Bryan Thompson

RURAL HEALTH & AGRICULTURE REPORTER, KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Bryan Thompson is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, specializing in rural health and agriculture. He is based in Salina.

Bryan has worked in radio news for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Wichita State University.

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Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Gena Kirk did not realize the largest wildfire in Kansas history was closing in on the Kirk Ranch in Clark County on March 6 until she got a call from her brother-in-law. After realizing that her herd was in danger, she jumped into her pickup and sped up the hill where several of her cattle were grazing.

As she herded her cattle onto a green wheat field that would not burn as easily as nearby dry grassland, winds gusting to 60 miles an hour fanned the flames quickly in her direction. 

Bryan Thompson / KCUR

The social and health effects of isolation on some rural Kansas residents spurred three Catholic nuns to convert a storefront in Concordia into a drop-in center where women can find support and resources.

Seven years after the center opened, two dozen women on average come through each day in the town of about 5,000 to socialize, do laundry, get a cooking lesson or simply connect with others.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

Fire crews battled hot spots overnight Tuesday in Reno County, but residents of one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods were allowed back to their houses.

No deaths or injuries were reported in the county, but eight homes were destroyed.

Velera Adams and her husband got the call, along with thousands of others, to evacuate from rural Hutchinson just as night fell Monday. She said they drove to a church parking lot just outside the evacuation zone.

The Republican majority in Congress is intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Freshman Kansas 1st District Rep. Roger Marshall is on board. So he’s gathering input from constituents on how to proceed with repealing and replacing the ACA with what he calls needed “free-market reforms.”

The Great Bend Republican recently mailed a survey to 50,000 households in the Big First.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

At a stressful time for U.S. farmers, the government’s efforts at calming the agricultural waters took center stage Thursday, when the heads of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture Committee left Washington for the Midwest to solicit opinions on priorities for the next Farm Bill.

U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, and Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, heard from Midwest farmers at their first field hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

Kansas State University

A Chinese scientist has been convicted of conspiring to steal trade secrets by smuggling rice seeds from a Kansas bioscience facility.

Weiqiang Zhang was a rice breeder for Ventria Bioscience in Junction City. The company had genetically programmed rice to make several different human proteins, which can be extracted for use in medicine and therapy. Ventria CEO Scott Deeter says its valuable technology.

“We’ve invested in our company about $85 million," Deeter says. "Now, we primarily use rice, but it also could be used in corn, or sorghum or barley.”

Rachel Andrew / flickr Creative Commons

Eight rural communities across Kansas will share $120,000 in grants over the next year to find ways to improve access to fresh produce.

Many rural grocery stores have closed, or are struggling to survive. In St. John, Kansas, the only grocery in town closed last year. Now the nearest full-service food store is 29 miles away.

The Sunflower Foundation is issuing the grants to St. John and other communities to help them figure out how to foster local access to fresh food.

Dodge City Community College Facebook

An estimated 8,000 homes and businesses in southwest Kansas are still without power following a weekend ice storm.

The outages are concentrated in a 9-county area around Dodge City. Outside contractors have been called in—both to help with power lines, and to trim broken trees that are interfering with the work.

Jerri Imgarten, of Victory Electric Cooperative, says as the ice melts and drops off of the power lines, those lines bounce and short circuit.

ronhays / Flickr

Midwest farmers planted the smallest winter wheat crop in a century this Fall.

A worldwide glut of wheat and a bumper crop this summer sent wheat prices tumbling below three dollars a bushel.

Farmers got the message, according to Kansas Wheat Commission CEO Justin Gilpin.

“Some of the lowest prices we’ve seen certainly in a decade," Gilpin says. "I think that had a big impact on farmers’ planting decisions this Fall.”

healthcare.gov

Wyandotte County civic and government leaders are calling on the Kansas congressional delegation to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

A statement from Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland says Obamacare is working, and repealing it would leave 6,000 Wyandotte County residents without health coverage.

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