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University of Memphis to offer free tuition to children, spouses of fallen service members

The University of Memphis will no longer charge tuition to the children and spouses of fallen service members. The school becomes the first to offer the national Folds of Honor scholarship as a payment-in-full scholarship, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported on Monday, Memorial Day. The university already accepts the scholarship, which provides a $5,000 per year payment to undergraduate students under the age of 24 who had a parent severely injured or killed while on active duty. Spouses of any age can also receive it if they have not remarried.

Rural America Has Jobs. Now It Just Needs Housing

Austin Steinbach said he was “dead set” on moving to this rural farming town for a job that offered benefits, a $500 signing bonus and a higher wage. But the 25-year-old father of two had to turn it down after a week-long search with his wife for a home failed to turn up anything livable or in their price range.“What they offered out there was great, but I can’t afford to move because I can’t afford to rent a house there,” he said. Instead, Mr. Steinbach will stay in Creston, Iowa, where he supports his family earning $2 less an hour power-washing farm equipment and has no benefits.

Federal, state funds bring high-speed internet to rural areas

The first step toward better connectivity came in 2014, when Suzanne Phillips Sims, Congress Elementary School’s technology specialist, stumbled upon a small microwave internet company that was installing equipment atop the town’s water towers. Microwave connections utilize transmission towers, which must be directly in the line of sight of a receiving antenna. Sims asked the technician installing the equipment, Wayne Markis, whether he’d provide internet at the school for an introductory rate. The school’s relationship with AZ Airnet was born.

The tourism economy in South West Virginia

Southwest Virginia turned an unused railroad right of way into a critical part of a regional tourism powerhouse. Jacob Stump, a native of the region, begins a series on how those changes have affected the economy and culture of this Central Appalachian area. The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s 2014 Economic Impact Report showed that Southwest Virginia generated nearly $971 million in tourism expenditures.

Brain Gain: professionals find niche in rural upper midwest

Cory Ritterbusch and Emily Lubcke sought out Shullsburg, Wisconsin (population 1,209), for the quality of life it offered them and their children. The young couple aren’t the only ones going to (or returning to) small towns. “People don’t move to your town for pity,” Winchester said.

Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 people in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria likely killed thousands of people across Puerto Rico last year, more than 70 times the official estimate, a Harvard study released Tuesday says. Authorities in Puerto Rico placed the death toll at 64 after Maria roared through the island Sept. 20, destroying buildings and knocking out power to virtually the entire U.S. territory of more than 3 million people.Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, however, surveyed more than 3,000 households on the battered island.

Iowa city opens park to help pollinators thrive

Officials and volunteers in eastern Iowa have opened a park on a former vacant lot with hopes of increasing habitat for bees, butterflies and other insects and demonstrating the importance of such efforts. The Muscatine Journal reports that the Pollinator Park opened in Muscatine May 19. Volunteers planted new plants during the ceremony.Jon Koch is a founding member of the nonprofit Pollinator Park Project group. He says they hope to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other flying insects with the plants.Volunteers from Nature Conservancy of Iowa, U.S.

Mange in bears in Pennsylvania reaches epidemic rate, study launched

Over a lifetime, some Lancaster County residents may have seen a fox with mange. Hunters may have glimpsed an infected coyote. It’s a horrible sight with clumps of hair missing from the beautiful animals. Now, unfortunately, the scourge of mange has spread to bears, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission recently declared that the highly contagious disease has reached epidemic proportions in the state’s population.

Teacher shortages are especially acute in rural areas. Here’s one solution in Colorado.

Many schools across the country are struggling with a crippling teacher shortage. The number of students entering university-based teacher preparation programs has steadily declined and the number of teachers retiring or getting ready to retire is increasing; adding to this, current working conditions and public perceptions of the teaching profession have led to increased turnover rates — and according to some organizations, this growing shortage of teachers is at crisis level.This is especially true for rural communities, including in Colorado.

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