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Wed Dec 6, 2017, 03:59 AM

Fights lay ahead as the oil industry creeps into the Flint Hills and Douglas County

“This doesn’t really have anything to do with your story,” Cindy Hoedel said, slowing her pickup truck — a 1990 red-and-white Ford XLT Lariat, outfitted with 10-ply heavy-duty tires — to a halt on a gravel road near the Greenwood County line. “But, I mean, look at those wild mustangs. Aren’t they just beautiful?”

Hoedel gawked out the window to the north, where dozens of horses — white horses, tan horses, brown and spotted horses — roamed a fenced-in field. It was a chilly, cloudy afternoon in mid-November, and Hoedel took advantage of the travel break to pour hot coffee from an ancient-looking Thermos into its small steel cap. She took a sip and continued.

“They’re, like, the rock stars of horses. They’re the Rolling Stones, you know? They’ve got these long, mangy tails and manes, and they’ll just stare you down. They’ve never been ridden, so they’re not intimidated by people. Oh, my god, I just love them.”

Hoedel is 56, with an impressive mane of her own — dark, wavy — and blue eyes that bulge when she is stimulated by a topic, which is often. One does not strain to comprehend why she might feel kinship with a wild horse. For 20 years, Hoedel worked as a writer and editor at The Kansas City Star. Toward the end of her tenure there, she favored assignments that took her far from the city: columns on roadside motels, stories about gravel bike races. By the time she was laid off, in September 2016, she had already moved to Matfield Green, a town of 113 people in the Flint Hills. Out here, in central Kansas, Hoedel has not only swapped a condo view for the sight of chickens in the yard; she also has traded the passive and frequently lonely existence of a reporter for self-directed work that’s more collaborative and immediate.

Read more: https://www.pitch.com/news/article/20983290/kansas-has-long-been-friendly-to-oil-and-gas-but-will-its-march-into-the-flint-hills-and-douglas-county-change-that

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