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Christopher Connelly / KERA

Meteorologists say basements are one of the best places to take shelter during a tornado. But for some reason, Texas has a woeful lack of basements, according to KUT Austin. Some say the lack of cellars is due to the expansive soil in Texas. When Texas dirt gets wet, it swells. Then it shrinks again in the summer. That makes building basements difficult.

CGP Grey / Wikimedia Commons

From Kansas Agland:

For ranchers Stanley and Carol Post, the recent mystery on the central Kansas prairie conjures up memories of their own bovine homicides 40 years ago.

Center for Rural Affairs

As the holiday season ends and many of us settle back into our routines, we often take a collective sigh of relief. Christmas can be a stressful time for so many of us. It means hectic travel, crowded stores, family squabbles. But John Crabtree at The Center for Rural Affairs recently received a reminder of the importance of the season. Kolt Smith, the six-year-old son of one of John’s colleagues at the Center for Rural Affairs, wrote John an essay.


When it comes to a healthy work-life balance, Garden City, Kansas, has it pretty good. Zippia.com recently ranked the cities in Kansas with the best work-life balance, and Garden City tops the list. Rounding out the top five were Hillsboro, Hesston, Olathe, and Derby.

Penn State/pennstatenews / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma women working full time in 2014 earned about 78 percent of their male counterparts, reports NewsOK. The data comes from estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There was no improvement from last year’s ratio, which was also 78 percent. Oklahoma has a worse percentage than the nation overall. In the U.S., women's median weekly pay was about 82 percent of the pay for men.

Tips to Keep Your New Year's Resolution Going Strong

Dec 31, 2015

We love making resolutions around this time of year. But we also know that our good intentions often collapse. Quartz.com has some helpful hints this New Year to keep your resolution going strong. In her book Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin suggest five tips to help you create new habits.

First, monitor yourself. Keep a journal of your progress, for example.

Oklahoma Approaching Four Million Residents

Dec 30, 2015

Oklahoma’s population inched closer to the four million mark this year. According to Census Bureau estimates the state’s population currently rests at just over 3,900,000.

Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters

A contingent in America has recently decided that the U.S. would be better off if we tried to slow the diversification of our population. But Atlantic offshoot Quartz.com reports there is a sea of evidence that suggests otherwise.

The Many Ways We Are Injured During the Holidays

Dec 28, 2015
National Electronic Injury Surveillance System

The numbers blog fivethirtyeight.com posted some interesting facts about all the different ways we get injured during the holidays. Every year during the most wonderful time of the year, people head to the emergency room in droves.

Remembering the Important Things on a Family Farm

Dec 26, 2015
deanfotos66 / Flickr Creative Commons

Elisha Smith of the Center for Rural Affairs recently moved her family a few miles down the road to the family farm where her husband was born and raised. One thing she looks forward to in the new home is having less. During the moving process it became painfully apparent that the Smith family had way too much unnecessary stuff. Elisha says it’s her quest this holiday season to find ways to buy less materialist items and give from the heart … and support her local rural community.

Views of Christmas in U.S. Changing

Dec 22, 2015
Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center has published a new survey that reveals changing about American attitudes toward Christmas.

Tips to Avoid a Holiday Meltdown

Dec 21, 2015
Getty Images

If your holiday gatherings regularly feature mashed potatoes being flung across the room because someone mentioned Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump, member station KUT is here to help. The folks down in Austin have compiled a list of helpful listener ideas to keep your holiday dinner from descending into a no-holds-barred cage match.

One listener said her family keeps a duck quacker by the table. Whenever someone brings up politics, they blow the quacker, and the topic is dead.

K.G.Photos / Flickr Creative Commons

The wonks over at the economics blog fivethirtyeight.com have devised a strategy for you to win your white elephant gift exchange using game theory. White elephant, also known as Yankee Swap, is a holiday gift-giving game where participants have the opportunity to steal a gift or to open a new one.

As you might already have figured out, the best way to win is to go last. But alas, order is chosen at random.

Bigfoot Legend is Big Business in Southeastern OK

Dec 18, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The legend of Bigfoot in Southeastern Oklahoma is growing—and rumors of the creature are attracting more tourists, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. Bigfoot stories go back generations in this area. There was even a low-budget 1972 horror movie called The Legend of Boggy Creek, about a creature across the border in southern Arkansas.

While Colorado Booms, Many Eastern Counties Struggle

Dec 9, 2015
Colorado Public Radio

Colorado consistently ranks highly on lists of best places for businesses. And the state’s unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest in eight years and almost two percent lower than the national rate. However, some Coloradans aren’t sharing in the good times, including much of the eastern part of the state. Colorado Public Radio has published an interactive map that allows Coloradans to see how well their county is doing compared to neighbors.

How Many Texans Resemble You?

Dec 4, 2015
Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune posted a unique interactive element on their site this week that allows readers to investigate how many other Texans resemble them. Users can fill in blanks for sex, age and race and see what the rest of the Texan population looks like compared with their own metrics.

Why Did Heritage Tourism Fail in SE Colorado?

Nov 30, 2015
National Park Service

Over the past few years, a new idea sprang up to help bring Southeast Colorado out of the economic doldrums. The effort is known as heritage tourism, and it was expected to make a big difference in the area. So, what went wrong?

Pew Research Center

According to a new Pew report, beliefs in the freedom of the press vary substantially by country, reports NiemanLab.org. Large majorities across the globe believe that people should be able to criticize their governments publicly. But the situation gets trickier when issues grow more specific. When it comes to the right to print things that are offensive to minorities or religious groups, countries are divided.


From ruralhousewives.com:

There’s something different about this place and I enjoy it very much. The atmosphere, the people, the way of life…it’s just nice. Maybe I like it so much because I’m not from here? Maybe because I’ve lived in the city so I have that point of view as well. Either way, I want to share why I love Western Kansas so much!

"Land Mines" to Avoid This Thanksgiving

Nov 25, 2015
Ryan McVay / Getty Images

  The Huffington Post has published a list of a few “land mines” to avoid this Thanksgiving. These are things you should avoid doing if you want to maintain your sanity over the holiday. First, don’t believe that Donna Reed is real. No family ever really gets along that well. There is very little you can do to control your relatives, but you can control how you respond to them. Next, don’t overstay your welcome. Some hosts may not want you in the kitchen helping.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The rural areas in the U.S. where immigrant workers that pick crops like cotton and melons find work often lack the social services and affordable housing vital to integrating new arrivals into a community. That means many farmworker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Migrant workers planting roots

A Kansas Legend Comes Home

Nov 16, 2015
Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle

Legendary Kansas Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker has returned home for good, reports The Wichita Eagle.

Kassebaum was the second woman to be elected senator in her own right, not preceded by a husband or appointed to fulfill an unexpired term. She served proudly in the US Senate from 1978 to 1997. Through the entirety of her re-election campaigns, she won more than 70 percent of the vote.


Living rural means viewing stars without light clutter, neighbors helping neighbors in good times and bad, and signaling every driver you meet with a two-fingered wave. It also means shopping takes effort, and running a successful business takes even more. Despite difficulties, creative folks find ways to provide services others need. I could rave for pages telling why I like shopping local where I feel welcome and my commerce keeps money in the region. I love my small town bank, mechanic, stylist, grocery, drug, and hardware stores.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr/Public Domain

Only 330 miles separate Cuba from the southern tip of Florida—roughly the distance from Plainview, Texas, to Dodge City, Kansas. Yet only 359 Cubans made the treacherous trip in 2013, reports Texas Standard. That doesn’t mean they’ve stopped coming, though. Many Cuban refugees make the safer journey to Ecuador, where there are no visa requirements. Then their journey takes them up through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and finally the United States.

State's Rural-Urban Divide Remains Problematic

Nov 4, 2015
Gerald Thurman / roadtripamerica.com

From Kansas Agland:

TOPEKA − Kansas’ rural-urban divide shows no signs of abating, economists and advocates said this past week — drawing attention to the economic stress placed on the state’s least-populated areas.

Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

GRIGSTON – There were plenty of signs to tell the South American trade buyers that – at least this fall – milo is king in western Kansas.

Mountains of milo dot about every Kansas elevator along Highway 96. What hasn’t been cut of the thick russet crop spreads across their route from Liberal to this tiny Scott County spot along the highway.

Sandra J. Milburn / Hutchinson News

Jamie and Tim Kaminkow of Moundridge, Kansas, have found a novel way to make their farm meaningful to the larger population this fall, reports The Washington Times. After planting 8,000 pumpkins this summer, the Kaminkows have invited children from nearby cities to their farm to learn about agriculture.

Slideshow: Scenes from a Kansas Family Tradition

Oct 28, 2015
Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

The Hutchinson News reported this week on an annual family tradition. The Drake family of Hutchinson has been holding a pumpkin carving contest for 15 years. This year the contest drew 19 family members to the garage of Richard and Toni Drake to compete.

“My kids are crazy-competitive,” Toni Drake said. “They go out for blood.”

Neighbors Gaylon and Sherry Gaines served as judges.

Akash Ghai / NPR

For years, NPR’s Marc Silver has been trying to keep the memory of his mother-in-law alive by cooking up her old recipes on holidays. But this was no easy task, as many of Jan Dale’s recipes seemed to have died with her in 2005. That is, until Marc found her spiral-bound cookbook. The book was filled with notes and marginalia in Jan’s perfect 1950s handwriting.

Poncie Rutsch / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Fort Morgan is a town of about 11,000 people tucked into the farmland of northeastern Colorado. Among its residents are people of Latino and European ancestry, and more recent immigrants, including refugees from eastern Africa.