Link to KansasPrairie.net

2/28/2007

THAT AND THIS

Filed under: prairie musings, energy, water supply, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 7:29 pm

Dr. Doug Moeckel, superintendent of USD #327, intends to offer his resignation in order to assume another position in education. He’s been good for our district’s children and teachers and will be missed. Good superintendents like Doug don’t come around our way all that often. On a positive note, change can be a good thing so that new eyes can see where improvements could be made. The flex schedule and athletic programs could use close examination.

K-156 is going to close …AGAIN…on Monday, weather permitting. Phase two will include replacing the existing roadway with wider lanes and shoulders. It’s time for me to put my lemonade stand at the end of our driveway and catch the drivers as they pass by.

Even though students are keenly aware of it, they should heed the advice of adults and more mature individuals and be selective and cautious about what they post on facebook and other such sites. They pushed the envelope too far. As Kenz said: “I know of a lot of people who have had potential employers get on facebook and look someone up and not offer employment (or take away the offer) just because of what they found on there.”

I’ve read where the same goes for grants and awards and other such things that require more self control than some students display when attempting to show others how “really cool” they think they are. Whether they believe it or not, almost anyone can access those sites for information, including law enforcement personnel. The binge drinking problem in Ellsworth among irresponsible teenagers is going to blow up one of these days.

“Make it Open” is a good editorial in this week’s INDY. Linda’s editorials are usually very good.

The review of the annual meeting of the Post Rock Rural Water District carried in the INDY today had an interesting quote: “The ethanol facility has been a big asset,” Bailey (David) said. “We are close to entering a permanent agreement with that facility. We have one on the table that we are getting ready to forward to them.” Bailey said the agreement for Post Rock to supply water to the ethanol plant in Russell could be completed within 30 days.

As soon as they’ve sucked all the water out of the area, the ethanol plants will cut and run.

Kansas now has multinational corporations from Italy, Scotland, Spain, Germany and Great Britain promoting large scale developments in the state. Once the projects are developed the strategy for some companies is to “sell them to large industry players.” That is often done to allow the large industry players to take advantage of the federal tax credits. Pay attention folks.

Women don’t have reproductive rights. The only way women come close to achieving equality is when they can control their own fertility.

Abortion rights for men have been available since the beginning of time. When they are unhappy with a pregnancy, they walk away. It doesn’t matter if it’s the day after conception or when the child is ten years old.

I think I’ll watch “Elizabeth” tonight with Cate Blanchett. It’s time for a little Elizabethan England.

Thanks for tuning in.

ARM TWISTING?

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 11:04 am

Westar Energy Inc., which once said that wind energy was uneconomical for the company and its customers, is having second thoughts.

Ellsworth/Lincoln Counties, Kansas - A proposed project of Lenexa-based TradeWind Energy will be located on the Ellsworth-Lincoln County line. The project will involve nearly 20,000 acres, 120 to 170 turbines each capable of producing from 1½ to 2 megawatts each. The total size of the project will be between 150-250 MW. On Dec. 13, 2006, it was announced that Sunflower Electric of Hays will purchase 50.4 MW of power from this wind farm.  On Jan. 5, 2007, it was announced that Kansas City Board of Public Utilities would purchase an additional 25 MW. The wind farm should be constructed and producing power by the end of 2007. (January 8, 2007)

2/27/2007

EHS 46, PHILLIPSBURG 54

Filed under: Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 7:43 pm

Scoring: Austin Seitz 20, Kenny Eddy 7, Ryan West 6, Lance Wright 6, Jordon Herzog 4 and Ben Kruse 3.

WHAT COLLABORATIVE APPROACH? WHAT FARMERS AND RANCHERS? WHAT ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS? JOE HARKINS AND KEN FRAHM WORKING WITH STAKEHOLDERS AND REGULATORS?

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 7:14 pm

For immediate release: Nicole Corcoran, Press Secretary

February 27, 2007 785.368.8500

Westar answers Sebelius’ call for more wind power

Lt. Gov. Parkinson praises utility’s plans for 500 megawatts of renewable power

In her 2007 State of the State Address, Governor Kathleen Sebelius called on leaders in the public and private sectors to work together to make Kansas a leader in wind energy.

Yesterday, Westar Energy announced plans to acquire up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy by 2010, with wind power being the most likely source. This would more than double the state’s current wind energy production and be a significant step toward Sebelius’ stated goal of having 10 percent of the state’s electricity come from wind power.

“Some states mandate their utilities into building wind farms. Instead, we have taken a collaborative approach, working with our utilities, as a team, to bring renewable energy to Kansas,” said Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson. “The announcement of the 100 megawatt wind farm at Smoky Hills and the potential of an additional 500 megawatts from Westar, demonstrates that our approach is working.”

Parkinson is leading the administration’s efforts to increase renewable energy production and energy efficiency in Kansas. Parkinson, KEC Co-Chair Ken Frahm, and Kansas Energy Office Director Joe Harkins have been working with stakeholders and regulators to encourage wind projects. The Governor’s proposed budget also includes money to plan for construction of new transmission lines.

“We’ve been working with energy executives, environmental groups, businesses, farmers and ranchers, bringing them all together to discuss how we can spur renewable energy production in our state.” said Parkinson.

Kansas is among the top three states in terms of potential wind production, yet only about 3.5 percent of its electricity comes from wind power.

“There have been two main impediments to more wind power. The first was a regulatory philosophy that encouraged utilities to build coal plants, since they have the lowest short-term costs, even if they have other long-term costs. The second was the fact we don’t have the transmission lines needed to carry power from wind farms to consumers,” said Parkinson.

“Both of those are now changing. Once our transmission lines are built, we will see a further increase in wind farm development. We will hit our goal of 10 percent renewable energy by 2010, and 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, and we will do it through a collaborative approach that brings everyone to the table,” said Parkinson.

TOP SCIENTIST SEEKS HALT ON COAL PLANTS

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 6:38 pm

Monday, February 26, 2007 1:10:01 PM
WASHINGTON(AP)

One of the world’s top scientists on global warming called for the United States to stop building coal-fired power plants and eventually bulldoze older generators that don’t capture and bury greenhouse gases.

But 159 coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built in the next decade or so, generating enough power for about 96 million homes, according to a study last month by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Burning coal is one of the major sources of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas causing global warming.

BULLYING

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:36 pm

Bullying in our schools exists and it is extremely harmful. If you want a good example of this, click here and read on about the horrifying tale of Dylan Theno.

WAY TO GO, CUBA!

Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 3:26 pm

When it comes to gay rights, the ideologically rigid government of Fidel Castro is moving in the opposite direction from George Bush and the religious right, agents of intolerance, rigid support of the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and further restrict rights of gays and lesbians.

Bush: “Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them, and changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure.”

Almost anyone who can read and write understands gay marriages and gay unions could do nothing to harm the marriage between a man and a woman. What harms or destroys most marriages are financial problems, physical and drug abuses, infidelity and a host of other things. The values of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination complement rather than impinge on our liberty.

The Cuban National Assembly is trying to see how to abolish any form of discrimination against anyone. People in and out of the Cuban government are undergoing dramatic change and a same-sex union or gay marriage law would make Cuba appear far more tolerant and accepting than the United States where legal and financial benefits are consistently denied individuals because of sexual orientation.

How ironic is this? A totalitarian state is moving toward expanding the rights of gays and lesbians so that they will no longer be discriminated against while the greatest democracy in the world wants to further discriminate and restrict their rights.

Way to go, Cuba!

ILL WIND DIVIDES HISTORIC RANCHES

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 12:20 pm

Not only do we consistently find that real stewards of the land WON’T lease to wind farm companies, but sadly we consistently find that this destroys friendships between neighbors and communities.

King managers fight plans for more than 400 power turbines on Kenedy land.

THE KILLING FIELDS

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 11:45 am

To see the video, click on the picture at the right which will enlarge it. Then click on the arrow below the picture to start the sequencing of pictures.

It is estimated that between 1,000 to 2,000 Golden Eagles have been killed by wind turbines at the Altamont wind farm in Californian over 20 years. It is not the effect of the old model, lattice-tower turbines as bigger, tubular-tower models kill even more birds, including many protected raptors.

This is also corroborated by the study made by Dr. Lekuona at the request of the Navarre government, Spain: in one year, 368 tubular-tower turbines killed 7,105 birds, including griffon vultures, Golden Eagles, eagle owls, booted eagles, sparrowhawks and kestrels.

2/26/2007

BAOQING ZHOU, JIMMY MA AND CJ ARMENTA

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 10:21 pm

Advanced Placement today advances innovation tomorrow.  The Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement for excellence in math and science recognize up to 100 students in the United States who have achieved the highest scores on the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program math and science exams, celebrating the accomplishments of the state’s brightest minds.

Two of those students are from Kansas:  Baoqing Zhou, Lawrence High School in Lawrence and Jimmy Ma, Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park.

The only state teacher winner from Kansas is CJ Armenta, Blue Valley Northwest high School, Overland Park.

WE HAVE THE NICEST FRIENDS

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Dane Britton — Peg Britton @ 1:55 pm

The other day Dane was in the Ellsworth County Medical Center (a great place to be if you need a hospital and medical help) having a PIC line inserted. This is not an easy thing to do on Dane.

Linda Kohls (Ralph’s Linda) got wind of the fact he was there for for a couple of hours and had a plate of warm donuts for Dane and his caregivers from the home, Ken and Deb.

Linda is always doing nice things like that for people, especially Dane. They’ve been good friends all their lives and that’s something special when you stop to think about it. Those years add up as friendships grow. I’m still in contact and see frequently friends I first met well over 70 years ago. Jack Stewart is always quick to remind me of the very day and hour we started kindergarten together in September 1933, a fact I’ve long forgotten.

AND … HOW TALL ARE THEY?

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 1:16 pm

When we had our meeting with the County Commissioners, an older individual commented toward the end of the meeting, something to the effect of, “Gosh, they’re just going to be windmills. I’ve seen windmills all my life and they haven’t bothered me.”

Well, these towers are going to be at least ten times higher than the windmills of his experience. Let me give you an illustration. When general aviation aircraft land at the Ellsworth airport or Salina airport, they utilize a “pattern altitude” of 800 feet. Note how high they are the next time you see one in the “pattern”. Then realize that these towers will stretch up almost half that distance above the ground!

2/24/2007

BLOWN OVER

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 1:13 pm

This Canadian National post from Alternative Energy is one of the better articles about wind energy and the problems associated with it. It’s worth the read. The comments below the article are also informative.
“Last month, the Conservative government joined the long line of governments around the world subsidizing the production of wind power. Meanwhile, new information about wind power from Europe raises the spectre of unexpected blackout risks, high costs, unreliable production and even questionable environmental benefits.

“Concerns over wind power used to focus on whether enough wind would blow to keep wind generators busy and electric power grids supplied. Now, after a major power blackout in Europe in November that left 15 million households in the dark, concerns over wind power come from an entirely opposite direction – fear that wind power can unpredictably produce more power than a system can handle…

“…Canada’s experience with wind power has likewise been disappointing. Of the 14 wind farms receiving federal subsidies that have operated long enough to reveal a clear picture of their productivity, 12 have failed to achieve their forecasted production. Two of the federally supported wind farms have failed to match half of their forecasted production. Overall, the 14 wind farms have produced 18% less power than expected. Likewise, provincially subsidized windmills have also been failures.”

Click on the link above to read more.

And…

Tilting at Wind Energy.

” Perhaps the best that can be hoped for, then, is that wind can provide the spinning reserve required for all grids. It is not surprising to find countries like Denmark and Germany topping out at 20 percent. That is the point where spinning reserve ends and base-load responsibilities begin.

“Beyond that 20 percent wind will not be able to penetrate. It would be impossible — i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e — to run a contemporary electric grid on wind power alone. Its role will remain marginal and supplementary. At bottom, wind is still a medieval technology.”

IN THE NEWSROOM: WIND FARM CONSEQUENCES

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 12:41 pm

IN THE NEWSROOM: Wind farm consequences
By Eric Petermann, The Journal-Standard
Published: Friday, February 23, 2007 11:32 PM CST

Mike King surprised our office staff Wednesday morning when he stood outside The Journal-Standard building with picket signs, awaiting the arrival of Congressman Don Manzullo.

His hope was to draw Manzullo’s attention to the plight of neighbors in Dakota who are fighting an uphill battle against the development of wind farms in the community.

Instead of greeting his constituent, Manzullo was literally shielded by well-dressed aides who scurried him into the building and away from King, much like a president is protected by his cadre of Secret Service agents.

Too bad.

Mr. King proved to be articulate, well-informed, and very patient about a situation that for him and some of his neighbors must be at once frightening and frustrating.

Employed by the Social Security agency, Mike King finds himself out in front of a battle to stop what might become a national progression of wind farms.

What’s not to like about those big white propellers that stand on the landscape representing our hope for an oil-free future? Opposing a renewable energy source at a time when we are being told the inconvenient truth about global warming is comparable to being in favor of killing those cute, white-furred baby seals. It just seems wrong.

Unless you listen to Mike King.

“It’s like everything we do in this country. We jump in with both feet and we don’t think about any of the consequences,” King said.

Erecting 35 massive wind towers, standing 399 feet at the apex, with 73 homes located less than a half-mile from the “farm” will drastically change the landscape and the view these neighbors now have in Dakota.

And it doesn’t end there.

Plans are on the board for more farms, and eventually, even bigger wind towers.

It might be easy for you and me to be passionate on the issue of renewable energy, but somehow I wouldn’t blame Mike King’s neighbors if they are less than enthusiastic after these towers take over the farmland.

The kicker in the argument, according to King, is that local people will not be the benefactors from these wind towers.

“Electricity goes where it’s needed,” King said.

As a result, electricity generated by these turbines will be purchased by ComEd, possibly bumping up local electricity rates, and get shipped off to the place that usually draws the most, probably Chicago.

SMOKY HILLS WIND FARM OPPOSITION GROWING

Filed under: energy — Peg Britton @ 11:43 am

When I started researching and commenting on the Smoky Hills Wind Farm, I thought I was one of a handful who found it objectionable for reasons in addition to site location. Now I’ve learned there is a ground swell of opposition to the mills.

I’ve talked about my doubts about wind farms in various blogs and to date have not been convinced that it’s a good thing for the citizens of this area. Quite the contrary.

On my sidebar to the right, if you scroll down to “categories”, you’ll find “energy”. Click on it and you’ll pull up the blogs I’ve written about the subject.

Certainly, the proposed wind farm will be very detrimental to the land and our landscape, which can never be recovered. That’s not debatable.

A friend of mine wrote: “I recognize that one of the sticking points on this issue is aesthetics. To quote an old physics professor of mine, aesthetics is a matter of taste, and isn’t debatable. For my part, the communication towers that are scattered around the area are a lot uglier than wind generators. But that is just me. In addition there is the matter of disturbing the natural habitat, which must be respected and mitigated in any development. On the other hand, to not do something here to at least deal with local electrical usage in a sustainable way is, in my mind taking a NIMBY stand, and isn’t defensible.”

And, he’s correct. And he sees the need for us to do something locally, as a community. But we aren’t dealing with local electrical usage in a sustainable way and if we were, taking a NIMBY stand would not be defensible.

But that isn’t the issue here. We’re not benefiting from energy produced by the wind farm. It’s not OUR wind farm designed to deal with our community energy requirements.

There are only a few who are going to benefit from this upheaval of our land and landscape and those are the few landowners who have sold out to false claims. They will benefit financially. That’s the point. It’s straight downhill for the rest of us.

Now, I find it interesting that there seems to be a great local ground swell of people against it. People like me are objecting because we’ve had no voice in the matter. The whole process is shrouded in secrecy. There is supposed to be transparency in government, but there has been no accountability here.

It isn’t “green” energy at all in the way they are handling it. Do you see hear of any of the fossil fueled energy companies in Kansas talking about decreasing their output? Nope. They all want to expand, burn more gas and coal, and cause more greenhouse conditions. They have to increase their output to compensate for the downtime of wind farms when the wind doesn’t blow.

They are going to start on the first phase of the project in a couple of weeks, so they say, and we’ll soon see the folly and expense of it all. In time.

When you see the enormous size of the sections of turbines, think about all the pollutants that were spewed in the atmosphere during their manufacture. Think also about the trucks transporting them. Think about ten years or so in the future when the turbines are antiquated and found to be useless and are decommissioned. Then what? It will be interesting to see what happens when the wind farm owners disappear, as they will, and the landowners are left standing there looking at decomposing arms waving at them from above.

(This was published in the Feb. 26, 2007 issue of News Watch, a service of National Wind Watch, Inc.)

2/23/2007

AN EVENING AT MO’S PLACE IN BEAVER

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Dane Britton, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 10:55 pm

“Mo’s Place” was hopping tonight. Getting there was another issue. We drove down 156 to Claflin then took the Hoisington road going west. Just before entering Redwing there is a black top going north 8 miles to Beaver. With six in the car we had six different opinions on how to get there.

You can’t miss Mo’s as the two or three lights of the town light loom up in the distance and all the cars and trucks outside are a dead giveaway that something is going on behind all the neon beer signs.

The place was packed (about 50 people, I’d guess), mostly families with lots of young children. There was one table but no chairs, so we asked about chairs and Linda told us we’d just have to find some. We confiscated six from various corners of the restaurant so we could sit down. With only Mo and Linda working there, we thought there would be a long wait, but it was reasonable.

They make six varieties of beer and you can buy a four ounce sample of each for fifty cents each. Ally and I shared the sampler and preferred the dark, heavy beer the best. It was Todd’s favorite as well. Not one to experiment much, Brit had a Bud Lite.

Everyone ordered either hamburger steak with grilled onions or chicken fried steak. The salads and servings are large. Karen, Ally and I ordered small servings and we brought half home. Their prices are very reasonable.

Coming home was an experience. We decided to head east and north out of Beaver and found we were in no man’s land. We zigzagged all the way north to Dorrance. We stopped in Wilson to visit Dane . He had a PIC line put in at the hospital today, for Gentamycin IVs, and couldn’t go with us.  And, the wind was blowing a gale so trying to driving the Blue Canoe would have been a huge challenge for Todd.

We dodged deer all the way back to Ellsworth. Being “trapped” with family in a car can bring on some interesting conversations. It was fun being together. It was an evening of rural Kansas at its best.

2/22/2007

KANSAS HOUSE REJECTS MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 4:29 pm

Yesterday the Kansas House rejected an attempt to increase the state minimum wage, which at $2.65 per hour is the lowest in the nation.

There were 56 votes to increase the state minimum wage to the same level as the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. But there were 63 votes, all Republicans, against it.

Of states with a state minimum, only Kansas’ is lower than the federal wage. Kansas hasn’t increased its state minimum wage since 1988.

Rep. Benjamin Hodge, R-Overland Park, argued against the increase saying the state should avoid “European-style socialist bills.”

As blogger Joshua Rosenau said, “Because here in America, if you can’t live on $106 per week, you just aren’t trying.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAREN BRITTON, FAVE AND ONLY D-I-L

Filed under: prairie musings, family — Peg Britton @ 10:57 am

We’re going to give “Beaver” a try for dinner tomorrow night…in celebration of Karen’s birthday. I’ve heard from several people who have been there that the food is good. The front door is 40″ wide so we think Dane-in-his-chair will scrape through.

Mo’s Place is owned by Len Moeder and his wife, Linda, who moved back to Kansas from California to fulfill their dream of opening a microbrewery. They set up shop in the tiny unincorporated town of Beaver and have been amazed at the number of customers who come by to try their homemade beer.

They offer six kinds of brew, the Purple Cat Pale and Crazy Hawk Red are two of their more popular ones. In the food line, they serve a hamburger steak smothered with grilled onions, rib eye steak, grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers etc. Rumor had it they served liver and onions, but Owner Linda said they didn’t. She should know.

They are open Wednesday through Saturday 10:30 till 10:00. 620.587.2350 Do a map blast to get there. I thought there was an easy way to get there from Wilson, but it’s circuitous.

No airplanes flying overhead…so far.

Dane was here for lunch. There was too much going on so we had carry-out pizza. He has some infection going on and they are putting him back on IVs. The hospital is out of empty beds so they’ll treat him at the home.

Netflix has turned out to be a good thing for me. It costs $10.74 a month for unlimited use. I can usually see a couple of movies week as the turn around time is quick. The cost then becomes less than $1.50 a movie. That’s a bargain for movies, I think. My last selection was Painted Lady, a Masterpiece Theater double movie, with Helen Mirren. Next I’m to receive Elizabeth and Elizabeth 1, both highly recommended by my friend, Roser. She’s figured out what I like and sends me lists to put in my queue. That’s a winner.

My fave and only granddaughter and her “betrothed” will be here the 16th. YAY.

2/21/2007

DO YOU JUST LOVE RECORDING SPECIAL EVENTS?

Filed under: family, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 5:28 pm

Do you love using a camcorder to record special events?

Are you the one who always ends up “in charge” of recording special events for family and friends? If so, you’re the one we’re looking for.

Well, I am looking for a good amateur “videographer” to capture a very special event in Ellsworth and Salina August 25th, 2007 from 4:00 to 10.pm.

You will need to provide all your own equipment (transportation, camcorder, tripod, tapes, etc). You will also need to transfer the footage from camcorder tapes to regular VHS tapes or DVDs.

We will pay for all your tapes, provide your dinner and a flat rate of $200. There are no age restrictions on this job – if you’re in high school and spend a lot of time videotaping things or if you’re a grandma and spend a lot of time video taping things – it’s all fine. We do ask that you tell us what kind of events you’ve taped and provide us with a sample of your work.

Please contact me at: mackenzie@mackenzieandluke.com if you are interested.

MEET AND GREET KANSAS AUTHORS AT KANSAS ORIGINALS

Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 4:00 pm
Meet & Greet the Kansas Authors
Sunday, March 4, 2007
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Annual Gathering of Kansas Authors
Kansas Originals Market & Gallery

Over twenty Kansas authors from across Kansas will be on hand to meet the public:  Roy Bird, Tom Parker, Lora K. Reiter, Suzanne Honeycutt,Richard Nelson, Velma Cooper Purdy, Eunice Boeve, Wanda Haney, Raymond E. Noah, Jerry Engler, Tom Mach, Barbara Baldwin, Mike Klaassen, Angela Bates, Mike Klaassen, Pat Kirk, Max Yoho and the Coffee Shop Writers Group which inclues Jamie Hill, Lee Killough, Linda Madl, and Sheri L. McGathy.

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