HPPR People & Communities

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Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Sister Janice Thome’s office is a 2003 brown Ford Focus with a backseat piled high with paperwork and a prayer book.

Thome puts 125,000 miles a year on this car, picking up boxes from the food pantry, finding a mattress for a newcomer, delivering a sick soul to a doctor’s appointment. All the while, she fields emergency calls on her flip phone, responding to her mission to serve the poor of Garden City, out on the plains of southwest Kansas.

This day, Thome is teaching her teen parenting class at the alternative high school.

Greeley County, Kansas Fights Depopulation

Oct 28, 2013
Matt Nager/The Wall Street Journal

In a town and county named in honor of Horacy Greeley, the man credited with saying "Go West, young man," officials fear for the town's survival after three decades of accelerating population decline.

Greeley County, Kansas does not have demographics on its side. Rural areas across the Great Plains tend to experience high death rates as baby boomers age and die, while young people move away.  The county has lost over a third of its population since 1960.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

NOEL, MO - It’s almost 9 a.m., and Noel Primary School teacher Erin McPherson is helping a group of Spanish-speaking students complete English language exercises. But it’s tough going.

One student in a bright blue T-shirt – 9-year-old Isac Martinez – has not yet picked up his pencil. He’s clearly sick. When McPherson asks him what’s wrong, Isac’s small voice is barely audible in between coughs. He says he threw up four times last night but did not go to a doctor.

Amarillo’s Danny Wall Inducted into Hall of Fame

Sep 27, 2013
Russell Anglin / amarillo.com

Danny Wall was recently inducted into the Texas Bicycle Motocross Hall of Fame.  Wall, a 49-year old remodeling contractor, is one of the state’s pioneering BMX racers in the late 1970s and 80s according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Dr. Dixie Milello: A Texas Overcomer

Sep 23, 2013
papercitymag.blacktie-houston.com

Dr. Dixie Milello follows the road less taken.  She also has what it takes to turns challenges into strength.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Harvest Public Media reporter Peggy Lowe has been visiting Garden City working on a series of stories profiling “meat packing towns” and their economic, social and cultural life and challenges.  Fittingly, one of her first contacts was Sister Janice Thome who provided a ground-level orientation to the community.  Here is Peggy’s first field note featuring Sister Janice.

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The billboards that dot the long gray line of Interstate 70 west from Kansas City tried to lure me to tourist towns that promised Wild West shows, lots of sunflowers and even an Oz Winery.

Mike Fuller: A Glimpse Inside

Aug 27, 2013
alamomusic.com

There are a few families that show me how love looks and acts.  The Fullers do.  What some might see as a burden, they see as a blessing.  Read Mike’s feature from the Inspire section of Amarillo Magazine to get a glimpse into how this grandfather sees his grandson. 

With Mike’s approval, here’s the song he wrote for Max, “Son of a Daughter.”


hayspost.com

Lloyd Trauer spent a long time working in education.  Trauer recently announced that he is leaving his entire estate, worth more than half a million dollars, to provide scholarships reported The Topeka Capital-Journal.  According to his wishes, preference will be given to students from west of Salina, but the scholarships will be open to anyone in elementary education.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

One sign that you have strong farm roots is when your rural road is named for your family.

I met Steve Quandt on Quandt Road, north of Grand Island, Neb., on the farm that used to belong to his grandfather. It’s the place he remembers spending days as a kid, from morning to night, helping milk cows, work the fields and repair machinery.

He followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, building his own farming operation. But that path was suddenly interrupted nearly six years ago.

Kenneth Wyatt is a Texas Panhandle treasure.  The 83 year old is one of the country’s, maybe the world’s, premier artists of western and religious paintings according to the Amarillo Globe-News

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

I met Nate Pike working on a story back in 2012. When I dropped back by his ranch 30 miles south of Dodge City, KS, this summer, he took me on a bumpy pickup ride to see a spring called St. Jacob’s Well and we got to talking about the former owner of some of his ranchland.

Pike has been out on his ranch for a while and he told me the former owner started ranching in western Kansas before 1900.

“He was a fine old gentleman and one of the toughest old men I ever knew,” Pike told me, his gravelly voice carrying over the pickup truck’s rambles.

You may or may not agree with it, but Google has some interesting things to say about where you live.  You just have to know how to ask.

By manipulating the “autocomplete” function implemented by Google, bloggers and journalists alike recently discovered they can trick the search engine into surreptitiously suggesting what may appear to be biased or over-generalized judgments regarding various geographic locales.

Hardwired for hard work

Jul 15, 2013
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Amy Konishi says when her obituary is written it’ll read, “All she knew was work.”

It’ll be a fitting tribute given the 87-year-old’s work ethic. As a young girl she toiled in her family’s onion and cantaloupe and dry bean fields outside Rocky Ford, Colo. Then she moved to selling produce at her husband’s roadside shed along the highway. In the 1950s she opened her own hair salon and she’s been putting in hours ever since.  

Canadian Says Goodbye to The Comet

Jul 12, 2013
rollingdownhwy83.blogspot.com

Bill Cross, a 5' 6" stick of dynamite, was one of the all-time-greatest football players to come out of the Texas Panhandle said a piece in High Plains Yesterdays.

A civic lesson for rural towns

Jul 11, 2013
Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma. 

Sean Steffen / AGN Media

The Freedom Train toured the country from 1947-1949, and again from 1975-1976.  It was  the idea of Attorney General Tom C. Clark to remind Americans of the freedoms, liberties, and sacrifices so often taken for granted.   The Amarillo Globe reported The Freedom Train is back... in miniature... in Canyon, Texas.  

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Skip Mancini and Jan Evans about a project, one near and dear to Skip's heart.  Many of you know Skip as the voice of, Growing on the High Plains, but you may not know how Alzheimer's personally touched the life of both her parents.

Lee Fund: Raising Alzheimer's Awareness in SW Kansas

Jul 3, 2013

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Skip Mancini and Jan Evans about a project to raise Alzheimer's awareness in southwest Kansas. 

Skip Mancini is the creator and voice of Growing on the High Plains.  She also has been profoundly affected by Alzheimer's.  Both her parents had the disease. 

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Trent Johnson didn’t grow up on a farm, but he was always enamored with the cowboy lifestyle.

He sure looks the part now. I visited him in his custom cowboy hat shop in Greeley, Colo. In a sleek black cowboy hat and blue western shirt, Johnson delivers the modern cowboy aesthetic.

During college he hung out with the urban cowboy crowd, which included concerts for country idols like Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw. The city kid, who’d spent part of his childhood on a ski team, decided he needed a change.

kansas.com

The First Presbyterian Church calls Ashland, Kansas home.  The rural church has seen attendance, as well as hope, rise in the past year.  Why?  Because of a treasure found by Minister Marsha Granberry when she was cleaning out the attic.  Granberry said, in an article by Becky Tanner, for the Wichita Eagle, she was sorting through boxes and found a box of bibles in different languages.  The 15 bibles are from the 1920s and 1930s, and one bible, written in Cherokee, may have been printed in the 1860s.

Elementary students in the Texas panhandle are part of a new project teaching how to grow food with your own hands, and the nutritional value it puts into your mouth.

Air Gun Innovator

May 17, 2013

Terry Tate lives in northeast Texas, a place called Cumby.  Last week we talked with him about hunting with air rifles, and this week I asked him to come back to talk about how he discovered his passion for building them. 

Did you know that air rifles have been around since the Fifteenth Century? The Lewis  and Clark Expedition might have failed had it not been for an air rifle! That's right the expedition had only one air rifle but it was capable of shooting multiple shots and shooting them very accurately. The Native Americans encountered  along the way were usually given a demonstration of the 'silent and deadly' big bore rifle. When they saw tight groups shot at extended yardages, from a weapon that was almost as silent as their bows, they were awe struck.

Velma On...

May 1, 2013

As my time with Velma Wancura draws to a close, Velma and I talked about some of life's nuggets.  These are some of her thoughts about:

Prejudice and Pride

Apr 23, 2013

It was hard to be German during World War I.  Velma Wancura's father hired extra help during harvest time.  She said you had to be careful not to hire a German sympathizer or a spy. 

The Root Cause of Stingy

Apr 16, 2013

Go back to May, 1935.  Velma and Ted Wancura have a young son.  They haven't had a wheat crop in years, or rain for that matter.  Most of their cattle herd has been lost in the dust storms.  A tornado took their house.  The Wancuras moved a vacant house in to replace it.

A Husband And Wife Blessed Late In Life

Feb 14, 2013

Harriet and Louis Caplan's love story began 20 years ago in a college town in Kansas. Harriet was 48 and working at a bank. Louis was a 56-year-old physicist.

Both assumed they'd be single for the rest of their lives — until their paths crossed.

It began with Wednesday evening outings when a group would meet after work.

"We went to football games and concerts, and I still don't quite know how it happened, but instead of going in two separate cars, you and I would start going in the same car," Harriet remembers. "I don't think we ever had a date."

Frank Morris/ Harvest Public Media

Rose Alderson is a bright-eyed, energetic grandmother who loves her home a few miles outside of Nickerson, Kan. It’s the home her father was raised in and where she raised her kids, but the house is not the most important part of the Alderson place.  

Alderson loves the barn and the silo. Neither building plays much of a role on the farm anymore, but to Rose, they are the soul of the place.  

Swingin' Gate Ranch

Marshal Allen Bailey's Swingin' Gate Ranch is the broadcast home of Western Swing & Other Things.

Howell Social Club

The nearby entirely exclusive Howell Social Club hosts the area's classiest events, including the Spring 2011 Woodchopper's Ball.

Abner's Guitar Shop

Western Swing & Other Things travels the High Plains territory from time-to-time with appearances and special broadcasts by Marshal Bailey along with Cowgirl Janey.  The Marshal and the program have also garnered many awards over the years both locally and nationally.

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