High Plains

Jenny Inzerillo

Rural hospitals have been planning for the arrival of the coronavirus, but the preparations for a virus that may not come are putting some already struggling rural hospitals in danger.

Mike Gruenberg, director of disaster preparedness at Salem Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed critical access care facility, said getting ready for coronavirus patents meant making major changes.

President Trump's executive order keeps beef, poultry and pork processors open by invoking the Defense Production Act.

Thousands of meatpacking workers across the country have contracted COVID-19, and plants in Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado have closed in response. The order says those closures not only threaten the supply chain but undermine critical infrastructure.

https://www.facebook.com/GovStitt/videos/554538908806349/

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday unveiled a plan to open up the state, as the state's total number of COVID-19 cases reach just over 3,000. 

As of Thursday, the state reported 3,017 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 179 deaths and 1,884 recoveries.

 

It’s planting season across much of the United States, and for some farmers who rely on foreign guest workers for help in the fields, the pandemic is getting in the way.  

Friday, April 17, 2020 Workers at a processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, have fallen ill with symptoms of COVID-19. The company confirmed its first case of the disease earlier this week. LPP confirmed in a statement the employees are isolating at home with sick pay.

https://covid19.colorado.gov/case-data

As Weld County, Colorado becomes one of Colorado’s COVID-19 hotspots, with over 1,000 cases being reported as of Sunday, several other eastern Colorado counties are, for the most part, remaining steady. But it is unclear whether that is due to a lack of testing or if it is due to social distancing.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Morgan County, which borders Weld County, reported 157 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday.

The coronavirus crisis could be igniting a revolution of sorts in the legal cannabis industry.

Thirty-three states across the U.S. allow for some form of sale and consumption of marijuana. And of those, more than 20 states have designated the cannabis industry as essential during the coronavirus outbreak.

While advocates are applauding many of the interim marijuana laws, they also say those laws exposes dangerous disparities among states.

Gov. Jared Polis/https://www.facebook.com/jaredpolis/ / Denver 7

The governors of Kansas and Colorado have begun looking at ways to plan regionally for handling the coronavirus. Meanwhile, Finney County will be expanding its testing capabilities next week with a drive-through testing site.

During their respective press briefings Wednesday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis each said they had conversations with one another about coordinating efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Kansas Remains One Of Top 10 States People Leave

Jan 5, 2020
Creative Commons CC0

Kansas has made the top 10 list of most moved out states.

According to the 43rd Annual National Movers Study by United Van Lines, at 58.5 percent,  Kansas ranked fifth in the category “Top 10 states people moved from.”

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.

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