Quentin Hope

Strategic Projects Director

Community: Denver, CO
Profession:  strategy, management and organization consultant

Ways to Connect

Cheaper, purer imports of crystal meth made in Mexico are resulting in fewer meth labs in the fields and remote areas of states where they had become a major problem. In Missouri, data for 2014 to date indicates that lab seizures will be down a third from last year and one-half from 2012. In Oklahoma, they are projected to be down by about half from last year. Meanwhile deaths from meth use are rising and distribution rings for the imported meth are reaching into smaller communities in Oklahoma.

Willard Drake Johnson / USGS Photographic Library, http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/

When explorer Stephen Long led his expedition across the western Great Plains in 1819-1820, it was during a period of widespread drought.  With only a single reference point in time, he concluded the area “is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence”.  He also marked the region on his maps as the “Great American Desert”, a label used by other map makers for decades to come.

Last week analyst admitted that previous Kansas budget projections had been overly optimistic and agreed on a lower forecast that leaves a gap of $279 million dollars to be filled by June. It’s already a grim situation but an analysis by the Upshot from the New York Times contends the new forecast may still be overly optimistic. It projects this year’s remaining shortfall could be over $300 million dollars higher.

Gambling wasn’t viewed as a moral issue in need of prohibition under the state constitution when Kansas joined the union in 1861.  It wasn’t until the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives brought hundreds of cowboys to Kansas railheads in the 1860s and gambling became part of the colorful life of cowtowns such as Dodge City that it became a matter of public concern.  In 1868 Kansans acted to outlaw all games of chance for money.

FiveThirtyEight.com

With Election Day upon us, Nate Silver, the polling analyst famed for his accurate forecast of the 2012 election, has his final projections for hotly contested races in our region:

Revenue numbers for July through September, the first three months of fiscal year 2015, suggest Kansas’ revenue gap is permanent, not temporary. Analysis by the The Upshot projects the deficit for the fiscal year could be $250 million more than the already estimated $350 million

National attention is turning to Kansas as the possible key to the balance of power in the U.S. Senate with the withdrawal of the Democratic nominee and the continued lead in polls by independent candidate Greg Orman.

Kansas Office of the Governor

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is quoted as avowedly pursuing “a strategy that builds a strong state in the future on the red state model,” in a recent New York Times article on his administration to date.  According to the article, Brownback has delivered on his promise of a “conservative revolution” but the results and benefits to the state aren’t yet clear. 

There’s still time to help meet HPPR’s goal of raising $50,000 in December in order to cover sharp cuts in government support and end this year without a deficit.  Contribute now by clicking the red “SUPPORT HPPR” button above. Or mail your check dated by the 31st to: HPPR, 210 N 7th Street, Garden City, KS, 67846. We’d also be happy to discuss a contribution by phone during business hours at 800-678-7444 or answer an email sent to Deb Oyler, Executive Director, at director@hppr.org or Ben Brandow, Member Services Manager, at bbrandow@hppr.org.  Thank you for your consideration and support.

Quentin Hope

While the Kansas legislature and local school districts may be at odds over school funding, there may be common ground in a proposal to fund full-day kindergarten, according to a story from the Wichita Eagle.  The state now funds only half-days.

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.  

ed_needs_a_bicycle / flickr commons

With the Ogallala aquifer declining, there’s the inevitable question of how best to use the water remaining.  A recent study from Texas A&M suggests one answer: expand the cattle production and processing industries and rely on bringing in more “imported” grain and the “virtual” water it brings to the region.

High Country News

Amarillo’s Federal Helium Reserve got a reprieve Thursday as the Senate unanimously approved a bill extending the reserve, a day after the House approved the measure, also unanimously. Without the legislation, the facility would have been forced to shut down on October 7th under older legislation.  The reserve provides 42% of the country’s helium and 35% of the world’s.

Quentin Hope

  At $200 per acre, Trego County, KS topped the list of High Plains counties in per acre crop insurance payments in 2012.  Other top counties were Wallace County, KS at $157 per acre and Rawlins County, KS at $127 per acre.  All three are in Northwest Kansas.  At the bottom is the list was Hemphill County, TX in the northeast corner of the Panhandle with just $1 per acre on only 13,400 planted acres.

toastwireless.com

The “digital divide” between urban and rural areas used to be all about access to broadband internet service.  Today it is much more about adoption where access is now available. 

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.

Nearly 150 years later, the Sand Creek Massacre remains a wound that has not yet fully healed.  This is evident in the recent closing of a permanent exhibit at the History Colorado Center in Denver exploring the 1864 massacre as part of its Colorado Stories section.  The closing was prompted by concerns of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal members over aspects of the exhibit’s interpretation and the lack of prior consultation, according to a complete story in the Denver Post.  A reopening is pending the state and tribes reaching a consensus on the exhibit.

In 1960 just 3 percent of the Ogallala aquifer under Western Kansas had been tapped.  By 2010 it was 30 percent.  By 2060 it will be 69 percent.  And once depleted, it will take 500-1,300 years to completely refill.  These projections are all from a recently issued, comprehensive, four year study from Kansas State University. 

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

The High Plains are continuing to benefit from a stalled weather front along lower sections of the central Plains, which is serving as a focus for continued precipitation.  As a result, the monthly drought outlook map from the Climate Prediction Center (see first slide above) shows improvement across the HPPR coverage area though August.

Earl Notingham, Texas Parks and Wildlife / flickr

Drought conditions are long familiar to the Texas Panhandle and are now becoming well known to other parts of the state.  The most recent drought report from the Texas Water Development Board shows that 97 percent of the state is now experiencing some level of drought.

You may think that we’ve had good rainfall in recent weeks.  Or you might feel it’s been as dry as ever.  Across the High Plains either situation could be the case.  While the latest drought maps shows general improvement across the region, a closer look shows a very hit or miss picture with the percentage of normal precipitation varying widely from locale to locale. 

Artist: J. Keppler / Michigan State University Museum, Appel Collection

Two traveling exhibits, one featuring personal stories of Kanas’ immigration history and the other the role of caricature and stereotype in forming American values and attitudes about immigration, are now on exhibit at the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma KS.  As part of the exhibition, a presentation and discussion on “Ethnic Labor and Small Towns on the Rock Island Rail Line” will be led by M.J.

Jonathan Goforth / flickr commons

The plains states rank well generally for income mobility according to a new study considered to be the most comprehensive yet on the subject.  Based on millions of anonymous income records, the study by leading economists found four primary factors correlated with higher income mobility in an area: a larger and more dispersed local middle class, more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

A father with Alzheimer’s alone on the farm.  A swindling banker.  The school bully now grown-up as the local drug dealer.  A bleak, fictional town set in eastern Colorado.  The “unhomesteading” of the plains.  These are all elements of Greg Hill’s new novel East of Denver.

Quentin Hope

  Kansas ranks second overall in a comprehensive annual report on state highway performance.  Texas ranked 11th, up from 17th place in 2007.  Oklahoma and Colorado trailed far behind at 38th and 41st, respectively.

Quentin Hope

Poet Mary Lee Hahn offers a short poem that reflects on tourists eyeing the High Plains from I-70 and defines "a good, soaking rain".

A growing group of Republicans across the country are working to repeal their states’ income tax, using Texas’ economic success to make their case (e.g., Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas proclaiming “Look out, Texas. Here comes Kansas.”). In Texas, however, the state’s tax system is not universally beloved as explained in this background article by Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune that appeared in the Amarillo Globe-News.

Leaders in higher education struggle operate within caps and budget cuts, families wrestle with increased tuition, legislators grapple with fiscal accountability, and Governor Brownback signs the cuts into budget.

America's Health Rankings

Colorado ranks 8th, Nebraska 14th, Kansas 18th, Texas 39th and Oklahoma 49th in overall senior health according to the 2013 America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report.  

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