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Rural News

How much has the opioid crisis cost Ohio?

Akron Beacon Journal | Posted on May 30, 2018

Even before the opioid crisis peaked here in 2016, Ohio was already spending about the same on opioid dependency statewide as it did kindergarten through high school education, according to a recently released study. The enormous price tag in 2015 of opioid dependency in the state was somewhere between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion. During the same time, the state spent about $8.2 billion on public education, according to the study released by Ohio State University’s C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy.Your Voice Ohio, a news collaborative, highlighted the study last week as the state’s behavioral health, addiction and rehabilitation workers are preparing to host the ninth annual opiate conference in Columbus next month. The two-day educational event is expected to draw 1,200 people.The study, “Taking Measure of Ohio’s Opioid Crisis,” aims to help policymakers make better decisions by evaluating the crisis. Among other things, the study zeroed in on the costs of opioid addiction across four categories: Health care and treatment, criminal justice, lost productivity among opioid abusers, and lost productivity following an overdose death.In 2015 — the most recent numbers used for this part of the study — those costs added up to between $500 and $999 for every person in Summit, Portage and Wayne counties, regardless of whether they used drugs themselves.The costs in Stark and Medina were lower, somewhere between $0 and $499 per person, the study said. But costs skyrocketed in the southwest part of Ohio, averaging more than $1,000 per capita in an area stretching from Dayton and Cincinnati east to Lawrence County, Ohio’s most southern county, which borders West Virginia.Because costs were so extraordinary in southwest Ohio, the study said “state efforts to reduce current and future opioid abuse should likely focus on this area of the state.”

Program Makes Students Aware of Local Careers

The Agurban | Posted on May 30, 2018

Businesses and schools in two Illinois counties want to make sure students know about career opportunities in their own back yard and get the skills needed to fill the positions.The ECCEL Academy, pronounced “Ex-cel” and standing for Edgar Clark Career Exploration and Leadership, will initially focus on high school students, but organizers also want to later include fifth- through eighth-graders. “Everybody’s looking for skilled workers,” said Terry Elston, a member of the Paris Economic Development Corp. board. Eccel Academy will help fill that need while exposing students to options they may not have otherwise considered, he said.A major concern for educators, said Kevin Ross, superintendent of Marshall Community Schools, “is making sure kids get connected beyond high school. … The best thing we can do is have lots of experiences for students.”Schools must work to find where students’ talents lie so they can be better prepared for their future, he said.“We want them to know there are lots of opportunities in Edgar and Clark counties,”Businesses nationwide are struggling to fill positions and, while state and federal governments have taken note, “this has got to be solved at the local level,” Elston said.“Most of the students that are coming out of high school are not aware of all the opportunities that we have in the two counties,” Elston said. “They’re not aware of what our industries do.”Eye-opening examples, he said, include North American Lighting in Paris making products for such upscale autos as Lexus and Lincoln;, TRW in Marshall producing cameras for hands-free driving in the Cadillac CT 6; and the Paris Doncasters plant working on Rolls Royce aircraft engines.

Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Harder to Find, More Expensive in High-Poverty Neighborhoods

Green Tech Media | Posted on May 30, 2018

A Detroit area study finds that energy-efficient CFLs and LEDs are more expensive and less readily available in high-poverty urban neighborhoods. One of the easiest ways for a household to save energy and money is to install energy-efficient light bulbs in as many sockets as possible. But, according to a new University of Michigan study, the low-income households that benefit most from these savings have a harder time finding CFL and LED bulbs than do households in more affluent neighborhoods. They pay more money for them, too.For the study, a team led by Tony Reames, assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability and director of the Urban Energy Justice Lab, canvassed 130 stores across Wayne County, Michigan, which encompasses Detroit and surrounding suburbs. Graduate students Michael Reiner and M. Ben Stacey conducted much of the on-the-ground data collection.The researchers tracked prices and availability for inefficient incandescent and halogen light bulbs as well as high-efficiency CFLs and LEDs at five store types: large big-box retailers (Home Depot, Walmart); hardware stores; variety stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General); pharmacies; and small retail stores (mini marts, corner delis, and liquor stores).The survey found high-poverty neighborhoods lacked the large retailers offering lower prices and wider selection. CFL and LED bulb prices and availability differed across the county, but more limited availability and higher prices were the norm in high-poverty areas. The most expensive CFLs and LEDs were found at pharmacies and small retail stores located in low-income urban neighborhoods.

Don't count on feds right after hurricane, FEMA chief tells Florida leaders

Orlando Sentinel | Posted on May 24, 2018

FEMA had a warning for local governments at the annual Governor’s Conference on Hurricanes: Don’t count on Uncle Sam to be there immediately after the next natural disaster. “If you’re waiting on FEMA to run your commodities, that’s not the solution,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said Wednesday. “I can’t guarantee that we can be right on time to backfill everything you need.”

An Immigration Debate Distinct From Economic Realities

Wall Street Journal | Posted on May 24, 2018

There is a good case that America’s economy has never needed immigrant labor more than it does now. The American birthrate has slowed dramatically, with the number of babies born in the U.S. last year hitting a 30-year low. At the same time, Alaska fisheries, New Hampshire restaurants and Maryland crab processors all say they are critically short of workers. Farmers say they need thousands more workers, and some production is moving overseas for lack of labor. There are 6.6 million job openings in the U.S., which means that, for the first time in history.

Americans in rural areas more likely to die by suicide

CDC | Posted on May 16, 2018

ural counties consistently had higher suicide rates than metropolitan counties from 2001-2015, according to data released today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. There were more than half a million suicides during the 2001–2015 study period.“While we’ve seen many causes of death come down in recent years, suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015. And this is especially concerning in rural areas,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “We need proven prevention efforts to help stop these deaths and the terrible pain and loss they cause.”Mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) include demographic, geographic, and mechanism of death information derived from death certificates filed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The new report examined annual county level trends in suicide rates during 2001-2015 for rural counties, medium/small metropolitan counties, large metropolitan counties, as well as demographics and mechanism of death. Overall, suicide death rates for rural counties (17.32 per 100,000 people) were higher than medium/small metropolitan counties (14.86) and large metropolitan counties (11.92).

American Airlines bans emotional support amphibians, ferrets, goats and more

Chicago Tribune | Posted on May 16, 2018

First United Airlines barred an emotional support peacock from boarding. Now American Airlines is telling passengers some of their service and emotional support animals — including goats, hedgehogs and tusked creatures — can’t fly. The carrier is joining rival airlines in tightening rules for passengers flying with emotional support animals, expanding the list of animals that can’t fly in addition to requiring customers vouch for their animal’s ability to behave.

Connecticut environment groups file federal lawsuit against state

Connecticut Post | Posted on May 16, 2018

Several Connecticut environment groups and companies are taking the state to federal court over the legislature’s decision to remove money from state energy funds in the two-year budget passed in October. The Connecticut Fund for the Environment and 11 other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Tuesday in order to stop the $165 million sweep.Using the funding for other than its intended purpose is a breach of the contracts clause of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs argue. Much of the money is raised through a small surcharge on electric bills; because the money is now allocated for different purposes, the plaintiffs say this qualifies as an illegal tax on tax-exempt organizations — such as nonprofits that are ratepayers.

Recreation bigger share of economu than ag or mining

Daily Yonder | Posted on May 16, 2018

The outdoor recreation industry is a critical engine for the national economy, larger in size than the agriculture and fossil fuel mining and drilling sectors, according to a recent Department of Commerce report. The report also said that rural communities and small business owners are a key ingredient in the growing economic engine.

NeighborWorks America reports nearly $3.6 billion in rural economic impact in fiscal year 2017

Pilot Online | Posted on May 16, 2018

NeighborWorks America announced today that in 2017, members of the NeighborWorks network leveraged nearly $3.6 billion of investment in rural communities. A total of 166 NeighborWorks organizations – 67.5 percent of the network – serve rural America. In 2017, NeighborWorks members created or maintained more than 35,000 jobs in rural communities. Facilitating access to financial services and other programs that create ladders of opportunity is critical for people in rural communities. A recent NeighborWorks America consumer finance survey found that 46 percent of U.S. adults living in rural areas are "not too confident" or "not confident at all" of their ability to withstand a sudden financial emergency.