Kansas

Calvin Mattheis / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

It is evident from the sweeping acres of sorghum, wheat and pastures of cattle, the irrigated circles that can be seen from the sky, and from the scenic overlook at Dodge City where thousands of cattle are fattening:

Kansas’ backbone is agriculture.

Orlin Wagner / AP photo

In an attempt to understand how well Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s grand experiment of slashing taxes to stimulate economic growth has affected unemployment, The Pittsburgh Gazette recently compared the state’s stats with those of Nebraska.

Source: WalletHub  

American state capitals aren’t always the most exciting places in the nation. Often, these cities serve as seats of government, and not much more. Think Carson City, NV, or Charleston, WV. But the economic website Wallethub has found that many state capitals are, in fact, thriving—and they’re great places to live. The site has now ranked the best and worst state capitals to live in, and High Plains states did fairly well in the rankings.

In fact, Austin, Texas, is listed as the most livable state capital in the country, and Lincoln, Nebraska, came in second. Colorado cracked the top 15, with Denver coming in at number 13. Topeka had a decent showing, landing at number 20, just ahead of Oklahoma City at number 21.

Andy Marso / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

More than half of Kansans who found jobs after losing assistance remain in poverty.

Gov. Sam Brownback made his case Thursday for why Kansas food stamp reforms should be a national welfare-to-work model, even though the study he used to support his claim showed almost 80 percent of Kansans affected remained in poverty.

A Popular Kansas Guidebook Receives an Update

Dec 31, 2015
Kansas Sampler Foundation

A popular ten-year-old explorer’s guide to the state of Kansas is receiving an update, reports the Garden City Telegram. WenDee LaPlant and Marci Penner have been working on the book Kansas Guidebook for Explorers 2 for almost four years.

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.

Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

When it comes to providing summer meals to low-income children, Kansas ranks among the worst states in the nation. In fact, only Oklahoma fares worse in feeding poor children during the summer, reports The Hutchinson News.

Kansas Biologist Takes Issue with Textbook Ag Science

Nov 11, 2015
Professor John Richard Schrock

For decades Americans have been asking whether it’s better for the earth if humans are herbivores, carnivores or somewhere on the omnivore spectrum? Some textbooks purport to have the answers, claiming to show in graphs and clear language that “herbivore” is by far the best route for humans and the planet. The textbooks insist that any land used for crops will increase the world’s food supply. But biologist John Richard Schrock disagrees, reports Kansas Public Radio.

Jacob Byk / Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

The importance of farming and ranching to the state’s economy touches all Kansans – and, according to the latest Kansas Department of Agriculture figures – the world.

In its latest figures, the department states that agriculture’s annual output was about $62 billion in 2012 – the most recent figures available – accounting for 43 percent of the state’s total economy.

Twitter

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was accused last week of speaking to a group of white nationalists, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. The accusation came from The Southern Poverty Law Center, after Kobach spoke at an event hosted by The Social Contract Press.

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.

As Gas Prices Fall, Kansas Oil Counties Suffer

Nov 2, 2015
Tim Evanson / Flickr Creative Commons

While Kansas consumers may be enjoying cheap gas at the pumps, the lower prices are hitting some oil-producing counties hard, reports The Wichita Eagle. These counties are being forced to cut spending and increase taxes to make up for the petroleum profit shortfall. Oil and gas property values in the state have fallen by percent this year. And 16 oil and gas-producing counties in Western Kansas have seen their total property values decline by 20 percent.

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.

Creative Commons

Last week in Topeka, lawmakers launched a special committee to come up with a new school finance formula and to study student educational outcomes, according to The Wichita Eagle. The committee hopes to improve efficiency in Kansas public schools. The 15-person committee, made up of Kansas House and Senate members, is known as The Special Committee on K-12 Student Success. The group began by reviewing classroom expenses and teacher pay and benefits.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Sam Brownback is concerned about the efficacy of various pre-kindergarten programs in the state, and the Kansas governor has set up a task force to investigate ways to more effectively prepare children for kindergarten. Dozens of public and private organizations operate early-education programs in Kansas, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

A Kansan Who Arrived in a Covered Wagon Turns 100

Oct 7, 2015
Gloria Tucker / Dodge City Daily Globe

This week The Dodge City Daily Globe reported the remarkable story of Mabel Roberts Keller. Mabel crossed with her family into Kansas from Oklahoma in 1919. She was one of the last Kansans to arrive in a covered wagon. On September 28th, Mabel Keller turned 100 years old at her residence at Hill Top House in Bucklin.

Ten Wonderful Places to Visit in Kansas During Fall

Oct 2, 2015
Jason Probst / Hutchinson News

The first day of fall has arrived, and The Hutchinson News has published a list of ten great places to visit in Kansas during autumn. If it ever starts to feel like fall, that is.

Jacob Byk / Huthinson News

From Kansas Agland:

FREDERICK - The few residents left in Kansas' second smallest town have not made a decision on its fate.

As far as Frederick City Clerk Melode Huggans knows, no one has even discussed it.

Author to Give Talks in Western Kansas on US 83 Book

Sep 15, 2015

A new book called The Last American Highway details the history of US Route 83. The highway is an almost 2,000-mile route that stretches from North Dakota’s Canadian border and ends at the southernmost tip of Texas in Brownsville.

Kansas Narrowly Escapes Judicial Funding Disaster

Sep 9, 2015
John Hanna / AP

The budget battle in Kansas has spilled over into the judicial branch. And as reported by The Atlantic Monthly, the state narrowly avoided disaster last week.

When Farmers Vacation . . . They Visit Other Farms!

Aug 27, 2015
Thinkstock / DCProductions

When farmers take a vacation, where do they go?  With so much daily work that needs to be done, it can be hard to justify a holiday. So often, farmers find themselves visiting another farm! And what do they find? Other farmers are trying to do the same things they are, but under different circumstances—and they discover some interesting differences. As reported on FarmFutures.com, recently Illinois farmer Maria Cox made the trek to Lucas, Kansas.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

State contracts for campaign to compel employers to follow federal law.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Two Kansas government agencies are teaming up on a $50,000 ad campaign urging employers to follow federal child support law.

Kansas Wheat Farmers May Consider Durum in Future

Aug 20, 2015
Kansas Agland

Kansas has long been considered the nation’s breadbasket. That’s because of its hard red winter wheat production. But one Kansas crop breeder is looking to turn the state into America’s pasta bowl. For the past 17 years, Ray Brengman has been working  to breed a new type of wheat called winter durum, used in pasta. In a state where water is increasingly scarce, Brengman thinks durum has a bright future, reports Kansas Agland.

Jacob Byk / The Hutchinson News

In regional news, a beloved Kansas painter is putting away his brushes, reports The Hutchinson News. Hutchinson resident Larry Lambert went deaf at age 3 following a bout with measles. But he eventually learned to express himself with paint, and art became a lifelong passion for him. 70 years later, after selling thousands of paintings, Lambert is retiring. His vision is failing, and he is going blind.

The Rural Blog

Declining revenue may have forced many Kansas newspapers to go weekly, but that doesn’t spell the end of the small-town Kansas newspaper. In fact, some towns are even starting up new weekly newspapers, reports the Rural Blog. Examples include the newly formed McPherson News and Information and the in-progress Newton Now. Joey young says he’s starting the Newton Now as an alternative to corporate newspapers that concentrate on national and world news.   

For the past four summers, Doug Armknecht of Smith Center, Kansas has been working to capture his wife's family harvest in Osborne County. His breathtaking YouTube videos of the LaRosh family harvest have drawn increasingly large viewerships since 2012, now reaching 37,000 hits, reports Kansas AgLand.

A Tireless Conservationist Bids Kansas Adieu

Aug 12, 2015
Travis Morisse / The Hutchinson News

Tim Christian and his wife Cozette are packing everything into a camper and heading West. For the past ten years, Tim has coordinated the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition, a non-profit that helps Kansas ranchers regenerate grazing resources. His efforts in the state have been exceedingly successful, says Kansas Agland. And you can see the difference.

Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of Seward County, Kansas, are learning to pick vegetables—and having a wonderful time doing it. The four-acre garden plot at Seward County Community College has become a place for the citizens of Liberal to gather and enjoy the summer weather. The garden, known as Prime Pickin’s, was cultivated as part of the college’s Sustainable Agriculture program.

New Study Shows Kansas Sales Tax Hurting Rural Grocers

Aug 10, 2015
Michael Cannon / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute

A group pushing for elimination of the sales tax on groceries in Kansas is touting a new study.

The Wichita State University study shows that even before it was raised last month from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent, the statewide sales tax was costing rural grocers an average of about $18,000 a year in lost sales.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Thursday announced $63 million in changes to the state budget.

Much of that comes from increases in federal aid, cost-cutting measures and some services costing less than initially projected. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, outlined the plan in a Statehouse news conference.

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