High Plains

https://www.safehome.org/smartest-americans/

Three states in the High Plains Public Radio listening area ranked in the top 20 in a study ranking the smartest states in the U.S.

According to safehome.org, the three high plains states that fared the best in the rankings – based on college degrees, high school graduation rates and test scores - were Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

Erik (HASH) Hersman / Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Election Day is Tuesday and aside from local offices, here are the items voters will decide on in the Kansas, Texas and Colorado elections. 

There are no elections in Oklahoma or Nebraska.

Paul Hudson/Creative Commons by 2.0 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/6872786713

The Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database has been released to spotlight dangerous levels of contamination.

According to the database, contaminants above health guidelines or legal limits were found in all five High Plains states - Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska - between 2012 and 2017. 

Sometimes Kansas' new poet laureate feels isolated and in transition. Huascar Medina's mother is Panamanian and his father is Puerto Rican, but Medina was born at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Texas, and is an American.

"I'm no longer from Puerto Rico or Panama, but sometimes I don't feel I'm American enough either, you know? My Spanish isn't the best, and sometimes I struggle with my English, so I live in the in between," says Medina, who has lived in Topeka for almost two decades.

Baca County Sheriff's Office

A cigarette is believed to have caused a large fire near the Colorado/Oklahoma state line Wednesday afternoon.

According to a Facebook post from the Baca County Colorado Sheriff’s Office Thursday, officials believe the 3,800-acre fire on Highway 287 southeast of Campo, Colorado was started by a smoldering cigarette.

For those who aren't accustomed to its unique landscape, our High Plains home is certainly a sight to see. After a recent visit from East-coast friends, I felt as if I saw the fields of Kansas with new eyes. 

So today's Growing on the High Plains will take a late-summer pause to review some of the spectacular native prairie grasses you might be taking for granted. Did you know that Kansas has the largest contiguous tract of native remnant—or uncultivated—tall grass prairie? I'll detail the different types common to our region, from the short and medium varieties to the towering tall grass favorites. (And living in a state with all three is a pretty rare thing!)

A division of the American Library Association voted unanimously Saturday to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's literature award over concerns about how the author referred to Native Americans and blacks.

The Association for Library Service to Children says the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award will now be known as the Children's Literature Legacy Award.

Memorial Day Gas Prices Highest Since 2014

May 25, 2018
CC0 Public Domain

People traveling over the holiday weekend across the High Plains can expect to pay the highest gas prices since 2014.

According to AAA, average gas prices jumped 12 cents in the past two weeks. Compared to an average of the past three Memorial Day weekends, gas prices are almost 50 cents higher.

The average price per gallon as of Friday was $2.74 in Kansas, $2.88 in Nebraska, $2.71 in Oklahoma, $2.90 in Colorado and $2.76 in Texas.

Perspectives - Introducing the 2018 Spring Read

Jan 15, 2018
Wikimedia Commons / U S War Bonds Poster

My father once said “You could call this place six-foot country.” He was an Arkansas native, raised among the trees of the Ozark foothills. His most vivid first impression of the Texas Panhandle area was that a six-foot tall man like him could see for ten miles in any direction, although he said that in 1932, there wasn’t really that much to see.

I remember vividly standing in our front yard in our small town and him pointing to the solitary barn lights of farmers whose places were five, maybe ten miles away.

   The first white explorers of this vast emptiness we call the High Plains agreed there wasn’t much to see. The leader of a mid-nineteenth century surveying party reportedly wrote across his map that “this is a vast treeless plain, unfit for human habitation.”

Drive along U.S. Route 400 in western Kansas, and you’ll see hundreds of metal sculptures on tall poles, some as high as 20 feet. It’s the work of self-taught artist M.T. Liggett, who crafted signs and whirligigs out of scrap metal, tractor parts, and pipe. Whimsical - and politically provocative - art. 

Liggett died on August 21 at the age of 86. These outdoor sculptures are now in the care of four trustees, including one based in the Kansas City area. 

Tonight in Amarillo, don't miss The RandyBoys, live at Fireslice Pizzaria (34th & Coulter) as they KICK OFF their 2017 HPPR Music Ambassador Tour of our listening region. For full details, locations, and dates, visit their website! But just so it's easy, there's a visual rundown below.

THINGS TO KNOW: 

-No RSVPs are necessary. Seating is first-come-first-seated. 

High Plains Public Radio is thrilled to announce the The RandyBoys—Music Ambassador Tour 2017. They'll be bringing HPPR's Living Room Concerts to 18 communities across the High Plains, including the Texas & Oklahoma Panhandles, Western Kansas, and Eastern Colorado. From October 17 thru Nov 9th, Randy and Randy will be cruising across our listening area. Click here to find out if they're coming to YOUR town! 

Before You Tear That Old Barn Down ...

Sep 13, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

Barns are as much a symbol of the High Plains as the plains themselves and while many old barns are being replaced with metal sheds and outbuildings, there are ways to give barns a new shot at life.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs, financial assistance through state and federal tax credits may be available to help aid in the process of restoring an old barn.

There are several steps to be taken, however.

Girl Scout troops in Kansas provided input on one of the new badges that scouts nationwide will be able to earn this year.

The national Girl Scout organization added 23 new badges focused on science, technology, engineering, math and the outdoors.

The effort takes a progressive approach to STEM and also encourages girls to become citizen scientists using the great outdoors as their laboratory.

Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

What do High Plains folks hate the most?

There’s a new app called Hater that works like Tinder, except it matches users based on common things they loathe.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, according to the app’s users, the most common thing Texans hate is . . . “sleeping with the window open.”

This may come as a surprise, as there are so many things to hate in Texas, like rattlesnakes and poorly constructed tacos.

Blink while driving on Highway 34 east of Greeley, Colorado, and you might miss the former Great Plains town of Dearfield.

Abandoned towns from the early 20th century are far from unique on this stretch of plains. Withered storefronts and collapsed false-front homes are common. Boom and bust economics and harsh weather made it tough for turn of the century settlers to succeed long-term.

The Sierra Club

Some High Plains states charge annual fees – or have pending legislation that would charge annual fees - to owners of electric vehicles.

As Vox reports, at the end of 2015, the Department of Energy identified nine states that levy extra yearly fees on purchases of EVs, including Colorado which charges $50.

Mud blessings

Feb 18, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

Chinese philosophers are on to something with their Yin and Yang concepts. Light balances dark, silence/noise, joy/sorrow, and in our case, mud offsets dust.

Yes, mud. Icky, gooey, sticky mud. Like cat hair, it latches onto anything it touches, finding its way from roads, yards, and pastures onto shoes and pant legs and into homes. It finds its way into the oddest places—a speckle stuck to a grocery sack, a chunk dropped by the door, a smear on a purse.

www.goodfreephotos.com

When I talk to friends who love to live in cities, they often wonder what we do for fun in our rural setting.  Even my former students who live in a nearby small town frequently asked, “Don’t you get bored in the country?  All you have to do is watch grass grow.” Anyone who reads my essays knows I don’t get bored even though we don’t have any neon lights or busy city streets lined with businesses that cater to people who just want to have fun.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0

Weather forecasters have a miserable job. On one hand, they predict impending catastrophic weather and save lives. Think of residents if Oklahoma who made it to shelter before devastating F5 tornadoes bore down on their neighborhoods and businesses. On the other, these predictions are often wrong. A  cell fritzes out, leaving the audience to compare yesterday’s hero to the boy who cried wolf. It’s a dilemma.

Quilted treasures

Jan 28, 2017

I’d be the first to tell you I’m not a quilter and unlikely to become one unless catastrophe requires me to recycle old clothing remnants into blankets to warm me or my loved ones in the cold of winter. While I don’t have patience to construct such intricate coverlets, I admire those who do. When our youngest daughter learned to quilt in a high school sewing class, I was thrilled she’d continue a family tradition that has waned since my great-grandmother last sorted through her ragbag to come up with pieces to create a lovely blue and red star heirloom that my mother treasures.

Misguided perceptions

Jan 21, 2017
http://www.cgpgrey.com/

Ask people from outside Kansas to describe our state and many would state definitely, “It’s flat.” A drive across western Kansas on I-70 or Highway 54 would support their idea of monotonously level terrain. What folks passing through don’t realize is that highway planners intentionally select the easiest route to turn into an interstate. It’s cheaper to build and easier to drive. Travelers who never travel the two lane black tops that weave one little community to another don’t have a clue about our river valleys and rolling hills.

Much of the High Plains region is in the path of a dangerous ice storm that could result in prolonged power outages this weekend.

As AccuWeather reports, freezing rain will begin falling some time Friday from the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles through southwest Kansas.  

Wikimedia Commons

Mother Nature does a fantastic job of cleaning up after herself. Humans could learn a trick or ten from the efficient way natural processes clean water, recycle plants into humus, and tidy up dead critters lying on roadways. For each specific job, creatures abound to make sure nothing stinky lies around too long. Two of my favorite helpers include the roadkill eradication team: magpies and turkey vultures. 

Cold front brings record lows to High Plains region

Dec 19, 2016
hutchpost

An arctic blast brought record-low temperatures to much of the High Plains region over the weekend.

Much of High Plains remains in drought

Nov 28, 2016
Jeroen Moes

Much of the High Plains region continues to be plagued by at least moderate drought.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, western Kansas, eastern Colorado and the Oklahoma panhandle are in moderate to severe drought.

Paul Phillips

From the Panhandle of Texas to the southern regions of South Dakota, the High Plains has a landscape generally characterized as flat and monotonous.  American explorers traveling west from the eastern wooded areas were not impressed with the “sea of grasses” they found covering the region, and proclaimed the area to be part of the “Great American Desert” unfit for agricultural settlement. 

American settlement arrived later, but this sea of grass was already home to many pastoral tribes, including the Comanche - peoples who had developed a nomadic lifestyle, following and hunting the more than 60 million buffalo that moved in herds across these vast grasslands.  As you will read in the Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne, the buffalo was key to the Comanche’s survival, providing food, shelter, and tools.

What Is a Playa?

Feb 23, 2016

We grew up on the High Plains thinking of those occasionally muddy pasture depressions as "buffalo wallows," "rainwater basins" or "mud holes." Turns out, scientists are learning those playas play a significant role recharging aquifers such as the Ogallala.

Jonathan Baker

I’m a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’ve been asked to talk a little about this month’s Book Club Read, Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne. I love this book, because it paints such an unflinching picture of the staggering beauty and brutal reality of my homeland.

The High Plains is perhaps the greatest grassland in the world. It’s hopelessly wide and unnervingly flat. And until somewhat recently, it was uninhabitable. But with the introduction of the horse to the plains, something remarkable happened. The confluence of the Comanche, the horse, and these limitless grasslands led to the rise of one of the most powerful mounted forces the world has ever known. If you were to invent the ideal denizen of the High Plains, you couldn’t do much better than the Comanche. Their very natures echoed this place in countless ways.

csmonitor.com

A nostalgic essay about the good old days when all food was slow and TVs only received two channels recently caught my attention. It made me think about the differences between my childhood and my grandkids’.

The paragraph about not having a remote really struck home. The author explained how adults expected children to trudge to the television to manually switch from one channel to the other. I remember those days when dad would tell us to change channels. I might have been a grown up in my own home before I owned a television with a device that allowed us to flick channels without leaving our seats. That was just the beginning of technology that encouraged dependence. Now it’s expanded into restrooms.

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