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School’s Closed. Forever.

What happens to a rural town after it loses its only school? Arena, Wis., is about to find out.  Arena Elementary is the second small rural elementary school in two years to close in the district, nearly 300 square miles of rolling pastures and dairy farms in southwestern Wisconsin. The one in the neighboring village of Lone Rock closed last spring. The district now has just one open public elementary school, in Spring Green, nine miles away.The same scene is playing out across rural America.

Why rural Americans are far less optimistic about their financial future

cross the country, Americans’ anxiety about their finances is worsening. And rural residents are far more pessimistic about their financial prospects. Only 36% of Americans living in rural counties — who don’t earn enough to pay for the lifestyle they want — believed that situation would improve in the future, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Comparatively, nearly half of those living in urban and suburban areas who were in the same boat were optimistic about their financial futures.

Study Finds Rural Communities Quickly Realize Benefits Outpacing Costs of Broadband

Researchers found using formulaic forecasts that three of the five counties would see the annual collective benefit from broadband great enough to surpass public investment in just one year. A fourth county, Sibley, would take just over a year to reach that mark and the last, Lake County, the least populous, taking just over six years.While the forecast points to a quick success, only one of the county has had access to broadband long enough to show concrete progress.

Wisconsin quarantines deer, elk farms after CWD positives

Wisconsin officials have quarantined a deer farm and an elk farm after animals on both properties tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced the quarantines Friday. The agency said in a news release that the National Veterinary Laboratory confirmed Thursday that a 15-year-old whitetail doe and a 2-year-old elk cow tested positive. The deer farm is located in Dane and registered to Brad Madigan. The elk farm, registered as Burton Buck Creek Elk, is in Richland Center.

NC bills aim to establish teaching hospitals in rural areas

Bipartisan bills have been submitted in the state House and Senate that aim to address two major socioeconomic issues facing rural community hospitals.House Bill 998 would direct the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to make recommendations by Oct. 1 for establishing incentives to expand medical education in rural counties.That would include assisting rural hospitals with gaining Medicare approval to become a teaching hospital, as well as incentivize medical residents and students to serve those rural areas after graduation.

For a small Colorado utility, 100% renewable energy is old news

Aspen Electric, the municipal utility serving the resort town of the same name, achieved 100 percent renewables in 2015, and it didn’t break the bank to do so. Residential rates for Aspen’s customers rank among the lowest in Colorado, while meeting a 100 percent renewable energy goal set by Aspen’s city council 13 years earlier. And this month, upgrades to a Nebraska wind farm, of which Aspen Electric is a major customer, will push the utility’s costs even lower – dropping about 15 percent annually, or $475,000.

Assistant to the Secretary Anne Hazlett Statement on Stop Youth Opioid Abuse Campaign

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett issued the following statement: “Leaving no community untouched, the opioid epidemic has taken a monumental toll on many of the small towns and rural places that are the heartbeat of our country. The campaign to Stop Youth Opioid Abuse shows that at the root of this crisis, addiction is a disease driving good people to make shocking and destructive decisions. Addressing the opioid epidemic is a top priority for this Administration.

As biomass energy gains traction, southern US forests feel the burn

An estimated 50 to 80 percent of southern wetland forest is now gone, and that which remains provides ecosystem services totaling $500 billion as well as important wildlife habitat. Logging is considered one of the biggest threats to the 35 million acres of remaining wetland forest in the southern U.S., and conservation organizations are saying this threat is coming largely from the wood pellet biomass industry.


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