that often was filled with the sweet aroma of freshly baked oatmeal cookies.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm. On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

whereintheusarv.blogspot.com

After months of wearing long pants, heavy sweaters over flannel shirts, and clunky shoes, folks are enjoying the chance to leave jackets behind and head to the park. It’s like a spring cleaning for the spirit as everyone goes down a slide, swings, or teeter totters in order to wipe away winter’s cobwebs and staleness.

Tantrums LLC/The Guardian

After losing her oil job when prices dropped below $50 a barrel, Houston’s Shawn Baker started a new kind of business, reports The Guardian. In a world where there’s so much simmering anger, she thought, why not let people pay to smash stuff? Baker started Tantrums LLC, a one-stop shop where customers can release their inner Incredible Hulk.

David Bowser / Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune recently took a look at how the oil bust is affecting the town of Perryton, in the far northern Texas Panhandle near the Oklahoma border. This isn’t the first oil nosedive the residents have seen. For many the downturn brings to mind the precarious 1980s. Back then, in 1987, the whole town threw an “oil-bust bash” to lift their spirits.

Prowers Journal

The National Park Service recently offered to manage Camp Amache in Southeast Colorado. But the site’s trustees in Granada are still weighing the variables they expect to encounter with the deal, reports The Prowers Journal.

Camp Amache is a former internment camp that was used to incarcerate approximately 7,500 Japanese-Americans shortly after World War Two. The location has been listed as a National Historic Landmark. Yet little remains of the original camp. There is also a small museum depicting life at Camp Amache during the war on Highway 50 in Granada.

mdt.mt.gov

Does anyone else wonder what highway workers charged with stopping one lane of traffic during road construction think about as they stand in the elements and flip their signs from stop to slow eight to twelve hours a day? Whenever possible, I visit with these souls who brave extreme temperatures and irate drivers to see how their jobs compare to my inside work.

Theo Stroomer / New York Times

Llooking for something to do this weekend? Why not head out to southern Colorado and wrestle an alligator?  The New York Times recently profiled the Colorado Gators Reptile Park in the San Luis Valle. At the park, people of all ages engage in gator grappling.

Natalia Contreras / Caller-Times

I

n rural South Texas there’s a cemetery with names on the headstones like Davis, Baker and Harris. That in itself isn’t so odd. What is strange, reports The Guardian, is the types of names you won’t see. There are no Garcias here, no Lopezes or Hernandezes. That’s pretty unusual for a county where half the population is Hispanic.

Sasha von Oldershausen / Texas Observer

The Texas border town of Presidio has an unusual problem. Last year, reports The Texas Observer, Presidio buried at least 300 horses at a loss of almost $200 per animal. The city charges $22.50 to bury a dead horse, though the actual task costs a good deal more. The council has discussed raising the fee to $150. But that notion alarmed the owners of local stockyard businesses.

Tom Fox / Dallas Morning News

Last weekend The Dallas Morning News reprinted in full a New York Times article about what it means to be a Texan in the 21st century. The essay read, in part, “[Texans] believe that their way of life is under assault and that they are making a kind of last stand by simply being Texan.”

Thad Allton / Topeka Capital-Journal

Walk into the Kansas state capitol’s rotunda in Topeka, and you’ll be confronted by four colossal statues of famous Kansans. In this hallowed room, Amelia Earhart, Dwight Eisenhower, Arthur Capper and William Allen White gaze down in silence at visitors to the capitol. The sculptor for these 2,000-pound statues is still going strong, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal.

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