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Rural News

6-foot gator, pythons removed from Kansas City home

KSHB Kansas City | Posted on November 12, 2018

 Deputies in Kansas City, Missouri serving an eviction notice on Wednesday morning got quite the surprise when they found some illegal animals at the home.  A six-foot, 150-pound alligator, three pythons, a rabbit and several “domesticated” animals, including cats, were found at a home in the Kansas City, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Opioid marketing unintentionally protected rural black region

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 8, 2018


Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, put the sales pressure on doctors who already wrote more opioid prescriptions. That steered the pill away from black, rural counties and toward regions with greater numbers of whites. A noticeably lower overdose rate across the rural Deep South may be one result. Rural counties in the South with a high percentage of African Americans tend to have lower drug-overdose rates, leading to speculation that racism may have had the unintended consequence of insulating blacks from some of the opioid epidemic.“Across the rural South and into the Delta region, where you have very large proportions of rural African American populations, the overdose rate is actually relatively low,” said Michael Meit, co-director of the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, which released a map of county-level overdose deaths earlier this fall.

Mississippi project builds on cultural strengths

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 8, 2018

If you want to build something strong and beautiful, get creative people involved.  That advice works whether you are building a house, a piece of art, or even a regional economy, says a Delta nonprofit leader who is helping develop the business skills of “creatives” in Mississippi.“I think some people forget how innovative the Delta really is,” says Tim Lampkin, the founder of Higher Purpose Co., a community development nonprofit based in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  To help make that happen, Higher Purpose Co. teamed up with a Minnesota nonprofit arts service organization, Springboard for the Arts, to provide free business training for artists and other “creatives".

USDA programs cover the essentials

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 8, 2018

The federal Ag Department’s programs address the fundamental goods and services that humans need to survive. Water, food, housing, electricity and more are all part of the department’s portfolio. A book that we have recently read, No Small Hope: Towards the Universal Provision of Basic Goods by Kenneth Reinert, makes the argument that there is a minimal set of basic goods and services that should be put into the hands of everyone in the world. Reinert is professor of public policy and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Reinert brings a wealth of experience to his analysis, having served as senior economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission and consultant for the World Trade Organization, the OECD Development Organization, the World Bank, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Reinert argues that the minimal set of basic goods and services that should be available to every person in the world includes “nutritious food, clean water, sanitation, health services, education services, housing, electricity, and human security services.” Looking at that list, one cannot help but notice that some aspect of most of these basic goods and services is part of the work of the United States Department of Agriculture. Even as we wrestle with the provisions of our own farm bill and its impact on farm profitability, we cannot afford to ignore the challenges facing farmers around the globe—most of the world’s hungry live in rural areas. 

Illinois closely watching virus that has killed more than 400 deer

The Telegraph | Posted on November 8, 2018

Illinois says a virus outbreak has claimed more than 400 deer this year and has spread to 49 counties, including Schuyler, Greene, Macoupin, Cass and Sangamon counties in west-central Illinois. While most of the deaths of white-tailed deer from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease have been in Peoria, Lawrence and Fulton counties, the numbers as of this week were significant in Schuyler, Menard and Macoupin counties in the region. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has received reports of 432 suspected cases of the disease so far this year. While the disease is not hazardous to humans or pets, it has been shown to affect livestock, prompting the state to caution producers to be vigilant.Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that can cause localized die-offs when conditions are favorable for transmission. Infected animals develop a high fever, and dead animals often are found near water sources. Hunters may encounter deer killed by the disease when they go into the woods during the fall deer hunting seasons.

Frederick Wiseman's new film may just change the way you look at small-town America.

The Washington Post | Posted on November 8, 2018

For more than half a century, documentary-maker Frederick Wiseman has observed American life from a discreet distance, creating visual and aural essays that fall into a felicitous middle ground between reportage and sheer poetry. “Monrovia, Indiana” stands as an exceptionally straightforward, four-square example of Wiseman’s strategy. Filmed in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, the film takes viewers to the kind of rural Midwestern town that tipped that race: small (pop. 1,443), largely white, deeply religious and unsure what the future holds in an economic context of technological and cultural change.Rest assured, “Monrovia, Indiana,” never invokes partisan politics. As usual, Wiseman simply trains his camera on what he deems important, creating a closely observed portrait of a community by way of still images and scenes captured on a static, dispassionate camera. The film’s opening scene, of rolling cropland, handsome farmhouses, gentle-eyed cows and empty roads, could easily be accompanied by a soaring score by Aaron Copland. Wiseman doesn’t go in for such dramatics: His only soundtrack is the sound of rustling leaves, chirping birds and occasional conversations among the citizens he keeps at a respectful arm’s length.The result is a classic on a par with “Winesburg, Ohio” and “Our Town,” a narrow slice of contemporary American life that manages to be both admiring, yet capable of polite skepticism.

Human Pressures Have Shrunk Wildlife Populations by 60 Percent

Scientific American | Posted on November 5, 2018

In 40 years, human actions like deforestation have taken a major toll on wildlife, a new report finds.Humans have wiped out about 60 percent of the world’s wildlife populations in the last four decades, a new report has found.Over-exploitation of species, deforestation and agricultural use have destroyed key animal habitats around the planet from 1970 to 2014. And now, the growing threat from human-caused climate change is increasing pressure on animals, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2018 Living Planet report.“Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” the report states.

Can You Curate a Town?

The New York Times | Posted on November 5, 2018

Mr. Resnick, 50, a self-described “country boy” who has the hulk of a club bouncer but favors bright white sneakers and dad jeans, felt the same way. Six years ago, he bought 31 buildings in Mountain Dale — nearly all of them vacant — hoping to revive the town. He knew this required courting a new breed of visitors: weekenders, artists and escapees from New York City’s high rents. But as a high-school dropout who made his money manufacturing grocery store equipment, he didn’t know how to find them.Then a friend introduced him to DVEight, a regional magazine named for eight towns in the Delaware Valley that describes its audience as “a stylish and sophisticated readership interested in exploring modern rural life.”These were precisely the people Mr. Resnick wanted. And so he hired the magazine’s editor in chief, Nhi Mundy, 39, to be Mountain Dale’s “town curator.” Ms. Mundy’s role is to turn Main Street into a living version of the magazine. “If a museum does it, why can’t I do it?” Mr. Resnick said. Curating a town as one might an art collection is not a lonely pursuit. Wealthy individuals like Mr. Resnick, well-funded nonprofits and even corporations like Walmart have begun buying deserted American main streets, hoping to reinvent them with a fresh aesthetic. The people behind these ventures frequently install their friends and acquaintances in storefronts, while attempting to preserve (or exploit, depending whom you ask) local history. The practice is rarely free of conflict, even when developers have the best intentions.“Everybody in this country says Main Street America is dead. It’s a bad investment,” Mr. Resnick said. “I’m trying to recapture what I had as a kid. Everything was alive, every store was open.”And yet marketing the romance of rural living to city folk can seem like an affront to locals who are dealing with serious socioeconomic decline. Monson, a town in one of Maine’s poorest counties, was gutted a decade ago when the local furniture factory closed. Then a nonprofit called the Libra Foundation purchased 28 properties in town, hoping to create an artists’ retreat and, eventually, encourage painters and poets to settle there permanently.

August 2017-2018, job growth falters in rural counties

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 1, 2018

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. More than two-thirds of the new jobs were located in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, those with more than a million people.  Rural America had 12.9 percent of the nation’s jobs in August 2018 but only garnered 2.2 percent of the jobs created in the previous 12 months. 

From Great Recession to Great Reshuffling

Economic Innovation Group | Posted on November 1, 2018

What we found amounts to a “Great Reshuffling” – a sorting of human capital, job creation, and business formation that has had vast implications for Americans and their communities. In the years following the recession, top-tier places have thrived, seeing meteoric growth in jobs, businesses, and population. Meanwhile, the number of people living in America’s most distressed zip codes is shrinking as the nature of distress becomes more rural. But the gaps in well-being between prosperous areas and the rest have grown wider, and national rates of growth have become more distant from the experience of the median community. What was once a country of disparate places that converged towards prosperity is now a country of places drifting further apart.The Great Reshuffling has left more Americans enjoying prosperity. The number of people living in prosperous zip codes swelled by 10.2 million between the two periods to a total of 86.5 million—more than any other quintile. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in distressed zip codes fell by 3.4 million between the two periods to a total of 50 million—the smallest population of any quintile.While the overall population in distressed zip codes declined, the number of rural Americans in that category increased by nearly 1 million between the two periods. Rural zip codes exhibited the most volatility and were by far the most likely to be downwardly mobile on the index, with 30 percent dropping into a lower quintile of prosperity—nearly twice the proportion of urban zip codes that fell into a lower quintile. Meanwhile, suburban communities registered the greatest stability, with 61 percent remaining in the same quintile over both periods. Urban zip codes were the most robust—least likely to decline and more likely than their suburban counterparts to rise.