Portland’s downtown disappeared from view this week as thick smoke from wildfires settled in for an uncomfortable stay.And that made it a problem, even though forest fires have been burning elsewhere in the West for several weeks.All told, there were 65 active fires in nine Western states as of mid-day Sept. 6, including 19 in Oregon. The active fires have burned 1.4 million acres.The biggest fire in Oregon, by far, is the Chetco Bar Fire in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness northeast of Brookings on the Southern Oregon coast. As of mid-day Sept. 6 if had burned nearly 177,000 acres, destroyed six homes, damaged another and threatened 8,523 more.As multiple rural residents said in effect on social media: Welcome to our world, Portland.Some Oregonians who work in or support the state’s stagnant timber industry had another response: We told you so.
The New York City Department of Education announced Wednesday that all public school students, regardless of family income, will receive free lunch. The program — called Free School Lunch For All — aligns with the start of the school year.
A large body of research focuses on the divide between the rural and urban United States. These studies tell us that poverty is higher in the rural United States, incomes are lower, and job growth is nearly non-existent. But, as demographer Kenneth Johnson states, “‘Rural America’ is a deceptively simple term for a remarkably diverse collection of places.In this brief, we provide a glimpse of the economic and demographic characteristics of life in the rural United States. Using data from the American Community Survey, we compare those living in low- and lower-middle-income counties (counties with average family incomes below the median for all counties in the United States) to those living in upper-middle- and high-income counties. Additionally, we compare counties at the extremes, where median incomes are in the bottom and top 10 percent of the income distribution.Low-income rural counties are clustered in the South, lower-middle- and upper-middle-income rural counties are clustered in the Midwest, and high-income rural counties are clustered in the West. Still, low-, middle-, and high-income rural counties dot nearly every corner of the United States. In Georgia, for example, over three-quarters of rural counties are low income and just 2 percent (and two counties, to be exact) are high income. In Kansas, as in most states of the Midwest, almost 80 percent of rural counties are middle income. Our research also reveals that differences in income levels coincide with differences in demographics. People in low-income rural areas are less educated and less likely to be employed, and those who do work are more likely to do so in manufacturing and production and less likely to do so in management, business, science, arts, recreation, and entertainment. Their incomes are also more likely to fall below the federal poverty line, and they rely more heavily on public support.
Maternity care is disappearing from America's rural counties, and for the 28 million women of reproductive age living in those areas, pregnancy and childbirth are becoming more complicated—and more dangerous. That's the upshot of a new report from the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota that examined obstetric services in the nation's 1,984 rural counties over a 10-year period. In 2004, 45 percent of rural counties had no hospitals with obstetric services; by 2014, that figure had jumped to 54 percent. The decline was greatest in heavily black counties and in states with the strictest eligibility rules for Medicaid. The decrease in services has enormous implications for women and families, says Katy B. Kozhimannil, an associate professor in health policy who directs the Minnesota center's research efforts. Rural areas have higher rates of chronic conditions that make pregnancy more challenging, higher rates of childbirth-related hemorrhages—and higher rates of maternal and infant deaths. And because rural counties tend to be poorer, any efforts to revamp or slash Medicaid could hit rural mothers especially hard. ProPublica spoke with Kozhimannil about the new study and the implications for maternal care.
Ajit Pai’s proposal to “solve” rural America’s broadband problem won’t help you watch Netflix, finish your homework, or download videos from your grandkids. All it does is move the goalposts and call it a touchdown. Rural people know the real score.Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has made talking about the “digital divide” between rural communities and urban communities a top priority. In the few months since Pai took over, he has gone on numerous road trips , appearing with rural senators such as John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) to highlight his deep concern for rural Americans. Pai likes to talk about his rural Kansas roots and went so far as to declare August “rural broadband month”. Unfortunately, for all his Kansas roots, Chairman Pai has hit on a uniquely Washington answer to the very real problem of getting affordable, high speed broadband to every American: re-define the term “broadband” to make the problem go away.
A California farmer who plowed dry ground faces large fines from the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting America's waterways. Meanwhile, under some conditions, cities can dump raw sewage into major rivers with impunity. How is this fair?
The property tax reforms that Ohio farmers and farm groups sought over the past three years are just a few weeks from taking effect. The law itself becomes effective Sept. 30, and the reforms will be phased in over the next six years of assessments. It is estimated landowners will see an average of 30 percent savings beginning with the 2017 reassessments, with full savings realized after six years.Most recently, CAUV reform refers to changes included in the 2017 state budget bill that ensure all the factors in the CAUV calculation tie directly to the agricultural economy, making for a more accurate CAUV valuation. An earlier set of reforms were adopted by the Ohio Department of Taxation in 2015, which resulted in about a $10-per-acre savings.
The first legal crop of marijuana has started to grow in Maryland. And industry officials say products should be available in medical marijuana dispensaries by 2018.
With the fall comes opening day of several popular hunting seasons across the state. For Texas landowners, this often means entering into hunting lease agreements that generate added income for the operation. Under Texas law, a landowner leasing private property for hunting in return for any type of compensation is required to obtain a Hunting Lease License from Texas Parks and Wildlife (“TPW”). Note, this is separate from a hunting license that the hunter must possess.
When Angela Arnold was laid off at the end of last year, she didn’t know if she would find work that would let her stay in Carbon County. But then she got a job that keeps rural workers home by design.With training and support from a new company, Accelerant BSP, she answers calls from her house for HealthEquity, a Draper-based health savings account firm that manages over $5 billion for more than 3 million customers.“The idea is ultrasimple: Create rural jobs while filling the needs of the urban company that can’t find adequate talent on the Wasatch Front,” said Joel McKay Smith, CEO of Accelerant Business Solutions Provider. As the economy in Utah as a whole expands, job losses have devastated some rural counties. Gov. Gary Herbert hopes to see more solutions like Accelerant BSP during his push to create 25,000 jobs off the Wasatch Front in the next four years. Creating 25,000 jobs in those counties would represent the smallest amount of job growth in any consecutive four-year period this century, outside the Great Recession. From 2004 to 2008, before the recession settled in, rural Utah grew by more than 32,000 jobs. From 2012 to 2016, the counties grew by more than 27,000 jobs.