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Peter Crabtree photos of rural newsrooms

I learned about Peter Crabtree’s work when my co-worker, Tim, yelled to me across the office, “Hey, Shawn, come look at these.” On his screen were black-and-white photographs of small-town newsrooms — the cluttered desks, a news staffer taking notes with a phone cradled under her chin, inexpensive wood paneling, police scanners, a writer intently looking at a computer as if her words might pop up on her screen any moment. We scrolled through Crabtree’s photographs and fell to telling stories about our own experiences in newsrooms.

Volunteer Firehouses Struggle to Find Recruits

This all-volunteer fire station and the two others in Shippensburg, a factory and university town of about 5,500 people in a central Pennsylvania valley, are vestiges of the past. Firefighters sit around on weekdays playing rummy, and people gather for bingo Friday nights. Yet, the stations are much quieter than they were decades ago, when they felt like the center of the town. And as the community’s interests have shifted from the fire stations, the number of volunteers has fallen.  “Everybody has other things occupying their time,” said Shippensburg Fire Chief Randy O’Donnell.

Sterile screwworms to be released on Florida mainland in effort to prevent outbreak

In the coming weeks, swarms of sterile screwworm flies will blanket parts of the Middle Keys, an army of millions manufactured in Panama to combat an outbreak of the flesh-eating pest attacking the islands’ beloved Key deer. No screwworms have been detected on the mainland, but because so little is known about the dog — a German shepherd — or where it came from, officials want to act aggressively to prevent the spread of the grisly outbreak that has ravaged endangered Key deer. Since September, at least 135 deer, part of the last herd on the planet, have died in the Lower Keys.

Rare foot rot disease may be infecting Kansas deer population

An unusual type of contagious foot disease may be affecting Kansas’ deer population at a higher than average rate, and the cause isn’t yet known.  Tim Donges, president of the Quality Deer Management Association’s Bluestem branch, said reports of foot rot have been coming in at an alarming rate in recent weeks.

Dubuque, Iowa to install solar panels on fire stations

Fighting fire and going green. The City of Dubuque is planning to install solar panels on five of the city's six fire stations. The city says using solar energy will help cut electricity costs by more than 30%. The City Council unanimously approved a contract with Eagle Point Solar to install the solar arrays.

Was 2016 the Worst Weather Year Ever?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. just logged its second warmest year on record – a span covering 122 years of data. The average annual temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 54.9°F, which was 2.9°F above the 20th century average.  2016 ranks only behind 2012 (55.3°F), and it represents the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year for the U.S. Globally, 2015 holds the current title of warmest year on record. In addition to the near all-time record warmth, during 2016, the U.S.

Repealing Obamacare puts rural hospitals at risk

Plans are being laid in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act as soon as Donald Trump takes the presidential oath of office. Hidden inside the law is a little-known provision unrelated to the health insurance expansion that helps rural hospitals across America stay open.  It’s called the 340B drug discount program. The ACA made 1,100 rural hospitals eligible and it requires drug companies to supply these remote providers with discounted medications.

As Obamacare Repeal Looms, Hospitals Brace For Job Losses

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act could cost more than 2.5 million jobs, and many would come from the nation’s hospitals and health systems, new reports and industry lobbies say.  The ACA’s subsidized private individual coverage and expanded Medicaid benefits have turned patients who couldn’t afford care into paying customers, allowing hospitals to hire more nurses, medical technicians, doctors and other caregivers to treat millions of newly insured Americans.   “Given that our hospitals already operate with no margin on average, it's hard to see how they could avoid layoffs if repeal incre

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