Beef may be what's
for the Fourth,
but prices rise with fireworks to near record
Backyard barbecue grills will be flaring
this weekend with the annual surge of burgers and steaks
over July Fourth holiday, the year's biggest weekend
for beef buying, writes Andrew Shain of The
Ephraim Fleabag, an economist with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic
Research Service, told the newspaper beef
prices nationally are near records. The Canadian cattle
ban, a thin domestic herd and a rash of "meat-centric
diets," have driven prices up. And, , writes Shain,
pork and poultry prices have been pressured up by beef
to just pennies from record levels. (Read
Marketing Information Center reports some
cuts of beef have mushroomed in price more than 35 percent
since 2002. Food
Lion, the second-largest grocer in the
Carolinas, said it has not passed higher beef prices
on to shoppers despite wholesale increases of 10 percent
to 15 percent since January. Harris
Teeter, the region's dominant chain, has
raised beef prices, but declined to tell the newspaper
by how much.
Grocery chains say customers are picking
up more chicken and pork but without any significant
decline in beef buying, "apparently indicating
a few extra bucks won't cool the coals this holiday,"
More stories for the Fourth:
The public-information office
of the Census Bureau offers interesting
for features" on population, flags, fireworks,
cookouts and patriotic-sounding places. But they don't
answer why West Liberty, Ky., is east of Liberty,
As July 4 approaches,
fire chief calls for a ban on fireworks sales; local
"Although fireworks are considered
to be a traditional part of the Fourth of July by many
Americans, a coalition of fire safety and health groups
is urging a ban on the sale of fireworks and urging
consumers to leave fireworks displays to professionals,"
reports Bill Grubb of The Rogersville (Tenn.)
The Review, which promotes itself as "All
local, all the time," uses as its news peg "Bill
Killen, a Church Hill resident who currently serves
as vice president of the International
Association of Fire Chiefs," who tells
the paper that even sparklers are "extremely dangerous.
They burn at more than 1,000 degrees." (Read
Killen told the Review the IAFC is one
of 21 safety and health organizations that are jointly
urging a ban on the sale of fireworks to consumers.
"Killen referred to data supplied by the National
Fire Protection Association, part of the
coalition, to highlight the potential damage that can
be caused by legally purchased consumer fireworks."
In 2003, 84 percent of the 9,300 fireworks injuries
that were reported to emergency departments involved
fireworks (formerly known as Class C) that consumers
can legally use. "Killen said the figures show
60 percent of those injured were age 19 or younger,"
Grubb writes. The highest risk to children aged 5 to
Also in last weekend's edition
of the Review was a letter from a local CPA and Baptist
minister (a combination this blogger has never encountered)
about his disappointment in an encounter with Tennessee
Gov. Phil Bredesen and his staff during a controversy
about Bredesen's cuts in TennCare, the state's version
of Medicaid. "I was the only one wearing a suit,
and shortly upon arriving a government dignitary introduced
himself to me and we started to have a cordial conversation
until he discovered I was with the enrollees,"
Earl Barnett wrote. At that point he snubbed his nose
and I was no longer a person of interest. Makes you
wonder, doesn't it?"
It also goes to show that even an "all
local" paper can look beyond the county line. --Al
Cross, director, IRJCI
big money increase in races for judgeships; beware next
Journalists in states where judges are
elected will face a new challenge next year -- refereeing
elections for judgeships, which may become demagogic
free-for-alls now in the wake of a 2002 U.S. Supreme
Court decision that ruled unconstitutional strict limits
on what judicial candidates can say in their campaigns.
The ability to have a broader message
will also increase the demand for campaign money, so
while journalists are trying to examine candidates'
statements they will also have to spend more time looking
at their financial reports. Things can often get out
of hand, as journalists and voters in West Virginia
saw last year, when Massey Energy
President Don Blankenship gave $2.5 million to "For
the Sake of the Kids," a television attack campaign
against incumbent Justice Warren McGraw, who lost the
general election to Republican lawyer Brent Benjamin.
A new study says the race was the nation's
most negative for a state high court. "Negative
television ads were aired 5,096 times in the general
and primary elections. Of those, 83 percent, five out
of every six ads, were negative," writes Paul J.
Nyden of The Charleston Gazette. (Read
more) Attack ads in the Mountain State accounted
for three of every seven negative ads run in Supreme
Court races in 15 states last year, according to the
study by the Justice
at Stake Campaign and its partners, the
Center for Justice
at the New York University Law School
and the Institute
for Money in State Politics.
The report came exactly three years after
the U.S. Supreme Court threw out certain speech limitations
on judicial candidates. "Many observers predicted
this would make state court races even more political
and put interest groups in the driver’s seat,
at the expense of fair and impartial courts. The data
released today underscores how quickly interest groups
have moved to politicize judicial elections," Justice
at Stake said in a news
Big money and attack ads are unlikely
to be limited to statewide or partisan races. "The
Family Foundation, for example, has said it wants to
solicit judicial candidates' views on such issues as
gay marriage and abortion rights. There will be pressure
from many organizations to fill out questionnaires and
to sign pledge cards that promise in advance how candidates
would decide cases," The Courier-Journal
said in an editorial this morning.
The editorial was prompted by the announcement
by two Republicans on the Louisville Metro Council that
they will be paid consultants for nonpartisan candidates,
including those for judgeships. The danger isn't that
any partisan politician plays a role in judicial races,
the paper said: "The danger is that the candidates
will become like partisans, differentiating themselves
by their political positions instead of by their judicial
capacities. If that happens, lawyers and their clients
will inevitably have to wonder if their side of a case
can be fairly heard."
Town Centers for
Agriculture promotion gaining popularity across Massachusetts
Massachusetts farmers "are gaining
a renewed voice in local policy-making, thanks to state
development officials who are promoting the growth of
town centers and the protection of outlying agricultural
land and open space," writes Tyler B. Reed of the
Weston Town Crier of Framingham. (Read
Twenty-six communities, this year alone,
have created agriculture commissions, writes Reed. Three
towns have approved them to becoming the first in their
region to give a formal voice to local farmers.
Doug Gillespie, Commissioner of the Massachusetts
Department of Agricultural Resources, told
“We’re finding that the biggest problems
facing farmers right now are regulations or actions
at the local level, and that’s largely because
farmers aren’t at the table in policy-making.”
The Agricultural Resources agency, state farm organizations
and the Office of Commonwealth Development,
Reed writes, are teaming up to promote the commissions,
which Gillespie told him are to “protect farms
and farmland without costing a lot of money.”
The commissions have no official policy-making
power, writes Reed. Instead, they are designed to give
farmers a voice and educate the public about the benefits
of agriculture. Before this year, 14 communities had
agriculture commissions, some up to two decades old.
Now, he writes, 40 communities will have one.
development in Appalachia: Lessons from modern marvel
Many of the settlers
of Appalachia were Scots-Irish, bent on freedom and
opportunity. Now it appears their descendants could
take some lessons on recovery from the Celtic economic
empire that is modern Ireland.
"Ireland today is the richest country
in the European Union after Luxembourg," writes
Thomas Friedman in The New York Times.
more) From its history of poverty, famine, war and
mass migration, Ireland has turned itself into a modern
marvel for those seeking ways to join the accelerating
age of technology and globalization.
"The Irish government, the main
trade unions, farmers and industrialists joined forces.
Corporate taxes were slashed, wages and prices were
moderated, foreign investment was aggressively sought.
In 1996 Ireland made college education basically free,
creating an even more educated work force," writes
Friedman. Now, nine out of 10 of the world's top pharmaceutical
companies have operations in Ireland, as do 16 of the
top 20 medical device companies and 7 out of the top
10 software designers.
Dell Computer founder
Michel Dell, told Friedman what attracted them to Ireland
was a well-educated work force, good universities close
by, an industrial and tax policy consistently supportive
of businesses, a politically independent business environment,
good transportation, logistics and location making it
easy to move products to major markets quickly."
He said the Irish "are competitive, want to succeed,
hungry and know how to win."
"Ireland's advice is very simple,"
writes Friedman. Make education free, lower corporate
taxes, seek global companies, open economies to competition;
speak English, keep your fiscal house in order; and
build a consensus around the whole package with labor
and management." Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney
told him, "It wasn't a miracle, we didn't find
gold. It was the right domestic policies and embracing
Lesson on education:
Rural high school students thrive in isolation in High
A high school in the Sierra Mountains
of California is elevating its students' knowledge the
old fashioned way. They make them earn it, with high
standards and a low teacher-to-student ratio.
Sierra Academy [near] Bridgeport, Calif.,
was ranked 19th out of America's 27,000 public high
schools by Newsweek magazine. The school
also was the top-ranked California school in the Newsweek
poll and the highest-ranked school west of Texas,"
writes Ray Hagar of The Associated
Hagar writes the secret is "$400,000
in high-tech computers, smart boards and other teaching
gizmos that are shared by the school's 23 extremely
motivated students. That's roughly $17,391 per student.
Much of it was purchased with a $255,000 grant."
Principal Roger Yost told him, "We have software
you'll only find in Hollywood and professional offices.
[It's] the same [as that] used to make the monsters
in Star Wars."
There are no sports or other extracurricular
activities. The focus is academics. Students have two
to four hours of homework each night and study on weekends.
School lasts until 3 p.m. but some students stay into
the evening. Seniors are required to take at least three
advanced placement classes. Juniors must take at least
one, and students must have a B or higher to pass. Parents
are given grade reports every two weeks, Hagar writes.
Students see academics as a way to realizing
their dreams, notes Senior John Pelchowski, 17. He told
the wire service, "I would consider this as the
gateway to the world. You are really exposed to a lot
of things here." Only one student has not gone
on to college in the past five years. The others have
been accepted at prestigious schools such as Williams
College in Massachusetts and the University
of California in Berkeley.
Principal Yost told AP, "Students
have come back (from college) and said this school was
harder." The staff is two teachers, a teaching
principal and a secretary. But, the small number of
students allows them to give a lot of personalized attention
to the students, Hagar writes.
Nevada lawmakers tell rural leaders to woo urban legislators
Two Nevada legislative leaders, one from
the rural north, the other from the urban south, told
a gathering of rural officials this week they need work
harder to woo urban lawmakers if they want a bigger
cut of the state budget.
"Assembly Republican Leader Lynn
Hettrick of Gardnerville told the third annual Nevada
Rural Summit in Minden this year's legislative
session was not a good one for rural Nevada," reports
KESQ-TV, of Palm Desert, Calif. (Read
more) And, he added, "I don't think we're going
to fare well in future sessions either." Hettrick
urged rural leaders to begin an outreach program to
urban legislators. For more information from The
Nevada Rural Development Council, click
Democratic Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins
of Henderson told the television station the health
of the entire state depends on the health of rural Nevada.
He urged them to bring urban legislators into rural
parts of the state to better understand what rural Nevadans
enjoy on a daily basis. The summit concluded yesterday,
after examining a range of topics from rural education
and water systems, to tourism, local finances and wildland
danger to Ohio people, environment; city wants site
All that remains of one Canton, Ohio,
area strip mine are piles of spoil, the gravel-like
substance left after the coal has been extracted, but
the site continues to be a threat to the town's people
and its environment.
"The spoil contains iron sulfite
and iron sulfides, which contaminate water that collects
in abandoned ditches and seeps into neighboring water
supplies. The pools themselves are potential drowning
hazards for young swimmers who underestimate the risk,"writes
Austin Lavin of the Canton Repository.
The newspaper reports fourteen people
have died in abandoned mines between 1999 and 2004 in
Ohio. Lavin writes that spoil can be a potential landslide
hazard, "because it is piled four stories high
in unnatural slopes," he notes. The Ohio
Department of Natural Resources wants to reclaim
the site that is the focus of the newspaper, but, writes
Lavin it remains, at best, a middle priority because
others are viewed as more hazardous. The mine, one of
359 abandoned coal mines in Stark County, has been scheduled
for cleanup since the 1980s, the newspaper reports,
but they write, the $500,000 reclamation has not yet
The national Abandoned
Mine Land Reclamation Fund expires Sept.
30 -- unless Congress renews it, as it has in the past
-- and states are scrambling to persuade the federal
government to renew the funding. Before a 1977 federal
law, strip mining was lightly regulated in most states.
Tens of thousands of acres were left unusable by mining
companies, affecting water supplies across Ohio, Lavin
Appalachian myths starts Sunday; KET schedule listed
"The Appalachians is an
elegant film about a people and a region that are rarely
examined beyond stereotypes. The writer and producer
... and the West Virginia-born executive producer, Mari-Lynn
C. Evans, want the world to know that the people who
live in the Appalachians from West Virginia to Alabama
have a proud heritage and have gotten a supremely raw
deal from the news media," writes
Anita Gates of The New York Times.
This documentary, which has aired in other
states, is coming to the state that has more persistently
poor counties than any other in Appalachia. Kentucky
Educational Television will air it in three
parts starting at 9 p.m. on July 3. The complete KET
airing schedule is: Part I: Sunday,
July 3, 9 p.m.;Wednesday, July 6, 2 a.m.;
Saturday, July 9, 10 p.m. Part II:
Sunday, July 10, 9 p.m.; Wednesday, July
13, 2 a.m.; Saturday, July 16, 10 p.m. Part
III: Sunday, July 17, 9 p.m.; Wednesday,
July 20, 2 a.m.; Saturday, July 23, 10 p.m.
production may be moving west, student journalist finds
The end of the federal tobacco program
means that Kentucky farmers are expected to grow 25
to 30 percent less burley than last year, but some counties
will grow more, "signaling a westward shift in
the state’s trademark crop," reports Philip
Stith, a University of Kentucky student
who was part of a reporting project on the future of
tobacco and tobacco-dependent communities. Click
here for the story and here for an
index to other stories.
"In Breckinridge County, agriculture
officials predict the county’s 2005 tobacco production
will surpass pre-buyout levels, and there are signs
elsewhere in near Western Kentucky of higher tobacco
production," Stith writes. "To the southwest,
in Logan County, the end of the quota and price-support
system has opened the door for many large-scale farmers
to increase their tobacco production substantially."
Stith's object example is Page Barker,
who plans to increase his burley production to 100,000
pounds, from 72,000 last year. But only 1,200 pounds
was grown under his own federal quota, and he paid 70
cents per pound to lease the right to grow and sell
the rest. "But with quotas abolished and his land
available, Barker will not have to spend a penny for
the right to grow tobacco in 2005," Stith reports.
"The result could be a huge increase in profits
for Barker and other growers who were forced to rent
the majority of their quota," even though the end
of the tobacco program means per-pound prices will fall
to about $1.50 from last year's $2.
"What allows Barker and other Western
Kentucky farmers to increase production so substantially
is the landscape where they live," Stith writes.
"Unlike Eastern Kentucky and the adjoining part
of Southern Kentucky, which are hilly and tillable mainly
in small tracts, Logan County is 90 percent tillable,
Barker says. It is for such reasons that some observers
expect the production of tobacco in the Bluegrass State
to shift westward, to areas where larger tracts of land
are available and -- unlike in much of Central Kentucky
-- relatively cheap."
more skeptical of special legal protections for the
The often heard claim by reporters they
are representatives of the public, and any special legal
protections they claim are for the good of society generally,
is more and more often falling on less receptive legal
"Courts were for a time receptive
to that argument. But a pileup of recent cases and judicial
decisions, including the Supreme Court's refusal Monday
to hear the cases of two reporters facing jail, suggest
a new hostility, one fueled by skepticism about the
very value of the institutional press," writes
Adam Liptak of The New York Times.
more) Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the University
of Richmond School of Law, told Liptak, "and
that atmosphere, I think, makes courts reluctant to
recognize any special First Amendment protection."
Jane Kirtley, who teaches media ethics
and law at the University of Minnesota,
told Liptak, "We're seeing outright contempt for
an independent press in a free society. The fact that
courts have no appreciation for this is new, is troubling,
and you cannot overestimate the impact it will have
over time." Kirtley said the legal turning point
came in 2003 with a decision written by Richard A. Posner,
an influential federal appeals court judge in Chicago.
Posner wrote that lower courts had often misread and
failed to follow the holding of a 1972 Supreme Court
decision, Branzburg vs. Hayes, which rejected
protection for reporters facing grand jury subpoenas.
As the latest example of the shifting
tide, Liptak cites the Monday Supreme Court decision,
which "upheld without comment lower court decisions
ordering that Judith Miller of the Times and Matthew
Cooper of Time magazine be jailed for
refusing to testify about their sources in an investigation
into the disclosure of a covert CIA officer's identity."
For the Times article on the Miller decision, click
High court upholds
lower courts on other Decalogue displays; local fights
The U.S. Supreme Court, a day after sending
a mixed message about the constitutionality of religious
displays on public property, let stand several lower-court
rulings outlawing these exhibits on school grounds and
in courtrooms. The justices declined to review four
cases involving displays in Harlan County, Kentucky,
and Adams County, Ohio. A fifth appeal, involving a
ruling that barred the Great Falls, S.C., town council
from opening its meetings with a prayer invoking the
name of Jesus Christ, also was rejected, writes Hope
Yen of The Associated Press. (Read
The Harlan County schools had the Commandments
surrounded by historical documents, including the Declaration
of Independence. The school district had argued that
"a broader display made it of historical, not religious,
significance," Yen writes. The rulings came a day
after the high court issued a pair of 5-4 rulings that
struck down framed copies in two Kentucky county courthouses
but upheld a monument on the Texas Capitol grounds.
The court held that exhibits would be upheld "if
their main purpose was to honor the nation's legal,
rather than religious, traditions, and if they didn't
promote one religious sect over another," Yen notes.
Meanwhile, "Each side predicted many
suits and local skirmishes to sort through the tension
between the two decisions," David Kirkpatrick reports
in The New York Times. "Two groups
in Washington, Faith and Action and
the Christian Defense Coalition, said
they hoped to encourage supporters to petition local
officials to install new displays of the Commandments
to test the laws. Lawyers on each side said such new
deliberately religious displays were highly unlikely
to last under the court's new precedents." (Read
asks judge for $14 billion in penalties in tobacco trial
The government has asked a federal judge
to impose $14 billion in penalties against major cigarette
manufacturers in a racketeering lawsuit, seemingly ignoring
criticism that prosecutors had offered to settle for
"Cigarette makers ... said they would
ask U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to throw out
the proposed remedies. The Justice
Department's request ... fleshed out proposals
that prosecutors put forward during the trial's closing
arguments earlier this month," writes Hilary Roxe
of The Associated Press. (Read
"The government asked for the companies
to pay for a $10 billion, five-year smoking cessation
program and a $4 billion, 10-year education campaign
to counter tobacco marketing. Prosecutors also asked
for cigarette makers to
reduce youth-smoking levels by 42 percent by 2013, or
pay stiff fines," Roxe writes. Philip
Morris attorney Dan Webb told her, "every
single one of the remedies is legally defective."
.Bill Corr, executive director of the
for Tobacco-Free Kids, called the plan
"an act of desperation," saying the companies
"are about to lose the liability part of this case."
The government alleges tobacco companies conspired for
decades to mislead the public about the health risks
of smoking. The trial started in September. If the companies
were forced to pay out billions, they might reduce their
purchases of expensive U.S. tobacco.
franchisees say deal with Kmart brings unfair competition
A group of Sears dealer store owners has
filed suit against the company claiming unfair competition
from the sale of Sears products at nearby K-Marts threatens
their very existence.
"Joseph Verdecchia, a small-town
Sears franchisee, fears his sales could plunge by $400,000
a year because a neighboring Kmart has started selling
the same tools and lawn-and-garden equipment that he
once sold exclusively.He won't divulge how much of his
total sales would be hit, but it's a substantial loss
he said came as a surprise. He is afraid that the Kmart,
less than 2 miles away, will start selling appliances
and leave him defenseless," writes Sandra Guy,
a business reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Verdecchia and his wife, Suzanne, who
co-own their Chester, Md., store, are among more than
200 owners of Sears "dealer stores" who filed
the federal lawsuit against Sears in Minnesota this
week, claiming Kmart's takeover of Sears threatens their
businesses. Families and small-business people own and
run Sears' 818 dealer stores nationwide. The association
that filed the lawsuit represents about a quarter of
store owners. Sears provides the tools, appliances and
electronics that the dealer stores sell, writes Guy.
The dealers say Sears promised the store
owners "they'd have an asset to pass on to their
children with the independently owned stores. They also
believed that Sears had promised to pay them 10 percent
of their yearly sales if they lost their exclusive market.
Instead, Sears has offered two owners of shut-down stores
3 percent of sales, the amount it pays when it makes
the rare decision not to renew a store's contract,"
Kansas bill resurrects
gambling as education funding; would delay gaming in
Casino gambling has resurfaced as a potential
source of funding for Kansas schools, but a new measure
introduced in a state Senate committee would bar Wichita
from obtaining a casino for at least five years. "The
Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to send to the
floor an amended version of a gaming bill the Senate
(had earlier) rejected," writes Fred Mann of The
Wichita Eagle. (Read
more) The measure would allow destination casinos
in two counties where voters already have approved expanded
gambling. Another county would be included pending a
If Wichita or Sedgwick County wants a
destination casino, Mann notes, it would need voter
approval, then would have to seek legislative permission.
But the new version of the bill imposes a five-year
moratorium on any expansion beyond Wyandotte and Crawford
counties. Proponents said the new version is an attempt
to ease the fears of many senators who voted against
the original bill because they thought it would have
led to an influx of casinos, writes Mann.
The new bill still would permit up to
1,500 video lottery terminals at a Wichita dog racetrack,
as well as dog and horse tracks in four other cities.
The new bill also increases the state's share of revenue
from the machines from 24 percent to 40 percent. For
an extensive article, Gambling spurs social, legal
woes; Utah could have up to 88,000 'problem' gamers,
in the Deseret Morning News of Salt
Lake City on the possible social consequences from gambling
in that state, click
here. The paper is owned by the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Farm work for prisoners
provides career paths, puts tax money to work, officials
Inmates of the Blackburn
Correctional Complex in Lexington, Ky.
are baling hay, feeding livestock and doing other down
on the farm chores in a special work program, officials
say gives them "something to do that's skillful
instead of sitting around and costing the taxpayers
"Nine inmates ... are responsible
for the day-to-day maintenance of the cattle farm including
repairing fences and weeding, feeding and breeding the
animals. The cattle that are raised are sold at auction.
The cattle farm also has a vegetable operation where
about 600 head of broccoli and an acre each of tomatoes,
bell peppers and cabbage are grown," writes Michelle
Ku of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
In addition to the cattle farm, Blackburn
also is home to a nearly 100-acre Thoroughbred
horse farm. TRF is a non-profit corporation dedicated
to rescuing, rehabilitating and housing thoroughbreds
no longer able to compete. Blackburn's program started
in 1999. Sixteen inmates who work on the horse farm
are responsible for feeding, bathing, walking and spending
time with 88 retired thoroughbreds. Linda Dyer, corrections
farm manager who oversees the horse farm, told Ku the
majority of their racing careers were ended because
of injuries, and many can never be ridden again. Those
who do recover from their injuries are put up for adoption.
Marty Story, an inmate from Murray, Ky.,
who used to train barrel racing horses, told Ku, "We
just try to make them healthy and happy." Through
their work on the farm, the inmates learn about horse
care and stable management. Those who are interested
can take an eight- or 16-week course to earn a certificate
in stable management, Ku writes.
Thomas Clark, dead at 101, lived nearly Kentucky's history
Each state has certain special treasures,
many of which are individuals. Some citizens stand taller
than others and make contributions that are historically
significant. For Kentucky, Thomas Dionysius Clark (1903-2005),
was its living, breathing history, having chronicled
its times, turbulent and glorious, for most of his exemplary
We sadly note his death yesterday at a
century plus one. There are plenty of stories on his
passing, including: The
Courier-Journal, Historian laureate,
advocate for progress dies, by Deborah Yetter;
and C-J guest columns, Herodotus
of the Bluegrass and Tom
Clark's legacy, through the eyes of his peers; the
Herald-Leader, Now a part of history,
(Clark) made Kentucky's past a lifetime study,
by Andy Mead; and related stories: Remembering
Thomas Clark - From his works, Services:
1 p.m. Friday at Lexington's First United Methodist
Church... , Editorial:
Thomas Clark: a colossus passes
Appalachian region’s myths; KET to air starting
"The Appalachians is an
elegant film about a people and a region that are rarely
examined beyond stereotypes. The writer and producer,
Phyllis Geller, and the West Virginia-born executive
producer, Mari-Lynn C. Evans, want the world to know
that the people who live in the Appalachians from West
Virginia to Alabama have a proud heritage and have gotten
a supremely raw deal from the news media," writes
Anita Gates of The New York Times.
The documentary discusses Appalachian
residents’ struggles in detail, including how
they were swindled by Northern and Midwestern investors,
who convinced the residents to sell mineral rights during
a period of coal mining growth. Those investors "made
a point of depicting the locals as feral, backward and
obstructionist," Gates writes. "The Appalachians
ended up working as miners for the outsiders, who paid
low wages and hired trigger-happy ‘security forces’
to squelch efforts to unionize."
"There were signs of hope, when Franklin
D. Roosevelt introduced the New Deal . . . By the time
Charles Kuralt made his television documentary 'Christmas
in Appalachia,' the locals were sick and tired of being
condescended to," writes Gates. "And many
still are. This film is a welcome first step toward
a new image for a population apparently still unprotected
by political correctness."
This documentary, which has aired in other
parts of Appalachia, is coming to the state that has
more persistently poor counties than any other in Appalachia.
Educational Television will air the documentary
in three parts starting at 9 p.m. on July 3. The complete
airing schedule will appear Friday on The Rural Blog.
study shows horses are $39 billion business, with 1.4
The equine industry, with hundreds of
stables, breeders and training farms around the country,
and a network of veterinarians, farriers and tack shops,
is a multi-billion dollar industry with 1.4 million
jobs, a new study says.
Consulting LLC estimates the horse industry
contributes $39 billion to the U.S. economy, covering
everything from the cost of saddles and salt blocks
for backyard ponies to the earnings of millionaire jockeys
and trainers at the nation's thoroughbred racetracks,"
reports David Koenig of The Associated Press.
The study showed with indirect costs included
-- money spent at grocery stores, car dealers and dry
cleaners by people who work in the business -- the economic
impact is $102 billion. Several horse racing groups
paid for the study, released by the American
Horse Council yesterday. The study found
there are 9.2 million horses, an increase of about 2
million since the last similar survey nearly 10 years
Horse fanciers explain the industry's
strength saying there is a nostalgic yearning for simpler
times, when horses were a part of daily life, doing
chores and providing transportation. Horse Council President
Jay Hickey told AP, "Even though they're not used
as much in commerce as they once were, horses are still
an important part of many people's lives. It's an agribusiness.
It's a sport. It's gaming. It's a breeding industry."
For more industry figures, click
ruling invites more activism on both sides, and thus
Partly because it didn't set a clear standard, yesterday's
Supreme Court ruling on displays of the Ten Commandments
offers story opportunities. For example, governments
not involved in the case have such displays; what will
the decision do to them? Also, some advocates of the
displays say they will renew their efforts to have other
local governments post the Decalogue; watch your local
courthouse and city hall. Will opponents mount counter-efforts?
Other questions, asked
by Al Tompkins of The Poynter Institute
today, include: "What do local community leaders
and members say about how Ten Commandments monuments
and displays affect their citizens and the way local
and state governments acknowledge religion? The campaign
supporting Ten Commandments displays is overwhelmingly
Christian, but not all Christians support them. Will
clergy respond to the rulings in sermons this weekend?"
Sounds like a house of worship, not only Christian,
might be a good place for a reporter this weekend.
In the state where one of the cases arose,
Kentucky, there was a mix of defiance, testy compliance
and some confusion among local officials. Rowan County
Judge-Executive Clyde Thomas told the reporters a wall
display of the Ten Commandments will remain until his
county receives official word on how the court's ruling
applies. Martin County Judge-Executive Kelly Callaham
said he does not plan to remove a Ten Commandments display
until he hears from state officials. Others told The
more) they would comply.
Callaham told Alan Maimon of the Louisville
paper he was puzzled because the Supreme Court's own
courtroom includes a representation of the commandments.
"I don't understand why it's OK for them but not
for us," Callahan said. The justices did address
the issue, saying the frieze includes 17 other lawgivers,
most of them secular figures.
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter
said the ruling created a "mixed bag" for
his state. Gibson and Montgomery counties -- both sued
by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union --
might be able to keep their displays because they resemble
one in Texas that was ruled constitutional. But it's
not clear if such a monument will be allowed on the
Statehouse lawn, The C-J's Lesley Stedman Wiedenbiener
tell sheriffs that cooperation is key; agencies suffer
"Two national figures in crime prevention,
FBI Director Robert Mueller and U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden,
told sheriffs from around the country yesterday that
local and federal agencies need to work together,"
reports The Courier-Journal.
Mueller, speaking at the National
Sheriffs' Association meeting in Louisville,
said because of an emphasis on fighting terrorism, the
FBI has had to cut back its work on bank robberies,
small white-collar-crime cases, drug cases and government
fraud. Mueller said that has required more interaction
and cooperation between the FBI and local agencies.
Muller told the gathering, "But in working together,
I do believe we've become more effective," writes
Jessie Halladay of the Louisville newspaper. (Read
Biden, a Delaware Democrat who says he
plans again to seek the presidency, authored a crime
bill that put 100,000 police officers on the street
during the 1990s. He cited a critical need for more
federal funds to support local law-enforcement. Biden
told the sheriffs, "There is never a time …
you can justify spending less money on crime than you
did the year before." Biden talked about federal
funding for local agencies being cut, then urged sheriffs
to fight for attention from national officials. "Crime
is not just a local problem. Crime is a national problem.
It is a national responsibility," he said.
'Red hat' program
filling labor void in coal mining; many finding new
The coal industry is booming thanks to
rising energy needs, and is trying to fill the growing
need for more miners. The answer: "Red hat"
apprentices with previous career experience looking
to cash in on the industry's growth spurt. "Mickey
Carrico has one big regret about giving up the electrician’s
job he held for 15 years to become an apprentice coal
miner. He wishes he had done it sooner," writes
Kathy Still of the Bristol Herald-Courier.
Carrico, 37, is a red-hat miner for Alpha
Natural Resources’ Paramont operation
in Coeburn. The program was developed by Alpha head
Mike Quillen and his managers to help fill the labor
void created as southwest Virginia’s miners near
retirement. Mining companies have found an absence of
eager workers scrambling for jobs. The apprentice miners
undergo six months to a year of intense training before
they earn their official mining papers. The veterans
watch out for their safety. A black mining hat comes
only after one year of training and work.
Giving up his job as a contract worker
at Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport,
Tenn., was not an easy decision for Carrico, writes
Still. But, the lure of good pay and benefits proved
too hard to resist. Carrico had pushed aside ideas of
a mining job, because he felt coal companies only hired
experienced miners. But he noticed newspaper articles
about the region’s efforts to lure new coal-fired
power plants to southwest Virginia and thought that
Carrico didn’t pursue a coal mining
job until he met another Alpha worker at a campground.
The worker suggested that Carrico apply for a slot since
he already had highly-coveted electrician’s skills,
writes Still. Alpha Natural Resources has 203 miners
in the red-hat program. Nearly 120 red-hat miners have
earned their black hats.
case settlement leaves pay question unanswered for utilities
A legal challenge over rising rail prices
for transporting coal through Central Appalachia has
been settled, but the agreement does not answer how
utilities should pay for steep rate hikes.
Southern Corp. announced last week confidential
agreements with subsidiaries of Duke
Energy Corp. and Progress
Energy Inc. in their federal Surface
Transportation Board rate case. The Norfolk,
Va., rail company said the settlement could boost this
quarter's income by $24 million, or 6 cents per share,"
reports Erik Shelzig of The Associated Press.
The forebearers of the two companies filed
the complaint in 2001 after Norfolk Southern raised
rates from $10 to $15 per carload of coal from West
Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. The settlement involves
an undisclosed cash payment by Norfolk Southern and
a multiyear rail transportation contract that keeps
rates comparable with 2002 figures, writes Shelzig.
Progress Energy, based in Raleigh, N.C., declined to
give specifics about the agreement.
The Surface Transportation Board ruled
the railroad did not charge unreasonable rates, but
because of "unusually large rate increases,"
the board reviewed whether hikes violated a constraint
on how quickly - and by how much - new rates are used.
A "phasing constraint" request had never been
sought by a utility before and the board has never applied
one, writes Shelzig, which makes it uncertain whether
the Surface Transportation Board "would find the
phasing constraint applicable, and if it did, whether
phasing would be ordered retroactively or prospectively
another look at Appalachians in search of 'bubbling
Many people will remember the words to
the Beverly Hillbillies theme, "Then one
day he was shooting at some food, and up from the ground
came a bubbling crude." Now, it seems the hunt
is on again. "Ohio and some other states are part
of a consortium that is planning an exhaustive study
in search of new oil reserves beneath the Appalachian
foothills," reports WXIX-TV in
The two-year review is being sparked by
record-high prices for crude oil and the country's continuing
need for it. Some experts remain concerned about digging
deep enough into the Appalachian basin to find oil,
and transporting it where it needs to go afterwards.
The region was a significant producer in the late 1800s
and the early 1900s, reports the television station.
A stretch in northwest Ohio saw nearly 100,000 wells
that produced about 600 million barrels. But eventually
coal became the area's most valuable natural resource.
Scientists are now poring through existing
records to determine the existence and location of bigger,
deeper oil deposits. A Kentucky geologist told WXIX
the area could be an important oil producer again.
breaks production record for April, but demand falls
The Renewable Fuels Association
(RFA) today announced that the U.S. ethanol industry
set a monthly production record for April of 238,000
barrels per day (b/d), according to data released by
the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Production was up over 9 percent compared to the prior
April record of 218,000 b/d in 2004.
“Despite unprecedented favorable
blending economics, ethanol demand fell again in April,”
stated RFA President Bob Dinneen. “At a time when
ethanol prices are falling and petroleum prices are
setting record highs, it is unfathomable that ethanol
demand would slack off. Clearly, the petroleum marketplace
is not functioning to the benefit of consumers. This
is more proof of the need for a robust renewable fuels
standard as part of national energy legislation.”
For more information, visit the RFA Web
Indian tribe files
lawsuit to reclaim Ohio land; chief cites gambling opportunity
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe
of Oklahoma has filed a federal lawsuit to reclaim Ohio
land it says was taken illegally, but appears willing
to settle for a lot less as long as it gets sites for
the state's first casinos.
"The Eastern Shawnees claim Ohio
was their home, dating back to the 1600s, and that the
U.S. Army forced the Native America tribe out of 27
villages by the year 1786. It's not just about the land,
but what could happen on the reclaimed land that's the
issue here," reports WBNS-TV,
in Columbus. (Read
more) Tribal Chief Charles Enyart's option of choice
in Ohio would be casino-style gambling. He told the
television station, "It would be very good for
the tribe. We use revenue of gaming to better members
all over the U.S."
The tribe lays claim to about 145 squ\are
miles in Allen, Auglaize and Logan counties, but "An
acceptable settlement to the tribe could include allowing
casino gambling in Botkins, Monroe, Lorain and Lordstown,
four cities that would welcome it," the TV station
reports. The Shawnees want to build a $100 to $300 million
casino resort in Lordstown, creating 3,000 jobs. Lordstown
Mayor Michael Chaffee told WBNS-TV, "It would be
big for our town, by definition agreement. We'd get
two percent of gaming profits; we estimate four to five
million dollars a year."
Tom Smith, of the Ohio Council
of Churches, says his group will continue to
fight any gambling plan. "Studies have shown within
35 miles of the casino, the number of addicted gamblers
doubles," he contends. Casino-style gambling is
not currently allowed in Ohio, and Republican leaders
do not support it, and Ohio's attorney general says
he doesn't believe the Eastern Shawnee tribe is entitled
to any land in Ohio, reports WBNS-TV.
Indian tribes use
casino cash used for ventures from concert venues to
Indian tribes, which have parlayed their
right to run casinos into a multi-billion dollar enterprise,
are fanning out in the business world to bolster their
fortunes with diversity. "The Muckleshoot
Indian Tribe [near Auburn, Wash.] has staked
out its corner in the next generation of American Indian
business. It's the White River Amphitheater, a 20,000-seat
concert venue owned by the tribe and managed by Clear
Channel, the world's largest producer of concerts
and other live-entertainment events," writes Curt
Woodward of The Associated Press.
New tribal enterprises range from high
finance and tourism to agriculture and food processing,
including banks in California and Montana, a $43 million
Washington, D.C., hotel owned by four tribes from Wisconsin
and California, and a fruit juice plant purchased last
year by the Yakima Nation of eastern
Washington. Ron Allen, past president of the National
Congress of American Indians, told Woodford,
"The majority of us are focusing in on trying to
diversify and trying to develop those foundations before
the gaming revenue disappears." (Read
Indian casino growth has profits rolling
in for many tribes - more than 400 casinos in 28 states
earned some $18.5 billion last year, writes Woodward.
But it also has them feeling the heat from political
critics and the non-Indian gambling industry, which
is angling for access to the lucrative slot machines
that are reserved for tribes in many states.
Jonathan Taylor, a research fellow with
Project on American Indian Economic Development
told AP, comprehensive data on tribal business aren't
available, but recent years have seen tribes with gambling
adding tourist-based businesses that add to the draw
of their casinos. Some tribes, Taylor said, are moving
to a second tier of businesses including retail, light
manufacturing and defense contracting.
of dry lots -- unregulated, arid land -- sold in rural
A sales increase of dry lots, which require
buyers to find water or have it trucked in, is fueling
rural development. "A California developer sold
about 500 home sites north of Kingman without providing
a permanent water source. Buyers will have to haul water
or have it hauled in for them," writes Shaun McKinnon
of The Arizona Republic. (Read
more) "Sometimes, it's a concern," developer
Ron Freeman said. "But it's a balancing act, a
Some cities, including Phoenix and Tucson,
are held to higher standards requiring a designated
water supply. The restrictions do not apply to many
rural areas, enabling landowners to build small subdivisions
that rely on unmonitored wells without long-term water
guarantees. The unregulated growth has some people worried.
Rep. Tom O'Halleran, R-Sedona, told the newspaper, "The
economic viability of rural Arizona is at risk if we
don't do something." But, writes McKinnon, serious
consequences such as water shortages or water quality
problems may not surface for years.
In rural Arizona, builders must still
submit plans to the state Department of Water
Resources, but even if it finds the water supply
won't last, the developer can build anyway. About 35
percent of the 171 applications processed by the state's
Assured and Adequate Water Supply Office
since 2001 were found to have an inadequate supply,
according to state records. State law requires the developer
to disclose the state's finding to the initial buyer,
but if that buyer sells, he or she isn't obligated to
tell the next buyer that there's no guarantee of water,
Maine doubles cigarette
tax, inflaming smokers; will some grow their own?
Cigarette smokers in Maine are angry at
state lawmakers over a big tax increase to help balance
the budget, a measure they feel unfairly targets them.
"But most (smokers) concede they
won't resort to ... growing their own tobacco or crossing
the border to buy smokes. Doubling the tax on each pack
of cigarettes from $1 to $2 will raise $142.8 million
in fiscal 2006. That's $46 million more than the tax
brought in this year and enough to save lawmakers from
having to borrow money to balance the budget,"
reports The Associated Press. (Read
more) For a related story in the Concord
Anti-smoking advocates lobbied for the
tax increase as a way to encourage smokers to quit and
reduce Maine's skyrocketing health-care costs. Democratic
lawmakers embraced it to avoid borrowing money or making
deep cuts to social services. Smokers and retailers
say it's disingenuous for legislators to claim that
the tax is meant to encourage people to give up cigarettes,
Peter DiPietrantonio, who owns a chain
that is one of the state's largest cigarette retailers,
said, "It was a quick fix for the state. I don't
believe they want people to quit smoking. They want
their money." His store generates about $500,000
for the state through the excise tax. When the tax goes
up in September, DiPietrantonio contends his sales will
decline slightly. Ultimately, DiPietrantonio says, the
majority of smokers will foot the bill for the Legislature's
spending plan even though many of them cannot afford
it. AP reports, in 2003, the median household income
for Maine smokers was $29,352, compared with $43,070
for nonsmokers, according to R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco Co.
heightens demand for fresh cheese, revitalizes North
Two North Carolina women are finding a
future in fresh cheese by making a food that is in high
demand in the growing Hispanic community, reports Jennine
Jones Giles of The Times-News in Hendersonville,
Claret Fullam and Lynnette Raines of Fullam
Cremery see that fresh cheese is a popular
with Hispanics, writes Giles. The cheese they make is
being bought by a Latino services business and is available
in many local tiendas, or markets. "Part of our
goal is to get it to restaurants," Raines told
Giles. "We're not sure how many might be interested.
We discovered that the Mexican restaurants typically
use American cheese rather than authentic Mexican cheeses."
Fullam said 10 percent of their time is
used making cheese and the other 90 percent is spent
cleaning. No one is permitted in the cremery’s
cheese-making section without hair netting and sanitary
"booties" over shoes. Gloves and special cloaks
are worn too. "We are very cautious because these
are fresh cheeses," Fullam told Giles.
to pay Heartland papers $5.1 million, triple what he
former leader must pay $5.1 million in damages to the
company after admitting he borrowed $1.7 million from
the company during his tenure. "James M. McGinnis,
56, was president and CEO of Heartland Publications
LLC until being replaced in February. Heartland publishes
19 newspapers in Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina,
Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma," reports The
Associated Press. (Read
The Duval County Circuit Judge granted
Heartland's motion for a summary judgment against McGinnis.
The newspaper chain said it asked McGinnis to repay
the money, but he had not. "There are no genuine
issues of material fact to dispute that James McGinnis
committed theft ... by taking $1,713,342 from Heartland's
accounts for his own personal use and benefit,"
the judge wrote.
In accordance with Florida law, the judge
ordered McGinnis pay Heartland more than $5.1 million,
which is triple the amount he took, writes AP. McGinnis'
last known address was in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
movie with this plot: Prairie Home Companion gets canceled!
"It was high noon last week on a
hot, sticky Thursday. Outside St. Paul's Fitzgerald
Theater, Exchange Street was quiet and deserted. Inside,
it was a different story. The Fitz, normally deserted
on a weekday, was crawling with workers," writes
Deborah Caulfield Rybak of the Star Tribune
in Minneapolis. (Read
Workers were setting the stage so cameras
can start filming Wednesday on Prairie Home Companion,
a "comic fable" based on Garrison Keillor's
public-radio show. The cast includes Meryl Streep, Kevin
Kline, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson and Lindsay Lohan,
and the director is Robert Altman (MASH, The
Player, Short Cuts). Keillor wrote the
screenplay and will play himself in the film, a backstage
story about a radio variety show being canceled.
"The movie is coming together a lot
like its radio inspiration -- at the last minute,"
writes Rybak. Financial hurdles delayed filming several
months from an original start date last fall. Now the
set and the actors are ready for action.
Chicken Poop for
the lips!? Kansan's venture is proof you can market
A Kansas entrepreneur is banking today's
society, steeped in scatological humor and references,
will embrace a new, if not aberrant "down on the
farm" product aimed at modern tastes.
"Jamie Tabor hopes to someday retire
on Chicken Poop. Chicken Poop is the whimsical name
of her all-natural lip balm," made from soy, jojoba
oil, orange, lavender and beeswax, writes Deb Gruver
of The Wichita Eagle. Your blogger
questions the use of "whimsical." Although
technically correct, it used to refer more to pleasant
flights of fancy.
Tabor sells Chicken Poop at 15 stores
in Wichita and across the country. Much of her business
is coming from Chicago, driven in part by a mention
in Daily Candy, an e-mail magazine
of sorts about fashion, shopping and cultural events
tailored to metropolitan areas, Gruver writes.
Tabor said she began making Chicken Poop
in 2000. The name Chicken Poop comes from a joke her
grandfather used to tell her: (We'll let you read
the joke from the
news story itself.) She receives orders every
day on her Web
site and advertises the product around town with
a VW Beetle adorned with pink stars and the Chicken
Poop logo, writes Gruver. Orders are up enough for Tabor
to consider hiring employees.
Tabor told Gruver, "We're trying
to find venture capital. I want it to be huge. I want
Chicken Poop to be bigger than Burt's Bees," a
product line that also includes lip balm. Blogger's
Note: My father used to say, "There's no accounting
for taste." I would add, or the lack thereof, but
we note the story as a sign of the times.
Food-safety seminar for journalists set July 16 in New
Functional foods could be on the way,
but what can consumers expect from groceries to safely
better their health? Journalists who cover health, science,
fitness or the food industry will get an answer to that
question and more at a free all-day seminar presented
by the Foundation for American Communications.
The seminar, loaded with Ph.D.s, is presented with help
from the non-profit Institute of Food Technologists
and the institute's foundation.
Members of the Society of Professional
Journalists are eligible for a limited number
of travel stipends of up to $150 in actual expenses.
Ten stipends are available to those requiring travel
and overnight accommodations. To apply, register for
the program here,
then call FACS at 626-584-0010.
27, 2005 (excerpts)
may be showing the way to the newspaper of the future
"The Newspaper of the Future"
is the Lawrence Journal-World, a 19,200-circulation
daily in a college town in Kansas, according to yesterday's
New York Times. "Nobody else is
close to doing what they've done," David Card,
a new-media analyst at Jupiter Research,
told Times business reporter Timothy O'Brien.
As examples, O' Brien cites a voter guide
that let voters match their views with those of the
candidates, personalized electronic trading
cards for Little Leaguers, photo views of seats
at the University of Kansas stadium,
court cases illuminated by transcripts and chats, and
"piles of public records" on the paper's Web
and the bloggers and downloadable music on its site
aimed at college readers, Lawrence.com.
O'Brien writes, "The steward of this
online smorgasbord is Dolph C. Simons Jr., a politically
conservative, 75-year-old who corresponds via a vintage
Royal typewriter and red grease pencil while eschewing
e-mail and personal computers." Simons told O'Brien,
"I don't think of us as being in the newspaper
business. Information is our business and we're trying
to provide information, in one form or another, however
the consumer wants it and wherever the consumer wants
it, in the most complete and useful way possible."
To that, we say "amen."
Simons, the editor and publisher of The
Journal-World, told the Times he is "terribly concerned"
about the decline of newspaper readership. "I think
we all have to learn new things as fast as we can. Otherwise
other people are going to beat us to it," he told
O'Brien. "We need to be driving with our brights,
because if we're driving with our dims somebody's going
to come in from the side of the road and knock us off."
Simons is the chairman of World
Co., the newspaper's parent firm, which has
long been an innovator. It used newspaper profits to
string TV cable and offer programming in 1971, and began
publishing on the Internet in 1995. "In 1999, the
newspaper and its television station began sharing talent,
using reporters to write for The Journal-World and appear
on the company's news stations," the Times reports.
Through it all, the focus has been local.
"When the space shuttle blew up, we didn't have
it on our home page; when the war in Iraq started, we
didn't have it on our home page," Rob Curley, director
of new media, told O'Brien. "It's focusing entirely
on local stories that we think made our Web traffic
go crazy." In the three years since Curley arrived,
the Web sites' monthly page views have jumped from 500,000
to 7 million, and the company expects its online business
to make a profit this year.
The paper tries to build demand by offering
more services. In 2003, it installed about 30 wireless
routers around town and began sending daily content
to cell phones. Recently, it stared "podcasts"
of information to owners of MP3 players such as the
Apple iPod. "It plans to offer a service that automatically
loads information onto a docked MP3 player in the early-morning
hours before students head to school," O'Brien
The online operation limits costs with
heavy use of interns, "but the company is still
finding it difficult to persuade readers to interact
with online display ads," the Times reports. "And,
while willing to adapt to news advertising demands,
the company refuses to turn its Web site into an advertising
billboard, believing that the clutter would undermine
the quality and integrity of its journalism." For
O'Brien's full story, click
'King of the Hill'
is a way for some Democrats to understand small-town
To learn whether he is connecting on social
and economic issues with conservative, small-town and
rural voters in North Carolina, Gov. Mike Easley tells
his pollster to "separate the state's voters into
those who watch 'King of the Hill' and those who don't,"
reports Matt Bai, a contributing writer for The
New York Times Magazine.
Bai summarizes the Fox animated
show: "It revolves around a classic American everyman,
the earnest Hank Hill, who sells ''propane and propane
accessories'' in the small town of Arlen, Tex. Hank
lives with his wife, Peggy, a substitute Spanish teacher
who can't really speak Spanish, and his son, Bobby,
a sensitive class clown who exhibits none of his father's
manliness. . . . This could easily be the setup for
a mean parody about rural life in America, in the same
vein as 'South Park,' but 'King of the Hill' . . . has
never been so crass. The show's central theme has always
been transformation -- economic, demographic and cultural.
Hank embodies all the traditional conservative values
of those Americans who, as Bill Clinton famously put
it, 'work hard and play by the rules'."
Bai's main point: "Like a lot of
the basically conservative voters you meet in rural
America -- and here's where Democrats should pay close
attention -- Hank never professes an explicit party
loyalty, and he and his buddies who sip beer in the
alley don't talk like their fellow Texan Tom DeLay.
If Hank votes Republican, it's because, as a voter who
cares about religious and rural values, he probably
doesn't see much choice. But Hank and his neighbors
resemble many independent voters, open to proposals
that challenge their assumptions about the world, as
long as those ideas don't come from someone who seems
to disrespect what they believe."
But Democrats may need to learn fast,
because the next season, the show's 10th, could be its
last. "There are rumors that the network may want
to substitute yet another new reality show in its place,"
Bai writes. "This is odd. After all, there is more
reality about American life in five minutes of 'King
of the Hill' than in a full season of watching Paris
Hilton prance around a farm in high heels." To
read the entire column, click
June 25, 2005
weekly examines local groups' spending of tobacco-settlement
When the Kentucky legislature
allocated half the state's money from the national
tobacco settlement to agricultural development
in the state, it set aside 35 percent of that
half for county-level programs, endorsed by local
boards and and administered largely by local people.
Though the settlement fund is the largest discretionary
pot of money in Kentucky state government, the
spending of it has received relatively little
That is not the case in Casey County,
in the south-central part of the state, where
disputes between locals have prompted detailed
coverage by the Casey County News.
This week, the paper began a five-part series
on how the settlement money is being spent in
the county. The paper has no Web site, but the
entire story is posted here.
The story, by Editor Donna Carman,
reports that the largest single beneficiary of
settlement money in the county has been the farmer
who was chairman of the Casey County Agriculture
Development Council, which sets priorities
that guide the state Agricultural Development
Board in allocating money to county programs.
The story also reveals that the state board set
a limit of $15,000 on payments to any one farmer,
partly because the board chairman had received
$19,519 from the program -- the last $5,000 two
days before the limit took effect.
“The fact that the previous
chairman collected from four different programs
and drew the largest amount of any farmer, while
others were waiting, may or may not be legal,
but it sure is unfair,” his successor, Marion
Murphy, told the weekly newspaper in March. Murphy
resigned May 15, but his complaints prompted a
state investigation and policy changes, and that
is the focus of a story by Brittany Johnson, now
a Casey County News intern, written when she was
a student in the Rural Journalism class at the
University of Kentucky this spring.
The story also noted a lack of state
oversight. It was part of a reporting project
on the future of tobacco and tobacco-dependent
communities, edited by class instructor Al Cross,
director of the Institute for Rural Journalism
and Community Issues. To read it, click
here. For a growing list of related stories, click
Texas found to have mad-cow disease; first such
animal born in U.S.?
The finding of mad-cow disease in
an animal born in the United States "is likely
to further complicate several contentious issues,"
reports Marc Kaufman of The Washington
Post. "The administration is eager
to reopen the Canadian border to shipments of
live cattle -- favored by some large beef packers
with operations on both sides of the border but
opposed by many U.S. cattle farmers and feedlot
operators who fear additional contamination from
Canada. At least four mad cow cases have been
identified in Canada." (Read
Also, the administration wants to
modify the ban on allowing "downer"
cows, those that cannot stand on their own, into
the food supply -- a ban imposed after the first
mad-cow case was found in Washington state in
The Department of Agriculture
announced Friday that a Texas animal that it earlier
declared to be free of mad-cow did have the disease.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said officials
are trying to learn more about the animal's origin,
but he said there is no indication that it was
imported, as was the only other animal to test
positive for the disease in the U.S. "That
would make the newly identified animal the first
born in this country found to have mad-cow disease,"
When the first case surfaced, "The
beef industry lost billions of dollars . . . and
critics said the administration has sought to
minimize additional threats to protect the industry
from a second crisis," Kaufman reports. Johanns
"acknowledged a number of embarrassing mistakes
and oversights by the agency. In addition to misdiagnosing
the diseased sample, officials apparently mislabeled
the sample that tested positive," the Post
Johanns said the agency believes
the animal was born before 1997, when the U.S.
banned cattle feed that included animal parts
-- feed that scientists believe is the source
of the disease. "In very rare cases, the
disease has been passed on to humans who eat the
infected meat, and the result was always fatal,"
June 24, 2005
delegates hear about America's approaches to rural broadband
High-speed Internet access in the United
States, which lags behind that of many other developed
countries largely because it is scarce in the nation's
rural areas, was discussed in depth yesterday by three
expert presenters at the International Rural
at Abingdon, Va., which concludes today.
Stephen McDowell of Florida State
University cited a 2003 survey showing that
20 percent of Americans have broadband, “sort
of in the middle” of the developed countries that
are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development. “That’s got a
lot of people worried in the United States,” he
said, because of a consensus that broadband is needed
for economic development.
Much discussion dealt with government
efforts to extend and restrict broadband service. While
some state and local governments have launched broadband
projects, some legislatures have passed laws that make
it more difficult if not impossible for public agencies
to offer the service, and a
bill to prohibit that in most cases is pending in
Congress. The laws were written by phone companies,
said Sharon Strover of the University of Texas.
Phone companies say they have not extended
broadband to many areas due to lack of demand. McDowell
said that when local governments get into the business,
they often stimulate demand. Greg Bischak, the Appalachian
Regional Commission's senior economist,
said several examples of that exist, especially
in Pennsylvania. Rural service often “has to do
with whether the state forces the hand of the big telcos
to do something about it,” he said.
Another bill would preserve local governments'
right to provide broadband, blocking state prohibitions.
It also has an anti-discrimination provision, "that
municipalities have to apply the same rules to private
providers," says Muniwireless.com.
Also opposed to limitations on government broadband
A delegate from Australia said government-funded broadband
access sites there raised residents' expectations too
Most U.S. libraries
offer free Internet access; rural areas have lowest,
A study released yesterday by the American
Library Association shows nearly all U.S.
libraries provide free public Internet access and an
increasing number offer wireless connections.
The study by Florida State University
found that 99 percent of libraries offer free Internet
access, up from 21 percent in 1994 and 95 percent in
2002. It also found that 18 percent of libraries have
wireless access and 21 percent plan to get it, writes
Gretchen Ruethling of The New York Times.
The study found that rural areas were
more likely to have slower connections and fewer workstations
and training opportunities. Arkansas, California, Idaho,
New Hampshire, Virginia and West Virginia had the lowest
access levels. Urban areas, which also had some of the
highest poverty rates, tended to have high access levels.
John Carlo Bertot, one of the study's
authors, told the Times, "U.S. public libraries
have gained a tremendous amount of headway as it relates
to connectivity and access. The challenge lies in ensuring
that libraries continue to get the support they need
to provide necessary improvements to the technology."
The study sampled 6,865 libraries out
of the country's 16,192 and received responses from
5,023 libraries in 34 states. The number of annual library
visits has increased from 500 million in the early 1990's
to 1.2 billion. The study also reported that almost
40 percent of public libraries filter public Internet
access to guard minors from sex content. The study showed
that state library systems in Georgia and West Virginia
put filters on all public libraries.
of rural Nebraskans lack Internet access, recent poll
The 2005 Nebraska Rural Poll
asked the state's rural residents about changes they
may have experienced in the past 10 years. Where have
they lived during that time? In what types of business
activities have they been involved? Have they received
any education or training in that time? What is their
Internet experience? To read coverage provided by the
Gering Courier, click
Based on 2,851 responses, findings include:
25 percent have lived somewhere other than their current
community; younger residents are more likely than older
residents to have lived elsewhere; 20 percent currently
own a business; persons living in or near the smallest
communities are more likely than persons living in or
near larger communities to currently own a business.
Internet findings include: 69 percent
have access; higher income residents are most likely
to have access; information searches and email are big
reasons for having access; and persons living in or
near larger communities are more likely to say their
satisfaction with their Internet connection has increased
during the past 10 years.
retires 'pioneer' information system; Internet replaces
Yes, Virginia, there was something before
the Internet. On September 20, 1991, the Danville
(Va.) Register & Bee
became one of 15 newspapers nationwide with an electronic
call-in system known locally as the Beeline. "The
system, which has been a hive for the latest news buzz
for nearly 14 years, will be shut down (today),"
writes the newspaper’s Otto A. Mazzoni III. (Read
The Beeline provided weather, national and local news,
horoscopes, soap opera schedules, sports and stock quotes
updated every 15 minutes. Don Webb, the Register and
Bee’s interactive media coordinator, said "Only
a few newspapers were willing to be pioneers. At the
time, we were getting as much as 4,000 calls a day.
We have had literally millions of calls into the Beeline
over the years.” Webb sees the Beeline as a precursor
to the Internet. “Of course, we are moving everything
to the Internet, which we have been doing for a long
time," he said.
boast millions of customers, want more breathing room
Cell-phones and laptops provide communication
for millions of people. Now wireless service providers
are setting their sights on more territory: Analog airwaves
occupied by TV broadcasters, writes Catherine Yang with
Heather Green and Tom Lowry for Business Week.
This summer, a Congressional committee
is expected to “introduce legislation that would
require TV stations to go all-digital and relinquish
their analog airwaves by Dec. 31, 2008. That would complete
the push launched in 1996, when Congress gave local
stations an extra set of airwaves to go digital. The
stations, which fear losing viewers who lack digital
TV sets, have long fought the move," reports Business
The bill could pass because lawmakers
want the $10 billion the Congressional Budget Office
is estimating that spectrum sales could reap. That has
made Republicans more agreeable to Democrats' wishes
that the government subsidize analog-to-digital converter
boxes for households unable to afford new digital TVs.
A few years will pass before the spectrum
comes available, but competition should be great among
companies seeking to meet wireless demands. The market
for wireless data, ranging from broadband to TV on cell
phones, could jump from $7.6 billion this year to $38
billion in 2014, according to Kagan Research
New public broadcasting
chief chosen; foes fear Harrison's political influence
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
yesterday appointed Patricia S. Harrison, a
former co-chairwoman of the Republican National
Committee, to be its next president and chief
"The corporation board brushed aside
concerns from many public television and radio stations
. . . that choosing Harrison threatened to inject partisanship
into an organization that is supposed to shield public
broadcasting from political pressures," write Stephen
Labaton and Anne E. Kornblut of The New York
Harrison's selection comes just as public
broadcasting's direction is under fire. CPB Chairman
Kenneth Tomlinson has taken steps to correct what he
and conservative critics see as liberal bias, and public
broadcasting executives have responded by accusing him
of threatening their editorial independence. Harrison's
backers said her credentials will help win support for
public broadcasting, write Labaton and Kornblut.
Harrison, an assistant secretary of state,
has no significant broadcasting experience, and Democratic
lawmakers called her too partisan for the post. Democratic
critics included Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham
Clinton of New York, and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota.
Dorgan told the Times, "I think this is a huge
mistake. My sense is that this is going to do real injury
to public broadcasting."
burley tobacco; production, big increases in sales to
"On a tumbling hillside where he
once grew rows of burley tobacco, Wayne Vice now cultivates
red cabernet franc grapes. Vice ran cattle, tried vegetables
and even raised ginseng to diversify his farm, northeast
of Lexington, but he believes grapes will replace the
income he once found with tobacco. So he has expanded
his Windy Hill Vineyard to eight acres,
up from (two)," reports The Courier-Journal.
Once reliant on out-of-state vineyards,
Kentucky wineries increasingly are turning to growers
like Vice, as the state's wine grape production expands.
Kentucky wineries bought nearly four times more grapes
from state vineyards in 2004 than the year before, while
growers more than doubled their wine grape production.
And those wineries used Kentucky grapes in 71 percent
of their wines, up from 55 percent in 2003, Marcus Green
"A recent University of Kentucky
survey of state wineries shows an upswing in
the state's fledgling grape growing efforts. University
horticulturist John Strang told the newspaper the survey
reflects the state government-sponsored effort to establish
grapes as a viable crop," Green writes for the
Louisville newspaper. "Kentucky's share of a national
settlement with cigarette makers also has helped some
vineyards increase grape production and given Kentucky
wineries incentives to buy Kentucky grapes.
The state Agricultural Development
Board, which oversees settlement money, has
allocated $1.7 million for wine-related projects since
woman gives up tobacco farming for lavender production
A former tobacco farm on the Clinch River
near Dungannon, Va., is now producing lavender. Pat
Osborne's "inheritance of the family farm and a
knee replacement operation made her realize that there
had to be something more to this farming gig than the
same old crops and usual profit margins at the cattle
market," reports Kevin Castle of the Kingsport
(Tenn.) Times-News. (Read
Osborne told Castle, "I needed something
that was low maintenance but something that was innovative.
I've been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, so I'm
always looking for new things. That's when I saw an
article in Country Living magazine on people who raised
lavender." Now she is harvesting two acres and
hanging the crop to dry in the barn that once housed
The barn will also be the site for manufacturing
of lavender products, such as pet beds that Osborne
says make dogs and cats smell better and discourage
here for Obsorne's Web site.
Rural Georgia school
districts suing state, arguing education funding inadequate
Dozens of rural school districts argued
in court Thursday that Georgia has failed to provide
an adequate education for all students, writes Mary
MacDonald of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The lawsuit by 51 school systems asks
Fulton County Superior Court to say the state's money
distribution system to schools has penalized small,
tax-poor communities. The schools are mainly funded
by state and local taxes. Rural schools argue that budget
cuts have placed a greater burden on the property tax
of local communities. Rural systems say they have trouble
raising money, because they lack the larger tax bases
of wealthier communities.
As a result, lawyers for the Consortium
for Adequate School Funding say students go
without needed services, such as summer school or translators
for schools with immigrant students. The systems say
the state must provide all students with an "adequate
education," one that would allow them to function
as productive citizens.
The state attorney general's office wants
the case dismissed, arguing local school systems are
responsible for providing public education. A decision
is expected later this summer.
brings the Southern Baptist Convention home to Alabama
In an example of how national rural issues
can be locally focused, "The newspaper for the
'wiregrass' since 1903" sent one of its reporters
to cover the annual Southern Baptist Convention
in Nashville this week.
"Instead of pushing for a withdrawal
from public schools, Southern Baptists have urged parents
to become more vigilant over school curriculum in light
of what they say is a gradual moral decay of public
education," writes Lance Griffin of the Dothan
more) The convention expressed concern over the
approval of alternative lifestyles in public education,
but stopped short of suggesting parents should take
their children out of public schools. Instead, the resolution
called for parents to be their childrens' primary educators,
Rev. Ray Jones of Dothan's Ridgecrest
Baptist Church told Griffin, "Basically,
what it said was, 'Parents, be involved.' Understand
what is being taught in your schools and be willing
to question morally offensive or immoral kinds of materials,
and, if need be, be ready to take a stand on issues
that could be morally compromising."
effects far-reaching; customers are losing options
The announcement this week that once southern
will close its stores in four southern states made national
news, but it had a very personal down-home impact for
shoppers who've called the chain their own for decades,
writes Kim Gilliland of the Hickory
(N.C.) Daily Record. (Read
"Lori Hawkins will soon have to find
another place to shop for groceries. Her favorite supermarket,
Winn-Dixie, is closing," writes Gilliland. Winn-Dixie
will cease operations in North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee and Virginia. The closings will cut 22,000
jobs under the company’s proposed bankruptcy reorganization
“It will inconvenience me quite
a bit," Hawkins said. "This is the only store
from Sawmills to the Catawba County line.” Winn-Dixie
is seeking buyers for the stores and wants new owners
to retain workers. "Shirley Young’s late
husband, Edward, managed the Granite Falls store for
20 years. She wishes the company would leave the Granite
Falls store open," Gilliland writes. A total of
seven Winn Dixie stores are closing in the newspaper's
debate on corporate tax breaks hits home in North Carolina
A growing national ground-swell of opposition
to using state and local tax breaks as economic incentives
may find added legal impetus from a North Carolina lawsuit
involving computer maker Dell Corp.
Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr filed the
suit yesterday to overturn tax breaks for Dell, citing
the almost $300 million in incentives for the company
as "the poster child for a growing problem."
"We're delighted Dell's in North
Carolina. We just want them to pay their share of the
taxes," said Orr, who heads the nonprofit N.C.
Institute for Constitutional Law, writes
David Rice of the Winston-Salem
more) Orr asked the court to strike down at least
$242 million in tax breaks and other incentives the
General Assembly approved for Dell last year. The suit
also challenges $37 million in incentives that Winston
Salem and Forsyth County offered Dell to build a plant
in Forsyth County.
Orr said, "This action should not
be construed as an attack on efforts to help North Carolina
grow and prosper and produce jobs for its citizens.
This suit is simply about the constitution and what
limits it places on public officials and the expenditure
of the public's money." Orr said the case is part
of a growing nationwide debate over corporate subsidies,
adding, "You can call it corporate welfare. You
can call it subsidies. They like to call them incentives.
But the bottom line is it's going far beyond where it's
supposed to," writes Rice.
brook trout soaking up too much air pollution for their
“Brook trout are special. They are
a child of the Appalachian wilderness, living in some
of the world’s most beautiful spots: mountain
streams that are cold, clear and clean. For me, it always
has been a thrill to catch one, especially a native,
but even if you are unsuccessful you can enjoy the simple
pleasure of just sharing their pristine habitat,”
writes Bill Cochran of Roanoke.com.
Brook trout are the smallest of Virginia’s
big-three trout -- rainbows, browns and brooks. They
are the only native trout of the East, and they face
trouble, reports Cochran. More than most species, the
brook trout is affected by emissions from coal-burning
power plants and vehicles. The result can be sterile
water without trout and the insects and minnows they
need. Scientists say about half the state’s 400-plus
streams with brook trout are hurt by acidity. Strides
have been made to improve air and water quality, but
work remains, writes Cochran. Places in Virginia’s
brook-trout country fail to meet the Environmental
Protection Agency' new air standards.
Now there is “Back the Brookie,”
a campaign started by Trout
Unlimited in Virginia, North Carolina,
Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Campaign components include: to protect and restore
brook trout's habitat; to educate the public, especially
youth; to keep elected and appointed officials and business
and industry leaders updated on needs and challenges;
and to attract new Trout Unlimited members.
promotes use of mined lands for Kentucky wildlife management
In a rare if not unprecedented meeting,
several coal industry-related groups agreed that coal
operators need financial incentives so that they will
buy into more and better ways to reclaim mined land
for wildlife management.
"More than 200 people from 14 states
and Canada attended a daylong Mine Reclamation
for Wildlife Summit in Louisville,
sponsored by the Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation, which enjoyed
success at restoring elk in Eastern Kentucky,"
writes Art Jester of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Jon Gassett, interim commissioner of the
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources,
told Jester, "We are doing a pretty good job now,
not having incentives. (But) Coal companies are not
going to do good wildlife management on reclaimed land
if it costs them anything." Paul Rothman, acting
director of the Kentucky
Department of Natural Resources' division
of mine reclamation and enforcement has worked with
Don Graves, former chairman of the University
Forestry Department, on the Kentucky
Reforestation Initiative, which outlines management
and reclamation practices. "We hope to get coal
operators to understand that, by changing their reclamation
practices, they can start forests and save costs,"
Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky
Coal Association, agreed with Rothman.
But Caylor said the challenge is overcoming a mentality
among land-owners that leveled mined land is worth more
money than forests. For a more national perspective
on this story from The Associated Press,
officials want another hospital to compete with for-profit
In the midst of a critical need for increased
health care for rural areas, a battle is brewing over
a call for a new hospital in the Southern Kentucky town
of Somerset. "The Somerset City Council, the Pulaski
County Fiscal Court and the Somerset-Pulaski
County Industrial Development Foundation
all unexpectedly adopted resolutions last week endorsing
a request to Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration for
an emergency certificate of need for a new hospital,"
writes Jim Warren of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
William Sisson, CEO at Lexington's Central
Baptist Hospital and a vice president of
its parent organization, Baptist
Healthcare Systems Inc., says Baptist Healthcare
is willing to build the new hospital if Somerset and
Pulaski County secure state approval and the community
gets behind the project. But Jeff Seraphine, CEO at
Somerset's existing Lake
Cumberland Regional Hospital, said his
company will oppose any application for a new hospital.
He says the area couldn't support two competing regional
hospitals, writes Warren.
Somerset Mayor J.P. Wiles said interest
in a new hospital has grown out of concerns over the
skyrocketing cost of providing group health insurance
for city and county employees. He citing an insurance
report that showed that the cost of services at Lake
Cumberland Regional is significantly higher than at
other area hospitals.
The Somerset hospital is owned by Tennessee-based
which operates about 30 hospitals in nine states. The
227-bed facility is completing a $55-million expansion,
including new surgical facilities and 25 more care beds.
The expansion should open in September, Warren writes.
Association to decide whether free papers can join the
The Tennessee Press Association,
perhaps the last group of its kind to refuse admission
to free-circulation newspapers, may let them in as non-voting
members. After hearing from several advocates and one
opponent yesterday, the TPA board submitted to member
newspapers a long-debated change in the association's
Executive Director Greg Sherrill told
the board that "as far as I can determine,"
TPA is the only state press association that does not
have a class for free papers -- except Wyoming, which
has no such papers, and Texas and Wisconsin, where paid
and free papers have separate groups. He said the Wisconsin
groups are discussing a merger "for strength of
numbers in the legislature," which is the driving
force behind the Tennessee proposal. "In terms
of numbers, our membership base has slowly declined,"
David Thompson, executive director of
the Kentucky Press Association, told
the board that his group has benefited from free-circulation
members, most recently when one helped defeat a bill
that would have allowed public agencies to post required
legal notices on the Internet instead of in newspaper
Unlike Tennessee, Kentucky has a law requiring
legal notices to be run in paid-circulation papers,
and Pauline Sherrer of the Crossville Chronicle
said she feared admission of free papers, which have
a growing place in the business, would lead to loss
of legal advertising, costing her thousands of dollars
a month. For more background on the Tennessee situation,
see The Rural Blog's Feb.
gets gaming commission go-ahead; locals see economy
Indiana Gaming Commission has given initial
approval to a $240 million plan to open a casino in
Orange County, which local residents hope will lead
to an economic revival for the area.
"The proposal led by Bloomington
billionaire William Cook's company was the only one
submitted after Donald Trump's casino company withdrew
in March from its contract to build and operate the
casino," writes Ryan Lenz of The Associated
Commission Executive Director Ernest Yelton
told reporters, "Although we were presented with
only one applicant, we weighed our consideration as
if there were many." The casino would be the eleventh
allowed under Indiana law. Final approval could be granted
by August, writes Lenz.
commends Idaho's pursuit of roadless area conservation
"Today Governor Dirk Kempthorne announced
that the State of Idaho will develop a petition to conserve
and protect roadless areas,” U.S. Department
of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said
in a statement.
"I commend Governor Kempthorne for
his leadership in this area and look forward to working
with him as he develops Idaho's petition for roadless
area conservation," continues Johanns. "Governor
Kempthorne is sending a clear message that we can work
together to cooperatively conserve inventoried roadless
areas within our national forests. USDA is committed
to working closely with leaders in Idaho and in every
state that contains roadless areas, to determine the
best course of action."
commissioner in Alabama settles in for a two-year prison
"Former Alabama Agriculture Commissioner
Charles Sharpe has begun serving a two-year prison sentence
for extortion and lying to a federal officer in connection
with a cockfighting ring," reports The
Associated Press with information from the
Aiken Standard. (Read
Sharpe, 66, reported to a low- to medium-security
federal prison in Estill on Monday. “Sharpe pleaded
guilty earlier this year to taking $10,000 in December
2002 from an organization involved in breeding and raising
birds for cockfighting in exchange for helping the group
avoid legal trouble,” AP reports.
U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie gave
Sharpe two years in prison and three years probation.
Sharpe, a Republican, was elected agriculture commissioner
tavern, where Patrick Henry lived and worked, reopens
A historic tavern across the street from
the Hanover County Courthouse has reopened for wayfarers
seeking a hot meal, a pint of ale and entertainment,
just as it had done since before the American Revolution.
"After closing its doors a year ago
to complete the final leg of a 15-year preservation
and restoration effort, the historic Hanover Tavern
is ready to entertain guests," writes Melodie Martin
of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. (Read
more) Sarah Y. Smith, executive director of the
Hanover Tavern Foundation, told Martin,
"It is a place where people of all economic means
would come throughout history to get a meal, to get
refreshments, to stay overnight or to come see a play."
The earliest surviving section of the
tavern dates back to 1791. Early documentation indicates
an "ordinary" was licensed for the site in
1733. American patriot Patrick Henry lived and worked
at the tavern, which was owned by his wife's family.
The tavern was host to such notable guests as George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lord Cornwallis, P.T.
Barnum and Co. and J.E.B. Stuart, writes Martin.
This day in history:
Soviets blockade West Berlin, 1948
One of the most dramatic standoffs in
the history of the Cold War began June 24, 1948, as
the Soviet Union blocked all road and rail traffic to
and from West Berlin. The blockade turned out to be
a terrible diplomatic move by the Soviets, while the
United States emerged from the confrontation, ended
by the Belin Airlift, with renewed purpose and confidence.
funding targeted; cuts could be critical in rural areas
Small towns could lose their broadcasting
links to educational opportunity, diverse cultural activities
and some world events, as the U.S. House considers slashing
funding to the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting, which provides
money for such programming as "Sesame Street"
Public Radio's "Morning Edition,"
write Tom Dorsey and James R. Carroll of The
Conservatives say the federal government
shouldn't fund public broadcasting at a time of greater
needs and budget deficits. Others say without federal
money, access to valuable educational and cultural programming
will be lost, especially in rural areas. Mac Wall, executive
director of Kentucky
Educational Television, the largest PBS
member network in the country, told Dorsey and Carroll,
"It's as serious a threat as we have ever faced."
Gerry Weston, president of Louisville's Public
Radio Partnership, which stands to lose
as much as $120,000 a year, told the Louisville newspaper,
"It's hundreds of thousands of dollars for us.
We're in a state of shock."
Weston said the effect on public stations
in small towns, which rely much more heavily on federal
funding could be devastating. "People ought to
fear the fact that rural America may no longer be able
to receive public radio," he said. Paul Hitchcock,
general manager of Morehead
State Public Radio, said about one-third
of WMKY's budget comes from federal funds, which essentially
pay for NPR programming." Hitchcock told the newspaper,
"Those (morning and afternoon programs) are the
tent poles of our programming as far as listeners are
concerned. We would have to hire local people (to fill
in), but of course there's no way we could replace those
The House Appropriations Committee has
approved a 45 percent cut during the next two years
for the public broadcasting corporation, reducing its
budget of $400 million for fiscal 2006 to $300 million.
In Virginia, the proposed cuts could mean a loss of
close to $400,000 for Roanoke's public radio and television
stations, reports The Roanoke Times.
more) The New York Times provides
coverage. The Washington Post provides
perspective, as does the Los Angeles Times.
Supreme Court says
localities may seize property for economic development
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled local
governments may seize homes and businesses against owners'
will for private development, which effects communities
where economic growth clashes with individual property
Today's ruling effects some Connecticut
residents whose homes are slated for destruction to
allow for an offices. "They argued that cities
have no right to take their land except for projects
with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or
to revitalize blighted areas," writes Hope Yen
of The Associated Press. Cities could
bulldoze residences to allow for hotels and shopping
malls in order to generate tax revenue, she writes.
The justices said local officials, not
federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development
project will benefit the community. A working-class
neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed suit after
city officials announced plans to raze their homes for
a riverfront hotel, health club and offices. City officials
said the development would boost economic growth and
that outweighed the homeowners' property rights.
Nationwide, more than 10,000 properties
were threatened or condemned in recent years, according
to the Institute
for Justice, a Washington public interest
law firm. States that forbid the use of eminent domain
when the economic purpose is not to eliminate blight
include Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine,
Montana, South Carolina and Washington. Another three
— Delaware, New Hampshire and Massachusetts —
have indicated they probably will find condemnations
for economic development alone unconstitutional, AP
schoolhouses: Group pushes for preservation of education
The fifth annual Country Schoolhouse
Conference being held this week in Waco, Ky., seeks
to preserve a fading institution: America’s one-room
schools, writes Jim Warren of the Lexington
“To many, the one-room school might
be only a relic of the dim and distant past, to be forgotten
like the horse-and-buggy,” reports Warren. “But
don't tell that to any of the people who squeezed into
the tiny children's desks at the Bend School yesterday.
For them, one-room schools are still very much alive.”
Professor Mary Outlaw, director of student
teaching at Berry College in Rome,
Ga., preps students to work in modern schools. They
can learn from one-room schools, she said. "To
do a better job I needed to know more about the history
of education," Outlaw told Warren. "And that
led me right into country and one-room schools."
Richard and Catharin Lewis of League City,
Texas, saved a one-room school and made it the West
Bay Common School, a children's museum
that provides a look into education’s past. "We
get between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors every year,"
Catharin Lewis told Warren.
U.S. House passes
amendment to prohibit flag burning; Senate could follow
"A constitutional amendment that
would allow Congress to ban flag burning passed the
House yesterday, and congressional leaders said it has
a strong chance to clear the Senate for the first time,
sending it to the states for ratification," writes
Mike Allen of the Washington Post.
The House has passed the measure before,
but it has always failed to get the two-thirds vote
needed in the Senate. Changes in the Senate's makeup
lends more support to the measure, reports Allen. The
issue has been a hot button issue for conservatives
since a 5 to 4 Supreme Court ruling in 1989 that protected
flag desecration as free speech. An Associated
Press survey found 35 senators on record as
opposing the amendment - one more than the number needed
to defeat it if all 100 senators vote. (Read
Rural interest in the idea is strong.
A new supporter, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who pushed
the issue in his campaign, said, "Out in the country,
at the grass-roots level, it's seen as a common man's
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said
she would "support federal legislation that would
outlaw flag desecration, much like laws that currently
prohibit the burning of crosses, but I don't believe
a constitutional amendment is the answer."
burley tobacco production making a comeback in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania farmers have planted enough
burley tobacco to possibly offset the state's slide
in leaf production, taking advantage of a window that
opened last year with the lifting of the decades-old
federal quota system.
"The broad, yellow leaves of burley
tobacco will lend their distinctive hue to David M.
Zimmerman's fields this summer as he and many other
growers look to cash in on the crop for the first time
since the Depression," writes Marc Levy of The
Associated Press. (Read
more) Zimmerman, on his 57-acre farm in Lancaster
County, the center of Pennsylvania's tobacco country,
told Levy, "Just about everyone I know is growing
Industry and state officials estimate
burley planting will mean Pennsylvania's largest one-year
increase in tobacco acreage in 25 years. If burley production
is successful and brings higher prices, it could end
a 90-year decline in tobacco growing north of the Mason-Dixon
Line and prompt a modest increase in acreage, Levy writes.
For the most part, the opposite is occurring
in the burley belt (Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana,
Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina), where growers
are being paid for lost federal quotas and price supports.
Prices will drop and a 30 percent decrease in production
is expected. Efforts could be made to grow burley in
non-quota states such as Louisiana and Illinois, but
for now, Daniel Green, a spokesman for the Burley
Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association
in Lexington, Ky., told Leavy, "Everybody's talking
Burley's return to Pennsylvania comes
67 years after the federal government placed a quota
on burley growing to ensure that prices remained stable.
Pennsylvania's farmers rejected the quotas because they
opposed government intervention, and instead grew more
bitter varieties of tobacco that are used sparingly
in cigarettes, writes Levy.
introduces bill to boost rural access to health-care
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced
bipartisan legislation to improve access to health care
for Central Oregonians living in rural communities by
maintaining critical support for the Sole Community
Hospital Program (SCH). That program ensures
that rural Medicare beneficiaries get necessary services
only available at larger, regional hospitals, reports
Central Oregon's "On-Line Community."
The bill would stop SCH reimbursement
policies from expiring later this year. The policies
allow St. Charles to continue providing advanced and
specialty care to communities throughout the region.
"Sole community hospitals provide care to rural
areas throughout the nation that is vital to both physical
well-being and quality of life," Walden said. "This
legislation reinforces a commitment made by the federal
government to those communities, ensuring that an area
hospital will be able to provide needed care in their
own region, closer to home."
Currently, Medicare payments to SCHs can
be based on either a cost-based system, or they can
be based on a federal prospective payment system, whichever
is greater. This ability, called "hold-harmless,"
is available to rural hospitals, to ensure those hospitals
stay operational for critical services, Bend.com writes.
member challenging sex policy; she and husband get 'no
National Guard Sgt. Amanda McCormick of
Lexington, Ky., is confronting her unit's policy prohibiting
her from having sexual contact with her husband while
the two serve together in Iraq.
"The military couple can't kiss or
even hold hands, under the 940th Military Police
Company's across-the-board no-sex policy. The
company, based in Walton, has a large Central Kentucky
contingent and is now under Army command," writes
Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
more) Military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan
are disproportionately from rural America.
Sgt. McCormick e-mailed U.S. Rep. Ben
Chandler, D-Versailles, saying she and her sergeant
husband, Todd McCormick, could be punished for being
alone together. "We are not allowed to live together,"
she said. "We are not allowed to spend time alone
together. Basically, in a nutshell, we are not allowed
to be married." Chandler's staff and Army officials
are looking into the complaint, writes Spears.
At issue in the case is a memo written
by Unit Commander Brandon McNeese notifying "dual
military couples" and all other soldiers that policy
prohibits them from having "sexual contact, hand
holding or kissing." The policy's only exception
is that deployed "dual military" couples may
have sex on leave. Goldie Lakes, vice president of a
military families group for the 940th, told Spears,
"How could anyone begrudge them for having a honeymoon
when they are serving their country?"
says he will rule next week in nation's first 'right-to-hunt'
A Virginia judge, presiding over what
is believed to be the nation's first right-to-hunt trial,
should rule next week.
"Following final arguments ...in
Nelson County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Gamble said
he will issue a written opinion June 30 on whether a
constitutional amendment that protects Virginians' right
to hunt should apply to shooting at clay targets on
an exclusive hunting preserve. Orion Estate is accusing
the Nelson County Board of Supervisors of violating
its right to hunt by denying a zoning request for a
shotgun sports center," writes Laurence Hammack
of The Roanoke Times. (Read
The center would allow members of the
450-acre hunting preserve to shoot at clay and plastic
targets thrown by machines. The operation was defended
by Orion as an integral part of hunting and dismissed
by the county as a commercial venture unfit for rural
land that borders the James River near Wingina, writes
The judge gave no hint of how he might
rule in the case, the first of its kind in Virginia
since voters codified rights to "hunt, fish and
harvest game" in the state's constitution in 2000.
According to the National
Conference of State Legislatures, Virginia
is one of 12 states to make hunting and fishing a constitutional
right, and others are considering such measures. Lawyers
in the case say no judge has interpreted that right,
City, rural folk not that different; misconceptions
on both sides
Canadian city dwellers and their country counterparts
are not that different according to a recent national
survey, "disproving the idea that urbanites are
cold-hearted and autonomous while rural folk idle over
a slice of pie and a glass of lemonade with neighbors,"
write Scott Deveau and Katie Rook of Toronto's The
Globe and Mail.
Canada figures show rural residents may
be more likely to trust and know their neighbors, but
they were not significantly more likely to lend a helping
hand, nor to feel isolated within their community. The
survey shows about 20 percent of rural Canadians reported
receiving help from friends and family in the month
before the survey, only four percentage points higher
than for residents of the largest cities.
"In addition, the number of rural
residents who said they had lent a helping hand to friends
and family was only six percentage points higher than
for city dwellers. But Danka Gareau, 43, who has lived
in the one-traffic-light town of Deep River, Ont., between
Ottawa and North Bay, for 22 years, says her community
regularly rallies behind neighbors in need. Just last
week, she stopped making dinner to take her ailing next-door
neighbor to the hospital when he had heart palpitations,"
write Deveau and Rook. (Read
The report, based on information from
the 2003 General Social Survey on Social Engagement,
looked at about 25,000 Canadians age 15 and over. There
was one significant difference along the lines of community
roots. While 32 percent of rural Canadians reported
a very strong sense of belonging to their local community,
only 19 percent of city folk felt the same way.
visitors visit sites in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky
Delegates to the International
Rural Network Conference
in Abingdon, Va., took field trips yesterday to small
towns, trails and other sites in the region, and got
coverage from the Kingsport (Tenn.)
In Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough,
"Jimmy Neil Smith, president of the International
Storytelling Center, said Jonesborough had
been chosen as a workshop because of its success in
rural development," Ben Ingram wrote. Smith told
the group, "We have a story to tell . . . and it
centers around the revitalization of Jonesborough through
the use of two tools -- historic preservation and cultural
"Smith said the marriage of those
tools has helped Jonesborough become the town it is
today and paired examples like the Storytelling Festival
as an example of cultural tourism and the Oak Hill School
history museum as a part of the town's emphasis on historic
preservation," Ingram reported. He concluded with
quotes from Rhys Evans of Scotland, who conducted a
similar, successful festival: ""The reason
people were leaving the towns in Scotland was that they
wanted something different, and towns like Jonesborough
recognized that, and that's why it's thriving today.
There are a lot of parallels in Jonesborough and in
Scotland alike, local pride and tourism."
The Kingsport paper's Virginia edition
reported on a field trip to the University of
Virginia's College at Wise and its Health Information
Outreach Program and a regional physicians residency
more) Delegates also heard about health and social
services and a fiber-optic network installed by local
governments. Dr. Motilal Dash of India, on his first
trip to the U.S., said he was impressed by what reporter
Stephen Igo called "the by-the-bootstraps approach
of most Americans." Dash told Igo, "That is
why this country is so developed. You do not do what
you do by government alone. You do not always wait for
government to do something. You decide what you need
done and plan how to get that done. And do it. That
is a very good thing."
Other field-trip destinations included
St. Paul, Va., also in Wise County; and Whitesburg,
Ky., home of the Appalshop arts organization
and The Mountain Eagle, a crusading
Respect lowly potato,
don't 'couch' remarks; some folks take tubers very seriously
Roanoke Times notes on its editorial page,
"Two eager groups of British potato farmers demonstrated
in London and Oxford recently, urging Parliament to
ban the term 'couch potato' from the Oxford
English Dictionary. The dictionary reference
to persons of an idle, slothful persuasion, the farmers
insisted, defames the vegetable. One person's special
interest is another's defender of linguistic precision."
(From chief blogger Bill Griffin: My paternal grandfather
came from Ireland. He worked on New York City's docks
most of his life. To him a great meal was a big bowl
of steaming hot potatoes. For him, and his, the potato
care helps rural folk; small device provides services,
Patients can monitor their blood pressure,
weight or oxygen levels without leaving home, and nurses
can keep an eye on their patients without leaving the
office. A device no bigger than an alarm clock is changing
home health care in urban and rural America, reports
KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Read
Judy Rall, Director of Home Health
Care at Good Samaritan in Sioux Falls, says,
"Once a day a clinicianer looks at the readings
and is able to determine whether they are outside the
accepted range or the parameters the physicians set.
And we contact the physician or the patient to discuss
This device is a huge benefit in rural
areas, Rall said. "When people live in rural America
they have much less access to health care, these monitors
are global, they can go anywhere you have a phone line,”
By checking daily on even slight changes
in a patient's vital statistics, Rall says the device
is helping control health care costs. "The idea
with the tele-health monitors is it reduces emergency
room visits, and hospitalizations, we're catching something
before it becomes a crisis," says Rall. Some insurance
companies cover the cost of the device, and Medicare
approved home health care also covers the expense.
on coal, economy stir audience at international rural
A film about a huge coal-slurry spill
in Central Appalachia and its aftermath, and another
production by Appalshop
Films, prompted a lively discussion yesterday
evening at the International Rural Network Conference,
being held this week at the Southwest Virginia
Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
Though the Environmental Protection
Agency has called the 2000 spill in Martin
County, Kentucky, the largest environmental disaster
ever recorded in the southeastern United States, several
Americans at the meeting said they knew just as much
about it as attendees from other countries -- nothing.
"Some people we talk to don't think there's any
coal mining going on in this country any more,"
Herb E. Smith of Appalshop told the crowd.
Much of the discussion focused on how
to get the film, Sludge, by Robert Salyer,
before a large audience. For example, a photojournalist
from Bangladesh offered to distribute it through private
networks in 10 to 15 countries. Appalshop, based in
Whitesburg, Ky., has been "a lighthouse for a generation
in Appalachia," Charles W. Fluharty, director of
the Rural Policy Research Institute,
the conference's organizing sponsor, told the crowd.
When the film reported that the spill
of 250 to 300 million gallons, affecting 100 miles of
streams, had resulted in a fine of $110,000 for a subsidiary
of A.T. Massey Co., there were audible
gasps in the crowd, which clearly believed the fine
was too small. Later, there were exclamations of disbelief
when the film reported that the Mine Safety
and Health Administration, part of the U.S.
Department of Labor, had reduced the fine to
Sludge also tells the story of
former MSHA official Jack Spadaro, who said his investigation
of the spill was short-circuited by Labor Department
officials. An internal review by MSHA confirmed Spadaro's
central allegations, but he retired after the department
demoted him, transferred him and filed charges against
The audience also saw Thoughts In
the Presence of Fear, which puts to film an
economic essay that rural Kentucky writer Wendell
Berry wrote in the wake of 9/11. Smith told the audience
that the film, which he is producing in cooperation
with Alan Banks of Eastern Kentucky University,
is still being refined.
Conviction in civil
rights murders helps a town come to grips with itself
"A Neshoba County jury convicted
Edgar Ray Killen of three counts of manslaughter shortly
before noon (Tuesday) in the 1964 murders of civil rights
workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner,"
reports Debbie Burt Myers, managing editor of The
Neshoba Democrat. (Read
Killen's defense plans to appeal the verdict,
reports Shaila Dewan of The New York Times.
more) "At least he wasn't found guilty of a
willful and wanton act," said James McIntyre, one
of Killen's lawyers. "Manslaughter is a negligent
act." Killen's sentencing is scheduled for Thursday
in Philadelphia, Miss., and he faces up to 20 years
in prison on each manslaughter count.
Jim Prince, editor of the weekly Democrat,
co-chaired a local committee that lobbied for the reopening
of the case. "Finally, finally, finally,"
Prince told Dewan. "This certainly sends a message,
I think, to the criminals and to the thugs that justice
reigns in Neshoba County, unlike 41 years ago."
The legal proceedings took an emotional
toll on the rural Mississippi community. "Some
feared that this town, which gave Killen four decades
of refuge, could not have a reckoning with him,"
reports Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington
Post. "This is a place of cozy familiarities,
and the trial was no different." (Read
"(Neshoba County District Attorney
Mark Duncan) is a child of the same county that sheltered
Killen all these years; Mississippi Attorney General
Jim Hood, who personally tried the case with Duncan,
grew up not far away," writes Roig-Franzia. "Killen's
brother Oscar Kenneth Killen lashed out at Duncan while
testifying, accusing him of being the hypocritical son
and grandson of members of the Ku Klux Klan, a charge
that the prosecutor later denied. 'I'm one of y'all,'
Duncan said after the verdict, directing his remarks
at his neighbors."
funding cuts prompt Democratic backlash, call for resignation
Sixteen Democratic U.S. senators have
called on President Bush to remove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson
as head of the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting, concerned he is
injecting partisan politics into public broadcasting.
The senators told the president in a letter,
"We urge you to immediately replace Tomlinson with
an executive who takes his or her responsibility to
the public television system seriously, not one who
so seriously undermines the credibility and mission
of public television," writes Stephen Labaton of
The New York Times. (Read
The call for Tomlinson's resignation follows
a series of disclosures about him, now under investigation
by the corporation's inspector general. Those disclosures
include his decision to hire a researcher to monitor
the political leanings of guests on the public policy
program "Now," the use of a White House official
to set up an ombudsman's office to scrutinize public
radio and television programs for political balance,
and payments approved by Tomlinson to two Republican
lobbyists last year.
Tomlinson told reporters, "There
is no reason for me to step down from the chairmanship
of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I am confident
the inspector general's report will conclude that all
of my actions were taken in accordance with the relevant
rules and regulations and the traditions of CPB."
The White House said the president continues to support
Tomlinson. Several rural radio stations receive public
seeks more USDA protection; requests additional mad
Consumers Union wants
Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns to require the
U.S. Department of Agriculture to test
all cattle over 20 months of age at slaughter and adopt
the most accurate and sensitive "Western blot"
test as part of its testing protocol in suspected mad
cow cases. (Read
In a letter to Secretary Johanns issued
Monday, Consumers Union asks that USDA: require that
all cattle over 20 months of age be tested at slaughter
for mad cow disease; utilize the most accurate and sensitive
Western blot test along with the IHC test when confirming
a suspect case; and make clear to the public that a
positive result on either test indicates that the suspect
cow is positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
The USDA announced last week that a U.S.
cow tested positive for mad cow disease. The animal
was originally suspected of having the disease last
November, but USDA failed to test the animal using the
more sensitive Western blot test until earlier this
month. In a previous case of an infected Canadian-born
animal found in Washington state, the Western blot test
helped confirm that the animal was infected.
Raising the bar:
High schools getting tougher graduation requirements
in 18 states
In the almost six months since a national
summit, at least six states now have tougher high school
graduation standards, writes Lynn Olson of Education
Although Arizona legislators opted to
give high school seniors more flexibility in passing
the state’s exit exam, states typically are sending
a stricter message by requiring that students take more
courses in mathematics, science, and other core areas,
“The number of states that have
moved, just in this legislative session, to increase
graduation requirements is clearly based on the momentum
coming out of the summit,” said Matthew Gandal,
executive vice president of Achieve Inc.,
a Washington group that co-sponsored the summit with
the National Governors Association.
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed the Achieving
Classroom Excellence measure, requiring students to
take college-bound curriculum, starting in 2006-07,
unless parents sign an opt-out form. His aim is “to
better prepare (students) for life after high school.”
Indiana law requires that students complete
a college-preparatory curriculum to earn a diploma,
starting in 2010-11. Eighteen states make up the American
Diploma Project Network, a group committed to higher
standards. Recent additions to the network include Alabama,
Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
named one of world's most endangered sites; development
For much of the past 200 years, what has
brought the world to Kentucky is its pastoral settings,
bucolic lifestyle and picturesque farms that have sired
many world-champion thoroughbred horses. Now, the Bluegrass
landscape is one of eight U.S. sites on the list of
the world's 100 most endangered places because of development,
according to a world preservationist group.
"Between 1997 and 2002, 328 square
kilometers of agricultural land in the Bluegrass were
developed, according to the World
Monuments Watch," writes Chris Poynter
of The Courier-Journal.
more) Preservationists said the dwindling buffer
zone between development and the Bluegrass landscape
in Central Kentucky should prompt regionwide planning
to preserve historic sites.
"Under towering trees, surrounded
by an old stone fence, the Hamburg Place Farm cemetery
holds the graves of 18 famed racehorses, including 1898
Kentucky Derby winner Plaudit. Soon, their remains will
be dug up and the cemetery moved several hundred yards
-- to make room for a Super Wal-Mart and Lowe's,"
writes Poynter for the Louisville newspaper. (For the
Bluegrass version by the Lexington Herald-Leader,
Fayette, Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark,
Franklin, Harrison, Jessamine, Mercer, Scott and Woodford
counties and the 1.2 million acres they encompass are
being threatened by "uncontrolled and aggressive
development," the international preservation group's
report stated. "Burnham said the listing should
be a 'wake-up call' that Kentuckians are slowly losing
their unique heritage: the rolling fields where foals
romp, the family tobacco farms with their distinctive
barns, the hand-laid rock fences," Poynter writes.
Once a rural stalwart,
Winn-Dixie leaving four states; thousands of layoffs
Supermarket chain Winn-Dixie
plans to cease operations in four Southern states, closing
326 of its 913 stores and cutting 22,000 jobs under
its proposed Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan.
"The company will stop operating
in Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas and trim operations
in its five remaining states -- Florida, Georgia, Alabama,
Mississippi and Louisiana. The cuts amount to 35 percent
of its stores and 28 percent of its current work force
of 78,000. An additional 500 workers will lose their
jobs in the company's corporate headquarters in Jacksonville
(Fla.)," writes Ron Word of The Associated
more) Winn-Dixie said it will try to find buyers
for the stores it decided to sell yesterday and ask
the new owners to retain as many employees as possible.
The company recently closed its operations in Kentucky.
The Charlotte Observer provided additional
coverage on the closings.
Winn-Dixie President/CEO Peter Lynch said,
"We regret the impact these tough decisions will
have on many of our associates, customers and local
communities. We do not take these decisions lightly
and would not be proceeding if these steps were not
essential to restore Winn-Dixie's financial health."
Experts say the company's problems are a result of Wal-Mart's
to stoke state's coal industry; synthetic natural gas
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed
legislation meant to help develop new markets for his
state's coal by encouraging its conversion to synthetic
"The new law removes some regulatory
obstacles to the production of ultra-clean, high-efficiency
coal gasification sites, which could use Illinois' high-sulfur
coal to produce natural gas through newly developed
technology," writes Jim Suhr of The Associated
The governor also signed bills to make
it easier for coal producers to find secondary markets
for their byproducts and to boost Illinois' competitiveness
as the site for the Energy Department's FutureGen
project to build
the first coal-based, emissions-free power plant. Blagojevich
told reporters the synthetic natural gas legislation
seizes "a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate
to the world that there are innovative and environmentally-friendly
ways to use more Illinois coal, which will give this
critical industry an important economic boost."
The new law permits gas utilities to enter
into 20-year supply contracts with any synthetic natural
gas producer that starts construction in Illinois by
mid-2008 using the type of coal common in the state.
Unless state utility
regulators deem the cost of the gas unreasonable, they
cannot easily prevent the contract from going through.
The contractual guarantees are meant to help developers
get financing for the new projects, writes Suhr.
Elk Foundation's conservation efforts come to Kentucky
A wildlife conservation group based in
Missoula, Mont., is spearheading an effort to reclaim
Kentucky's coal mines for wildlife, a plan that could
expand eastern elk hunting within five years.
David Ledford, who directs the Appalachian
Wildlife Initiative for the Rocky Mountain
Elk Foundation told Michael Jamison of The
Missoulian, "But what this has morphed
into now goes far beyond Kentucky." Ledford said
the plan to better reclaim mine sites for wildlife could
soon encompass Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana,
Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama.
"So far," Ledford added, "it's just been
a resounding success." (Read
more) For The Associated Press version,
In 1997, wildlife officials began reintroducing
wild elk into Kentucky, more than 150 years after the
game animals were hunted to extinction there. Over five
years, he said, about 1,500 western elk were turned
loose in Eastern Kentucky, most transplanted from Utah.
Radio collars helped wildlife managers track the elk.
"What we learned was they use the reclaimed mines
very heavily," Ledford said.
The population of the herd is expected
to hit 5,500 by year's end. Unlike the West, Ledford
told Jamison, the 4.1 million acres in Kentucky's "official
elk zone" is mostly private land, with less than
5 percent in public ownership. Much of the best habitat
is owned by coal and timber companies. About a year
and a half ago, the Elk Foundation and state wildlife
officials in Kentucky started in earnest the work of
assessing habitat on reclaimed mine sites. What they
found was browse Ledford calls "pretty inadequate."
The mine reclamation guidelines that companies
have been following are outdated, Ledford said, "written
in a time when wildlife pretty much meant deer and wild
turkeys." The group sat down with the stakeholders
- the land managers and hunters and conservationists
and mine owners to dramatically rewrite the rules, Jamison
in western states pitting Republican policy against
There's a development war brewing in the
west, but it's not environmentalists versus energy companies.
Instead, it's landowners fighting a "drill, drill,
drill," national policy coming down from the top.
"Amid the clank, clatter and fire
of the largest natural gas boom ever on public land
in the West, a new kind of sagebrush rebellion is stirring.
Ranchers, cowboys, small property owners and local government
leaders - the core of the Republican base in the Rocky
Mountain West - are chafing at the pace and scope of
the Bush administration's push for energy development,"
writes Timothy Egan of The New York Times.
Lawsuits have been filed challenging federal
authority to drill in certain areas. Others are protesting
new gas and oil leases. The is a call for local control
over a distant federal landlord. "But for the first
time, it is the Republicans who find themselves the
target of angry speeches about lost property rights
and tone-deaf federal land managers. And people who
have been on opposing sides of the major land battles
in the West - mainly property owners and ranchers versus
environmentalists - are now allies," reports Egan.
Tweeti Blancett, a coordinator for George
Bush's presidential campaign told Egan, "The word
from Washington is drill, drill, drill, and now they've
basically destroyed our ranch. A lot of Republicans
are upset." Natural gas prices have more than doubled
over the last five years. The region, called the Persian
Gulf of Gas, has enough natural gas to heat 55 million
homes for almost 30 years, the government says. By drilling
near national parks, wilderness areas and favored hunting
grounds, the administration has angered many communities
Colorado and New Mexico, in the center
of the boom, are also where Democrats hope to tip the
balance of the national electoral map. What makes the
fight particularly bitter is because of the legacy of
the homesteading era, people may own the land on which
they live or graze livestock, but not own the mineral
rights below the surface. These so-called split-estates
properties cover 58 million acres in the West, writes
vetoes cigarette tax hike; funds were set for health
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has vetoed
a 50-cent-per-pack tax increase on certain small cigarette
brands that would have generated more than $12 million
for the TennCare,
the state's "health safety net." The governor
says, however, he'll find money elsewhere to help some
226,000 people who will soon be kicked off the troubled
health-care program's rolls, writes Trent Seibert of
The Tennessean. (Read
"Advocates for TennCare enrollees
have said they doubt the net will be able to catch everyone.
Those who fight for small-business owners have argued
that the tax was unfair, burdening the cigarette companies
that compete against the biggest corporations and make
the least profits," writes Siebert for the Nashville
Legislative leaders who crafted the tax
and helped build the proposed $104 million safety net
were displeased by the veto. They said the tax would
have also raised the prices on the cheapest of cigarettes
and kept them out of the hands of more children. Sen.
Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, told Seibert, "If participation
in the master settlement agreement prohibits Tennesseans
from discouraging underage smoking then we need to ask
ourselves if it is in the state's best interest to continue
participating in the master settlement agreement."
shows computers can provide vital link to rural patients
A Montana doctor has demonstrated how
technology can overcome information gaps and gaffs that
so often plague doctors trying to serve patients in
Missoula heart specialist Mark Sanz, of
St. Patrick Hospital, has demonstrated newly installed
technology that could eliminate unreadable, blurry,
lost and otherwise unusable medical records, at least
for heart patients. "It is the first phase of a
program to digitally share and archive heart tests such
as those called ECGs or EKGs, making them available
on the Internet to doctors and hospitals in western
Montana 24 hours a day, seven days a week," writes
Mea Anderson of The Missoulian. (Read
Sanz told Anderson about 20 Western Montana
hospitals and clinics are already linked and online;
another 25 will be in the next few months. Doctors also
will be able to send and receive, across miles and computer
lines, heart tests in real time. As the test is conducted,
readouts and photographs of the working heart are sent
immediately to another doctor miles away who can interpret
results and decide on treatment.
U.S. Labor Department
begins meetings on weapons worker compensation
U.S. Labor Department
hearings on new rules guiding a federal compensation
program for former nuclear weapons workers began yesterday
and continue today in Oak Ridge, Tenn. - sight of a
World War II vintage uranium enrichment plant - reports
Hilary Roxe of The Associated Press.
Similar meetings are scheduled in more
than a dozen states through November, including two
in Paducah, Ky., in September. Most of the people covered
by the program worked at facilities in Colorado, Idaho,
Iowa, Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee
and Washington state.
"The compensation program is one
of two designed to pay workers who got sick while helping
to build Cold War-era bombs or clean up the waste left
behind. Officials began, earlier this year, giving lump-sum
checks of $125,000 to survivors of workers who died
from job-related illnesses, paying out about $63 million
for more than 500 claims. But living workers, who can
receive up to $250,000 through the program, had to wait
until officials developed a payout formula that accounts
for permanent impairments and lost wages," writes
Shelby Hallmark, who heads the Labor Department's
worker compensation programs, told AP officials hope
to hand out 1,200 checks by September. The department
is compiling information about materials and illnesses
found at nuclear sites, which could help workers prove
their claims. The Labor Department will accept public
comment on the new rules until August 8.
Gorging on volunteerism:
Public keeps Kentucky trail maintained without pay
The all-volunteer Red River Gorge
Trail Crew, established in 1998, is keeping
the Kentucky hiking hotspot in tip-top shape, writes
Robin Roenker for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
There are hundreds of miles of trails
winding through the Red River Gorge's 13,000 acres of
wilderness land. The work of maintaining them is done
almost entirely by the trail crew, said Charlie Rowe,
trail technician and volunteer coordinator with the
U.S. Forest Service's Stanton Ranger
District. "There is no way the trail maintenance
would get done without this group,” Rowe said.
“We'd have too few people and two little money
to do the work without them."
Last year, the group logged 2,150 hours
of volunteer service in the Gorge. Their real contribution
is in their numbers, Rowe said. Though the crew boasts
200 associates from throughout Kentucky and Ohio, Rowe
counts on seeing around 15 to 20 volunteers at each
"The trail maintenance, just moving
the trees and digging the trails is so enjoyable,"
volunteer Laurie Shelton, of Shepherdsville, Ky., told
Roenker. "I'd always wanted to be in the Forest
Service, but I went into another career path. But with
the trail crew, I can feel like I'm living my dream
once a month.”
The group meets the second Saturday each
month at 9 a.m. at the Gladie
Cultural-Environmental Learning Center.
Everyone is welcome, though children from 10 to 18 should
be accompanied by an adult. Children under 10 are advised
not to attend, because of the labor-intensive work involved.
For more details, email Rowe at email@example.com
or or call (606) 663-2852. Also visit www.gorgecrew.com.
Kentucky man puts
roar back into engines by repairing ATVs and motorcycles
Some 1,400 motorcycles and ATVs are stationed
in organized rows in one of Casey County, Kentucky's
meadows. The roar of their engines can no longer be
heard, as they sit in the junkyard at McDonald's
Motorcycle Repair, writes Byron Crawford of
the Courier-Journal. (Read
"Back in 1973 my dad extracted a
few promises out of me -- which I never kept -- and
let me take my tobacco crop money and buy my first bike,"
recalled Tim McDonald, the 48-year-old owner of the
business. "It took me about a year to tear the
thing up. I tinkered it to death."
McDonald started a motorcycle repair business
in 1985 with about $100 in his company account, writes
Crawford for the Louisville newspaper. "Regardless
of the fact that there were no phone calls and nobody
was coming around, if you're going to start a bike shop,
you've got to be there working," McDonald said.
"So I bought little pieces of junk and refurbished
them to where I could sell them."
Bikers and ATV riders soon discovered
the repair shop, reports Crawford. McDonald eventually
expanded and ATV parts and repairs comprise at least
70 percent of his work. "What actually attracted
me to bikes in the first place was not so much riding
them," McDonald said. "I was really intrigued
by these little mechanical things that they could do
so well -- and the distinctive sound.”
salamander research center for the world; human applications
The University of Kentucky's
residential numbers increased by more than 400 yesterday.
And, these new residents make the university the center
of attraction for researchers worldwide.
The first arrivals -- 424 exotic salamanders
floating in plastic bowls - "some dark and speckled,
some pure white, the adults as big as 9 inches long
-- are part of the world's largest research colony of
axolotl salamanders, officially known as the Ambystoma
Genetic Stock Center, which is relocating
to UK this summer. The stock center is the main provider
of thousands of salamander eggs and embryos studied
by researchers around the globe," writes Barbara
Isaacs of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
"This is for the world," Randal
Voss, the UK associate professor of biology who is director
of the colony told Isaacs. "It's an important service
The exotic salamanders are valuable research
tools because they can regrow lost body parts, including
their spinal cord and even some brain and heart cells.
They also can also easily accept transplanted parts
from other axolotls and even different types of salamanders."They
can help us understand the secrets of regeneration,
and that will have direct application to humans,"
Voss said. The 424 salamanders are less than 25 percent
of the nearly 1,800 salamanders that will call UK home.
The stock center has been at Indiana University
Voss has sequenced between 40,000 and
50,000 pieces of axolotls salamanders' DNA and has a
$1.4 million grant from the National Institutes
of Health for that purpose. Understanding the
structure and function of salamander genes, Voss said,
has applications to humans, Isaacs writes.
Kentucky city honors
veteran broadcaster; bridge named after 79-year-old
A member of the "Greatest Generation"
was honored Monday in Hazard, Ky., reports WYMT-TV.
His voice was heard on WSGS and the East Kentucky Sports
Network for decades, now a bridge is named in honor
of 79-year-old Jay Lasslo. (Read
"He's always been a really good example.
He set the mark really high with his involvement in
his city and his church and his country. When he served
overseas and was actually a prisoner of war for about
a week until he escaped. So it's really an honor to
be his son," Mike Lasslo said.
Lasslo's health has declined in recent
years, but family members were happy he could be a part
of Monday's ceremony. Lasslo retired from broadcasting
in 1997 after 40-plus years on the air.
Good times, bad
times: Nation's cattle sales booming; mad cow could
The cheerful atmospheres found at livestock
auctions nowadays are a reflection of record good times
in the nation's $175 billion cattle business, where
1,300-pound steers notched an average $84.50 per hundred
pounds last year. That represents a $20 jump since 2002,
writes Jim Wasserman of the Sacramento Bee.
The good times may not last, though. The
U.S. Department of Agriculture announced
June 10 that a U.S. cow had tested positive for mad
cow disease in one test. A final report on the cow,
which showed both negative and "weak positive"
mad cow findings, is due within days. If positive, this
would be the first U.S. case since December 2003, when
an infected cow in Washington spurred a 53-nation ban
on U.S. beef imports.
The recent USDA announcement sent cattle
futures and fast food stocks falling. "This is
really throwing us a wrench," said Max Olvera,
manager of an auction yard that sells up to 110,000
cattle a year in California. Every year, about 1.4 million
cows are slaughtered in California.
"If you sell cattle in these two
weeks, you're going to take a hit," Olvera said.
"It could be 5 cents, 10 cents a pound -- $60 to
$70 a head -- out of your pocket because of some negative
news. That's how markets react."
Global rural conference
discusses issues such as poverty, health, development
Three-hundred adults from Kenya, Scotland
and 38 other countries are in Abingdon, Va., this week
for the Fourth Annual International Rural Network Conference
at the Southwest
Virginia Higher Education Center. It is
designed to give rural residents a voice by fostering
conversations around the world.
John Bryden, chairman of International
Rural Network, told Samantha Sieber of
the Bristol Herald Courier the conference
also allows participants to work together to find solutions
for problems they all face. The U.s. sponsor of the
annual meeting is the Rural
Policy Research Institute. (Read
Bryden said despite differences in language,
education and profession, the representatives all have
one thing in common – they are rural people from
rural places who need help facing everyday challenges.
"Health and education (officials) don’t talk
to each other and when they do they often aren’t
successful," Bryden said. "Trying to put all
these things together is innovative. Talking is good,
but talking across big divides is best."
Muthengi Kimanzi, of Kenya, told Sieber
she wants to learn how other communities deal with poverty,
her community’s greatest concern. "(Poverty)
is about the lack of basic things, food, clothing and
water," Kimanzi said. "We can take back ideas
to help our people get out of where they are."
Anne Pope, federal co-chairwoman of the
Regional Commission, told Sieber that’s
why it is important that this year’s conference
is being held in Southwest Virginia. Appalachia’s
rural communities are putting into practice the conference
theme: The Power of Place. Pope said the region is a
success story of how to take a community’s resources
to rebuild its economy, writes Sieber.
Giant fish invading
the country; 50-pound carp leap into boats, harass other
"It just sounds so crazy, but it
is true, and it is going to become a heck of a problem
if fish and wildlife folks can't find a way to stop
the spread of giant 50-pound carp who leap into boats.
These giants also eat so much they drive out other species,"
writes Al Tompkins of The Poynter Institute.
more) Tompkins is drawing on articles from the Washington
Post and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The invasion is creating enough concern
that natural resource officials are hurrying to build
two unprecedented fish barriers on the Mississippi River
in Iowa to halt the upstream migration of Asian carp.
The barriers, to be located near Dubuque and Davenport,
Iowa, would emit bubbles and sound to discourage the
carp from entering locks when their gates are open.
The large fish have been spotted as far south as Alabama
and as far north as Illinois.
"Two species of the invasive fish,
bighead and silver carp, escaped from southern fish
farms years ago and have moved steadily north along
the Mississippi and its tributaries, threatening native
fish and other aquatic life," reports Tompkins.
Another species, the black carp, is present in several
locales, but it is unknown if it is reproducing.
In seeking $7 million, mainly in federal
funds, state and federal officials urge that fish barrier
projects must be started soon or the invasion will spread
to northern waters. One bighead carp was caught in Lake
Pepin, south of the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.,
in the fall of 2003, but no more have since been found.
In his column, Tompkins also mentions
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues,
housed at the University of Kentucky.
The institute is a valuable source for journalists covering
rural issues, he notes.
in landmark tobacco case; 'political influence' being
"The judge presiding over the government's
troubled racketeering case against the tobacco industry
summoned cigarette companies' chief executives, their
lawyers and Justice Department attorneys
for a closed-door meeting yesterday and urged both sides
to settle the case," writes Carol D. Leonnig of
the Washington Post. (Read
more) For more information on the litigation itself,
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said
she closed the meeting because it was "a routine,
informal discussion with the parties again urging them
to consider the advantages of settling the case rather
than the risks of litigating it." Dan Webb, lead
attorney for Philip
Morris, told Leonnig, "The judge put
this meeting under seal. We're just not going to discuss
it, period." This comes as the government's civil
racketeering suit is in political turmoil and viewed
with suspicion by anti-tobacco advocates.
The government had claimed the six largest
tobacco companies engaged in a 50-year conspiracy to
conceal the dangers of smoking from the public and should
have to pay to help 45 million Americans quit smoking.
Yesterday's meeting was the first opportunity for Judge
Kessler to meet with the parties since the eight-month
trial ended and the allegations of political interference
were reported. If the parties do not settle, Kessler
will decide whether the industry engaged in a fraudulent
conspiracy and what penalties, if any, it should face,
Department's Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
has launched an investigation into whether political
interference tainted the case. A group of senators have
also asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to remove
Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum Jr. from
involvement in the case. McCallum, a former partner
of a firm that represented R.J. Reynolds, told career
government lawyers to reduce their recommended penalties,
Leonnig writes. For The Associated Press
Indians suing Interior
Department over royalties, say they'll settle for $27.5
If Congress does not to draw money from
other programs affecting them, American Indians suing
S. Interior Department for more than a
century's worth of lost royalties said they will settle
for $27.5 billion.
The lawsuit, filed in 1996 on behalf of
300,000 Indians, accuses the department of mismanaging
oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties from Indian
lands dating back to 1887. Elouise Cobell, the lead
plaintiff, told news reporters Indian leaders had agreed
on 50 principles for a settlement, including a calculation
that the royalties plus compounded interest owed them
totals $176 billion, reports The Associated
Cobell said she wants the money paid into
the government's fund for paying judgments on legal
claims. She told the AP, "It is discounted quite
substantially,but I think we all understand that there's
a lot of suffering in Indian country. Many people will
die before the money is approved."
The Interior Department has said it could
take at least several years and require spending $12
billion to $14 billion to determine what Indians are
and Florida governor face off over slots and tribal
Tribe of Florida has begun talks with Governor
Jeb Bush over expanding gambling on reservations,
their third attempt in 15 years to come to an agreement
with the state's chief executive.
Previous such attempts ended in lawsuits
and a stalemate. "The tribe is hoping the third
time -- which began Thursday -- is the charm. The governor's
goal of limiting gambling could collide with Indian
tribes' quest to offer casino-style games. But, if the
early comments are any signal, the goal of tribal leaders
to offer Las Vegas-style slot machines could clash head-on
with the goal of Gov. Jeb Bush to limit gambling in
Florida," writes Mary Ellen Klas of The
Miami Herald. (Read
Tribal leaders believe Broward County
voters opened the door to Las Vegas-style slot machines
in March when they approved allowing slots at racetracks.
Before the tribes can offer such slot machines, federal
law requires them to negotiate a pact with the state
that allows the state some influence over their operation
and some revenue from the games. Bush said last week
he considers the push to expand gambling in Florida
''a very dangerous trend'' and his "hope and objective
would be to limit the expansion of gambling in our state,"
Gaming Regulatory Act says if a state allows
any form of gambling, the tribes within the state may
engage in that gaming, free of state control. Tribes
must enter into an agreement with the state and, while
the state can't tax the tribes, it can give them an
exclusive benefit in exchange for revenue sharing, Klas
built with tobacco settlement funds, angling for gourmet
A Kentucky catfish-farming cooperative,
built with money from the national tobacco settlement,
wants to shift its business to niche markets by providing
fillets to gourmet stores and specialty shops.
Purchase Area Aquaculture Cooperative
is seeking $400,000 in loans to produce smoked and
marinated fillets, mostly for big-city markets, said
Tom French, interim general manager, writes The
Associated Press. (Read
more) French told reporters, "In the past,
we were trying to produce at high volume and low margin,
and we ran out of products. Now we're looking at low-volume,
The co-op's plant is limited because there
aren't enough local farmers to produce the 300,000 pounds
needed yearly to stay in production. The 4-year-old
plant employs eight to 12 people, down from about 40
when production was peaking. The specialty market will
require only 20,000 pounds a year. French said, "The
flip side of that is we've got to find outlets for the
rest of the fish we're producing," adding that
farmers are shipping fish directly to processors elsewhere
to supply catfish to stores and restaurants, largely
in the South.
The plant, built via the state's Agriculture
Diversification Program, was financed with
money paid to the state by cigarette companies as part
of the tobacco-settlement agreement. Diversification
funds also were used to help farmers build ponds to
produce fish, reports AP.
at Land Between the Lakes helps restore land to ancient
Some of the Land
Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is
being returned to its pre-1700 state, before pioneers
and settlers, when mostly Indians, natural wildlife
and buffalo roamed. The transformation is being accomplished
through controlled burning in the 173,000-acre peninsula
on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
"Native American cultures practiced
basic land management, including selective tree thinning
and clearing to support wildlife and healthier forests,"
said Jim McCoy, LBL wildlife biologist/fire management
officer, reports The Associated Press.
more) Details for this story came from The
Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn.
McCoy told reporters, "It's pretty
well documented through Native American cultures that
fire was used to develop farms and ranchland to create
habitats for wildlife. That shaped the landscape into
a combination of open areas called 'barrens' and forests
that were park-like by today's standards, where bigger,
healthier trees were more widely distributed and more
sunlight was therefore able to reach the forest floor."
When early settlers arrived in the peninsula
between the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, fires were
suppressed and the forests grew thicker with dense undergrowth,
writes AP. The U.S.
Forest Service, which oversees the area,
began prescribed burning in March along 350 of the 5,000
acres on the Tennessee side of LBL's Oak Grassland Demonstration
Area, where visitors can watch and learn about the project.
The program should help introduce more
grasses and wildflowers to the landscape and also encourage
expansion of a fire-adapted species of tree that's abundant
in the park, the Big-Tooth Aspen. To help track their
success, officials are monitoring some of the area's
most threatened species, writes AP.
suing after findingchampion coonhound shot by horse
Burch Hager, of Nicholasville, Ky., can
barely contain his emotion over the shooting death of
Jack, his champion coonhound, writes Greg Kocher of
the Lexington Herald-Leader. "To
me, Jack was the perfect dog, you know? He was my Smarty
Jones," said Hager. "A hunting dog, his performance
is what makes him. He's just like an athlete. He's just
like a racehorse. That's what makes him what he is."
Horse farm owner Pete Primiano, the admitted
shooter, faces a civil lawsuit filed earlier this month
by Hager and two misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty
and criminal mischief. Primiano said he was protecting
his thoroughbred horses from what he thought was a coyote.
"I'm protecting my livelihood," Primiano told
Kocher, and yet, "I've become the bad guy in this
The shooting occurred last November when
Hager was hunting and lost sight of his coonhound. About
30 minutes later, Hager heard gunshots from the direction
Jack had gone. Using a tracking device, Hager located
his champion dog, valued at $15,000, dead on Primiano's
property with a gunshot wound on the right side.
A Versailles, Ky., police report states
that Primiano's AR15 223 rifle was equipped with "a
high quality night vision scope." "Through
my observation of the scope, I determined that it would
be nearly impossible to mistake the coon dog for a coyote,"
police officer Nathan Craig wrote. "The scope presented
a very clear view of the area in question, especially
the 50- to 75-yard distance in which the dog was shot."
welfare groups seek protection for Florida's black bears
A coalition of conservation and animal
welfare organizations, including Defenders of
Humane Society of the United States, The
Fund For Animals, and the Sierra Club,
plan to challenge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
decision to deny protection to the Florida black bear
under the Endangered Species Act.
The Florida black bear, a distinct subspecies
of American black bear, historically roamed throughout
Florida and into Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Today, the remaining 3,000 Florida black bears are spread
out in nine isolated populations, occupying only about
one-quarter of its former range.
"The Florida black bear's home is
being broken up into smaller and smaller pieces as we
build our subdivisions, malls, roads and highways across
their path," said Laurie Macdonald, director of
Florida programs for Defenders of Wildlife. "The
bears showing up in peoples' backyards are searching
for food in all the wrong places because their places
in the natural community are being eliminated.”
Animal welfare groups are citing urbanization
and human development as threats to the black bears.
Other threats include road-kills caused by increasing
highway construction and expansion, intensive recreation
such as off-road vehicle use and road creation, and
illegal hunting and poaching, and sport hunting in Alabama
booming nationwide; businesses battling fraudulent credit
In the Appalachian foothills in Keyser,
W.Va., Gary Howell's auto parts business has experienced
both the Internet's benefits and its headaches, reports
CBS News correspondent Bob Orr. (Read
more) Howell has a drawer filled with folders. "These
are all fraudulent credit cards," Howell told Orr.
Howell has lost tens of thousands of dollars to fraudulent
transactions. Credit card companies have charged him
fees in those cases.
Internet commerce was up 23 percent last
year to $69 billion, but one of every 50 online transactions
is fraudulent, reports Orr. The problem is businesses
never see the customer or the credit card, which creates
risks. If the card number turns out to be stolen or
fake, the merchant loses the money from the sale, loses
the product if it's been shipped and pays a penalty.
"Credit card companies absolutely
have a vested interest in minimizing and preventing
fraud," Nessa Feddis, of the American Bankers Association,
told Orr. "There is a cost associated with an invalid
transaction. And the fee is intended to help recover
those costs but also to encourage the merchant to be
Small businessmen want the credit industry
to share the burden. "I don't like accepting all
the risk for multi-million, multi-billion dollar corporations,"
Howell said. Until fraud fighting is improved, the "little
guy" will be largely on his own, and coughing up
money for the losses, reports Orr.
News councils netting
more interest; groups investigate complaints, issue
Two state news councils have announced
that they will award $75,000 start-up grants to two
nonprofit groups interested in launching new state news
councils. The Minnesota News Council
and the Washington News Council will
oversee a national competition for the grants. The start-up
funds were funded by a $250,000 grant to the Minnesota
and Washington councils by the John
S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami,
The independent, nonprofit councils investigate
complaints against news organizations and issue rulings
about accuracy and fairness. “If the news media
want to restore their eroding credibility with the public,
they should embrace the news council concept,”
said John Finnegan, Sr., chairman of the Minnesota News
Council board and retired executive editor of the St.
Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press.
“A news council properly structured and operating
with clearly defined policies can help the media earn
trust by being more open and accountable.”
Applications for the national competition
are available at www.news-council.org, and www.wanewscouncil.org.
Applicants must show that they can raise funds including
a significant portion from media organizations, to support
operations for at least three years. Applications are
due Feb. 15, 2006. Winners will be known by May 2006.
Audit blasts Eastern
Kentucky regional jail; coal tax money used to bail
A regional jail in Beattyville, Ky., lambasted
last week in an audit by Kentucky
Auditor Crit Luallen, will hire its fourth
administrator in three years tonight.
"The 156-bed facility, which serves
(three) counties, is struggling to stay afloat while
its board tries to keep up with payments on a $6.3 million
bond," writes Lee Mueller of the Lexington
more) Luallen said the audit "raises serious
doubts about the jail's ability to be self-sustaining
within its current financial structure." The audit
indicated the jail had defaulted and had an operating
loss of $68,665. As of May 27 this year, according to
the audit, the jail had $135,343 in outstanding and
County officials said many operational
and financial problems cited are being addressed by
the jail's 10-person board and its chairman. Auditors
were told the counties agreed to pay $500,000 in coal
severance tax money to alleviate the default on the
jail's debt service reserve account. The audit claimed
the jail authority did not provide adequate oversight
during construction and did not adequately monitor financial
management at the new jail. One official said many problems
could have been avoided if the jail board had been audited
after its first year in 2002.
costs faces political obstacles; could cause ruin in
Fixing the finances of Medicaid could
devastate the economies of rural areas that have become
reliant on health care, Gardiner Harris reported yesterday
in The New York Times' Week In Review
Medicaid, which pays for health care for
the poor and disabled, is the nation's largest anti-poverty
program, serving 52 million people. It is "bankrupting
state governments," consuming more money than all
elementary and secondary education, Harris reports.
"As the population ages, Medicaid spending will
Some states are cutting Medicaid rolls,
and governors "want legislation that will give
them the flexibility to make even more changes,"
Harris writes, but adds there could be political obstacles:
"Voters may be more comfortable spending money
on health care than on a government dole. And, unlike
welfare, the middle class benefits from Medicaid, either
directly through nursing home payments for their elderly
parents and or indirectly, through local economies that
depend on health care." Also, changes in Medicaid
will affect Medicare and private insurance.
For an example of a place that fears Medicaid
cuts, Harris looked at Hazard, Ky., "a poor town
of about 4,800 in Appalachia," and talked with
his predecessor in The Courier-Journal's
Eastern Kentucky Bureau, former journalist and lawyer
Judy Jones Owens, who now runs the University
of Kentucky's Center for Rural Health.
"If Medicaid took a big cut, our
civic infrastructure would just about be destroyed,"
Owens told him. "This is very scary for us."
Harris notes that in 2003, "the most recent year
for which numbers are available, welfare payments in
Perry County [Hazard is the county seat] had dropped
25 percent [since 1995] to $2.7 million while Medicaid
spending in the county doubled to $55.2 million. . .
. Indeed, Medicaid has become the area's lifeblood."
One of Hazard's biggest employers is
its hospital. In Eastern Kentucky towns hurt by loss
of coal-mining jobs, "their strategy has been to
develop health care," Owens told Harris, who added:
"There is also the question of whether voters think
of Medicaid as a government program that they want to
dispense with -- like welfare -- or that they want to
keep, like Social Security. And that may make cutbacks
says Bush's plan for Social Security betrays rural Americans
President Bush's plan for private accounts
in Social Security betrays rural Americans living in
rural areas, a Democratic congressman from North Carolina
congressman said Saturday in a response to Bush's weekly
radio address. "The president's Social Security
plan cuts benefits and jeopardizes the most important
safety net in rural areas for retirees, survivors and
the disabled," said Rep. Bob Etheridge.
"Etheridge said he would help educate
rural Americans, usually older and poorer," about
the program, CNN reported. "Bush's
proposals for Social Security have been at the forefront
of his second-term domestic agenda." A White House
sheet" says Social Security reform is particularly
needed by "low-wage rural workers and farmers,"
and notes that farmers would be especially helped by
the ability to pass the accounts on to heirs.
Kentucky town shows
how a rural area can deal with globalization of its
When an underwear company took 3,200 jobs
out of Campbellsville, Ky., in 1997-98, Taylor County
faced a 30 percent unemployment rate and an uncertain
future. Campbellsville is 40 miles from an interstate
and 90 minutes from the nearest major airport, and it
"had a largely working class, high-school educated
work force ill suited for high-technology jobs,"
The Courier-Journal reported yesterday,
starting a series on globalization in Kentucky.
"But seven years later, Campbellsville
has added nearly 3,800 jobs, a net gain of 600 from
when the Fruit of the Loom layoffs
began, while bringing in 13 employers. That includes
an Amazon.com distribution center .
. . and major expansion by a half-dozen local industries,"
business reporter Wayne Tompkins wrote for the Louisville
newspaper. The average weekly wage and retailed sales
are up, "and many people thank Team Taylor
County, a crisis-response team of local business,
community and academic leaders, for bringing the county
back. The team has seen its strategy studied by international
scholars looking for ways to cope with globalization's
Local officials agreed "not to worry
about who got political credit for successes,"
got state and federal officials to improve the road
to the interstate, created a Web site for recruiting
employers, set up a wireless, high-speed Internet network
and created "new learning opportunities for an
undereducated work force," including a technology
training center funded by a federal grant, but also
an MBA program attractive to employers.
Still, some local workers "say the
recovery work is far from finished" and are "skeptical
that the 'Campbellsville comeback' has been as successful
as its hype," Tompkins reports. "They say
for many former workers, pay and benefits are less,
cut in half in some cases, and the same bills still
have to be paid."
Tompkins' series led with a story saying
globalization's effects on Kentucky have been uneven.
While it "has ravaged the state's apparel industry,
a stable employer in some of the poorest rural regions
for decades," he wrote, the state has become a
major exporter and consumer prices have been held in
Globalization's effects on rural areas,
and their responses to it, were a frequent topic of
discussion at "Rural America, Community Issues,"
a conference held last week at the Knight Center
for Specialized Journalism at the University
of Maryland and programmed by the Institute
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. Reports
from conference sessions are posted here.
Part 1: Foes, backers meet on the streets of Lexington,
When environmentalists scheduled a series
of rallies against coal mining by mountaintop removal,
including one Friday near the headquarters of the Kentucky
Coal Association and Kentucky Utilities
Co., which burns coal, the coal association
staged a counter-rally.
"A comic moment when four of the
protesters decided to confront coal association president
Bill Caylor," the Lexington Herald-Leader
more) "In April 2004 . . . at the University
of Kentucky, Caylor said there was nothing
toxic in the 300 million gallons of coal slurry that
broke through an impoundment in Martin County in 2000,
flooding nearby streams. . . . Caylor said then that
he would eat the coal waste to prove that it was only
dirt and not toxic. Yesterday, a dinner of slurry, taken
from Martin County, was put in goblets and on a plate
and delivered to him by Ali Meyer, a UK research assistant;
Erik Tuttle and Nick Smith, UK students from Knox County;
and Maude Richards, a Mountain Justice Summer
volunteer from Seattle. . . . Caylor took a tiny bit
of the slurry and touched it to his lips" and repeated
his stand that the material is not toxic.
Mountain Justice Summer is a series of
mountaintop-removal protests by environmental groups
from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia.
Its Lexington event attracted 175 people, and the coal
association's counter-rally had 150, Herald-Leader reporters
Scott Sloan and Art Jester wrote. They quoted Paul Matney
of Corbin, personnel director for Tampa Electric
Co.'s TECO Coal: "I resent people coming
to tell me what I can and can't do with my property."
Part 2: OSM agrees to EIS on proposed stream-filling
The U.S. Office of Surface Mining
has announced that it will prepare an Environmental
Impact Statement on rules on stream buffer zones and
excess spoil -- key issues in the regulation of mountaintop-removal
The Citizens Coal Council,
the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition,
the Mountain Watershed Association (Pennsylvania),
the Bull Mountain Land Alliance (Montana)
and the Kentucky Resources Council argue
that the proposed rules would weaken the general rules
now in place and would invite lawsuits unless an EIS
evaluated the impact of the proposed changes and other
alternatives. The groups support strict enforcement
of the current rules, and particularly want each state
to protect "the full extent of headwater streams
from filling with mine wastes" KRC said last week.
To read the letter form KRC and the CCC, click
OSM says the rules are intended to "reduce
misunderstanding" of a 1983 rule by "establishing
clear conditions under which coal mining operators may
be allowed or denied permission to mine in a 100-foot
zone around perennial and intermittent streams."
It also said the rules would strengthen requirements
for valley fills and "minimize the generation of
excess spoil fills and ensure that environmental values
are fully considered." The agency noted that excess
spoil (broken rock and soil) "often results from
coal mining in the steep terrain in central Appalachia,
but excess spoil may be created anywhere rugged topography
and coal mining occur."
To read OSM's press release about the
formal notice, click
here. The leader of the team that will prepare the
statement is David Hartos, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 412-937-2909. The team has tentatively five potential
meeting locations, given sufficient interest: Washington,
Pittsburgh, Knoxville, Denver and Alton, Ill.
losing its tree cover, and Observer has satellite maps
to prove it
The Charlotte metropolitan
region, including some of its outlying rural areas,
lost 20 percent of its tree cover from 1984 to 2003,
"while urban areas [those 80 percent ore more streets
and buildings] have more than doubled in size,"
The Charlotte Observer reports, and
shows it vividly with interactive maps. To see the maps,
Many Charlotte residents have called it
"the city of trees," but the newspaper's headline
asks, "Charlotte: City of stumps?" The region
is one of about 20 analyzed by American Forests,
a conservation group that compared satellite images
taken in 1984 with those from 2003. The Knoxville, Tenn.,
area, showed a 42 percent loss in moderate tree cover
from 1989 to 1999, the Observer reported.
In the Charlotte area, "The region's
total tree cover, 40 percent, is the level American
Forests calls healthy," reporter Bruce Henderson
writes, but the group says the losses "cost the
region millions of dollars a year in lost ecological
services -- absorbing air pollution, soaking up storm
water and intercepting stream contaminants."
Henderson adds, "The Carolina
Piedmont Green Initiative, a collaboration
including Charlotte, Salisbury, regional councils of
government, Catawba College, UNC-Charlotte
and others, has formed to encourage tree protection
in the region."
Some localities including Charlotte have
begun requiring developers to leave a certain percentage
of trees, but environmentalists say a Senate-passed
bill pending in the state House would ban such regulations.
The sponsor , who wrote the bill with the North
Carolina Forestry Association, says it would
merely prevent localities from regulating forestry,
but Environmental Defense says the
bill would create another obstacle to clear-cutting
Korans are found in bag at door of Islamic center in
Muslims in Blacksburg, Va., discovered
recently that partially burned copies of the Koran had
been left in a shopping bag by the front door, The
Washington Post reported Friday. Police are
trying to determine whether a hate crime had been committed
at "a time of particular sensitivity," Jerry
Markon wrote, noting recent confirmation of "five
cases of U.S. personnel mishandling the Muslim holy
book at the prison at Guantanamo Bay."
Blacksburg Police Lt. Joe Davis told Markon
that members of the Islamic Center of Blacksburg reported
finding "three or four" partially burned Korans
in a plastic bag early Saturday afternoon, June 11.
The group had held a prayer meeting at the center earlier
in the day, left and returned. "Davis could not
say whether the copies of the Koran belonged to the
center or how severely they had been burned," Markon
wrote. "A man who answered the phone at the center
yesterday said no one was available to talk about the
June 17, 2005 blog is not available.
June 16, 2005 (excerpts)
demands changes in the way rural America develops
Rural America must change the way
it seeks jobs in a globalized economy, and journalists
should help public and private policymakers at
all levels realize the challenges and choices
they face, a leading student of the rural economy
said yesterday at the "Rural America, Community
Issues" seminar at the University
The journalists heard from Mark
Drabenstott, vice president of the Federal
Reserve Bank of Kansas City and director
of its Center for the Study of Rural America.
He said globalization means that rural America
can no longer use cheap labor, low taxes and cheap
land to compete, because "there are legions
of places around the world" with those advantages.
"We are going to move away
from a model of recruiting businesses
to rural America to growing businesses
in rural America . . . gardening vs. hunting,
if you will," Drabenstott said. But he added
that he sees "very little discussion"
of the challenge. "There is a tremendous
opportunity for you to improve the economic literacy
of our nation on some of these issues," he
told the journalists.
Drabenstott said one key to being
competitive is thinking regionally, from town
to town and even across state lines. He said people
in a self-defined region should ask themselves:
What are our distinct economic assets? What market
opportunity can we tap that no one else can? How
do we exploit our assets to seize that opportunity?
To answer such questions successfully, he said,
a region needs the fuel of innovation and the
engine of entrepreneurs.
To function regionally, Drabenstott
said, there must be public-private partnerships;
regional assets must be understood and measured,
competitive advantages must be identified, and
entrepreneurs must be developed.. A big question,
he said, is whether the tools of measurement and
analysis will be private or public: "Do we
leave it to the consultants, or is it a job for
the [Cooperative] Extension Service?"
One effort at entreprenurship was
mentioned by Al Cross, director of the Institute
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues,
which is programming the conference for the Knight
Center for Specialized Journalism. He
mentioned the Kentuucky extension service's creation,
with tobacco-settlement funds, of an institute
to train not just entrepreneurs but coaches to
train entrepreneurs in the state's most tobacco-dependent
Drabenstott had a charge for journalists:
"There’s a tremendous opportunity for
the press. How you build bridges across your region
as a public voice seems to me to be terribly important.
… Do you want to simply trumpet your home
town and bash all the other towns around you?"
He challenged rural journalists to "foster
a climate for partnership by public and private
leaders" and focus coverage on long-term
successes, not short-term ones.
Drabenstott said such processes
call for patience, but he quoted an unnamed Texan
on the urgency of the challenge facing rural America:
“Time is short, the stakes are high, and
the alternative is a Third World economy.”
A longer report on Drabenstott's presentation
will be posted in the Reports section of this
Web site next week.
still matters, partly because it provides rural
leadership, expert says
Though agriculture accounts for
less than 1 percent of America's gross domestic
product, it remains important because of its relationship
to the environment and, more intriguingly, to
the culture and politics of America. So said David
Freshwater, director of graduate studies in agricultural
economics at the University of Kentucky,
at the national conference for journalists on
rural issues yesterday.
Farmers are still "a key part
of the social elite" in rural areas, as leaders
in civic, school and political groups, and at
the national level they exploit the agricultural
roots of the United States and do not align themselves
closely with either political party, giving them
more leverage on both parties, Freshwater said.
"They have an effective voice that greatly
outweighs their numbers," he said, attributing
that partly to leadership training rural youth
get in the Future Farmers of America and
Asked about the effect of the tobacco
buyout on Kentucky, the state with more tobacco
growers than any other, Drabenstott said it is"incredibly
important" because "the tobacco program
froze the structure of agriculture in Kentucky
in the 1930s," preserving it as a state of
small farms and small towns. Without the program,
he said, Kentucky will produce as much tobacco,
but for less money, and "We'll see a lot
of small-town dry-up."
draining, reshaping economies, character of nation’s
When Wal-Mart Supercenters
come to towns across America, they drain about
70 percent of their trade from local merchants
and reshape the character of the communities,
retired Iowa State University economist
Kenneth Stone told the national rural journalism
conference yesterday. Stone's research also shows
that the Supercenters have helped some local businesses
that don't compete with Wal-Mart, by generating
traffic from a wider area.
Stone, who has become known in some
circles as “the Wal-Mart Man” because
of his studies, conducted some of the first and
most extensive research on the economic impacts
of malls, discount stores and big-box building
materials stores and various forms of Wal-Marts.
A study in Iowa showed Supercenters hurt grocery,
specialty and apparel stores but helped restaurants
and service businesses because of the “spillover”
effect of extra traffic.
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest
retailer with about 4,000 stores nationwide, had
sales of more than $288 billion last year, and
is forecasting more than $416 billion by 2008.
But Stone said there are some signs that its growth
is beginning to taper off, as Wal-Marts become
located more closely together and drain traffic
from each other.
When one journalist at the conference
said some localities are offering incentives to
attract Wal-Mart supercenters, Stone said he strongly
opposes such deals.“It takes money from
taxpayers to give to big companies who then take
it from the local merchants,” he said.
Stone said Wal-Mart, under fire
for its business practices, is becoming more media-savvy
in its public relations, providing information
that it once told journalists was proprietary,
and has started to buy run-of-paper advertsing
in newspapers. A top Wal-Mart official is scheduled
to address this year's National Newspaper
Association convention in Milwaukee on
Sept. 30. For more on the convention, which runs
Sept. 28-Oct. 1, click
For reports by the Institute
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
on two TV documentaries about Wal-Mart last November,
one of which featured Stone and his research,
June 15, 2005 (excerpts)
Rural areas need
broadband to compete economically, researcher tells
High-speed internet access is no longer
a luxury for rural communities because they need it
to compete economically, an expert on rural broadband
said at “Rural America, Community Issues”
at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism
at the University of Maryland yesterday.
"If you don't have broadband, certain
things don't fall into place as easily," said Sharon
Strover, director of the Telecommunications and Information
Policy Institute at the University of Texas.
Not only do businesses use the Internet to buy, sell,
distribute and control inventory, but health care increasingly
uses Web-based forms to deliver information, and governments
are interested in providing services online because
it is cheaper, she said.
“What we’ve also heard from
rural communities is that telecommunications was important
to them because they are losing population," Strover
said. Broadband access can entice young people to "stick
around a little longer" and explore career options
closer to home. She said terms like “the knowledge
economy” can “create a lot of fear in rural
areas because they feel like they’re gonna fall
behind; they’re not there yet and the rest of
the world is.”
When some local governments got into the
broadband business, telephone companies began lobbying
legislatures to pass laws making municipal broadband
more difficult or impossible. The companies say "Get
rid of government and we’ll compete," Strover
said. “In fact, competition doesn’t just
occur after government is no longer there. ... Everybody
talks a good line about competition, but in fact, companies
hate it." For more of this view, click
Strover said the national extent of broadband
monopolies is difficult to determine, partly because
the Federal Communications Commission
signed confidentiality agreements with providers. Journalists
may know who their local broadband providers are, but
Strover said they face other obstacles writing about
the issue: It is "filled with jargon," the
technology changes constantly, and the business is regulated
at all three levels of government.
Recent data from the census and the Pew
Internet and American Life Project show
that Internet use by rural Americans is about 10 percent
less than for the nation as a whole, but rural broadband
use is 50 percent less.
health needs growing, says National Rural Health Assn.
Amid all the special needs of rural health
care is a growing need for services for rural veterans
-- a need that is increasing with the conjunction of
aging Vietnam Veterans and returning military from Afghanistan
and Iraq, the president of the National Rural Health
Association told the national rural journalism seminar
Hilda Heady, associate vice president
for rural health at the West Virginia University
Health Sciences Center, said that while the federal
government has several ways of getting health care to
veterans, "Most health care for veterans comes
from primary care physicians," a resource that
is scarce in America’s rural areas.
“The baby-boomer Vietnam veteran’s
average age is 58, and the coping mechanisms they had
20 to 30 years ago to help them deal with their experiences
are collapsing,” said Heady. “Many are only
now beginning to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) symptoms,” which Heady said is partly responsible
for the increase they are seeing in the need for mental
health care services.
Heady said traumatic brain injury, in
which the brain is bruised by sudden shock, is the “signature
injury” for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. “We
have advanced so far with armoring vehicles and body
armor that soldiers are surviving blasts that previously
would have killed them,” she said. “The
injuries range from temporary memory loss, to a persistent
She said funding for rural veterans’
services is hampered by competition between service
networks that favor areas with higher population density.
She also noted that the National Guard and Reserve troops
generally do not qualify for veterans' health benefits,
though legislation has been introduced to make them
Heady suggested that reporters interested
in telling the rural veterans' story start with the
state office of rural health policy, which can provide
access to experts and information on each state’s
to chronicle rural schools' struggle with No Child Left
Rural schools are having trouble coping
with the No Child Left Behind law, and journalists need
to write about the issue, the only reporter who covers
rural education full-time told a national rural journalism
Alan Richard of Education Week
said the challenges include school choice, the ability
of students to transfer to another school in the same
district if their school is failing; the requirement
that failing schools offer tutoring, which he said all
rural schools need; and recruiting and retaining teachers
who have college majors in the subjects they teach and
are certified at the grade level they teach, long an
obstacle to quality education in rural schools.
"It's important to ask rural school
leaders how they're spending their money," Richard
said. "Do they really need that third assistant
superintendent? Maybe they ought to pay their teachers
more." Richard told journalists at the seminar,
programmed by the Institute for Rural Journalism
and Community Issues. On the larger scale of
the No Child Left Behind law, he said, "We need
to help our country determine whether this is going
to help states and schools do better by students."
Richard said many rural schools will not
meet the goals the law sets for 2014, but he said the
law has forced schools to focus on minority groups that
lag in student achievement. He said that may be the
best part of the law. "No Child Left Behind is
a gold mine for stories," he said. Other issues
in rural education, he said, include finance, with lawsuits
over funding in several states; questions about school
size, with misgivings in West Virginia about the closing
and consolidation of more than 200 public schools; and
segregation and demographic shifts.
Richard offered several sources for journalists,
including his own publication, which he said will soon
start charging for access to its archives at www.edweek.org;
Rural Education Association; the National
Dropout Prevention Center; the Institute
for Education Leadership, which has an
education-policy fellows program in about 16 states;
for Excellent Education, which aims to
transform high schools; and the Rural
School and Community Trust, which he said
is a liberal group that advocates for small schools
and publishes annual state-by-state rankings of rural
June 14, 2005 (excerpts)
Rural voters, key
to Bush, could turn on GOP in 2006, bipartisan panel
Rural voters were key to President Bush's
election and re-election, but some "buyer's remorse"
is showing up in recent polling, and that could pose
problems for Republicans in next year's election, Democratic
pollster Anna Greenberg and Republican consultant Bill
Greener said yesterday at "Rural America, Community
Issues," a five-day conference at the Knight
Center for Specialized Journalism at the University
Greener said his fellow Republicans should
not get "smug" about where they stand with
rural voters, because "All it takes is somebody
who is able to connect at a very human level,"
such as former President Clinton. But Greenberg said
she blames Clinton for her party's "terrible job
of iterating an economic narrative that would be popular
in rural areas." She said he abandoned the party's
populist streak after the 1994 GOP landslide.
While polls show rural voters being driven
by social issues such as abortion, gun control and gay
marriage, "something they think they know about
and understand," Greener said, they also are concerned
about education, health care, job retraining for displaced
workers, and access to technology.
"We need a national strategy for
rural America. This is not something that can be attacked
in piecemeal fashion," Greener said, echoing the
remarks of the conference's keynoter, Dee Davis of the
Center for Rural Strategies, which
sponsored polls by Greenberg in rural areas of battleground
states in the 2004 presidential election.
Both speakers said organization through
churches was very important for Republcians last year.
For the first time, Greener said, his party, which once
expressed activism "only with a checkbook,"
matched the grass-roots intensity of Democrats. Greenberg
said the GOP's use of local volunteers talking to neighbors
was more effective than the Democrats' importation of
groups of volunteers into key areas.
coverage can connect people, places and issues, and
Journalists interested in rural issues
discussed better ways to tell the stories of rural America
with Ali Webb, communications manager for the W.K.
Kellogg Foundation, yesterdat at the Knight
Center conference, which is being programmed by the
the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community
Kellogg, the largest private funder of
rural enterprises, has sponsored research into coverage
of rural America by major national media in 2002 and
2004. Webb said it shows the coverage is disproportionately
episodic -- single stories relying entirely on ordinary
individuals -- rather than thematic, an approach that
ties together issues and larger trends, with the addition
of authorities and advocates who help make the connection.
"What we all need are these bridges," said
Kathyrn Stearns, editor of The Valley News
in West Lebanon, N.H.
Webb noted that Kellogg has a list of
rural resources, some of them nontraditional, on its
Web site. “This isn’t an either/or,
but instead it's both,” she said. News managers
and news consumers want to see ordinary citizens in
stories, she said, but limiting stories to that approach
makes the stories seem less important to policymakers,
and thus makes it more difficult for them to tackle
rural problems ranging from health care, education,
land use to development and the decline of family farming.
The leading example during the discussion
story last October by National Public Radio
rural-affairs correspondent Howard Berkes,
one of the 31 Knight Center fellows at the conference.
The story was a 7-minute piece from rural Louisiana
on proposed relaxation of rules requiring banks to make
loans to low- and moderate-income lenders in their communities.
Berkes enlivened the topic by talking with individuals
who would be affected, and an articulate advocate for
rural residents who was able to help make the connection
to the larger picture.
What's rural? It
depends on your interests and your conceptions, USDA
The first question a journalist asked
at the "Rural America, Community Issues" journalism
conference this week was "What is rural?"
There is no definite answer, partly because the face
of rural America is changing, but some valid options
were offered at the conference's first daytime session:
Calvin Beale, senior demographer for the Economic Research
Service of the Department of Agriculture
and a USDA employee for more than 51 years.
"It depends so much on what your
interest is, and what your perceptions are," Beale
told the journalists. Various laws establish as many
as 75 definitions of "rural" for different
federal programs, which often include more than the
59 million people classified as rural by the 2000 census.
For example, 102 million that are eligible for rural-development
assistance from the federal government.
One of the broadest definitions of "rural"
is any place outside one of the nation's metropolitan
areas, which have citires of 50,000 or more. However,
some metro areas include rural census tracts or block
groups. For example, the U.S. county with the most rural
population is Worcester County, Massachusetts, with
144,000 residents around a metropolitan center. Beale
noted that the Census Bureau does not
identify whole counties as urban or rural, but the Office
of Management and Budget defines the counties
that make up metropolitan areas.
A much narrower definition, perhaps borrowed
from Europe before Wolrd War I, says any incorporated
place or densely settled area of 2,500 or more is urban.
Before that definition was adopted, the threshhold was
8,000. Beale's personal dividing line is a populated
place of 10,000 or more, but he acknowledged, "In
terms of the upper limits of 'rural,' that is a subjective
Beale also offered observations on rural
population trends, in the nation as a whole and several
individual counties in various parts of the country.
He said the growth rate in rural areas has been rising
since 2000 while that in metropolitan areas has been
falling, but the rural rate is still half the metro
rate. Sources of growth include retirement communities;
immigration of Hispanics; movement of white-collar tasks
to small towns, often via technology; and prison construction,
which not only adds employment but put prisoners into
local census counts. In the 1990s, he said, a prison
opened in a non-metro county every 15 days.
The states with the largest rural rate
increases from 2000 to 2004 were North Carolina, Florida,
Georgia and Texas. The largest declines were recorded
in Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and North Dakota, reflecting
a regional decline. "You could drive from the Canadian
border to the Mexican border and never go through a
that was growing in population,"
June 13, 2005 (excerpts)
conference for journalists opens with call for a rural
"We need a rural policy.
We need a thoughtful rural policy," Dee Davis,
president of the Center for Rural Strategies,
said last night in the keynote speech for "Rural
America, Community Issues," a five-day conference
on rural issues for journalists at the Knight
Center for Specialized Journalism at the University
Rather than a rural policy, Davis said,
the United States has a farm policy that fails to sustain
and develop rural communities -- where fewer than 2
percent of the people earn their primary living by farming.
He suggested that the billions in subsidies to farmers
could be phased out and the money redirected to rural-development
programs, contending that some of Amercia's poorest
counties get heavy agricultural subsidies.
Davis gave a litany of
statistics that define the problems of rural America,
such as: 195 of the nation's 200 poorest counties are
rural; rural children are 50 percent more likely than
others to lack health insurance; and rates of certain
drug use are much higher in rural areas than the rest
of America. Yet, he said, the federal government's community-development
programs invest more than twice as much in urban areas
as in rural, and only $100 million of the $30 billion
in U.S. charitable contributions last year were targeted
to rural areas.
Davis also offered a definition
for "rural" and a reason for the conference:
"Rural is where the market ends," because
rural people are harder to reach and have less purchasing
power, but "they still need real journalists looking
into things that matter to them." He said surveys
for his group have shown rural Americans are "feeling
alone out there," and "Mostly, they felt that
when the media got to them, they got it wrong."
He challenged the journalists to "Come into the
countryside and get some shit on your shoes." For
the whole speech, click here.
Blogs from June 1-10, 2005, are not available at this