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Rural News

Ohio law may shield Fire Ball manufacturer in fatal fair accident

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on September 14, 2017

The manufacturer of the Fire Ball ride that broke apart at the Ohio State Fair, killing one person and injuring seven others, could be protected from liability by a state law approved more than a decade ago. What was then called “tort-reform” legislation now will “make the fight for justice much more difficult to achieve” for the victims of the ride failure, said Columbus attorney Michael Rourke. He represents Tamika Dunlap, a 36-year-old woman whose legs were shattered when one of the ride’s gondolas broke loose and crashed to the ground on July 26.Lawsuits that are certain to be filed in the case will be affected by legislation that took effect in 2005, Rourke said.That legislation got much of its attention for placing caps on jury awards for businesses and individuals in lawsuits. But the law also set a 10-year limit on a manufacturer’s liability for a product’s defects.The limit, known as a statute of repose, would appear to protect KMG, the Netherlands-based manufacturer of the Fire Ball. The ride that broke apart was built in 1998.Under the law, “No cause of action based on a product-liability claim shall accrue against the manufacturer or supplier of a product later than 10 years from the date that the product is delivered to its first purchaser or lessee.”

EPA grants pollution waiver to Florida utilities after Irma

AP | Posted on September 12, 2017

 State and federal environmental regulators issued a blanket waiver on Monday for Florida electricity companies to violate clean air and water standards without penalty for the next two weeks.

Craft beer sales slow, and industry changes may be on the way

Capital Press | Posted on September 12, 2017

A bubble in Oregon’s revered craft beer industry? Sales have slowed and some breweries have closed, but the state Office of Economic Analysis isn’t going on a bender about it. Senior Economist Josh Lehner, who has written extensively about the economic impact of the state’s “alcohol cluster,” said it’s likely the industry is maturing. Some shakeout is not unexpected.In a post on the department website, Lehner said making good local beer, as breweries and brewpubs around the state do, is no longer enough to assure success.As craft beer sales slow, however, more breweries will struggle to retain market share, he said.“I do think the brewery closure rate will increase in the coming years,” Lehner reported. “It is likely to converge toward the rates seen in other industries.“Currently, the growing and largely successful beer industry is enticing even more breweries to enter,” he said. “Eventually this will lead to (over)saturation and for closures to rise as a result.”

Wildfires may be a wakeup call to urban residents

Capital Press | Posted on September 12, 2017

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 largest school district in the US just started offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students

Business Insider | Posted on September 12, 2017

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.

Employment, Poverty, and Public Assistance in the Rural United States

University of New Hampshire, Carsey School | Posted on September 7, 2017

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.

Maternal care is disappearing from America’s rural counties

Pacific Standard | Posted on September 7, 2017

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.

FCC proposes to fix rural broadband by changing the definition

Daily Yonder | Posted on September 7, 2017

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. 

Clean water act's double standard

Daily Yonder | Posted on September 7, 2017

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?

Ohio:What does CAUV reform mean for me?

Farm and Dairy | Posted on September 7, 2017

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.