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Rural News

Rural Georgia wins big as session ends

Union Recorder | Posted on April 5, 2018

This legislative session gave rural Georgia micro hospitals, a new health care-focused think tank and a sizable down payment on economic development initiatives tailored for the state’s beleaguered small towns. But other proposals — including a plan to empower electric cooperatives to provide broadband — just ended up as fodder for the messy tradition that marks the end of every legislative session in Georgia.Some ideas — such as one offering a tax break to people who move to rural counties — never got off the ground.Most of the key measures designed to boost rural parts of the state succeeded, even if they squeaked by after a self-imposed midnight deadline.

Ex-governor: State’s appeal of culvert order incites ‘social unrest’

Capital Press | Posted on April 5, 2018

Former Washington Gov. Dan Evans accused the state in a court document Monday of stirring up social unrest by appealing an order to replace fish-blocking culverts. Seattle lawyer Joe Mentor Jr. submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the 92-year-old Evans. The brief supports 21 Western Washington Indian tribes that sued to remove the culverts and restore salmon habitat.

USDA Prioritizes Investments to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America

DRG News | Posted on April 5, 2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is giving funding priority in two key grant programs to address opioid misuse in rural communities. “The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country,” Hazlett said. “With this focused investment, we are targeting our resources to be a strong partner to rural communities in building an effective local response to this significant challenge.”USDA is reserving $5 million in the Community Facilities Grant Program and is giving priority to Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant (DLT) Program applications proposing innovative projects to address the opioid epidemic in rural communities.

Livestock – More Dangerous Than Mountain Lions, Poisonous Snakes, or Stinging Insects

On Pasture | Posted on April 4, 2018

Cattle and horses account for 90% of all animal-related deaths in the United States, and that number hasn’t changed since the last time researchers collected this data in 2007. Jared Forrester, M.D., the lead investigator for the study covering fatalities from venomous and nonvenomous animals from 2008-2015 says that learning more about deaths due to animals in farm environments would help target practices that would prevent these deaths. The study, published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, found that there were 1,610 animal-related deaths, and 57% of those were the result of encounters with cattle, horses, dogs, pigs, raccoons and other mammals. Forrester says, “Importantly, most deaths are not actually due to wild animals, like mountain lions, wolves, bears, sharks, etc., but are a result of deadly encounters with farm animals, anaphylaxis from bees, wasps, or hornet stings, and dog attacks.”That means that, while you ought to know what to do if you encounter a potentially dangerous animal in the wild, the actual risk of death is quite low. What you really need to know is how to protect yourself from bees and wasps and your own livestock. Each year there are 220,000 visits to the emergency room and about 60 deaths as a result of insect stings. Emergency visits and deaths due to animals beat that by a wide margin: over 1 million ER visits, and 201 deaths annually with about $2 billion in healthcare spending added on.

Legalized medical cannabis lowers opioid use, study finds

Science Daily | Posted on April 4, 2018

U.S. states that have approved medical cannabis laws saw a dramatic reduction in opioid use, according to a new study.

Home-delivered meals might reduce ER visits, study suggests

The Washington Post | Posted on April 4, 2018

Delivering meals to vulnerable sick people might be a simple way to cut back on emergency room visits and hospitalizations, reining in some of the costliest kinds of medical care, according to a new Health Affairs study. Low-income seniors or disabled younger people who received home-delivered meals — particularly meals designed by a dietitian for that person's specific medical needs — had fewer emergency visits and lower medical spending than a similar group of people who did not receive meal deliveries. “This is an excellent study that really points out, again, how important it is to get food to people,” said Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural strategy at the University of Illinois, who was not involved in the study. “Some people's response is that will drive up the federal budget, which on one hand it does. But on the other hand, we have to look at the cost savings associated with this ... [through] non-trivial reductions in health-care costs in our country.”

Foxconn in Choppy Waters Over Plan to Drain the Great Lakes

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 4, 2018

The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes. It’s what Wisconsin’s government hopes for — and environmentalists fear.If given the go-ahead by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, which is based in Taiwan, would make liquid crystal displays, more commonly known as LCDs, in a factory just outside Racine, Wisconsin.Wisconsin courted Foxconn hard. The state offered $3 billion in incentives and exempted the plant from the state’s wetlands regulations and an environmental impact review. In luring Foxconn, Wisconsin beat out many of its Great Lakes neighbors — Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania also vied for the plant. The company has pledged to hire 3,000 people in Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district in a largely rural part of the state with a struggling economy. But the company needs more than just a wealth of manufacturing workers. Making LCD panels also requires large volumes of clean water: The plant is seeking approval through Racine’s water utility to drain 7 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan.But other Great Lakes states are questioning the legality of the deal, and some environmentalists say it could create a slippery slope that will allow other outside interests to tap into lakes.Environmentalists object to Wisconsin leaders allowing Foxconn to skirt some environmental regulations, and they worry Racine’s wastewater treatment center won’t be able to treat all the pollution from the plant before releasing the water back into Lake Michigan.

Foxconn in Choppy Waters Over Plan to Drain the Great Lakes

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 3, 2018

The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes.

Philadelphia Turns Massive Stormwater Runoff Problem Into Economic Boost

Environmental Health | Posted on April 2, 2018

Philadelphia has long struggled with stormwater that sends massive amounts of polluted runoff into nearby rivers. Rather than spending nearly $10 billion it didn’t have on a new 30-mile-long tunnel, the city is investing a fraction of that on thousands of “green” infrastructure sites. And the strategy is paying off, Bruce Stutz reports in Yale Environment 360.The city is seven years into a 25-year project designed to reduce 85% Philadelphia’s combined sewer overflows by 85% under an agreement with the EPA, Stutz explained. “The city is investing an estimated $2.4 billion in public funds — to be augmented by large expenditures from the private sector — to create a citywide mosaic of green stormwater infrastructure.”Called Green City, Clean Waters, the city’s project recreates living landscapes that once slowed, filtered, and consumed rainfall. Ranging from downspout planters to complex bioretention swales that have drains running underneath them, the green infrastructure sites are intended to work in tandem with rain gardens, tree trenches, green roofs, and urban wetlands

Microsoft Pushes to End Broadband Gap in Rural Areas

DTN | Posted on April 2, 2018

Tech giant Microsoft is working to eliminate the broadband gap in rural areas, but the company needs rural residents' help to accomplish that goal.  While the private sector can play a leading role in closing the rural broadband gap, the public sector also needs to play a part, she said. Among the methods Microsoft wants to utilize to get high-speed internet out to rural areas is to use the TV white spaces spectrum, which is administrated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).McKinley described TV white space as the grainy channels on your TV that are not being used by broadcast channels. Microsoft wants the FCC to ensure the continued use of these channels and provide even more spectrum. There are two channels in use now, and another one could be possible, she said.One advantage of using TV white space in rural areas is that this spectrum has the ability to go through natural barriers such as trees, she said.Rural residents need to have "a call to action" and should contact their elected officials about expanding white space access, McKinley said. These politicians then have to push the FCC to allow more of the white space spectrum to be used for rural connectivity.