Six dog handlers, each escorting a greyhound, stepped onto the wet sand of Asia’s only legal dog-racing track to little noise except a subtropical rain. In the stands, about two dozen men watched as the greyhounds were led to their starting positions and then released to sprint after a rabbit-shaped lure around a ring. If any of the men had placed bets, none of them showed elation.In an otherwise empty betting hall, a security guard patrolled listlessly as staff members sat behind glassed-in counters, napping or tapping away on their smartphones.The racing track in this Chinese gambling hub no longer sees the excitement it did in its 20th-century glory days. The greyhounds that ran on that recent Saturday were among the last to compete here before the track shuts down in July.
The New Mexico agency that regulates oil and natural gas development has a plan to start plugging more of the hundreds of abandoned wells located across the state. The state Oil Conservation Division is seeking to plug 41 wells on state land and 19 on private land during the current fiscal year
State Rep. Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, introduced legislation that would create the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. “Our state has experienced tremendous economic success in recent years, and we are proud to be named the number one state in the country to do business or five consecutive years,” Shaw said. “However, this significant growth has been largely focused within the Metro Atlanta region, and rural Georgia has not seen the same level of economic prosperity. Rural Georgia faces distinct economic challenges, and with this legislation, we could continue to study these issues. "The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation would provide a central location for research and information on rural development, which is crucial to enhancing economic opportunities in these regions.”
Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect net neutrality in Montana by requiring that successful recipients of state contracts adhere to internet neutrality principles. As the first governor in the country to implement action in the wake of the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules, Governor Bullock invited other governors and statehouses to join him. Governor Bullock’s administration will offer the framework to other states who wish to follow. The executive order notably sets the terms on which the State of Montana will be making purchases and makes a preference for a free and open internet clear. The State of Montana is a significant purchaser of internet services.
Lawmakers in more than two-thirds of the states are considering ways to reduce prescription drug costs, including importing them from Canada, as they strive to balance budgets without knowing for sure what their government’s share of the tab will be. A total of 87 bills in 34 states of all political stripes seek to save money on prescription drugs, according to the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. Six of those states are considering bills that would allow drugs to be imported from Canada, where they cost an average 30 percent less than in the United States.
Seven months before Hurricane Harvey inundated the Houston area with a trillion gallons of water and led to widespread criticism of the Red Cross, Harris County adopted a disaster-preparation plan whose key assumption was that the Red Cross would be slow to act. “In a major disaster where there is widespread damage, the local resources of the Red Cross may be overwhelmed and not available immediately,” stated the plan. “It may be upwards of 7 days before the Red Cross can assume a primary care and shelter role.” The 17-page document, entitled the “Mass Shelter Plan,” was unanimously approved by the county’s governing body on Jan. 31, 2017. The Mass Shelter Plan described the Red Cross as the county’s “lead partner” but was unequivocal in assigning responsibility should a calamity occur: “In the event of an emergency that requires evacuation of all or any part of the Harris County population, Harris County is ultimately responsible for the coordination of the evacuation, shelter and mass care of displaced local residents.”The goal, according to a county spokesperson, was to provide shelter for up to 10,000 displaced residents. [Harris County’s population is 4.5 million; roughly half of those people live in Houston.] The plan proposed that county employees be trained as shelter volunteers, outlined specific roles for shelter staff and indicated the county would identify and survey buildings that could be used for emergency housing beyond those already identified by the American Red Cross [ARC].
Mt. Airy, North Carolina, was the inspiration for Andy Griffith’s iconic, fictional town of TV fame. But what’s the story when the tourists go home and small-city economic issues remain? Filmmaker Bill Hayes, a Mt. Airy native, digs into the reality of one American small town, in hopes that it might say something about your town, too. Unlike Mayberry, Mt. Airy (population 10,000) can’t resolve its difficulties in a single half-hour episode. The 68 minutes that constitute Bill Hayes’ documentary, “The Real Mayberry,” take the viewer much further down the road toward understanding a contemporary small city. But like any honest look at small-town America, the engaging film has no pat answers. What it does have are the right questions:What is special about our place? What is here that we can build on? How do we create opportunity while preserving what we love? And how do we pass on our town to a new generation that has new ideas?
Fortunately, there are things we can do to improve opportunity in rural Virginia. We can invest in workforce development training. We can expand Medicaid and improve access to broadband internet; improve the quality of our schools and ensure Virginia kids can access our best universities; make Virginia a place people want to build businesses; upgrade our infrastructure, like our roads and bridges; and address the opioid epidemic head on.Building out our rural broadband infrastructure is critical. Broadband is the new electricity, an essential connection for rural communities. It will help attract and keep new businesses, and encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses.Our community colleges and higher education institutions should be laser-focused on setting people up for jobs that local employers need to fill right now, particularly in rural communities.We need to expand Medicaid to provide health care access to up to 400,000 more Virginians, many of them in rural areas, while helping rural hospitals. It is simply unjust that there are people in Buchanan County who don’t have health insurance, but if they moved across the border to West Virginia or Kentucky, they could get the health care access that everyone deserves.Expanding Medicaid would also help our fight against the opioid epidemic, providing millions of dollars a year for treatment for substance abuse and mental illness. This epidemic is a problem statewide, but it is significantly more difficult to get treatment in rural areas where providers are likely to be a long drive away.
Senate Bill 1496 would increase the maximum state grants for rural economic development in a “rural area of opportunity” from $150,000 to $250,000.
More than $3.75 million is being awarded to help Rhode Island communities and local organizations protect green space throughout the state.The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Friday that 17 projects will receive matching grants to protect 889 acres of open space and farmland. The funding stems from the Green Economy Bond program, which was voters passed in 2016.The initiative aims to invest $35 million to preserve open space, improve recreational facilities and clean up land and waterways.The grants include $151,500 to acquire 15.6 acres at the headwaters of Little Creek in Portsmouth; $150,000 to acquire 75 acres on Saugatucket Road in South Kingston to help create a 120-acre stretch of protected land; and $400,000 to acquire 211.5 acres abutting Water Supply Board land in Cumberland.