The northern states in the HPPR listening area are among the top 15 in the nation when it comes to quality school systems.

However, the southern states didn’t fare as well.

As the personal finance website Wallethub reports, Colorado has the 10th best public schools in America, while Nebraska and Kansas rank number 14 and 15, respectively.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma falls at number 33 when it comes to the health of its public schools—and Texas ranks even lower, at number 36.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera


The Man Diet

Last week, I introduced you to Joel, my much older husband.  This week’s show is two-fold -  “The Man Diet” followed by “Speed Shopping.”

Eight weeks ago, my husband gave up Dr. Pepper. Not entirely, mind you. He simply dropped his intake from unlimited (between eight and 10 per day) to two 12-ounce drinks a day.  I’m happy for him because this reduction allowed him to lose 30 pounds in those two months.  Yes, I said 30 pounds.  In. Eight. Weeks.

Luke Clayton

Wild pork is plentiful during the winter months at Luke Clayton’s house and he puts it to use in various ways, but any lean meat - domestic or wild - will work with this recipe. 

Luke first learned how to prepare this tasty dish from a Mexican cook at a hunting camp down on the Texas/Mexico border back in the late 70s.

Rather than measure the cumin, salt, garlic, etc., Luke much prefers to taste test the stew as it cooks. Cumin is the predominate seasoning and it's important to use enough of it to give the dish it's "Mexican" taste.

Public Domain / ESO/L. Calçada

The two brightest stars in the Texas Democratic Party firmament appear to be on a collision course.

As POLITICO reports, for many years, Texas Democrats have dreamed of a resurgence onto the national stage—and the path to that national stage has long run through San Antonio, home to twin brothers Julian and Joaquin Castro.

Our Turn At This Earth: The Beauty Of Dry Places

Dec 27, 2018
CC0 Creative Commons


High Plains Public Radio will be re-airing the past year's episodes of Our Turn At This Earth beginning Nov. 22, 2018.

In the meantime, Julene Bair is working on a whole new set of episodes, so stay tuned!

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll snap into an old Southern tradition that's said to usher in good luck for the New Year: eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. While this folk custom goes as far back as the Civil War, being generally keen on beans as a matter of good fortune dates to ancient times. Tune in as we throw open the doors on this unique ritual and its rich history—and may it encourage you to cook up a batch of "coins" for your family on January 1st.

Public Domain / Pixabay

Texas is moving closer to providing affordable college educations to its residents.

As Forbes magazine notes, In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry called on the Lone Star State’s public four-year universities to figure out a way to offer affordable bachelor’s degrees.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Oxen
By Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

Newsy / Kevin Clancy

From 2008 through 2017, 1,566 workers perished trying to extract oil and gas in America. About as many U.S. troops died fighting in Afghanistan during that period.

From The Texas Tribune:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Parker Waldridge had worked in the Oklahoma oilfields since he was 16 and acquired the traits that make a good driller: fortitude, intellect and a healthy respect for the power of a runaway gas well.

The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking input from Texans on how to update the state’s railways.

The Texas Rail Plan includes a list of current and future rail projects, and the plan must be updated every four years. State law requires that authorities seek the opinions of the state’s citizens before updating the rail plan.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

As the classes I am both teaching and taking wind down this semester, I find myself so busy that I am neglecting my husband. Guilt plagues me.  In an attempt to assuage some of it, I have taken to typing in bed.  That way, I am spending quality time with Joel in one of his favorite spots. 

Radio Readers Book Club Holiday Tradition Listen Now!

Dec 22, 2018

Tune in tonight for an HPPR Radio Readers Book Club holiday tradition: the two-hour broadcast of a High Plains author's delightful Christmas story: A Carol Dickens Christmas, featuring a fresh reading by the book's author, Thomas Fox Averill


Saturday, December 22th—  7-9pm CT

Monday, December 24th— 7-9pm CT

Lynne Warfel hosts an hour of gorgeous, contemplative choral music that tells the traditional Christmas story with songs about angels, the star and the manger scene. Featured artists include Cantus, Chanticleer, Cambridge Singers, Bryn Terfel, Emma Kirkby, Jessye Norman, and a variety of choirs.

Luke Clayton

On today's High Plains Outdoors, Luke tells how easy it is to make homemade tamales and ... how much money you can save by doing so!

This past week, Luke used his iron sighted 30/30 to harvest a fat 'eater' size wild hog weighing about 120 pounds. There are so many ways to turn that fresh wild pork into tasty meals but tamales and Christmastime go together like, well, wild hogs and pork chops!

Take a listen and Luke will walk you through the process and in no time you will be turning your own game meat into one of the tastiest of all Mexican dishes...FRESH TAMALES!

TUNED IN: Notes from Bob Davis, executive director of High Plains Public Radio

Our Turn At This Earth: Wild Times

Dec 20, 2018
Julene Bair

High Plains Public Radio will be re-airing the past year's episodes of Our Turn At This Earth beginning Nov. 22, 2018.

In the meantime, Julene Bair is working on a whole new set of episodes, so stay tuned!


A tumbleweed isn't often associated with Christmas and is a foe to my garden, but on today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I delve into the history of the Kochia, aka fireweed, and its travails and travels across the High Plains, where at one time, it made a pit stop as a Christmas tree.

Courtesy / Garden City Police Department

Garden City police are searching for a white male who sexually assaulted a woman on Tuesday.

According to police, an unknown man armed with a weapon entered a woman’s residence in southeast Garden City at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. The man allegedly sexually assaulted the woman and caused her significant injury before fleeing the area.

Police are asking for the community’s help in locating the man, who was described as about 40 years of age, approximately six feet tall, with brown eyes and dark eyebrows; clean shaven and of slim build.

Robin Jerstad / The Texas Tribune

SAN ANTONIO – Abimbola Ibitoye was positive her medicine was killing her.

That’s how Ibitoye, who has been hospitalized since July at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, describes her experience after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. She was taking 13 pills at the time to combat the infectious disease that affects the lungs. Ibitoye was nauseous, throwing up, couldn’t walk very well and was retaining fluid in her body.

“I thought I was dying,” Ibitoye said. “I asked for the doctor and said, 'This is not the real me.'”

Jason Massingill / The Texas Tribune

More and more states have decided to expand Medicaid, but Texas has not budged. With more than a half million Texans in the so-called health coverage gap, will the politics of the issue shift in next year's legislative session?

From The Texas Tribune:

Public Domain / Edwards AFB

An Oklahoma Senator has filed a bill that would ban vaping in schools across the Sooner State.

As KOSU reports, Senator J.J. Dossett has proposed a law to ban all vaping products in schools. The ban would include non-combustible devices and cartridges, regardless of whether they contain nicotine.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

With the holidays fast approaching, I’ve dedicated the guest room as a “wrapping room” and have paper, bows, tape, and scissors spread all over the place.  The wrapping room is off limits to other members of the family.  Except for Clementine.  Despite repeated injunctions to stay out, Clementine has wormed her little way in there more often than I realized.

For local art that's truly out of this world, check out the new Galaxy Gallery in Lamar, Colorado. I had a chance to catch up with the gallery's owners/arts advocates, Vincent Gearhart and Robert Townsend. HPPR wants to thank them for spending time with us on the phone as we discussed their new space and how it serves the community of Eastern Colorado. 

Lock the doors. Close the curtains. Keep the lights on. And get ready for HPPR Radio Readers Book Club's 2019 Spring ReadIt's a Mystery to Me! This season will surely delight readers who love thrillers, true crime, murder mysteries, classic detective stories, and regional authors exposing the darker side of our High Plains home. Now let's all snuggle up with this hearty stack of books and try to figure out WHODUNNIT! See below for the book list!

Click here to see a printable, two-page Reader's Guide, complete with bios and books! 

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke takes us on a big bore airgun hunt to Ranger Creek Ranch

Luke's hunted here for many years and loves the rough 'Cedar Break' country that is home to lots of deer, javelina, wild hogs and turkey.

Luke used his Airforce Airguns .45 caliber 'Texas' to harvest a fat doe that will supply his and his family’s many tasty meals in the months ahead.

Public Domain

Xcel Energy recently announced an ambitious plan to go completely carbon free.

As Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves tells HPPR, the energy giant has set a goal across its eight-state service area to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 12 years.

To fir or not to fir, that is the question! While we're all pining for the impending holidays, I thought I'd share some festive wisdom about an iconic, annual friend to many High Plains households: the Christmas tree. Even if you're from an artificial-tree household, it's fascining to know more about the different varieites of conifers that grace our holiday homes.

UT Energy Institute

Wind power remains the least expensive way to generate electricity in almost every county in the High Plains listening region.

In fact, according to a map published Tuesday in the Dallas Morning News, wind is king across a wide swath of the middle part of the U.S., ranging from the Big Bend area all the way up to the Dakotas and the Canadian border.

DID YOU KNOW: Every 98 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault? Sexual violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Services in the US are making progress — the number of assaults has fallen by more than half since 1993…but even today, only 6 out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison.

public domain via Pexels

According to new data, the infant mortality rate in some parts of Amarillo is significantly higher than the state average.

As The Amarillo Globe News reports, research from the University of Texas Center for Population Health shows every zip code in Amarillo has a higher infant mortality rate than the state’s average, with the exception of the mostly upper-middle class and white zip code of 79109, in southwest Amarillo.