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Rural News

Frustrated rural communities fight for lane on information highway

WKTV | Posted on March 20, 2019

There is growing frustration among some living in rural areas, who find themselves fighting for a lane on the information highway. "Numerous times we're booted off. It's hard to navigate the internet if you have more than one person on, and with three kids and a wife who's an educator, it's very difficult to use the internet sufficiently," says David Poyer, of Deansboro. Numerous calls to provider, Frontier, have brought frustration, not resolution."I literally have to go to a coffee shop and get on a laptop to do estimates, which I think is ridiculous," said Williams.Williams, a member of the Marshall Town Board, also fears that absence of dependable broadband service will hinder development."We've got a lot of upside potential; we've got a lot of farmland that could be developed, but we're being held back by what really I think shouldn't be a factor and that's high-speed broadband."


An Office of Rural Broadband: We’ve Heard This Before

Benton | Posted on March 20, 2019

On February 12, 2019 Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced S.454 – The Office of Rural Broadband Act in the Senate. Co-sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the bill would establish an Office of Rural Broadband in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The bill has now been referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Senator Cramer’s Office of Rural Broadband Act is the latest effort to coordinate rural broadband planning and policy. There are myriad agencies and departments with a hand in rural broadband – the FCC, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) chief among them. Coordination – or lack thereof – has been one of the major hurdles in broadband deployment and in crafting a national rural broadband strategy more generally.


Human activity impacts a quarter of the world’s threatened species

New Scientist | Posted on March 20, 2019

A quarter of vulnerable vertebrate species are affected by human-made threats to over 90 per cent of their habitat, and approximately 7 per cent are affected by human activity across their entire range. “These species will decline and possibly die out in the impacted parts of their habitat without conservation action. Completely impacted species will almost certainly face extinction,” says James Allan at the University of Queensland in Australia.Allan and his colleagues mapped the habitats of 5457 threatened terrestrial birds, mammals and amphibians around the world. They divided the planet into a grid of 30 square kilometre boxes and determined the amount of human activity within each – including crop and pasture land, built environment, night lights, hunting and roads and railways – and analysed the sensitivity of each species to these activities.


African-Americans Missing Out on Southern Push for Legal Pot

Pew Trust | Posted on March 20, 2019

Natalie Jones Bonner, a 58-year-old entrepreneur in Biloxi, Mississippi, who has used cannabis to reduce inflammation in her knees and wrists, wanted her fellow Mississippians to experience the drug’s medical and economic benefits. So she volunteered to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize its medical use. But the Navy veteran, who is black, was disheartened to discover that the campaign included few African-Americans. Mississippi is 38 percent black — the highest percentage in the nation — but four white people were leading the campaign. And people of color made up less than a third of the 70 people on the steering committee.Minorities have been largely absent from the push for medical cannabis across the South. Following the lead of Arkansas and Florida, white male conservative lawmakers are spearheading legalization drives in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.


Disaster, disruptions, and exhaustion. Flood problems will not relent

KETV | Posted on March 18, 2019

The rivers kept raging Sunday as more Nebraskans and Iowas fled to shelters, first responders kept working through their exhaustion, and scores of volunteers offered supplies, food, and prayers.  The head of the Nebraska State Patrol said the recovery would be a "marathon". With highways closed and farmland flooded, no one could offer a solid projection on how long it might take to put Nebraska back to where it was a month ago.The immediate concern Sunday was for those still stranded, or isolated. The state organized a supply convoy of eight trucks and escorted them over damaged and closed highways to reach Fremont. Residents of North Bend were ordered to evacuate because there was no working water or sewer system in the Dodge County community.


Thousands flee Midwest flooding triggered by 'bomb cyclone' – and more rain is coming

USA Today | Posted on March 18, 2019

A "bomb cyclone" storm that bloated rivers as it roared through much of the Midwest combined with spring snowmelt Sunday to drive some Midwest rivers to record levels and force evacuation of hundreds of homes. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding. Two other men have been missing for days.Some areas must brace for more rain Tuesday, forecasters said. Tuesday's storm won't match last week's "bomb cyclone" that triggered heavy snow, howling winds and several tornadoes, AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. But he said there is the potential for up to another inch of rain on areas that have no place to put the water."That could trigger new or aggravate problems if that rain targets the areas hit hardest by the flooding," he said.The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency. Roads and highways were closed. 


Rural businesses feel ripple effect of farming struggles

Gazette Extra | Posted on March 18, 2019

Market forces have afflicted farmers in practically every commodity. Some farmers have drawn from their bank accounts and tried to persevere. Some have sold their animals and switched to other types of farming. Others have left the industry. As farms evaporate—Rock and Walworth counties have lost dairy farms every year since at least 1975—rural businesses that rely on farmers are feeling the impact.“I think it’s simple as driving down the road,” McMahon said. “Count how many dairy farms used to be a dairy farm. Right now, there might be horses in that pasture. It’s obvious that was a barn. There’s nothing there now. It is that simple.“How has it affected? Well, they’re just gone.” Even some of Beeler’s farmer customers who have no debt are struggling. They’ve had difficulty competing with enormous operations that have indirectly forced small farms out of business, she said.Those massive farms, some of which have out-of-state owners, often aren’t buying from local feed stores or implement dealers. They aren’t having a beer and burger at the tavern down the road, Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden said.“The bigger issue is the number of dollars leaving communities when small farms disappear. They’re not spending those dollars locally anymore,” said Von Ruden, whose union district covers Rock County. “That farm is probably banking out of the area or maybe even out of the state. And buying a lot of their commodities directly out of shipping terminals instead of buying from a local supplier.”


Wolves lead, dogs follow -- and both cooperate with humans

Science Daily | Posted on March 17, 2019

The statement is a bold one, especially as wolves have received a lot of negative attention in recent years. A recent study conducted by behavioral researchers, however, shows that dogs and wolves both work equally well with humans, albeit in different ways. The allegedly unequal brothers are thus much more similar than often assumed.


Why Broadband is a Better Bet than Coal for Rural America

Electric Light & Power | Posted on March 17, 2019

In my years as CEO of two different power-supply electric coops, one in Kentucky and the other in Colorado, I came to deeply appreciate the hardworking coal miners whose tough jobs had always been so indispensable to power generation. I felt for those miners as the forces of regulation and economics shifted our coal-powered industry toward natural gas. Across coal country, proud and vibrant small towns suffered enormously as mines closed and good-paying jobs faded. They suffer still.The truth is that no amount of political rhetoric can alter a fundamental reality of the U.S. energy system: Coal has no chance of competing with natural gas.  Fortunately, a movement is growing that actually could make a real difference for overlooked rural communities. According to a report published this past January by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), more than 100 electric co-ops now aim to provide broadband to rural communities in which this infrastructure is desperately needed. 


Existing census obstacles made worse for rural, immigrant communities

Peoria Journal Star | Posted on March 17, 2019

With up to two Illinois congressional seats and $1 billion or more in federal funding on the line if Illinois’ population is not correctly counted in the 2020 census, not-for-profit groups warn that changes to the census format this year could exacerbate an undercount in already hard-to-reach communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16 percent of Illinoisans live in “hard to count,” or HTC, communities, which require greater resources for the Census Bureau to reach and are the most likely to be undercounted.While HTC communities can be found across the state, they each have defining characteristics that make an undercount likely, and include rural, low-income, high-immigrant and homeless populations, as well as children, renters and ethnic or racial minorities.These communities are prevalent in large pockets of Chicago and surrounding Cook County; urban centers around the state, including Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, Decatur and Metro East; and more rural areas, especially in southern Illinois, such as Carbondale, Cairo and various southern counties


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