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Rural News

Tom Campbell: Our rural areas are suffering. What will help?

Star News Online | Posted on April 10, 2018

Eighty of North Carolina’s 100 counties are considered rural -- the population density is less than 250 people per square mile. Our state has the second-largest rural population of any, just behind Texas. When many of us think rural, we immediately think agriculture. There are some 50,000 farms in our state, most of them small.I’d ask why a company would not want to be in a region so wonderful. This produced the recitation of rural problems, as true today as it was then. Despite conscientious efforts, rural areas still don’t have major road networks. Although we just approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, many will still be unable to afford costly hookups for needed natural gas. Twenty of our counties have no pediatrician and three have no primary care doctors. Drugs, especially opioids, meth and alcohol, are more serious problems in rural areas. Education outcomes are not on par with more prosperous urban neighbors; neither are cultural amenities. The lack of good jobs has forced people to migrate to find work. One-third of our counties have lost population in recent years. Additionally, too many rural areas have no high-speed Internet available.We know the problems but haven’t found enough feasible solutions to them. There is some good news, however. We are seeing 30-somethings moving back. Retirees, especially where adequate healthcare is available, are finding rural North Carolina a haven. Some communities are employing innovative solutions and, even though tobacco is no longer king, our agribusiness community is growing (pun intended), new crops and using new technologies.


Broadband funding is in the works for rural communities in Georgia

Times Free Press | Posted on April 10, 2018

A program is now in place to bring fast internet to hard-to-reach rural communities in Georgia. Now, lawmakers just have to fight about the money. Both chambers passed state Sen. Steve Gooch's Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act last week, creating a grant program to fund broadband expansion. But the bill, which will go to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk, does not guarantee funding. Instead, it creates a source for added revenue — with a stated desire that lawmakers invest the money into rural counties.The bill allows private companies to build fiber optic lines along Georgia's 1,247 miles of interstate. The Georgia Department of Transportation will award contracts for this work. The winning companies, in turn, will make money leasing fiber access to internet providers.


Florida Fish and Wildlife offers wild hog hunts

Press Gazette | Posted on April 10, 2018

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers late spring and summer hog hunts on several wildlife management areas across the state? And you don’t even need a hunting license to participate in these great opportunities. Wild hogs, also called wild pigs, wild boars and feral pigs, are not native to Florida but were introduced over 500 years ago by Spanish explorers. They can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties within a wide variety of habitats, but prefer oak-cabbage palm hammocks, freshwater marshes, sloughs and pine flatwoods.Wild hogs are not protected by law as a game species but are the second most popular large animal hunted in Florida (second only to the white-tailed deer). Wild hogs can weigh more than 150 pounds and be 5-6 feet long. They eat plants and animals, and feed by rooting with their broad snouts, which can damage native habitats and ground cover vegetation. It’s easy to spot where hogs have been because they often leave areas looking like plowed fields.


Opioid shortage affects animal medications, too

The Bulletin | Posted on April 10, 2018

An opioid shortage affecting how hospitals care for patients has reached veterinary clinics and how they sedate pets during surgery. Since last year, less opioid medications have been manufactured because of concerns about the oversupply of the addictive drugs. And production facilities for opioids such as morphine and Dilaudid have shut down because of damage from the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico and floods in Texas in 2017.Hospitals, and now veterinary clinics, have to stockpile the sedatives they have, and are turning to alternative medications.


Tennessee Economic Development Officials Offer To Help Rescue Rural Hospitals

Nashville Public Radio | Posted on April 10, 2018

Tennessee's economic development officials want to help rescue rural hospitals. They propose dispatching restructuring specialists to a dozen or more hospitals that are teetering on the edge. Tennessee has lost more hospitals since 2012 than any state but Texas, and the Department of Economic and Community Development argues that hospitals are doubly important for rural communities. They're often the largest employer around, and without one, it's virtually impossible to recruit major businesses to the area. "Rural hospital closures have impacted us in a very direct way and have affected our ability to recruit to certain rural areas," ECD's Sammie Arnold told lawmakers during a recent hearing.The proposal, dubbed the Tennessee Rural Hospital Transformation Act, would direct ECD to send contractors to rural hospitals at risk of closure to help develop a stabilization plan.


New Momentum for Addiction Treatment Behind Bars

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 10, 2018

From the moment they are arrested, people with an addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers and those who are taking medications to beat their addictions face the prospect of painful opioid withdrawal. At least a quarter of the people in U.S. prisons and jails are addicted to opioids. Those who are released rejoin their communities with dangerously reduced tolerance and nothing to blunt their drug cravings, making them highly susceptible to a deadly overdose.But new scientific evidence and a recently announced federal investigation may soften prison officials’ long-held opposition to medication-assisted treatment. Rhode Island is the only state that provides all three FDA-approved addiction medications, methadone, buprenorphine and a long-acting, injectable form of naltrexone known as Vivitrol, to all inmates. A recent study in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found that opioid overdose deaths dropped by nearly two-thirds among recently incarcerated people in the first year of a new program that screens and provides addiction medicines to all state inmates.


Neighborhood Effects: How Small Towns Give Poor Kids a Head Start

Daily Yonder | Posted on April 10, 2018

New research shows that children from poor families in rural communities earn more by their mid-20s than their urban peers, contrary to stereotypes about the disadvantages of growing up rural. A major study of individual incomes found that poor children who grow up in three-quarters of rural counties earn more than the national average by their mid-20s. Find out about what researchers call “neighborhood effects” in rural communities and the lifelong advantages of growing up in places with less income disparity, good schools, and strong civic life. Hear about newly released research on how community matters to poor children.


Rural Broadband’s Only Hope: Thinking Outside the Box?

Government Technology | Posted on April 10, 2018

As states struggle to close the connectivity gap in rural areas, some experts believe a federal mandate, similar to the one that first brought those residents electricity, might be in order.The American landscape of broadband in rural areas is spotty at best. It is a picture covered with splotches of color. Some maps are covered with red indicating there is no service; and other maps are covered in blue where access can be found. In states like North and South Dakota, officials have done their best to give their populace fiber to the home.Then there are areas where the state government has worked hard to provide grants and a flexible network of private and local not-for-profit organizations to build out coverage slowly. An excellent example of this would be Minnesota where 117 providers have come together to build infrastructure in the name of economic development. But there are still areas that have nothing to tether them to the modern world at all. These areas are not just rural, but geographically challenging to traverse and connect.To solidify his case and get state law behind him, he offered amendments to House Bill 4023, relating to rural connectivity and the use the state and university system's network to connect rural Oregon municipalities, where 43 school districts still lack a fiber-optic connection.“On one-third or half the landmass of the state, people can't access the Internet," Pettit said. "The state is full of data centers, from Apple to Google, but there are 10 counties with 49 school districts without connectivity."


Medicaid Work Debate Gets a Tennessee Twist

Roll Call | Posted on April 10, 2018

A growing number of mostly Republican-led states are itching to create work requirements for people on Medicaid, but finding a way to pay for it could prove challenging. In Tennessee, lawmakers want to add a Medicaid work mandate, but only if they can use federal — not state — dollars to make it happen. And they think there may be a way to do just that.Republicans have proposed taking money from a different government program that provides cash assistance to poor families and instead using it to cover the multimillion-dollar cost of creating and monitoring work requirements in its Medicaid program, known as TennCare


Investing in rural America would lift nation's economy

The Hill | Posted on April 10, 2018

oday, fewer than 15 percent of U.S. businesses are located in rural areas and small towns. Bank loans for amounts less than $1 million, primarily to family-owned small businesses and farms, have dropped by nearly half since 2005. These are warning signs for the basic building-blocks of the economy which serve as the foundation of America’s economic stability. A long-term commitment from Congress and the administration is needed to reverse this trend.  he recently passed omnibus budget bill is providing key resources and tools to foster development of energy, telecommunications and other essential services in rural America, including $600 million for high-speed internet access in underserved regions.Already, there are examples of how these services are changing heartland economies. BOLT Fiber Optic Services, a subsidiary of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, began providing broadband service in 2015 and the fiber network is directly responsible for new businesses creating hundreds of jobs. And similar stories are playing out across the nation. In 2002, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC began providing broadband in the southern Appalachian region of Georgia and North Carolina. Today, the co-op has linked regional hospitals to a common broadband network and helped facilitate e-connectivity at public schools and libraries across the region.Other sections of the omnibus bill fully fund low-interest government loans or enhance the efficiency of permitting for rural electric programs to improve grid reliability.These are positive steps. But there’s more work to do.


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