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Rural News

Scientists still aren't sure why Americans mususe their opioids.

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 25, 2018

Getting accurate information about individual drug abuse is a difficult proposition. It's even harder when people don't understand terms on a survey or, worse yet, don't even read the question. A researcher shares some of the pitfalls of tracking the misuse of opioids in the U.S. Drug surveys are reseachers’ main method of collecting data on opioid misuse. I’ve been in drug survey research for almost two decades, but in recent years I’ve learned that collecting accurate data on opioid misuse in particular is difficult. Why? Because many people underreport misuse, while others unintentionally overreport misuse.Colleagues have been asking me how to ask about opioid misuse on surveys. I’m finding that there’s no easy answer. But one thing I’ve learned in my research is that many people may misunderstand the basics about opioids, preventing researchers like myself from understanding the full scope of the epidemic.

Job growth falters in rural counties

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 25, 2018

From August 2017-2018, the number of jobs in nonmetropolitan counties grew by less than 0.2 percent, compared to a growth rate of 1.1 percent nationwide. Rural counties that are located farthest from cities lost jobs over the year. Job growth in rural America continues to lag the rest of the nation, according to the latest data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the 12 months ending this past August, the U.S. added over 1.7 million jobs. But only 38,000 of those new jobs found their way to rural counties, according to a Daily Yonder analysis. 

News Deserts: Counties without newspapers

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 25, 2018

The loss of more than 1,800 newspapers since 2004 has reduced citizens’ access to information about local issues and government, a new study finds. In rural areas, where communication can already be difficult, the impact could be even greater, the study says.Nearly a third of the U.S. newspapers that ceased publication in the last 15 years were based in rural communities, a new study finds. Most of the papers that closed were weeklies. In some cases, they were the only nongovernmental link between local government and residents, researchers say. Other publications have pared down their news operations in such a way that their coverage is minimal, becoming “ghost newspapers,” as researchers call them, mere wisps of their former selves.  

Florida pythons never stop eating. That could help them spread to cooler places

Miami Herald | Posted on October 25, 2018

Fueled by bountiful swamps that provide a steady supply of marsh rabbits, deer, wading birds and other meals, Burmese pythons in Florida have rapidly adapted to become hardier and more resistant to cold than their Asian cousins, a new study has found. And that supercharged evolution should serve as a warning not just for Florida, but the entire U.S.

What's New in Aging: Grandparenting help in wake of opioid epidemic

Pittsburgh Post Gazette | Posted on October 25, 2018

Grandparents taking responsibility for raising their grandchildren in Pennsylvania have new help available to them under two pieces of legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Tom Wolf. The measures sprung from increasing pressure placed on grandparents as a result of the opioid epidemic, which has impacted many individuals in their 20s and 30s and resulted in older generations becoming caregivers for more youngsters. According to a press release from the governor’s office, an estimated 76,000 grandparents are caring for more than 83,800 grandchildren in the state. One of the bills passed recently by the Legislature grants temporary guardianship in 90-day increments to grandparents or other family members when children’s parents are unable to care for them. Those 90-day increments can be repeated for up to one year. The intent is to keep more children with other family members, when necessary, rather than putting them into the foster care system.The second measure establishes the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program, which will consist of a website and phone hotline that grandparents and other family members can use to learn about services available to help them take on unexpected care for children. Pennsylvania recently received a $479,307 federal grant to develop the navigator program.

The number of migrant children in Texas shelters spiked again, reaching a new high under Trump

Texas Tribune | Posted on October 25, 2018

The number of unaccompanied minor children held in Texas shelters reached a new high in October, months after the administration of President Donald Trump ended its policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.There were 5,385 children living at privately run shelters for unaccompanied youth as of Oct. 18, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which regulates the federally funded shelters. That’s a record high under the Trump administration, up from 5,099 children last month.The 5.5 percent increase marks the largest month-over-month growth since the end of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy in June, even as four new shelters opened in the last month.The soaring arrest numbers — coupled with the growing number of kids held in shelters — suggest that while the official policy of family separation at the border may be over, more and more immigrant family units are being disjointed as people cross the border in greater numbers.

A week after Hurricane Michael, rural residents feel stranded

Washington Post | Posted on October 19, 2018

Chance, was in her Toyota Tundra following the arrows when she thought, “Thank God for the community.” “You think the government would have come out to help us country folk,” she said. “But we are still struggling.”In the week after the catastrophic Hurricane Michael, residents have watched supply trucks and federal emergency officials come through the rural town of Alford, population 400. But most of them did not stop here, where the power is still out, few have clean water and people have been sleeping outside.There are small towns facing similar fates along Michael’s destructive trail. Neighbors and churches are providing food, shelter and supplies, trying to tide them over, hoping that more government help will come.“We are starting to see some federal help, but it’s mostly church groups and more church groups that are helping,” said Mayor George Gay.  Alford is in south-central Jackson County, a sprawling rural area more than three-quarters the size of Rhode Island. The county was now nearly 1,000 square miles of blown-over cotton fields and peanut farms, where random scraps of metal littered roads and forests were filled with rows of trees dismembered from their roots.On those rural roads, power lines slumped down like the bottom of jump ropes. Some houses were reduced to rubble and bricks. Gay estimated three-quarters of homes in Alford were “completely destroyed.” Others were blanketed by blue tarps. 70 percent of the rural roads and dirt roads were still obstructed by trees. It had been eight days. And residents found themselves fearing the worst.Just down the street from Chance, a man died after getting stuck under a fallen tree. It took police days to find the man, whom Chance simply knew as “Old School.” She wondered how many more lay beneath the debris. Chance followed the arrows to the Alford Community Center, where she was told residents could receive three hot meals a day from a religious group that travels from disaster to disaster to provide support. It was a stroke of luck that the group, International Gospel Outreach First Responders, was in Alford at all, volunteers said.They were heading to Marianna, a larger city 15 miles away where FEMA officials are assisting residents with disaster relief claims, when local leaders told them that a smaller town was desperate for help. If the group hadn’t come with hamburgers and spaghetti, residents here wondered whether they would have eventually gone hungry.




World Heritage Sites threatened by rising sea levels

| Posted on October 18, 2018

In the Mediterranean region, there are numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in low-lying coastal areas. In the course of the 21st century, these sites will increasingly be at risk by storm surges and increasing coastal erosion due to sea-level rise.

Kansas Forest Service, fire officials say state’s wildfire suppression capabilities inadequate

High Plains Journal | Posted on October 17, 2018

An audit of state agency responses to two recent wildfires in Kansas showed that the state’s wildfire suppression training and mitigation programs do not sufficiently prepare the state for wildfire response, according to Kansas State Forester, Larry Biles and Fire Management Officer, Mark Neely. They spoke before the state’s legislative budget committee on Oct. 3 in Topeka. “We are encouraged to see the legislature focus on what is the state’s most rapidly growing hazards – wildfires,” said Biles. Biles and Neely provided a review of the opinion from the Kansas Forest Service and KFS Advisory Council on the Legislative Post Audit on wildfire suppression in the state. 

Florida Governor issues ultimatum to Verizon: Give me a plan to restore service, and treat customers fairly

Tampa Bay Times | Posted on October 17, 2018

Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued another rebuke of Verizon today, telling the cell provider in a terse press release that he expects the company to give him a plan today to restore service to the areas hit by Hurricane Michael, and that all cell providers should waive bills for October. The press release was addressed to all cell phone providers, but it singled out Verizon, which has struggled to restore service in Bay County, where Michael made landfall.