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On a feedlot in far southwest Kansas, two cowboys on horseback move cattle on the high dusty plains, spread out like dozens of football fields stitched together with miles of fences. Their “Buenos dias! Buenos dias!” greetings mix with moos on a hot summer morning.

Maita thinks he was seven years old when he and his family were forced out of their home in Bhutan.

Starting in the late 1980s, the Himalayan country began driving out people who were ethnically Nepali. They fled across the mountains to Nepal, where they were settled in impoverished refugee camps.

“I didn’t even know Nepal. I didn’t know anything about it,” Maita explains using sign language. “We didn’t have any food. We didn’t have any shelter. We needed help cause we were starving.”

Jacob Morin

People who live on the High Plains are resilient, taking negative events and turning them into positive ones.

There is perhaps no greater example of this than 33-year-old artist Jacob Morin of Amarillo, who in 2002, was shot in the neck following a drug deal gone bad.

“The bullet traveled through my neck,” Morin said, in a phone interview with High Plains Public Radio. “It changed my life completely.”

Jonathan Baker

The Indian community of the Texas Panhandle met this weekend for an evening of dancing, singing, and community. The event, held in the auditorium at Amarillo’s Caprock High School, was a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which is held every autumn. Children of all ages danced in traditional garb, and adults sang and danced alongside them.

Prairie Tayles: More Than A Thorn

Nov 3, 2017
U.S. National Park Service

As I mulled writing about devil’s claw plants for this column, my thoughts skittered across a dozen bunny trails. So, hang with me. Folks who grow up on the plains frequently re-purpose seemingly unrelated items into functional uses. Stephen Ambrose noted this ability in his book Band of Brothers. He praised the ingenuity of American farm boys who welded metal to fronts and undercarriages of tanks and other military vehicles, permitting them to plow open centuries-old hedgerows. Their problem-solving saved lives and permitted the U.S. front to advance across Europe.

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. 

Jonathan Baker

In a VFW hall near downtown Amarillo, a group of former energy workers met to drink coffee and reminisce about their days working at the Pantex Plant, the nation’s primary facility for the assembly and disassembly of nuclear warheads, located northwest of Amarillo. Monday, Oct. 30, was designated the 9th Annual National Day of Remembrance for nuclear weapons workers by the U.S. Senate.

CCO Public Domain

Archeological training teaches students to look for human-altered landscapes. This includes out of the ordinary coloration, unusual shapes or formations that don’t match surroundings, or obvious construction such as cliff dwellings. Southwest Colorado’s sagebrush plain schools the eye to distinguish differing hues of greenery indicating soil disturbances or recognize mounds with donut-like collapsed centers. In western Kansas, students of vanished cultures work harder to identify signs of earlier occupation.

Ida Waugh

As daylight wanes and nights grow longer, neighborhood kids return to classrooms. While much of these kiddoes’ work involves the three R’s combined with social studies, science, technology, art, and music, don’t forget all-important recess. Seeing little ones walking to school made me wonder if youngsters still love to jump rope as much as I did when I headed to school, pig-tails bouncing and dressed in plaid dirndls and black and white saddle oxfords.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Amarillo could soon become home to a professional soccer team from the United Soccer League, according to Soccer Stadium Digest.

As many High Plains residents are aware, Amarillo is in the process of building a new baseball stadium downtown, which will play host to the relocating Double-A San Antonio Missions. But what they may not know is that the stadium is also being designed to accommodate a United Soccer League team.

CCO Creative Commons

If you ask youngsters to name a wizard, they’ll immediately offer Harry Potter’s name. I have news for Harry fans. The real wizard lives in Wyoming, and he wears a cowboy hat. His wand happens to be a paintbrush. This is all true—I and other artists worked with him for a week to improve our use of light and shadow in our paintings.

National Park Service / Wikimedia Commons

A little-known fact about the Sooner State: Oklahoma is home to more historically black towns than any other state. Sadly, the Great Depression devastated many of these small communities of African-Americans.

But 13 of these black towns still survive, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into how communities shaped the early days of settlement in Indian Territory.

Pixabay / CCO License

As a teacher, I encourage students to incorporate sensory detail into their narratives and essays. If Mother Nature were in my classroom this fall, I’d have to give her an A+ for her efforts. She’s hammered one detail after another into golden perfection from the sights, scents, to sounds of autumn.

NOAA/CIR / Wikimedia Commons

High Plains energy workers are doing their part to support the largest power restoration effort in the history of the United States.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, 36 Xcel employees from Amarillo spent a week in Florida, helping thousands of families and businesses recover power in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The energy workers arrived in the state just after the hurricane had moved northward into Georgia. When the workers arrived, there were seven million people without power in the Sunshine State.

A rural hospital administrator in southwest Kansas has taken on the role of go-between for Kansans and immigrants from war-ravaged countries on the other side of the world.

CCO Creative Commons

Despite the hot temperatures that scorched yards and fields up until a few days ago, autumn is in the air. One reason for that involves behaviors of birds and insects. 

Marijuana Use Among Seniors On The Rise

Sep 27, 2017
iStockphoto

Marijuana use among adults aged 65 and older is rapidly increasing.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the Centers for Disease Control found that marijuana use among adults over 65 increased more than 300 percent between 2002 and 2014.

And the number of seniors in Colorado holding medical marijuana cards has also risen with 21 percent being over 61 years of age.

NY - HTTP://NYPHOTOGRAPHIC.COM/

The process for immigrants wishing to become a U.S. citizen – or obtain legal status - can take decades.

Amarillo Makes Expedia's 15 Must-See Cities List

Sep 24, 2017
Expedia

Amarillo, Texas has made a list from Expedia of the top 15 list of cities to visit. 

In fact, Amarillo was the only Texas city to make the list, called 15 Under-the-Radar Cities You Need to Visit – coming in at the number one spot.

The description of Amarillo on Expedia’s Viewfinder travel blog website, reads as follows:

CCO Creative Commons

Wallace Stegner suggests specific landscapes speak to a person’s heart, and he’s right. Many have a favorite place that roots the spirit. Plants have a similar effect, and that preference is genetic at my house. Mom and I love clematis blossoms. We can’t grow too many or take enough photos of those blooming in our flowerbeds.

We’ve found we can cultivate them in western Kansas if we tenderly nurture them. That says volumes because this plant succumbs easily to heat and drought, natural elements of Kansas summers.

People Of The Plains: Seeds You Sow

Sep 21, 2017
Courtesy

Marshall Hanes had no idea that his life would be changed when he hesitantly took a position to be a youth minister nearly 30 years ago.

In the beginning, Marshall had no experience on teaching the word to other people. When an 8-year-old boy in his group took his life, it motivated him to study and pray harder more than ever before.

Ever since he saw the young boy’s final words tucked in his bible, “Thank you Marshall Hanes”, he knew it was his duty in life to keep ministering to youth.

Several years later, he moved up and taught high school youth. He began to form connections and relate in more ways with them than he ever imagined. Along the way, Marshall not only preached the word of God to many, but also took in and raised several kids as his own. With the support of his wife, Tami and the great God above, Marshall grew to become the best teacher, father, and friend to hundreds of kids. This interview tells an incredible story about how he planted a seed in every kid he came across.

Creative Commons

Last month, Amarillo’s Jenkins Chapel celebrated its 91st anniversary. The little church was packed with visiting worshippers from nearby churches like Johnson Chapel and Mount Zion.

The maximum-security unit at Kansas’ Lansing prison was on lockdown on Friday afternoon following a fight earlier in the day in the prison lunchroom.

A fight between what state officials are describing as “two offender groups” broke out shortly after noon on Friday as inmates lined up for lunch.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Corrections says there were no serious injuries in the altercation, which took guards about 40 minutes to bring under control.

Public Domain

Last week, Kansas took in a few dozen Texans who were fleeing Hurricane Harvey.

But, as The Wichita Eagle reports, these refugees were of the four-legged variety. In the wake of the devastating storm, three vans filled with bedraggled dogs and cats left Houston, heading for the Sunflower State.

The animals had been housed in Texas shelters. When the hurricane hit, they were basically left homeless. Some had been in the shelters since April.

Levin C. Handy / Public Domain

The Amarillo Independent School District has taken up the question of whether to rename Robert E. Lee elementary, on the city’s north side.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the AISD Board of Trustees will meet with attorneys today to consider whether it might be time for a change.

Prairie Tayles: Control Is An Illusion

Sep 15, 2017
Lane Pearman

Humans are funny creatures. Some imagine we control much that happens in our world. Because technological advances during the last two centuries eradicated small pox and put men on the moon, it’s easy to accept this idea. Believing we direct our lives makes us feel safer. However, anyone who lives in Kansas understands our species doesn’t control of much of anything but putting satellites in orbit and operating a remote that allows us to picture what weather might do. With that little button and functioning electricity, we can react to nature but we can’t regulate it.

Incomes Continue To Rise, But Texans Of Color Still Seeing A Gap

Sep 14, 2017
Justyna Furmanczyk

Texas experienced modest economic improvement in 2016, according to new census estimates. But income inequality remains pervasive in the state.

By ALEXA URA AND ANNIE DANIEL

On the economic front, 2016 was a year of modest improvements for Texas residents. Incomes continued to creep up. Overall poverty slightly dipped. The share of poor children in some areas of the state with the highest rates of child poverty dropped.

People Of The Plains: A Lost Cause

Sep 14, 2017
Courtesy

Native Texans are generally associated with things like cowboy hats, southern drawls, and Sam Elliott-like demeanors.  While a diehard conservative, and while sporting the occasional southern accent for the sake of a few laughs (insisting that he “really talks like this” all the while), Jeff Caseltine does not epitomize the “traditional” native Texan. Instead, things that come to mind when describing Jeff are celebrity impersonations, socks and sandals, and a prevailing enthusiasm and heart for the kids he teaches. 

youtube.com

For decades, Tobe Zweygardt guided busloads and carloads of visitors through the Arikaree Breaks in northwest Kansas – an area reminiscent of a sort of miniature Grand Canyon.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, Zweygardt, who also welded and sculpted signs from old farm and implement parts and marked routes along the breaks, died Sunday at the age of 101.

Sidney, Nebraska, has prospered while many rural cities have struggled. For decades, the city has been home to Cabela’s, a major outdoor retail chain.

As Cabela’s completes a deal in which it will be bought by a rival, however, the future of Sidney’s economic engine is in doubt. As in other rural cities that have faced the loss or closure of major industry, the question is how the community will move on and grow in the 21st Century.

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