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Last week, Kansas took in a few dozen Texans who were fleeing Hurricane Harvey.

But, as The Wichita Eagle reports, these refugees were of the four-legged variety. In the wake of the devastating storm, three vans filled with bedraggled dogs and cats left Houston, heading for the Sunflower State.

The animals had been housed in Texas shelters. When the hurricane hit, they were basically left homeless. Some had been in the shelters since April.

Levin C. Handy / Public Domain

The Amarillo Independent School District has taken up the question of whether to rename Robert E. Lee elementary, on the city’s north side.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the AISD Board of Trustees will meet with attorneys today to consider whether it might be time for a change.

Prairie Tayles: Control Is An Illusion

Sep 15, 2017
Lane Pearman

Humans are funny creatures. Some imagine we control much that happens in our world. Because technological advances during the last two centuries eradicated small pox and put men on the moon, it’s easy to accept this idea. Believing we direct our lives makes us feel safer. However, anyone who lives in Kansas understands our species doesn’t control of much of anything but putting satellites in orbit and operating a remote that allows us to picture what weather might do. With that little button and functioning electricity, we can react to nature but we can’t regulate it.

Incomes Continue To Rise, But Texans Of Color Still Seeing A Gap

Sep 14, 2017
Justyna Furmanczyk

Texas experienced modest economic improvement in 2016, according to new census estimates. But income inequality remains pervasive in the state.

By ALEXA URA AND ANNIE DANIEL

On the economic front, 2016 was a year of modest improvements for Texas residents. Incomes continued to creep up. Overall poverty slightly dipped. The share of poor children in some areas of the state with the highest rates of child poverty dropped.

People Of The Plains: A Lost Cause

Sep 14, 2017
Courtesy

Native Texans are generally associated with things like cowboy hats, southern drawls, and Sam Elliott-like demeanors.  While a diehard conservative, and while sporting the occasional southern accent for the sake of a few laughs (insisting that he “really talks like this” all the while), Jeff Caseltine does not epitomize the “traditional” native Texan. Instead, things that come to mind when describing Jeff are celebrity impersonations, socks and sandals, and a prevailing enthusiasm and heart for the kids he teaches. 

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For decades, Tobe Zweygardt guided busloads and carloads of visitors through the Arikaree Breaks in northwest Kansas – an area reminiscent of a sort of miniature Grand Canyon.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, Zweygardt, who also welded and sculpted signs from old farm and implement parts and marked routes along the breaks, died Sunday at the age of 101.

Sidney, Nebraska, has prospered while many rural cities have struggled. For decades, the city has been home to Cabela’s, a major outdoor retail chain.

As Cabela’s completes a deal in which it will be bought by a rival, however, the future of Sidney’s economic engine is in doubt. As in other rural cities that have faced the loss or closure of major industry, the question is how the community will move on and grow in the 21st Century.

Kansas Ranchers Paying It Forward

Sep 10, 2017
Courtesy photo

As smoke from Montana and Wyoming makes its way across the High Plains, Kansas ranchers impacted by wildfires earlier this year are paying it forward.

As The Hutch News reports, six months ago, Clark County rancher Steve Hazen was on the receiving end as truckloads of hay and supplies came from all directions to his hometown of Ashland.

KSRE.K-STATE.EDU

One of the best parts about grandchildren is seeing the world through their lens. Our youngest, a just turned one-year-old, visited recently. While her mom, dad, and gramps were organizing furniture and hunting gear, she and I wandered to the nearby park. Swings and slide held her interest for a while, but she most enjoyed toddling around, spying, and collecting last autumn’s sycamore balls. Due to the dry winter, most of them were still solid. In short time, she’d filled both tiny hands and the crooks of her elbows with tawny treasure.

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Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced it would be rescinding DACA – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that currently protects children of parents who came to the U.S. illegally from deportation

The majority of DACA recipients, more commonly referred to as “DREAMers,” are from Mexico, but according to Quartz, the remaining one-fourth come from all over the world, primarily El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Wikimedia Commons

Even though I clerked, waitressed, mowed, and lifeguarded to earn my way through college, I had only one career-- an English teacher. My husband’s path was similar. He worked first as a fish culturist for Wildlife and Parks, but when a game warden position opened, he applied and served in that field until he retired. Imagine learning during the last few years I taught that students currently graduating can expect to have 25 different occupations throughout their professional lives. How do you prepare youngsters for that?

Frankie Vallejo

I interviewed my grandmother Joan Tomlin about Alton Tomlin, my late grandfather. Alton was the most peaceful and loving person I have ever met. Not only could he make any person laugh but he took his time to give everyone attention. I think that is one of the reasons he was so loved.

The reason that he was the person I wanted to do my performance piece over is because once I found out that the performance was educationally based, he popped into my head. I thought of how much I learned from him and also, how much he loved to learn from others.

I was fortunate enough to sort of follow where my grandpa was living in his later years because while I was at school in San Marcos, Texas he was living in Leander, Texas, which is only about an hour and a half drive away. So I was able to spend good quality time before his sicknesses really started taking over.

Then he began getting really sick and they moved to Hereford and coincidently, I was moving back to Hereford, as well, because I was about to have a baby and wanted to be near family.

As long as I knew my grandpa, I can say that I have never met a person who impacted all of the people around him like he did. Not only that, but the way that he cared and loved my grandma was something that I could really look up to.

Hearing his story about coming from a single parent family to where he would end up and his journey along the way was inspiring and I also think that it was a good way to remember him and his life.

Julian Colton / Wikimedia Commons

Right now, Kansans who live anywhere near Wakeeney can only shake heads and wring hands. As they survey profound destruction wreaked upon homes and farms by gust-driven ice missiles the size of baseballs, they reveal the tenacity of prairie residents. They don’t lament, “Woe is me.” Instead, they count their blessings.

People Of The Plains: Learning To Love

Aug 24, 2017
Courtesy

Kristy Reynosa hired me to be her family’s nanny when I was a sophomore in high school.

I watched her daughter Molly, who was 11 at the time, and her granddaughter Tylee, who was 8.

Molly was this little girl who could do anything she put her mind to. You put a ball in front of her, and she knew how to make a point with it in whatever game it was. You told her to run a certain distance at a time and she did it five minutes under.

cookaa / Wikimedia Commons

Texas and New Mexico have entered into a contentious dust-up over ... dirt.

As ABC News reports, the “turf war” started when New Mexico accused road workers in the Lone Star State of crossing the state line to collect New Mexican dirt, in order to repair a dirt road in Hudspeth County.

Prairie Tayles: Dead Right And Rumble Strips

Aug 18, 2017
KANSASCYCLIST.COM

There was a time that I found rumble strips - you know, those zig-zaggy indentions down the middle and sides of highways - to be nothing but obnoxious. They make terrible sounding vibrations when crossed, regardless of whether drivers intend to pass over them or not. They remind me of a dentist using the big drill to grind out a chunk of old filling. My feelings about those asphalt irritations changed the day those rough-carved asphalt concaves saved not only my life but my mom’s. Since then, I’ve new respect for that once disturbing noise.

Kansas' attorney general is leading a nationwide push to identify elder abuse and find ways to help in the fight against the growing problem.

It's estimated that one out of every 10 elderly people who live at home in their later years will become a victim of abuse. Elder abuse can include physical abuse, neglect and financial abuse or exploitation.

It is a crime in Kansas to commit abuse on seniors which, by Attorney General Derek Schmidt's definition, includes anyone 65 and above. As of 2010, there were more than 40 million people over 65 in the U.S.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

Daily temperatures may still top the century mark during the next thirty days, but soon they’ll start dropping. Knowing old Man Winter has already packed his bags and bought his ticket to Kansas compels me to google long-term weather forecasts each year. The irony is that I’ve done this long enough to realize weather prognosticators have worse batting averages than losing baseball teams. To prepare better for changing seasons, I also consider what meteorological prophets who rely on folk wisdom have to say.

El Dean Holthus knows what people might think of a town like Smith Center, Kansas.

At nearly the exact geographic center of the contiguous United States, it's an hour from the nearest Interstate. It's home to about 1,600 people, but that population is declining like most of rural America's.

They probably think, he says, that "it's just a little hole in the ground."

People Of The Plains: A Panhandle Education

Aug 3, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

Louise Baker was an educator in the state of Texas for 30 years. She grew up in New Mexico and that is where she went to college, which is where she met her husband, Kenneth Baker. They moved from city to city because of work. She has taught in Oklahoma City, Okla., Arlington, Texas, and finally in Canyon, Texas.

Baker always had a passion for teaching because that is what her father did, and she “never thought of doing anything else”.

We wanted to interview Louise because of the ever-evolving experiences she had during her teaching career.

In the middle of a cornfield in south-central Nebraska, an oasis of art is growing.

Art Farm, situated off a long dirt road outside the small town of Marquette, started back in 1993 as an artist residency program. Since then, it’s become a one-of-a-kind experience many artists can’t resist.

Wikimedia Commons

Rapid care in the golden hour after an accident or major health issue such as a stroke or heart attack offers hope to patients and their loved ones. For those who live in remote areas, time between the moment a cardiac incident or traumatic injury occurs and treatment begins depends on how swiftly emergency services arrive. For most of us living on the high plains, this means we depend on neighbor volunteers during crises.

People Of The Plains: A Love For The Game

Jul 26, 2017

“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” That quote is one of Halee Langen’s favorite quotes.

This is an adaptation of an interview that I had with Halee Langen in “A love for the Game” as told by M’Kenzie Garrett.

When you meet a person your initial reaction isn’t to ask them what battles they have overcome or how difficult it might have been for them to fight those battles. Sometimes, the extent of a hard time can be measured by a single painful experience, but other times it can be the smaller things that add up to bring the pain.

Kevin Rofidal

Former Kansas Senator and national Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole has been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Lynn Jenkins jointly introduced resolutions to honor Dole on Monday, two days after his 94th birthday.

CCO Public Domain

Colorado has made it legal to break into a car, but only if it is to save the life of a child, cat or dog.

As The Denver Post reports, the new state law takes effect on Aug. 9 and provides legal immunity for people who break into a hot car to save an animal or a person, but doesn’t specify whether it’s from heat or cold.

Dincher / Wikimedia Commons

A West Texas native who was diagnosed with the fast-progressing disease known as ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—has undertaken an epic journey to draw attention to the disease.

Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

What do High Plains folks hate the most?

There’s a new app called Hater that works like Tinder, except it matches users based on common things they loathe.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, according to the app’s users, the most common thing Texans hate is . . . “sleeping with the window open.”

This may come as a surprise, as there are so many things to hate in Texas, like rattlesnakes and poorly constructed tacos.

Lake Lou / Flickr

Learning more about how our ancestors lived fascinates me so I’m always up for any adventure that involves the past. A favorite place to explore old times is nearby Cottonwood Ranch at Studley, Kansas. First, the architecture is interesting. Even better, are its stories. The curator and his support team have skillfully preserved this English-style sheep ranch and its history. Fortunately, the original owner kept meticulous records that open windows into his world. In addition, the caretaker is a great storyteller for those inclined to listen. 

CC0 Public Domain

The demand for locally grown and produced foods in Colorado over the past 10 years has gone from being a mere trend to a lifestyle for many Coloradans.

This according to a recent survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), in collaboration with Colorado State University, about consumer attitudes toward agriculture.

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