comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma has been paying tens of thousands of dollars to administer a writing test for three straight years—with no results. According to KGOU's Oklahoma Watch, concerns have been raised about the writing test’s validity, and changing standards mean new tests must continually be created.

In Oklahoma, Continued Tilling Could Bring Trouble

Sep 22, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tilling and planting on the same land in Oklahoma for generations has left the soil in poor shape. And StateImpact Oklahoma warns that if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, there will be trouble.


Oklahoma is considering installing a gun range in the state’s largest and oldest state park. NPR member station KGOU reports that state tourism officials are weighing plans for an outdoor sports shooting complex, which would be built at Lake Murray State Park. The proposal has generated complaints that the gun range could disturb the park’s ambience.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

When President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan to cut power plant emissions, he enraged Oklahoma leaders. But researchers and officials now say that the effort to could create new opportunities in Oklahoma, reports StateImpact.

Creative Commons

The Oklahoman recently published an editorial calling for creative solutions to the Oklahoma teacher shortage. The state currently has about 1,000 teacher vacancies. That’s even after the state eliminated 600 teaching jobs during the last school year. The state has seen large rallies over the past couple of years. Protestors decried the fact that Oklahoma ranks near the bottom nationally in average salary for teachers.

The Oklahoma State Fair: What's on the Menu?

Sep 1, 2015

In regional news, the Oklahoma State Fair is approaching. News station KFOR reports that fair officials have just released a list of foods that will appear at the fairgrounds.  


A recent Standard & Poor report maintains that Oklahoma will face sharp economic consequences in the future as a result of man-made earthquakes.

In Oklahoma, Bees are Vanishing

Aug 25, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lost a greater percentage of its honeybee colonies than any other state last year. As a result, beekeepers, scientists, and farmers met in Oklahoma City this month to create a plan to help pollinating insects survive. As reported by StateImpact Oklahoma, the meeting  focused on ways to balance the use of pesticides with an understanding of the chemicals’ dangers to pollinators.  

Oklahoma Lags Behind Nation in Solar Usage

Aug 3, 2015
U.S. Department of Energy / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

In Oklahoma, oil and gas are king. The state is also a powerhouse when it comes to wind energy, ranking fourth in the nation.  But when it comes to solar energy, the state has some catching up to do, according to StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR stations. Oklahoma’s deficiencies in the area of solar energy have nothing to do with the sun, and everything to do with state policy.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Here’s a quiz: the nation’s most inland seaport exists in what state? There are pretty good odds you didn’t guess Oklahoma, but in fact the Port of Catoosa handles two and a half million tons of wheat, fertilizer, steel, and manufacturing goods each year.

From outside of Tulsa, these resources head down the Verdigris River, to the Arkansas River, then east to the Mississippi and onward to Pittsburgh and Chicago. From there, these goods can move up through the great lakes to New York, Europe, or anywhere in the world.

Wikimedia Commons

The increasing rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has resulted in a crackdown on disposal wells in the state, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR member stations. Last year, Oklahoma experienced nearly 600 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger. This year, the state has already suffered 500 such earthquakes.

Creative Commons

President Obama visited Oklahoma on Wednesday, and stopped by Durant to speak to the Choctaw Nation about expanding economic opportunities, reports KFOR. The president gave a speech focusing on improving conditions for all kinds of American communities, including the Choctaw Nation.

Creative Commons

Oklahoma may be one of the first states to repeal Common Core and draft completely new standards, Public Radio Tulsa reports.  Meanwhile, after repealing the Common Core goals, the state has instituted new academic standards in math and English, that in some ways go beyond Common core requirements. For example, elementary school students will be expected to write research papers, and high school students will need to know the “why”s behind mathematical formulas.

Sarah Nichols / Flickr

McAlister, Oklahoma, has had a ban on oil drilling within its city limits since 1974. But now Governor Mary Fallin has signed controversial legislation outlawing municipal drilling bans, and the mayor of this small town in southeastern Oklahoma isn’t happy, reports KOSU. In fact, he wrote a eulogy for the death of his town’s 41-year old drilling ban, referring to the ordinance by the name “Ordie.” The requiem  reads, in part, “Ordie . . .

Missouri Shoemaker Invents Cowboy Boot Sandals

Jul 1, 2015

The website Mashable.com reports that a cobbler in Missouri has found a way to make cowboy boots more breathable for the summertime by fashioning cowboy boot sandals from old pairs of boots. These new boot sandals retain the top part of the boot—the part that surrounds the calf and ankle, but the lower part has been converted into a flip-flop.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the five-year drought has been broken in Oklahoma, the rain was too much and too late for many wheat farmers, says StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR stations. This year, the wheat crop was ready before the fields were dry. Though the rain was certainly more welcome than the alternative, many wheat fields were too soggy for combines and other heavy equipment to be employed.

Best & Worst States for Working Moms

May 6, 2015

In the world of working moms the High Plains region spans the center of a survey of equality and support for mothers to hold their own in the workplace. With Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma ranking in the mid to low range at number 24, 33 and 42 respectively as the best and worst states for working moms.

Sue Ogrocki

A new process for administering the death sentence in Oklahoma was signed into law recently.

The practice of lethal injection has been traded for a new process involving an inert gas that replaces the inmate’s available oxygen with nitrogen and is delivered via mask or a bag placed over the face.

StateImpact Oklahoma

There are a handful of people still around who remember the darkness that feel over Oklahoma 80 years ago. Black Sunday was commemorated at the Oklahoma Capitol by Dust Bowl Survivors recently.

Survivor Pauline Hodges, who was only 5 at the time, recounts the onset of the storm at the Capitol, “It looked like night. There was so much dirt in the air and that made it so black.”

PECAN in a Nutshell

Apr 16, 2015
NSF, NOAA, NASA & U.S. Department of Energy

If you’ve spent any time in Southern United States, then one would expect you to be very well acquainted with the Pecan. However this rendition may be something completely new to you. The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, aka PECAN is a study aimed at understanding severe thunderstorms at night over the High Plains.

Default on student loans, lose your job

Feb 13, 2015

In Oklahoma and Texas, under state law, some workers could lose their jobs if they don’t repay their college loans.

Professionals in at least 22 states can lose the licensure required to do their jobs if they fall into default on their student loans, according to labor and worker’s rights advocacy group Jobs With Justice.

Quentin Hope

  The cost of producing and providing electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines has plunged in recent years, and are on track to meet — and in some markets are already beating — the generation costs of conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

The Journal Record / http://journalrecord.com/

An oil industry geologist wants to shift the finger pointing away from the oil industry as the cause of the earthquakes in Oklahoma.  At a recent conference sponsored by the Oklahoma City Geological Society, Glen Brown, vice president of geology at Continental Resources, Inc. says the “tectonic plates are more likely to blame for the tremors in Oklahoma,” according to a recent article from the Journal Record.


The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill making tax incentives for oil and gas production permanent.

Governor Mary Fallin is expected to sign the controversial legislation, despite threats of a constitutional challenge posed by an Oklahoma City attorney.

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

On December 31, the federal production tax credit for renewable energy expired. In Oklahoma, this stimulated 12,300 megawatts of wind projects to begin construction ahead of the deadline.

If you live in the Texas Panhandle you’re more likely to be discussing plans for THANKSgiving rather than ThanksGIVing, as you might it Kansas.  There’s commonality in how we speak across the High Plains but also differences.  Click through the slide show above to view some food-related differences in pronunciation and usage across the region. 

Bert Vaux (study data) and Joshua Katz (map)

We think of the High Plains as a region with a common geography, environment and economy.  But there are differences in language and dialect.  In some cases Panhandle Texans talk like other Texans and in others case they speak more like western Kansans.  And in still other cases there are differences once you cross the state line into eastern Colorado.  Browse through the dialect maps below to see some of these distinctions.  

The gossip on states

Sep 2, 2013

Side-by-side Kansas and Colorado were ranked first as having “the worst” and “the most beautiful” scenery in the country, respectively, according to a recent poll by Business Insider.  It is not clear whether eastern Colorado was considered part of Kansas or Colorado by the poll respondents.

Logan Layden/StateImpact Oklahoma

Texas remains on top of the nation in total wind energy produced in 2012, while Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado are not far behind, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Additions to each state's wind generation capacity last year are keeping the four plains states in the top ten of wind energy producers, as indicated by the DOE's Wind Technologies Market Report.

Oklahoma is the beating heart of tornado alley. State Impact Oklahoma reports community tornado shelters are closing because they are, "too popular." Listen to the audio feature.