Small Okla. daily scrambles
to cover fires, deliver papers and stay safe
The Seminole Producer of Seminole,
Okla., is throwing its all into covering the wildfires
that are devastating parts of Oklahoma and Texas, including
about 10,000 acres in its circulation area, east and
southeast of Oklahoma City, leaving 50 families homeless,
reports Editor & Publisher.
"With a newsroom staff of four and one part-time
photographer[, the paper] has basically put all other
reporting aside to cover the biggest story in years,
according to Managing Editor Karen Anson," Joe
Strupp writes for E&P. "The family-owned daily,
which publishes Tuesday through Friday and on Sundays,
has averaged between 10 and 16 pages this week, a slight
increase over most days, with the fire coverage all
but replacing sports and events pages."
The 5,300-circulation paper has "produced its
first-ever color photos, but only for its
Web site [and without captions]. Since the paper
publishes in black and white, color shots could not
be used in print."
Anson told Strupp that fire lines had been a block
away from the paper's downtown office. "The fire
department told us that if the wind had not shifted,
the whole downtown would have been destroyed, including
us," she said. "We just stood here and hoped
and hoped." Anson's yard caught fire twice. "It
rekindled on Thursday, 15 minutes before deadline and
my husband was an hour away. I had to go home and help
some neighbors who were already hosing it, and then
come back and get the paper out," she said.
Reporter Jennifer Pitts was trapped in her car Tuesday
while reporting on a pasture fire. "Within seconds,
I couldn't see two feet in front of my face," she
told Strupp. "It was smoke and ash. My eyes started
burning and watering and I was coughing." Strupp
writes, "Pitts, who suffers from asthma, said a
water truck pulled in front of her at the same time,
blocking her exit for several minutes." The paper
has maintained carrier delivery despite road closures
in the area. (Read
Editor of a Kentucky hill country
paper writes frankly about her divorce
Even at newspapers in rural communites, where profesional
and personal lives often intersect and overlap, the
really personal stuff usually doesn't get written about.
Angie Brockman, managing editor of The Sentinel-Echo
in London, Ky., broke new ground there this
week by writing about her divorce.
"In the last couple of editions, you may have
noticed my last name has changed," Brockman began
her column. "After nearly 10 years of marriage
I have now joined the statistical ranks of all the millions
of other Americans, one statistic I never thought I'd
Later in the piece, Brockman writes, "My ex-husband
Adam -- wow, that's weird -- and I were luckier than
most people who get divorced. We had no children and
we really had no bills to pay other than our house and
one car. So, getting an amicable divorce was easy. Actually,
so easy it's scary. I've signed more to buy a car than
what I had to sign to get divorced. Kentucky makes it
easy if you have no children. You just have to be separated
for three months before you file, wait 30 days after
you file, and then get a court date for the final hearing."
Brockman goes on to explain that her ex is "a
wonderful man with many good qualities," but "We
were going in opposite directions and had virtually
no common interests. That became very obvious after
I took the job as managing editor of The Sentinel-Echo
in July. I was working a lot and 40 miles from my house.
I was not home a lot and it's awful to say, but I really
She concludes, "So for all of you people about
to get married, I say go for it. I loved being married
and having the happy homemaker life. I enjoy doing all
those crazy things like cooking and cleaning for a man.
I think it's great. Just make sure your husband isn't
just your friend. Make sure you keep him close to your
heart because you don't know how quickly he can drift
S.C. judge says state's schools
are unconstitutionally unfair to rural kids
A trial judge in South Carolina ruled Thursday that
the state's school-funding system fails to give students
in eight rural school districts the opportunity to receive
a minimally adequate education because it does not sufficiently
fund early-childhood education, The Associated
Judge Thomas W. Cooper Jr. rejected two main arguments
of the plaintiff districts, saying their facilities,
curriculum standards and the system of teacher certification
are adequate, but he said they lacked "effective
and adequately funded early-childhood intervention programs
designed to address the impact of poverty on their educational
abilities and achievements."
The ruling is the latest in a series in several states
over the last 20 years, usually in cases brought by
rural school districts with meager property-tax bases.
The South Carolina case was filed in 1993, began trial
in 2003, "and saw more than 100 days of testimony
from state lawmakers, education experts and education
officials," AP's John Drake writes. "Both
sides have indicated they likely will appeal the verdict."
Cooper said that a combination of poor test scores
and a high poverty rates in the districts make clear
that their students "do not have the opportunity
to receive a minimally adequate education," Drake
The lawsuit was filed by 36 districts. Cooper dismissed
it, but the state Supreme Court overturned him, saying
that the state must provide students with a "minimally
adequate" education. Click
here to read more from AP. For a local take from
Morning News Online of Florence, S.C.,
Fraud I: Cheating in bass tournaments
increasing along with prize money
If a big-money bass tournament is coming to a lake
near you, be alert for cheating. "It's not a matter
of if there's going to be another cheating
incident. It's only a matter of when the next
controversy tumbles into a glittery bass boat,"
Zieralski, outdoors writer for the San Diego
Zieralski cites anglers who were disqualified from
the Red River Bassmaster Central Open in
Louisiana and the National Bass West Team Tournament
at San Vicente, Calif. The fishermen "have
been banned for life for fishing those particular circuits
and others, likely." (Read
In Louisiana, where top prize was "a fully-rigged
Triton boat and Mercury motor along with $10,000,"
six bass were tied to stumps before the tournament began,
Zieralski reports. In California, where top prize was
$3,254, a team was videotaped snagging in a popular
feeding area where fish usally won't bite lures.
Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute
originally posted this story in Al's
Fraud II: West Virginians say
vote buying is common, but less so near them
About two-thirds of registered voters in West Virginia
think vote buying happens in the state often or somewhat
often, according to a poll sponsored by The
State Journal, a Charleston weekly.
"About 21 percent of voters say they don't think
it happens very often, and 2 percent say it never happens,"
writes Beth Gorczyca. "When asked whether voter
fraud occurs in their home county, voters are a little
more optimistic. About 9 percent said it never happens
in their county, while 31 percent said it doesn't happen
very often. A combined 49 percent said votes are bought
either somewhat or very often."
The poll was conducted from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1 by RMS
Strategies, a Charleston research firm, which
interviewed 400 registered voters, creating an error
margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Mark
Blankenship, senior vice president of the company, noted
significant regional differences.
"Southern West Virginians are more likely to believe
vote buying and political corruption happens very often
in their county, while people living in the Northern
Panhandle are less likely to believe its happening,"
he said. In the south, 35 percent said corruption occurs
very often -- a much higher number than in other areas
of the state. The lowest was 11 percent in the Northern
In recent months, elected officials from southern West
Virginia have been investigated for alleged election
fraud, bribery and other charges, and several from Lincoln
and Logan counties have gone to jail. In one FBI sting,
a former mayor ran for the legislature, withdrawing
a month before the 2004 election.
Vote fraud is more common than Americans would like
to think, and it usually pays, University of
Kentucky historian Tracy Campbell says in his
new book, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election
Fraud, and American Political Tradition, 1742-2004.
The book was the subject of a
story in the Lexington Herald-Leader this
week and is to be reviewed in the paper on Sunday.
Houma, La., newspaper gets recognized
for telling a story not widely heard
"Each day and every week, a great
mass of print journalism is produced in this country
-- something all too easy to forget when reading a mere
sliver of that output in your local paper or scanning
the links on your favorite blog. . . . At the same time,
each week smaller papers across the nation quietly publish
compelling, thought-provoking pieces of journalism,
stories that inform and illuminate."
That's how Edward Colby introduced his
"Five Great Stories You Didn't Read" piece
in CJR Daily, the online edition of
Columbia Journalism Review. Colby said
it was "our way of focusing some attention on outstanding
work done this year that was largely overlooked on the
national stage." His first example was the hurricane
reporting of The Courier of Houma (pronounced
"HO-ma"), La., circulation 17,000.
Colby cited The Courier not for stories on Hurricane
Katrina, the center of which struck about 50 miles northeast
of Houma, but those on the later Hurricane Rita, which
the paper called "the stand-out of the 2005 storm
season" after it "crept south of the Louisiana
coast for days, pushing water up Terrebonne's five bayous,
topping every levee on the parish's southern end and
flooding an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 homes and businesses."
To read the Courier's season-ending Nov. 30 story, click
Colby writes, "One of journalism's tasks is to
shine a light on the forgotten, and the Courier's Kimberly
Solet performed that job well with her Sept. 29 report,
Rita deals Pointe-aux-Chenes a catastrophic blow.
Nearly a week after the storm, when no relief agency
or help had arrived for the remote villages of Pointe-aux-Chenes
and Isle de Jean Charles, Solet published a subtly powerful
story about the despair and destruction residents there
Solet wrote, "[S]tagnant water still sits in most
yards on this finger of land, and for most the tedious
ritual of cleaning up has just begun. . . . On Island
Road, the only way in and out of Isle de Jean Charles,
the widespread destruction is breathtaking. On one section
of the street once populated by American Indian families
such as Sandy's mother, Velma Naquin, and Johnny's mother,
Mary Danos, five homes in a row are vacant, as if the
people who lived in them up and left and never looked
back. The island where native families settled centuries
ago to take advantage of once-lush forests full of mink
and muskrat and water brimming with shrimp, crabs and
oysters is surrounded on all sides by the Gulf of Mexico,
which creeps ever closer." (Read
Film on Buffalo Creek coal-dam
disaster added to National Film Registry
What do Cool Hand Luke, Hoop Dreams, The Music
Man and Miracle on 34th Street have in
common with a documentary on an Appalachian coalfield
disaster? They were all among 25 films added to the
National Film Registry by the Library
of Congress this week.
The library describes The Buffalo Creek Flood:
An Act of Man, directed by Mimi Pickering and produced
the media arts center in Whitesburg, Ky., as
a “powerful documentary” that “represents
the finest in regional filmmaking, providing important
understanding of the environmental and cultural history
of the Appalachian region.” The registry now has
The film documents the February 1972 collapse of a
coal-waste dam in the valley of Buffalo Creek of southern
West Virginia. "A wall of sludge, debris and water
tore through the valley below, leaving in its wake 125
dead and 4,000 homeless," Appalshop said in a release.
The Pittston Company, owner of the
dam, maintained that the disaster was an act of God.
Fearing the company's influence “would lead to
a whitewash investigation and absolve it of any corporate
culpability . . . local citizens invited Appalshop to
come to the area and make a film of the historical record,”
library release said. Newsweek called
the film "a devastating expose of the collusion
between state officials and coal executives."
The film is currently undergoing preservation with
assistance from the Women’s Film Preservation
Fund and Cineric Laboratory.
In the spring it will be released on DVD along with
Buffalo Creek Revisited, Pickering’s
1984 film about lingering effects of the flood. The
films will be screened and discussed throughout West
Virginia in 2006, thanks to a grant from the West
Virginia Humanities Council.
Pickering is a California native who came to Eastern
Kentucky 34 years ago to learn filmmaking at Appalshop.
"Her documentaries often feature women as principal
storytellers, focus on injustice and inequity in the
Appalachian region, and explore the efforts of grassroots
people to deal with community problems as they work
for social change," the release said. It quoted
film critic Pat Aufderheide, director of the Center
for Social Media at American University’s
School of Communications, as saying, “Appalshop’s
work has been a cultural beacon, for the people of the
Appalachian region, for independent filmmakers, for
media arts leaders, and also for people who, like me,
celebrate and study the role of independent media in
a democratic society.”
Oldest continuously owned farm
selling development rights for preservation
"America’s oldest continuously
owned family farm is in the process of being permanently
transfer of development rights," reports New Hampshire
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor in his Weekly
Market Bulletin. (To sign up for his reports,
"The 142-acre Tuttle Farm on Dover
Point has been in the Tuttle family for more than 300
years, and is currently operated by an 11th generation
farmer, William Penn Tuttle III. The Dover city council
has put up $1.5 million in conservation funds toward
a $3.3 million land protection project being put together
by the Strafford [County] Rivers Conservancy,"
"Situated between the tidal waters
of the Bellamy and Piscataqua Rivers, the farm includes
prime agricultural soils, streams and wetlands,"
Taylor writes, noting that it is familiar to folks along
New Hampshire's seacoast "for its landmark upscale
farm market doing business as Tuttle’s Red Barn,"
on heavily traveled N.H. 16 between Dover and U.S. 4,
about eight miles northwest of Portsmouth.
Paper changes tune,
welcomes federal aid for broadband in isolated areas
"A $3 million infusion of federal
funds will speed the deployment of a high-speed Internet
pipeline to some of the most geographically isolated
parts of southwest Virginia," reports the Bristol
Locals hope the expansion will help attract good-paying,
high-technology jobs, such as the 700 in Russell County,
at the state’s backup data center and a software-development
company, that are to eventually employ about 700. "Both
the state and the private company, CGI-AMS,
say access to broadband Internet service was a factor
in their decision," the paper says in an editorial.
"Their glowing testimonials lend credence to arguments
in favor of a government hand in broadband development
in rural areas where the service is largely unavailable
now, or in areas where it is offered but the redundant
fiber-optic lines preferred by some technology-dependent
companies don’t exist," the editorial says.
"In the past, we’ve been reluctant to support
municipal broadband – particularly in the Bristol
metro area, where it duplicates services already offered
by two or three other private industry providers. That
isn’t the case in far southwest Virginia. The
big cable and phone companies offer broadband in some
towns, but seem disinclined to do so on a broader basis.
This isn’t the government competing with the free
market; it is the government supplementing it in an
area facing topographic, demographic and economic challenges."
Only time will tell the real impact of broadband, the
editorial concludes, but "For now, it seems the
best shot that many communities in our region have at
an economically vibrant future." (Read
others join to bring broadband to northeastern Vermont
When policymakers began discussing extension
of the Internet to remote areas more than a decade ago,
a term they often used to describe it was "the
information superhighway." Now, high-speed "broadband"
service has finally come to the woods of northeastern
Vermont, evoking comparisons to the advent of the Interstate
highway system 50 years ago, says an Associated
Broadband is being offered by the Cloud
Alliance, “a group of Internet service
providers and power companies,” in areas where
Internet service is not offered by telephone and cable-TV
companies, AP reports. “They are all using a combination
of state grants, bank loans and personal investments.”
AP's primary anecdote came from Pat Cole,
who got more inquiries from potential renters of a vacation
home in Westmore when she added “broadband access”
to her Internet ad: “One guest, an architect,
first stayed for 10 days, but now that he can download
large files quickly he can bring his work with him.
He’s planning to stay the entire month of February,
“There’s nothing like it. I feel fortunate
to have electricity most of the time,” Cole told
AP. “To have high-speed Internet in such a remote
area is absolutely incredible. It’s good for business,
it’s good for pleasure, it’s good for Christmas
shopping.” The story also said, “High-speed
data transmission will enable people to live in the
most remote areas of Vermont and, like the architect
heading to Westmore this winter, do work from there
that previously required them to live in or commute
to cities.” (Read
New Hampshire weekly
says feds need different focus on rural education
Just across the border from Vermont, in
New Hampshire, the news that the U.S. Department
of Education had created a Center for
Rural Education was underwhelming to a weekly
newspaper publisher Karen
Ladd, who says the feds need to put their money
where their mouth is.
"How very nice, how comforting, to
know that we have a task force assembled to address
our education issues in the sticks," Ladd wrote
in the Colebrook
News and Sentinel. "According to Department
of Education figures, 42 percent of the nation’s
public schools are in rural areas or small towns. Unfortunately,
the biggest issue facing the school districts in our
rural area is one about which the federal government
does not want to hear: its utter failure to meet its
own funding levels" -- special education.
"The feds are supposed to fund 40
percent of special education costs, which according
to this year’s figures would be $23.1 billion.
Instead, the proposed federal budget offers only $10.7
billion," the editorial noted, quoting local Supt.
Bob Mills. "Mills, and no doubt many others in
education, wish the feds would either fund these initiatives
or leave education in the states’ hands, where
it belongs." (Read
co-ops keep rural people rooted in the high plains?
In the high plains of North Dakota, "more
and more wheat farmers call it quits," writes Dustin
Solberg in High Country News. "They succumb to
wheat prices that have fallen to under $3 a bushel and
the phaseout of government price supports in the ironically
named Freedom-to-Farm bill signed by President Clinton
in 1996. From 1992 to 1997, North Dakota farm income
dropped 37 percent, while farm expenses rose 17 percent."
Some, like Virgil Anderson of Leeds, survive
by buying farms of those who quit. "Yet getting
bigger doesn’t guarantee survival, which is why
a few years ago Anderson and his neighbors decided to
do something radical: They built a factory" to
make pasta from their durum wheat, an $8 million project
backed by 300 investors, mostly farmers.
"Farmers Choice Specialty Foods is
one of 12 cooperatives that have been built on the North
Dakota prairie in the last five years. The Dakota
Growers Pasta Co. in Carrington makes dry pasta
such as spaghetti and fettuccini. In Hebron, dairy farmers
bought their local cheese factory. The North
American Bison Cooperative of New Rockford
is marketing bison across the continent and into Europe.
A Carrington company called AgroOils squeezes
the oil from oilseed crops that are increasingly popular
on the plains," Solberg writes. "These cooperatively
owned businesses have a common denominator: They knock
out some of agriculture’s many middlemen: grain
buyers, shippers, processors."
Solberg adds, "While these cooperatives offer
jobs and hope for small rural communities, they are
not a sure bet. Some are thriving and seem to understand
how to compete in a global marketplace; others are struggling
and don’t have a clue. Plains co-ops marketing
beef, carrots and beans have already failed. But no
one denies that cooperatives represent an important
attempt at survival for an economically bleak region.
Not only do they offer jobs that keep people in these
remote small towns, but they make a case for those who
believe that 150 years of farming the Great Plains is
more than a failed experiment."
here to read more of Solberg's story. The Dec. 27
issue of High Country News also includes two stories
of environmental interest. The magazine's descriptions:
"A conservation movement is stirring on the Great
Plains, but local farmers are stuck with a harsh reality:
It still pays to plow up virgin prairie," and "Ten
years after Frank and Deborah Popper proposed turning
depopulated Great Plains counties into a 'Buffalo Commons,'
their once-controversial ideas are getting more respect."
States band together to cut
pollution, global warming, address other issues
Seven states in the Northeast announced
Dec. 20 that they woud sets up "a market for about
180 power plants in the region to buy, sell and trade
credits for emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping
gas that climate scientists say is one of the main causes
of global warming," writes Brian H. Kehrl in a
special report for Stateline.org. "The
agreement among the governors of Connecticut, Delaware,
Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont
comes after two years of laborious discussions, including
the last-minute withdrawal of Massachusetts and Rhode
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative breaks
new ground, "but it is just the latest example
of states’ increasing use of a team approach to
environmental problems," Kehrl reports. "From
the North to the Midwest to the West, states are pooling
their efforts to devise regional solutions to problems
that know no political boundaries – from air pollution,
to energy, to water use. While individual state actions
can seem like a drop in the bucket of a worldwide issue,
regional efforts allow states to parlay their size to
a greater effect without relying on Washington, D.C.,
to take the lead."
Other examples of regional efforts by
states include: California, Oregon and Washington are
trying to cut greenhouse-gas emissions with hybrid cars
and more efficient appliances. The eight Great Lakes
states , which have been cooperating since the 1980s,
on Dec. 13 announced a plan Dec. 13 to control use of
the lakes and their watershed. Eighteen states in the
West agreed last year to set goals to increase energy
efficiency and use of cleaner energy sources. Officials
from five states in the Midwest and Northern Plains
are studying biofuels, wind power and other sources
of alternative energy and plan to present the results
in June 2006. Thirteen states in the West are working
with the federal government and several Indian tribes
to address air-quality issues, including haze in national
"Binding regional agreements come with their share
of hurdles," Kehrl writes, noting that Massachusetts
Gov. Mitt Romney "publicly backed the regional
initiative in November . . . then reneged on his support
in December. A spokesman said Romney’s hesitation
was over fear that the pact will increase energy prices,
echoing the concerns of business groups and industries
in the region."
Romney announced his own plan to cut carbon-dioxide
emissions. A regional approach might be easier on businesses
than individual state efforts, which "can prove
difficult for businesses to navigate," Bill Becker,
executive director of the State and Territorial
Air Pollution Program Administrators and the
Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials,
told Kehrl. (Read
prepares to sue TVA to force cuts in air pollution
North Carolina officials are following
through on their threat to sue the Tennessee
Valley Authority to force cuts in emissions
from its power plants, which are causing pollution in
western North Carolina.
"State attorneys are expected to
file a lawsuit as soon as this week . . . seeking a
court order to force the agency to reduce emissions
from smokestacks it operates," reports J. Andrew
Curliss for the McClatchy newspapers, including the
News & Observer in Raleigh. "
TVA officials plan to fight the action, saying they
have taken more steps than North Carolina to cut out
Attorney General Roy Cooper said the
state would rather compromise than go to court, but
TVA "has been pretty stubborn about not moving
any further than they are made to move." Curliss
explains for readers outside the Tennessee valley, "TVA
is a federal agency that operates the nation's largest
public power system, including 11 coal-fired power plants
in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.'
A 2002 state law cited TVA as a polluter
and ordered the attorney general to "use all available
resources and means" to reduce pollution from out-of-state
sources, and "Cooper said cleaning the air is vital
to the region's health and tourism industry," Curliss
writes. "Gov. Mike Easley is supportive and has
said that unless the air in the west is cleaned up,
the state will have a hard time adding new roads in
Jack Brellenthin, manager of TVA's environmental
policy and strategy, told federal regulators that plants
in North Carolina: "It is Tennessee, not North
Carolina, that can make a case for requiring additional
emission reductions at sources in other states, specifically,
North Carolina." (Read
to get more doctors to set up practices in rural Arizona
As Arizona's population continues to surge,
and expand into rural areas, the state's rural hospitals
are hard-pressed to find enough doctors and nurses,
reports The Arizona Republic.
Reporter Laura Houston files from Kingman,
where "We have people out in the middle of nowhere
come here and are on death's doorstep," medical
resident Jason Taylor tells her. Taylor is a student
in a Midwestern University program
to place doctors in rural areas. The university is based
in Downers Grove,. Ill., but has a campus in Glendale,
"Despite attractive loan-repayment
programs for medical-school graduates, rural medical
rotations by the University of Arizona
and Midwestern's residency program, one of the most
difficult challenges that rural communities face is
finding and retaining primary-care physicians,"
Houston reports. Most rural areas also lack specialists,
"placing the burden on rural doctors to fill in
the gaps of knowledge and develop an eye for the subtle
nature of life-threatening ailments," she writes.
Alison Hughes, director of UA's Rural
Hospital Flexibility Program, told Houston
that medical schools need to recruit more from rural
areas, because students from such areas are the most
likely to set up rural practices. Houston also notes,
"Arizona ranks among the states with the lowest
number of working nurses and physicians per capita."
legislator urges advertisers to shun weekly that exposed
state legislator in southeast Tennessee is warning advertisers
to stay out of the Bradley
News Weekly, which has long been his nemesis
and recently "reported he is dating a woman while
waiting for his divorce to come through," reports
The Associated Press. The Dec. 13 letter
from Sen. Jeff Miller, R-Cleveland, not only made an
implied threat that some advertisers resented, but was
lacking in grammar and style.
Miller's letter to advertisers read, in
part: ''Myself (sic) and many others are going
to be watching in the next several weeks to identify
and remember those in this community that (sic)
wish to subsidize the destructive nature of this
type of publication in our community.'' In an interview
with the AP, Miller didn't take issue with the weekly's
report about his dating, "but said he and his wife
are working toward a divorce settlement" and his
personal life should remain personal. It's fair game,
the Bradley News Weekly said, because Miller has campaigned
as an advocate of "family values.''
Editor Barry Graham said in an
open letter to Miller in the Dec. 21 edition, "We
don't normally report anything about the personal lives
of our elected officials (and we know plenty about them).
We don't judge people's lifestyle choices. And we don't
put them in the paper for other people to judge. But
you, Jeffy, put your chosen lifestyle out there for
the public to judge.Your platform is that of a guy who
believes in the sanctity of marriage, and that marriage
should be between one man and one woman. And your behavior
doesn't support your platform. So, we report it.''
Graham added, "You're such a fraidy-cat,
Jeffy, that when you heard that we'd come to your office
to ask you about your threats, you sent us a letter
saying that if we ever came back there it would be considered
trespassing." The editorial called Miller a liar,
a weasel, a bully, a philanderer, a coward and "a
silly, irresponsible little boy." It said Miller
"once tried to sponsor a bill to put us out of
news story (also written in the first-person plural)
explained that Miller had "legislation that would
have made us pay for the privilege of being allowed
to distribute papers." The story said the paper
has reported that Miller "is alleged to be in negotiations
with the U.S. attorney's office over whether he will
plead guilty to a misdemeanor" or be tried on federal
bribery charges. The paper also has questioned Miller's
attendance as senator and his performance as delinquent-tax
attorney for Bradley County.
Publisher Susan Shelton told the AP's
Bill Poovey that no businesses have told her that they
will stop advertising. "In fact, she said, she
has been approached by business people who want to buy
new ads just because of the dispute with Miller."
more from AP) In her "Blonde
Bomber" column, Shelton writes, "We don't
try to please our friends or antagonize people we may
not like. We don't play favorites. We have one thing
in mind - to write about this city and county as it
actually is, not as politicians, boosters and spin doctors
want you to believe it is."
topics are among the subjects for 2006 Alicia Patterson
Eight journalists have been selected to
receive American journalism’s oldest writing fellowship,
an Alicia Patterson Foundation grant.
They include John Fleming, editor-at-large of the Anniston
Star, who will examine "Social and Economic
Justice in Alabama's Black Belt;" and reporters
Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette,
who will look at "The Curse of Coal" in Central
Appalachia; and Mitchell Tobin of the Arizona
Daily Star in Tucson, who will write on "Endangered
Species of the Southwest."
Patterson fellows get $17,500 for a six-month
grant and $35,000 for a 12-month grant. They travel,
research and write articles for the APF
Reporter, the foundation's quarterly magazine.
"Their articles and photo essays are reprinted
in newspapers, magazines, textbooks and websites worldwide
and have led to award-winning articles, books and documentaries."
the foundation said in a news release. "The winners
were selected through a highly competitive process of
screening by two panels of judges, as well as submitting
detailed proposals, examples of past work, and references."
Dec. 31: Appalachian Studies
Association Weatherford Awards nominations
The Appalachian Studies Association gives
two Weatherford awards: one for books of fiction and
poetry; the other for nonfiction works. The only requirement
is that the subject matter of the books be Appalachian
or that they be set in Appalachia. All nominations for
Weatherford awards must be made by Dec. 31. The entries
must be originally published in 2005. The nomination
and seven copies of each book should be sent to: Gordon
McKinney, CPO 2166, Berea College,
Berea KY 40404 For more details on any of these awards,
please visit http://www.appalachianstudies.org.
adopts conservative Bible-study guide; lawsuit promised
The Ector County Independent School District
in Texas decided this week that high-school students
will use a conservative guide for studying
the Bible as history and literature, rejecting a guide
with broader perspective and probably sparking another
court battle about religion in public schools.
The board voted 4-2 to use the National Council
on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools guide,
rejecting the ecumenical guide published by the Bible
Literacy Project through the non-partisan,
non-sectarian Freedom Forum and "endorsed
by a group of religious organizations,"
reports The New York Times.
"The council is a religious advocacy group
in Greensboro, N.C., and has the backing of the Eagle
Forum and Focus on the Family,
two conservative organizations." (Read
"Critics say the book promotes fundamentalist
Protestant Christianity," Barbara Novovitch writes
in the Times. Members of Life Challenge Pentecostal
Church in Odessa asked for the guide, reported
David J. Lee in yesterday's Odessa American.
Supt. Wendell Sollis told Novovitch, "I felt like
the National Council was a better fit for Odessa, because
they're on several campuses here in Texas and because
of their longevity." David Newman, a professor
of English at Odessa College, told
both newspapers he would sue the district, telling the
Times that the curriculum advocates a fundamentalist
Christian point of view. For an earlier, broader Times
story on the North Carolina group's activity in Texas
and elsewhere, click
vow to take battle to nation's highest court
The battle over intelligent design
in Dover, Pa., schools won't go to an appellate court
because voters ousted the school board, but supporters
say they plan to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme
"Some politically influential
backers of intelligent design warned that U.S. District
Judge John E. Jones III, who was appointed by President
Bush, so overreached that his ruling will outrage and
inflame millions of conservative and religiously observant
Americans," writes Michael Powell of The
Richard Land, who is president of the Southern
Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission, told Powell, "This decision
is a poster child for a half-century secularist reign
of terror that's coming to a rapid end with Justice
Roberts and soon-to-be Justice Alito." Land is
a political ally of White House adviser Karl Rove. "This
was an extremely injudicious judge who went way, way
beyond his boundaries," added Land. Judge Jones
ruled that intelligent design could not be taught in
biology classes because it is a religious-based teaching
disguised as science. (Read
NPR series reports one-room
schools still learning fortresses in rural America
A National Public Radio series on
one-room schoolhouses shows the old bastions of a bygone
era still use limited resources and student and community
support to offer a rural education.
"They are a legacy of a less mobile, more rural
time in American history. Mostly serving isolated communities,
the remaining schools require one teacher to educate
children of varying ages at the same time in a single
classroom," reports independent producer Neenah
Ellis. Most of the remaining one-room schools, reports
Ellis, are concentrated in a few states in the western
United States. Montana has the most -- between 85 and
100. Nebraska is number two, with roughly 75 one-room
schools, she reports.
The schools have lower student-teacher ratios, Ellis
notes, and she reports, "It's also not unusual
for students to have the same teacher for many years.
[And she notes] The older students often help the younger
ones." The series, begins today and will include
a story a month through June. (Read/Listen)
Appalachian school district
answers parents' pleas, drops four-day week
The school board in Jackson County, Ky., voted unanimously
last night voted to abandon the four-day school week
it adopted in September, "after pleas from parents
who said cutting a day of classes would harm children
in the rural county," reports the Lexington
One of the 200 parents who attended the board meeting,
Jackie David, said the parents' victory should be the
first against other problems in the school system. "Now
we need to win the war," she said.
"The four-day school week was approved by the
school board Sept. 5 for financial reasons, becoming
the fourth school district in the state to implement
a four-day week, but the first to do so primarily for
financial reasons," the Herald-Leader reports.
"Beginning Oct. 17, students have gotten every
Friday off, while teachers have worked half a day. The
district will return to five-day weeks in January."
For the newspaper's story about the board's initial
despite Tamiflu treatment raise fears of drug-resistant
Two bird flu patients in Vietnam have died, apparently
from a virus resistant to Tamiflu, the key drug governments
are stockpiling in case of a large-scale outbreak.
"Experts said the deaths were disturbing because
the two girls had received early and aggressive treatment
with Tamiflu and had gotten the recommended doses. The
new report suggests the doses doctors now consider ideal
may be too little. Previous reports of resistance involved
people who had taken the drug in low doses; inadequate
doses of medicine are known to promote resistance by
allowing viruses or bacteria to mutate and make a resurgence,"
writes Alicia Chang of The Associated Press.
Dr. Anne Moscona at Weill Cornell Medical College
called the deaths frightening and told AP,
"People who stockpile will naturally share or take
drugs at the wrong dose, and that's really a bad idea."
Moscona has written a commentary on this subject for
New England Journal of Medicine. (Read
Iowa groups announce legislative
plan to boost ethanol use, production
Two interest groups plan to push the Iowa legislature
to replace 25 percent of all gasoline sold in the state
with renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel,
reports The Associated Press.
Renewable Fuels Association President Bernie
Punt said the proposal could quadruple renewable fuels
use over the decade. The proposal calls for 10 percent
of gasoline sold in the state to be replaced by renewable
fuels by 2008 and 25 percent by 2015. For additional
Corn Growers Association Government Relations
Director Mindy Larson Poldberg told reporters, "The
25 percent renewable fuels standard ... is both aggressive
and achievable.'' Sam Cogdill, president of Amazing
Energy, said that under the proposal, "A
good chunk of money spent on fuel would stay in Iowa,
creating jobs and boosting our economy." (Read
University of North Dakota study
of Native American vets' health to fill void
The University of North Dakota Rural
Health Center will begin assessing the health-care needs
of American Indian military veterans in January.
"Researchers from the center will start by studying
the needs of American Indian veterans in North Dakota.
They'll survey veterans on four reservations and one
tribal service area in the state over the next year,"
writes David Dodds of the Grand Forks Herald.
Five hundred randomly selected veterans will be asked
about health risk behaviors, health screenings, health-care
access, and chronic diseases among veterans using face-to-face
interviews, writes Dodds.
Dr. Leander McDonald, head of the project, told Dodds,
"Increased coordination of services between the
[Veteran's Administration] and the
Indian Health Service is needed to
address our veterans' health needs. We hope the information
... will ... help to close that gap." (Read
Crooked Road bluegrass groups
to tour Scotland, return to Celtic roots
Bluegrass musicians from Southwestern Virginia will
play in Scotland as part of a 10-day tour in May.
"The group is planning to leave the highlands
of Southwest Virginia next year to promote the region's
music in the highlands -- and lowlands -- of Scotland.
Organizers hope the series of performances in Scotland
will lure Scottish tourists to the hills of Virginia.
The group of musicians is sponsored by the city of Galax
and by the Crooked
Road," a group of bluegrass venues
in the state's Appalachian region, writes Rex Bowman
of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
H. William Smith, executive director of the nonprofit
organization, told Bowman the tour is "to take
the Crooked Road into the international market."
The musicians are from Virginia and North Carolina and
include Wayne Henderson, the No Speed Limit band, Montana
Young, Anderson & Strickland, Laura Boosinger, Ginny
Hawker and Tracy Schwartz. They have agreed to perform
at Crooked Road sites to raise money to pay for the
trip, writes Bowman. (Read
NNA study shows community papers
leading news sources in small markets
"While circulation of the biggest dailies continues
its long decline, a new study finds that 81% of adults
in small markets read a newspaper every week, and 50
percent say the local paper is their primary news source,"
reports Editor & Publisher.
The National Newspaper Association,
which has about 2,500 members, 87 percent non-dailies,
commissioned the study by the Center for Advanced Social
Research at the University of Missouri School
of Journalism. "Researchers surveyed adults
18 years old and up in markets with fewer than 100,000
residents," reports E&P.
Fifty percent of respondents listed the local newspaper
as their "primary source of information about local
communities," followed by television at 16 percent;
radio, 9 percent; and the Internet, 2 percent. Readers
of community papers spend an average of 38 minutes with
each issue, and about a quarter said they keep the paper
in the house for six days. The study also showed community-paper
readers have a fairly high opinion of their local paper.
Some 67 percent rated the accuracy of their community
paper as good to excellent, and 64 percent rated the
writing quality as either good to excellent.
NNA Executive Director Brian Steffens said the report
is a needed contrast with recent news about the decline
of metropolitan papers. "Virtually all of the research
has been focused on large daily newspapers serving the
top 150 markets," he said. (Read
American Profile magazine founder
starts community newspaper group
Hometown Publishing, which says it is "focused
on preserving the integrity and autonomy of community
journalism," announced its creation today with
the purchase of two small daily papers in Oklahoma,
following purchase of a three-paper, non-daily group
in southwest Virginia this month.
The latest additions are the Blackwell Journal-Tribune,
circulation 2,690, and the
Guthrie News Leader (2,750), sold by
Family Media Inc. They join The
Coalfield Progress of Norton, Va. (7,180),
a twice-weekly, and weeklies The Dickenson Star
of Clintwood (7,000) and The Post (4,500)
of Big Stone Gap. The three were sold by Norton
Press, one of whose owners, Jenay Tate, remains
American Hometown Publishing's CEO is L. Daniel Hammond,
who started Publishing Group of America and
American Profile, a weekly magazine
that began in 2000 and is targeted to small dailies
and large weeklies. American Hometown Publishing says
it “acquires and manages community newspapers
of 25,000 circulation or less by forming partnerships
with local publishers and growing their newspapers through
proven revenue and market expansion efforts.”
“We believe in the importance of community newspapers,
their local editorial focus and keeping our publishing
partners involved in the local leadership, while offering
them financial interest in a growing company,”
Hammond said in a news release. “We focus on strengthening
our partner newspapers by helping them improve their
business operations, increase their revenues and profits
and build their readership through additional resources
Hammond's partner in AHP is Steve Young, who helped
start American Profile. Other principals include Operations
Vice President Ron Fryar, who recently managed the Morris
Newspapers in Tennessee. The company, based in Nashville,
says it is "funded by a group of investors led
by The Solidus Company (Townes Duncan,
president); including Petra Capital Partners
(Michael W. Blackburn, partner); the Burch
Investment group and others.
UPDATE: Tap-water report details
communities with unregulated pollutants
The Rural Blog reported yesterday that the Environmental
Working Group lists communities in 42 states
where tap water is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated
chemicals. The item included a link for local editors
to check to see if their communities are included. The
link had technical problems, so we try again. Click
here for the EWG study report.
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2005
With Cheney's vote, Senate passes
budget-cutting bill, sends it back to House
passed a bill to cut federal spending by $39.7 billion
this morning, with the decisive vote coming from Vice
President Cheney. The Associated Press reports,
"The measure, the product of a year's labors by
the White House and Republicans in Congress, imposes
the first restraints in nearly a decade in federal benefit
programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and student loans."
Because Democrats forced minor changes before the bill
passed 51-50, it must be re-passed by the House before
going to President Bush. "Passage is all but certain,
but the timing remains in question, since most House
members have returned home for the holidays," AP
Cuts in the five-year bill would reduce the projected
$1.6 trillion deficit over that period by merley 2.5
percent. "Republicans said the significance lies
in more than mere numbers," AP reports, "adding
that programs such as Medicare and Medicaid threaten
to consume an unsustainable amount of federal revenue
if their growth is not trimmed quickly." (Read
Tap-water impurities rankings
suggest widespread problem in rural areas
Rural residents know water, instead of being life-giving,
can be a major source of illness or even death. Now,
Working Group reports tap water in 42 states
is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals,
which should prompt rural editors to do some checking
on their own systems.
"North Carolina ranks fifth-highest in the nation
for the number of contaminants in tap water, an environmental
group reported Tuesday. The [EWG],
which used state data to compile its report, blamed
federal authorities for not establishing health-based
standards for scores of common water contaminants. Those
contaminants are linked to cancer, reproductive problems
and immune-system damage," writes Bruce Henderson
of the Charlotte Observer.
The group reports most Americans could be exposed to
health problems from contaminated water, even if their
suppliers meet existing standards, notes Henderson.
The EWG says more than 195 million people in 42 states
drink contaminated water, and it charges the Environmental
Protection Agency has ignored deadlines to
set standards for hundreds of unregulated contaminants,
The report said N.C. water systems detected 107 contaminants
between 1998 and 2003, behind only California, Wisconsin,
Arizona and Florida. Thirty-nine of the 107 don't have
maximum legal limits in tap water. S. C. systems, with
52 detected contaminants, was 36th-highest. Seven of
those contaminants have no legal limits, writes Henderson.
To look for contaminants in your community's
Benjamin Grumbles, who heads EPA's Office of Water,
told The Associated Press, "For
the chemicals the agency regulates, nearly 100 percent
of the community water systems ... are meeting clean
drinking water standards. We also have a process to
continuously identify new contaminants for which regulation
could reduce risks." (Read
It can be cheaper to fly to
London than to some small towns in the U.S.
In rural America you often hear, "You can't get
there from here." But, with airfares, it might
be said of smaller towns, "You get here [cheaply]
"Low-cost carriers have brought low fares to big
and medium sized cities across the USA, but those living
in the country's smallest cities have not yet seen the
low-fare phenomenon arrive in their neck of the woods.
Most isolated from the low-fare expansion are travelers
flying out of small-city airports that have
little competition," writes Ben Mutzabaugh for
So, how expensive is it to fly to those smaller airports?
To get an idea, USA Today ran a snapshot of fares from
six big cities to three smaller airports that are served
by just one airline. In some cases, it was
actually cheaper to fly to London or Cancun than it
was to the closer one-airline airports. Read more and
check out the full results in the latest Fare Compare
Broadband bill would
revamp Universal Service Fund for rural telecoms
"As part of a planned update of a 1996 telecommunications
law, Congress will consider a new proposal that starts
with a simple premise: The government should be minimally
intrusive when enacting regulations, writes Anne Broache
of CNET News.com.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R- S. C., has introduced a 50-page
here to read it), "adding to a medley of proposals
Congress will likely take up next year as it attempts
to update the 1996 Telecommunications Act," writes
Broache. She notes that politicians and industry representatives
have criticized the law for failing to account for booming
Internet, wireless and broadband technologies.
The bill would make the FCC overhaul the Universal
Service Fund, financed by fees on subscribers to fund
services in rural, high-cost and low-income areas, as
well as schools and libraries, notes Broache. The bill
proposes creating a single Universal Service Fund at
the federal level, getting rid of the state-level funds
and placing a cap on the amount of money the fund can
distribute each year, she writes. (Read
Coal booming, but not in E.
Ky.; miner shortage, permit delays blamed
Eastern Kentucky is known as coal country but isn't
riding high in the nationwide coal boom because of a
shortage of miners and a delay in processing mine permit
application, says an industry official.
"Coal production declined by 1 percent over the
past year in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields, bucking
overall state and national trends that show an increase
in mining activity. The U.S. Energy Information
Administration reported an increase of 1.5
percent in coal production nationwide over the period,
thanks in large part to more mining in West Virginia
and Wyoming," reports The Associated Press.
Total production from all coal-producing states was
1.1 billion tons. Kentucky Coal Association
President Bill Caylor told reporter Roger Alford that
coal prices have more than doubled to $50 a ton over
the past two years, but labor shortages and delays in
getting regulatory permits to open new mines in Kentucky
are taking a toll.
The production decline in Eastern Kentucky was more
than offset by a 16.7 percent increase among mining
companies in the separate Western Kentucky coalfield.
The state overall coal production rose by 2.6 percent
over the past year.
The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $6 million
to train new coal miners in Kentucky and West Virginia
and to equip community colleges with simulators to expedite
training of would-be miners. Labor department officials
said Kentucky currently needs 3,500 new coal miners.
Ten Commandments display OKd;
federal court sees no religious intent
"A federal appeals court has upheld a Ten Commandments
display alongside other historical documents in the
Mercer County, Ky., courthouse," reports Peter
Smith of The Courier-Journal.
The opinion by a three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals -- which covers Kentucky, Ohio,
Tennessee and Michigan -- blasted the American
Civil Liberties Union. Judge Richard Suhrheinrich
said the organization brought "tiresome" arguments
about the "wall of separation" between church
and state, and did not represent a "reasonable
Identical displays were judged unconstitutional in
Kentucky's McCreary and Pulaski counties by the U.S.
Supreme Court earlier this year because of religious
intentions, and because they were posted only after
previous ones were challenged, In the Mercer case, the
appeals court said there is no evidence of a religious
purpose and that the Ten Commandments document is not
more prominent than the others.
Bardstown lawyer Francis Manion, of the conservative
American Center for Law and Justice,
told the Louisville newspaper, "It's a big win
for the people of Mercer County who've been told for
a long time they don't know what they're doing when
it comes to this type of issue."
David Friedman of the ACLU of Kentucky said he will
consult with the plaintiff about a review of the ruling
by the full Sixth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.
He also said the Mercer County display is "thinly
disguised" as historical. Friedman said, "At
this point in this circuit, it means that this particular
display is lawful without proof of (religious) intent,"
writes Smith. (Read
more) For the Lexington Herald-Leader
version of this story, by Beth Musgrave click
Kentucky legislation on Decalogue
displays could define politics in 2006
Two Kentucky lawmakers, one a Democrat and the other
a Republican, have filed bills to allow Ten Commandments
displays on public property, competing moves that could
spark competition between the two parties as to which
is the stronger on this hot-button issue.
"Kentucky Republican Party chairman
Darrell Brock said "the bills would show whether
Kentucky Democrats can separate themselves from the
national Democratic Party, which he perceives as too
liberal for most Kentuckians, writes Elisabeth J. Beardsley
of The Courier-Journal.
Brock told Beardsley, "I believe this will be
one of the first tests of the liberal wing of the Democratic
Party, who seems to be running the state House."
But Democratic Chairman Jerry Lundergan told her the
"golden rules" shouldn't be the subject of
political partisanship, and the "days are over"
when Democrats allow themselves to be painted as lacking
in moral values, she writes.
Lexington Republican Rep. Stan Lee's bill would allow
posting of the Ten Commandments at the state Capitol
in Frankfort in a broader display including other historical
markers. Middlesboro Democratic Rep. Rick Nelson proposes
a constitutional amendment to allow the Ten Commandments
in any public building, but is rewriting it to add the
provision about other historical markers. (Read
Dover, Pa., in
the intelligent-design lawsuit spotlight, seeks return
A federal judge's decision yesterday barring public
schools in Dover, Pa., from teaching intelligent design
as an alternative to evolution has brought international
scrutiny to a town that would just as soon not be the
center of attention.
The ruling "seemed to do little to change entrenched
opinions. But locals hoped that with the case resolved,
stereotypes of this town as a place of nonstop cultural
warfare between liberal atheists and Bible-thumping
fundamentalists would at last be dispelled," writes
Gary Gately of The New York Times.
Saundra Roldan, a preschool teacher at the YMCA, told
Gately, "I hope it is a time for healing now. I
hope people will see it's not that we're a bunch of
atheists and liberals," she said, "but that
we're just trying to protect what America's about, really."
Glenda Lentz differed. She told Gately, "Children
should not be taught that we came from monkeys when
that's flat-out not true."
Carol Thomas, an assistant at the Dover library, told
Gately, "We're not walking around glaring at each
other. We just have different political views on this."
The Rev. Raymond Mummert, an evangelical minister, stated,
"It wasn't like anybody made a big thing about
it," and added, "We said to one another, 'Let's
not let this divide our friendship," writes Gately.
have revenue surpluses; report shows bright spots in
U. S. economy
Hawaii, Delaware, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and
Pennsylvania are among a growing number of states experiencing
something they've haven't experienced in a while: revenue
The results include "a $300 million tax refund
in Hawaii. A full day of kindergarten for every 5-year-old
in Delaware. A light-rail line from Denver's airport
to downtown. Cheap health insurance for middle-class
families in Illinois. Property tax cuts in New Jersey
and Pennsylvania. A new tram lift for Wyoming's biggest
ski resort," writes T. R. Reid of The New
A survey issued yesterday by the National Governors
Association and the National Association
of State Budget Officers noted, "Revenues
improved notably in fiscal 2005, enabling many states
to begin restoring funding to programs cut during the
previous economic downturn."
The survey showed even with revenues strong, half the
states passed additional tax increases. Fourteen states
cut taxes, but overall state taxes went up $2.5 billion,
writes Reid. The result, he notes is "a dramatic
reversal of fortunes in most of the 50 capitals. A recent
National Conference of State Legislatures
survey found that 48 states -- all but Rhode Island
and Louisiana -- expect revenues to improve or remain
stable for the next fiscal year.
Maryland's tax revenues have increased $1.4 billion
over the past three years, the biggest jump in state
history. Economists say states, most of which are constitutionally
blocked from deficit spending, "have become one
of the few spots in the U.S. economy to generate savings,"
Reid writes. (Read
advocates urge Rhode Island governor to protect state's
Anti-poverty advocates, propelled by national budget
trimming that critics say will shift costs to states
and recklessly cuts human services, are urging Rhode
Island Gov. Donald L. Carcieri and state lawmakers to
protect the poor as they work out the next state budget.
Advocates want state leaders to refrain from making
cuts that would affect the poor and to invest in affordable
housing and energy assistance.
"The advocates are holding a press conference
today at Crossroads Rhode Island in Providence to outline
their concerns. They say stagnant wages combined with
rising costs of housing and utilities will put a record
number of people at risk of homelessness and hunger
this winter," reports The Associated Press
from a story originally in The Providence Journal.
more; subscription required)
Landmark Community Newspapers
the ham, give us books
Employees of Landmark Community Newspapers'
54 publications are shunning that
big, juicy Christmas ham in favor of what might be called
Benjy Hamm, editorial director for Landmark, based
in Shelbyville, Ky., reports in the December issue of
the International Society of Weekly Newspaper
Editors newsletter that the chain gives employees
books, not hams, for Christmas.
"The newspapers like it a lot. We probably hear
most comments from the newer newspapers in our group
because it's unexpected," Hamm says. "Offering
books to newspaper editors and other journalists, rather
than a ham or a box of candy, is one way Landmark trains
Hamm added, "We're dealing with community newspapers,
and we want to emphasize training. We do that by providing
books we thing are important for them to have in their
newsroom libraries." Blogger's Note: Click
here and scroll down the page for Emily Dickinson's
poetic tribute to the special vessels known as books
in her poem, "There is no frigate like a book."
much a rural guy, but he used to live in New York City
Here's a Christmas story rarely told:
Did you know that Santa Claus, or the modern version
of St. Nicholas, was originally a resident of Manhattan,
at a time when as the island was losing its last rural
areas? And that the British have moved Santa form the
North Pole, to rural Sweden or Finland? We didn't, either,
until we read Jeremy Seal's piece in yesterday's New
Seal, author of Nicholas: The Epic
Journey From Saint to Santa Claus, informs us that
when "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (now known
as "The Night Before Christmas") was written
in 1822, "The poem's landscape mirrored the winter
view from Moore's study window in Manhattan," which
still had some areas unspoiled that produced a backdrop
of "new fallen snow" for Santa's sleigh and
reindeer. (Seal educates us about reindeer, too, but
that's a tangent.)
"As New York's street grid pushed northward starting
in the 1830's, the rural landscapes that had inspired
Clement Clarke Moore's enchanted whimsy transformed
into slum tenements where liquor dens and flophouses
proliferated," Seal writes. "The transcendent
Santa could not be accommodated indefinitely by this
increasingly urbanized space. A New York residency further
required an actual address, entailing convoluted explanations
to the children. It was time for Santa to leave the
city, not for Brooklyn or the suburbs, but for the North
Pole. It was a time when the frozen north pressed hard
against the public imagination . . . "
After explorers reached the pole, confirming that it
was "utterly uninhabitable," the Brits "relocated
Santa Claus to Lapland, with its appropriate backdrop
of snow, trees and reindeer, and in doing so have turned
the resorts of northern Finland and Sweden into December
destinations," Seal writes in a sort of rural tourism
report. "The Americans have persisted with the
North Pole, but by name rather than by latitude. The
creation from the late 1940's of settlements called
North Pole near Fairbanks, Alaska, and in the Adirondacks
of New York, complete with visitor attractions, means
that Santa can be visited every year, though largely
in the summer months." (Read
Federal judge in Pennsylvania
bars intelligent design from biology classes
The idea that life on earth was created by undentified
but intelligent design is "a religious alternative
masquerading as a scientific theory" and cannot
be mentioned in biology classes in a public school district
in Pennsylvania, a federal judge ruled today "in
one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since
the 1925 Scopes trial," The Associated
The Dover Area School Board ordered
in October 2004 that intelligent design be mentioned
in biology classes. Some parents sued, saying that is
an unconstitutional overlap of church and state. The
board said it was trying to improve science education
by teaching students that there are alternatives to
the theory of evolution, which they say "cannot
fully explain the existence of complex life forms,"
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, appointed by
President Bush, said in his 139-page decision, “We
find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board
amount to a pretext for the Board’s real purpose,
which was to promote religion in the public school classroom,”
he wrote. "Several members repeatedly lied to cover
their motives even while professing religious beliefs,"
AP reported, citing Jones.
The policy "was believed to have been the first
of its kind in the nation" and "divided the
community and galvanized voters to oust eight incumbent
school board members who supported the policy in the
Nov. 8 school board election," AP reports. "The
board members were replaced by a slate of eight opponents
who pledged to remove intelligent design from the science
curriculum. . . . The case is among at least a handful
that have focused new attention on the teaching of evolution
in the nation’s schools." (Read
House passes cuts in Medicaid,
Medicare and agriculture; Senate vote looms
As House Republicans celebrate a return to fiscal conservatism,
Democratic governors are asking the Senate to oppose
the final budget conference bill, saying it shifts costs
to states and recklessly cuts human services."
Meanwhile, agriculture and senior-citizen groups are
attacking cuts to their respective programs.
The Democratic Governors Association cites
cuts in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program,
and opposes proposed restrictions on child welfare eligibility.
It says the budget conference report would cut funding
for child support enforcement by $4.9 billion, and result
in $8.4 billion in child support going uncollected,
over the next 10 years. The estimated cost to states
of complying with new requirements is $8.4 billion over
the next five years, according to the Congressional
This is the first time since the 1995-96 budget standoff
that Congress has to tried "to curb the growth
of federal entitlement spending that rises automatically
according to set funding formulas," notes Jonathan
Weisman of The Washington Post. "Republican
leaders hailed House passage of the budget as proof
that they were finally getting a handle on the federal
budget after a five-year binge of new spending and tax
cuts that turned record budget surpluses into a stream
of deep deficits." (Read
"Tens of thousands of low-income Americans are
likely to lose health coverage under the measure, and
many millions will face premiums, deductibles and co-payments
for the first time, said Jocelyn Guyer, senior program
director of the Georgetown University Center
for Children and Families," Weisman reports.
Senior Journal.com reports the bill would make
significant cuts in Medicaid and Medicare: "Total
Medicare cuts are anticipated to reduce the budget about
$8 billion, and Medicaid will be cut about $5 billion."
reports, "The reconciliation package calls for
$934 million in cuts from farm bill conservation programs,
$400 million in cuts from rural development programs
and a $620 million reduction in funding for research
programs, as well as cuts to advance payments to commodity
producers," according to the National Farmers
Texas getting broadband over
powerlines; DSL gaining on cable modem
Broadband-over-powerline (BPL) technology is set for
deployment across a broad swath of Texas, according
to Current Communications Group and
TXU Electric Delivery.
The firms said the service, called Smart Grid,
will be offered next year to some 2 million homes and
businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area
and some other communities, writes W. David Gardner
of TechWeb News. Current teamed up
with Cinergy Corp. to test BPL in Ohio.
Google, which has moved in recent
months to offer broadband services of its own, has invested
in Current, notes Gardner. William H. Berkman, chairman
and co-founder of Current, said, "This agreement
is a milestone for Current as well as for BPL."
In October the first citywide BPL service was introduced
by Communications Technologies in Manassas,
Meanwhile, Red Herring, a California-based
business and technology news service, reports DSL is
gaining subscribers faster than cable, but cable still
leads in broadband services.
"Leichtman Research Group, a
research firm based in Durham, N.H., reports the 20
largest broadband providers in the United States acquired
a record 2.6 million net additional subscribers in the
third quarter of 2005. The top DSL providers added 1.42
million subscribers, representing 54 percent of the
net broadband additions for the quarter, while cable
providers added 1.2 million subscribers," writes
Red Herring. (Read
Poverty is the grinch that steals
Christmas for millions, says rural scholar
While statistics show a robust economy,
it isn't "Christmas" if you're poor and live
in rural America, writes rural scholar Thomas D. Rowley,
a Rural Research Policy Institute fellow.
Rowley cites New York Times columnist
Paul Krugman, who pointed out recently, “It’s
hard to convince people that the economy is booming
when they themselves have yet to see any benefits from
the supposed boom.” The bulk of the gains from
[economic] expansion are going to the wealthy, notes
Rowley, "not to the middle-income or the poor."
Rowley also cites Mark Drabenstott, director of the
Center for the Study of Rural America,
who recently said three-quarters of the nation’s
recent economic growth was captured by the top 10 percent
of U.S. counties. Of the nation’s 3,100 counties,
just 310 account for 74 percent of growth in income,
74 percent of growth in jobs and 76 percent of growth
in population. And, of the job gainers, only eight counties
are rural. Of the population winners, only 10 are rural.
Drabenstott noted Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska
each lost one percent of their share of national economic
output, an annual drop of $8,900 in per capita output
and $7,100 in per capita income.
Rowley writes the National
Low Income Housing Coalition reports the
average renter in rural America earns $8.37 an hour
though $10.42 an hour is needed to afford the average
two-bedroom apartment. Rowley points out that of the
37 million living in poverty, more than a third are
children, and nearly 35 million Americans cannot afford
food, while some 46 million cannot afford health insurance.
"All of which have higher rates in rural areas,"
he writes. (For this and previous columns, click
North Carolina survey latest
to show poor health status of kids in poverty
North Carolina children living below double the federal
poverty level are more likely to be obese, less likely
to have adequate health and dental care, less likely
to participate in sports activities and more likely
to have to repeat a grade, reports Leslie Boyd of the
"A new report by the N.C. Child Advocacy
Institute, based on a nationwide 2003 study
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
shows that children in low-income families
fare worse on indicators of child well-being,"
Child Advocacy Institute Chairman Bill Jamieson believes
making people aware of issues surrounding childhood
poverty will pressure legislators to fund social programs.
He told Boyd, “Every child should have the same
economic opportunity, and we know they don’t.”
Among the study’s findings: Only 28 percent of
low-income children are covered by private health insurance;
about 29 percent of low-income children ages 10 to 17
are overweight; Parents of low-income children were
nearly three times as likely to quit a job, turn down
a new job or greatly change a job because of problems
with child care. Arenda Manning, director of the Emma
Community Center, told Boyd, "It’s
a disaster if the car breaks down, never mind paying
for soccer shoes." (Read
Kentucky, West Virginia get
$6 million in federal money to train coal miners
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced
six million dollars for training new miners to help
coal companies in Kentucky and West Virginia overcome
a worker shortage.
"U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao announced a
grant of more than three million dollars to train miners
in Kentucky. West Virginia would get an additional three
million dollars," reports The Associated
The grants are part of nearly $27 million allotted
to support the nation's energy work force, AP reports,
part of the High Growth Job Training Initiative,
a strategic plan to prepare workers for jobs in expanding
industries. Chao stated the demand for coal is creating
job opportunities and training for these jobs will prepare
miners for the jobs and boost the economy, writes AP.
Kentucky's share of the money is $3 million, reports
Bill Wolfe of The Courier-Journal.
Chao cited a need for about 3,500 additional miners
in Kentucky and said the state is facing a worker shortage.
"Many workers in the coal industry are nearing
retirement and will soon leave the work force,"
said Chao in a conference call. Eastern and Western
Kentucky coal regions will share the grant which will
cover on-the-job training for current miners and efforts
to recruit and prepare new miners, writes Wolfe.
Kentucky Coal Association President
Bill Caylor told Wolfe the grant is "good news.
Production is actually down in Eastern Kentucky in a
boom period. This will help provide for some manpower,
which will be very valuable," said Caylor. (Read
Iowa report shows state's meth
crackdown not reducing child-abuse cases
"Despite a crackdown on methamphetamine labs,
a new study says the number of child-welfare cases involving
parental meth use in southwest Iowa has remained steady
over the past two years at about 49 percent," reports
Amy Lorentzen of The Associated Press.
Western Iowa social worker Carol Gutchewsky conducted
the study of ongoing child welfare cases in the Iowa
Department of Human Services' 16-county Council
Bluffs service area, writes Lorentzen. Gutchewsky said
she did the study because many social workers were reporting
an increasing number of child abuse cases where meth
was involved, notes Lorentzen.
The study shows of 1,469 child abuse cases examined
in 2003, 720 involved parental meth use, compared to
781 of 1,605 cases in 2005. Both years, meth accounted
for almost half of the cases. The study looked at known
meth-use and not suspected use, notes Lorentzen.
Another study found 14,499 child abuse reports filed
in 2004, the second highest number ever and just below
the all-time high of 14,936 in 2003. The report showed
in that 2004, there were 1,713 cases where illegal drugs
in a child's body because of a parent or other caretaker
use. The DHS reports 299 children present when parents
or a caretaker were involved in manufacturing meth,
writes Lorentzen. (Read
Residents sue electric co-op,
oppose selling site for factory development
Three Bullitt County, Ky. residents have sued Salt
River Electric Cooperative , claiming it would
violate state law if it sells 75 acres in Hillview for
a plastics factory, reports The Courier-Journal.
"Salt River Electric bought the property near
Interstate 65 last January, and its executives said
their intention was to bring in industry and create
jobs. Working with Bullitt County officials, they lured
Sabert Corp. of New Jersey, which plans
to build a 250,000-square-foot plant to make plastic
bowls, trays and food containers," writes Bullitt
County reporter Brian Moore.
Nearby property owners . . . contend Salt River cannot
buy and sell property for development," reports
Moore. They are asking that Salt River be ordered to
cease buying and selling land for development. Plaintiffs'
attorney Jim Conway told the Louisville paper that cooperatives
were created solely to generate and sell electricity,
and cites a recent state Supreme Court decision to that
Salt River attorney Doug Hubbard told Moore that the
land sales lead to electricity sales: "We have
an opportunity in selling to Sabert where we'll have
one customer that may be comparable to hundreds of residential
Bird-flu legislation slammed
as drugmakers' loophole slipped into bill
Critics charge bird-flu preparedness legislation, headed
for a final vote in the Senate this week, would create
loopholes allowing vaccine makers to avoid legal liability
even if a patient is harmed by negligence, reports Ricardo
Alonso-Zaldivar of The Los Angeles Times.
Democrats and the Association of Trial Lawyers
of America "derided the legislation as
a gift to the drug industry, but its supporters said
the lawyers were acting in their own self-interest.
Nonetheless, a leading public health group also criticized
the liability language, writes Alonso-Zaldivar.
Jeffrey Levi of the Trust for America's Health
told the Times, "We recognize the need for liability
protections to get the industry into the game, but we're
uncomfortable with the breadth of the liability protections
and the fact that they are not balanced by an appropriately
strong compensation program." The trust advocates
stronger government action to deal with the threat of
a flu pandemic.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Los Angeles, told the Times,
"Republicans tucked a huge Christmas present for
the drug companies into the appropriations bill in the
dead of night." Backed by Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist, R-Tenn., the provision would allow the government
to extend legal immunity to vaccine and drug makers
by declaring a public health emergency, writes Alonso-Zaldivar.
Washington governor pushes for
more state investment in biofuels
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed greater
investment in the state's biofuel industry, calling
it the largest industry of the 21st century and one
which she said her state is well positioned to lead.
"Demand for biodiesel and ethanol has grown with
the rising cost of gasoline and petroleum fuels. Biodiesel
is a vegetable oil-based fuel that can be burned in
place of regular diesel or mixed in varying blends;
ethanol can be distilled from corn and grain and mixed
with gasoline," writes Shannon Dininny of The
Gregoire has proposed $17.5 million in low-interest
loans to boost bioenergy projects, such as facilities
that crush canola to oil and refineries that convert
that oil to a biodiesel fuel. She also proposed legislation
to require diesel fuels sold in Washington be blended
with a minimum amount of biodiesel, aimed at creating
a market for the products produced by the state's farmers
State Rep. Janea Holmquist, a Republican, told Dininny
the renewable fuel standard would ensure that when biodiesel
and ethanol are available in Washington, farmers here
will be part of the industry growth. Homquist also stated
the bill would take effect when all segments of the
industry are available in the state and allows for interruptions
because of drought or other emergencies, writes Dininny.
News media have
moved on too quickly from Big Easy, charges E&P
With myriad distractions and industry-wide budget constraints,
the nation's news media have turned from New Orleans
all too soon, says Mark Fitzgerald of Editor
"New Orleans is a devastated city. I know, that's
not exactly breaking news. But I just got back from
there, and all I can say to everyone I've talked to
since is: New Orleans is a devastated city, almost beyond
belief. You've got to see it, I told people again and
again this weekend, back home in Chicago. Everyone in
America should see it," writes Mark Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald writes, "The press, of course, is famous
for rushing to disasters, and then moving on. . . .
Even when newspapers go down there to write about, say,
the struggle to reopen such storied restaurants as Galatoire’s
or Commander's Palace, the context of daily New Orleans
living gets lost. For instance, until I went to New
Orleans myself, I had no idea that virtually no McDonald's
fast-food sites have reopened inside New Orleans. I
had no idea that traffic lights are non-existent outside
At a press conference by Mayor Ray Nagin, every reporter
was allowed to ask two questions. "As Nagin's harried
press spokeswoman went down the line, it became apparent
that the reporters were either New Orleans locals, or
foreigners. . . . So there are few from outside the
city to tell the hard story of how New Orleans is an
odd mix of civilization carrying on under almost survivalist
He concludes, "Driving in the Lower Ninth Ward
. . . I saw orange graffiti on a wrecked home that thankfully
wasn't an 'X' with a body count. 'Psalm 55:18' was all
it said." He gives the King James version: "He
hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that
was against me: for there were many with me," and
opines, "Restless and unpeacable though we often
are, we in the press must stay among the many who abide
with that anonymous and hopeful soul in New Orleans."
Gift allows journalism class
to probe old murder case, dispute jury's finding
"An investigative journalism class, backed by
a $5,000 gift from a University of Wisconsin-Madison
graduate, has deconstructed an 11-year-old murder case
that is also being examined by the UW Law School's Wisconsin
Innocence Project," according to a university news
Graduate students in journalism and mass communication
professor and Pulitzer Prize winner "Deb Blum's
class have conducted dozens of interviews, visited the
crime scene, done "reams of photocopying"
and hired forensics experts to analyze evidence in the
1994 case," Dennis Chaptmnan. (Read
Although students in the semester-long course have
not proven Brummer was wrongfully convicted, they have
gained valuable knowledge about the persistence, tools
and techniques of investigative reporting, notes Chaptman.
Adam Hinterthuer, a student in the class, told Chaptman,
"We were able to raise a lot of questions that
may never be answered, but were never even asked. How
12 people can come up with irrefutable evidence that
she did it is beyond me."
Brummer was convicted in the March 15, 1994. The victim's
body was found a month later less then two miles from
where witnesses said the two were seen drinking together
the night before Gonstead's death, writes Chaptman.
Slow Internet hobbles rural
firms; FCC head looks to power-line broadband
More than half of small businesses in rural areas can't
get broadband Internet access or don't have any interest
in signing up for the high-speed connections.
"Those rural firms are at a disadvantage compared
with their ... counterparts in more urban areas ...
willing and able to opt for broadband, according to
a new report by the Small Business Administration,"
writes business columnist Victor Godinez of the Dallas
SBA surveyed 232 small firms in urban areas and 178
in rural regions. It found 54 percent of the urban firms
had broadband access, while only 43 percent of their
rural counterparts did. The SBA cited several factors:
Small, rural companies tend to have fewer employees
(an average of 5.4 per firm); as population density
decreases, so does the number of companies offering
high-speed Internet service; and small urban companies
generally cater to urban customers, who are more likely
to have broadband Internet.
The problem, the SBA says, is that high-speed Internet
access is becoming critical to small companies, and
the report stated, "Various studies have concluded
that broadband investment and services create jobs,
increase productivity and economic output, and hold
down inflation." (Read
FCC beat: Broadband access
is the chief issue for Federal Communications
Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, who also
wants to ensure competition. He told the Los
Angeles Times, "Things like broadband
over power lines could be deployed much more rapidly
if it ends up being a more promising technology."
here to read Martin's interview with Times reporter
Center for Rural Education created;
former education chief named head
The U.S. Department of Education has
announced the creation of the Center for Rural
Education to help rural schools, and named
as director former Commissioner of Education William
L. Smith, the last person to hold that job before education
was elevated to department status.
"Housed within the Office of Vocational
and Adult Education and working in tandem with
the Secretary's Task Force for Rural Education,
the center will serve as an information resource for
policymakers at the local, state and federal levels,"
Beto Gonzalez, acting assistant secretary for the vocational-and-adult
office, made the announcement in remarks to a national
meeting of the Council of Chief State School
Officers in Tucson," reports the Sioux
City [Iowa] Journal.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told reporters,
"I am committed to addressing the needs of our
students, educators and parents in rural America. This
new center will take a leadership role in advancing
the cause of rural education." (Read
more) For more information about
the center, click
care at risk as number of farmers, workers decline
Rural South Dakotans have been able to depend on volunteer
emergency services in the event of a heart attack or
a car accident, but it appears those days are numbered
as volunteers dwindle. "When emergency calls come
in during the day, no one is around to respond, because
there are fewer farmers and so many residents now work
in larger towns, writes Corrine Olson of The
Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Volunteer ambulance services in the Sioux Falls area
have been sounding the alarm, saying they cannot operate
on volunteers alone anymore. They told the newspaper
they need to to hire full-time staff to cover daytime
hours or they won't be able to provide emergency care,
Volunteers from area ambulance services are pushing
city councils and others to support what they view as
a more feasible solution - a tax levied on those who
use the ambulance services. But, such a tax would have
to be approved by a public vote, an idea that has gotten
mixed reviews, writes Olson. (Read
CHNI establishes state news
bureau to serve a heavily rural readership
Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
announced Friday that Ronnie Ellis, a longtime Glasgow
Daily Times reporter, will become the chain's
Kentucky correspondent in the state capital of Frankfort
on Jan. 2. His copy will move through the CNHI
"Company vice-presidents Keith Ponder and Eddie
Blakeley created the position with the intention of
having someone at the capital who could delve more deeply
into issues affecting communities within the
CNHI readership," writes Times Editor Todd Garvin.
Blakeley said, "We hope to bring our readers a
different perspective on statewide and political news.
It will be more of a behind-the-scenes look at what
goes on in Frankfort and how it affects our local communities."
Ellis, 54, has covered politics for much of his 20-year
journalism career. He has a bachelor's degrees from
Western Kentucky University in English
and journalism, and has won several awards. Ellis said,
"It's as exciting a move as I've ever made in my
Ellis will serve a heavily rural readership. CNHI has
daily papers in Glasgow, Somerset, Corbin, Richmond
and Ashland, and weeklies (some publishing more than
once a week) in Greenup, Olive Hill, Grayson, Morehead,
London, Whitley City and Monticello. All the towns are
in Appalachia except Glasgow, whose county borders three
Appalachian counties. Only one town, Ashland, is in
a metropolitan area, and its Daily Independent,
the largest-circulation (18,678) CNHI paper in Kentucky,
has many rural readers.
Central Appalachian states lead
nation in deaths from all-terrain vehicles
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
reports the death rate for all-terrain vehicle users
grew faster in Kentucky than in any other state from
2002 to 2004.
The report showed "Kentucky led the nation with
106 reported ATV-related deaths from those years, according
to the commission's recently released Annual Report
of ATV Deaths and Injuries. West Virginia was second
with 93 deaths. Nationwide, there were 1,571 deaths
in that span," reports The Associated Press,
based on a story originally in the Paducah Sun.
Other states are also seeing more deaths and injuries,
but their numbers are not rising as fast as Kentucky's.
The CPSC estimates 136,100 people were treated in U.S.
emergency rooms in 2004 because of ATV-related accidents,
up 8 percent from 2003. Wolfson told reporters the increase
is partly due to more ATVs in use nationwide than ever
before. About 16.3 million riders have 5.6 million ATVs.
The CPSC is considering a ban on sales of full-sized
ATVs to children under 16, and enhancing warning labels,
requiring dealers to give buyers formal notification
of safety rules and child injury data at the time of
sale. The new restrictions would also require buyers
to complete training before purchasing an ATV, make
manufacturers responsible for design and performance
safety standards and add an appropriately sized model
for 14-year-olds. (Read
more) For the full CPSC report in pdf form,
Some critics say enacting rules for manufacturers is
not as important as educating people about how to safely
ride an ATV. Lisa Hill and her husband, Roy offer training
at the ATV Safety Institute of Irvine,
Calif. She told the Sun, "Most problems develop
because riders haven't followed a basic safety rule."
Mountaintop-removal mining more
visible, now 'industrial tourism'
Mountaintop-removal coal mining, once relegated to
the Appalachian back country, has been edging closer
to major highways, driven by the mining boom, and as
a result tourists are stopping to gawk.
The closer proximity of the mining technique to more
traveled thoroughfares has "created a sort of reverse
eco-tourism among people seeking to get their first
up-close look at the much-debated practice. It's also
provided a new opportunity for environmentalists to
try to sway more people into opposing such mines,"
writes Roger Alford of The Associated Press.
Rev. John Rausch, director of the Catholic
Committee of Appalachia, who says visitors
are adding mountaintop removal sites to their travel
itineraries, calls the phenomenon, "Disaster tourism.
Once people observe what is happening their jaws drop
in disbelief." Rausch organizes tours to eastern
Kentucky Tourism Commissioner Randy Fiveash told Alford,
"It's legal to do the kind of mining that they're
doing, and if people want to come to watch that, then
I think it kind of falls into the area of industrial
tourism." Jordan Fisher Smith, a California author,
told Alford, "The only things that can grow in
these places are the sorts of plants that county agriculture
agents have been trying to spray and eliminate elsewhere."
Ruling against corporate farm
ban may boost purchases, non-Neb. owners
Nebraskans and outsiders could find it easier to be
landowners and absentee farmers if a judge's ruling
against the state's corporate farming ban is upheld
For 23 years, the state's Initiative 300 has made it
more difficult for outside investors and even in-state
farmers to put money into land and farms in Nebraska,
said David Aiken, an agriculture-law expert at the University
of Nebraska-Lincoln, write Bill Hord and Martha
Stoddard of the Omaha World-Herald.
U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp of Omaha ruled
the ban violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution
and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The state plans
to appeal her ruling. Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota,
Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma also have corporate
farming restrictions, but Nebraska's ban generally was
viewed as the toughest.
John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers
Union, called the ruling, "unfortunate
and tragic." Others said the ban had limited farmers'
options Aiken told Hord and Stoddard without the restrictions
farmers will find it easier to pass their property on
to relatives or others. Jerry Warner, executive vice
president of Farmers National Co., told
them, "This has restricted outside capital from
coming into Nebraska," and added more than half
of all land in Nebraska is farmed by people who do not
own the land, write Hord and Stoddard. (Read
more; registration required, several
related stories archived)
Cherokees fight meth with increased
policing, treatment in model program
Cherokee tribal leaders say stepped up enforcement
and expanded treatment for drug addicts show success
in the fight against the growing use of methamphetamine
on the reservation.
"The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
have made changes in treatment, law enforcement and
public awareness that observers credit as a model for
other communities. Western Carolina University
professor Gordon Mercer says it's the most effective
anti-drug efforts in the region," reports Jordan
Schrader of the Asheville Citizen-Times.
The tribe has adopted a law regulating the sale of
cold-medicine tablets containing ingredients used in
making meth. The tribal law is stricter than the one
North Carolina passed this year and requires buyers
to get the drugs from a pharmacist. A police hotline
has generated tips that led to more than 50 drug arrests.
The tribe also has hired a private company to test
confiscated drugs rather than rely on the State Bureau
of Investigation. The SBI's backlog of cases can delay
court proceedings for months, a problem confronting
other North Carolina police departments.
of Kentucky study shows facts of state's urban-rural
"A study released by the Center for Business
and Economic Research at the University
of Kentucky offers some statistical analysis
to support the existence of disparity between"
urban and rural areas, and makes some recommendations
sure to heat up an argument over the tax contributions
and needs of both, reports Mark Chellgren of The
"University of Louisville economist
Dr. Paul Coomes wrote in the 2005 Kentucky Annual Economic
Report that when it comes to distributing public resources,
such as tax money for transportation infrastructure
and even education, the state is too evenhanded,"
writes Chellgren. Urban areas feel they should be getting
more because they not only contribute more they feel
they "are the only real hope to pull all of Kentucky
out of the economic backwater," he writes.
Coomes wrote, "Kentucky's fiscal policies clearly
disadvantage the economic competitiveness of its largest
cities. Kentucky is missing lucrative office economy
growth. If Kentucky is ever to catch up ... it will
be led by its cities," but," he writes, "its
urban areas cannot compete nationally and internationally
under an anachronistic tax structure and spending policies
geared primarily to redistribution and entitlement."
Coomes said half of all private sector wages paid in
Kentucky are earned in only four of the 120 counties
-- Jefferson, Fayette, Boone and Kenton. If Warren and
Daviess counties (Bowling Green and Owensboro, respectively)
are included, those six provide half of all the private
sector jobs in the state. Coomes estimated
Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky contributed
$4.2 billion in state taxes and fees in the 2003 fiscal
year, but received only $2.8 billion in return. (Read
Tobacco takes its toll on Indiana;
costs exceed contributions, says study
Tobacco defenders often cite the industry's contributions
to the economy when critics underscore the costs of
health care from smoking related illnesses. But an Indiana
study appears to dilute the argument in defense of lighting
Economist Patrick Barkey, the director of economic
and policy studies at Ball State University
in Muncie, was behind the study. "Most public health
studies ask about costs associated with tobacco use.
We wanted to find out whether tobacco is the driver
of economy." he told Naseem Sowti of the Muncie
Star Press. The state-funded study
showed tobacco is a "sizable drag on the economy,
" writes Sowti.
"The study found there would be more than 175,000
additional jobs -- more than three times the number
of people employed in Delaware County in 2004 -- if
tobacco were not used or produced in Indiana. Personal
income would be $28.7 billion higher; after-tax income
would be 7 percent higher; population would be more
than half a million people higher; more than $100 billion
in cumulative new investments would take place; and
per capita income would be $108 higher," notes
A 2004 survey showed tobacco use produces $1.9 billion
in medical costs annually in Indiana and $448 million
dollars in Medicaid expenditures are directly related
to tobacco. (Read
Musicians ride City of New Orleans
train to resurrect Big Easy music
"Good night, America, how are you? Don't you know
me I'm your native son, I'm the train they call the
City of New Orleans, I'll be gone five hundred miles
when the day is done." Most folk music lovers know
that refrain by heart. The lyrics sung by Arlo Guthrie
echoed in a recent effort to inspire hearts and raise
additional attention and funds for musicians in the
city that inspired the song.
The trip, which began Dec. 6, "was actually the
first time Guthrie rode the train celebrated in the
Steve Goodman song of the same name that Guthrie made
so famous. Guthrie and a crew of musicians [rode] the
City of New Orleans from Chicago to the Big Easy, stopping
along the way to play fundraising shows. The goal is
to raise money for New Orleans musicians who lost instruments,
homes and work as a result of Hurricane Katrina,"
writes Kari Lydersen of The Washington Post
Guthrie told Dean Reynolds of ABC News,
"The thing I fear the most is that we will lose
a city that loves its own decadence." Guthrie had
a two big concerts over the weekend after arriving in
New Orleans. All proceeds go to bringing the music back
to the city. He told Reynolds they want to make certain
the city doesn't suffer the same fate as the train,
as bemoaned in the song. "And all the towns and
people seem, to fade into a bad dream, and the steel
rails still ain't heard the news. The conductor sings
his song again, the passengers will please refrain.
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues."
more, see the report)
Dec. 18, 2005
How open are juvenile
courts in your state? How open should they
Fourteen states keep all juvenile-court
proceedings secret, "requiring the public to accept
on faith that it is being protected from dangerous children
-- and that innocent children are being protected from
dangerous adults," The Courier-Journal
of Louisville reports today, in a
big package about efforts to open Kentucky's juvenile
courts to scrutiny by the public and the news media.
It includes a
list of online information about juvenile courts
in the U.S. and books
on the subject.
Besides Kentucky, the states with generally
secret juvenile courts are Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois,
Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode
Island South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia
and Wyoming. Another 21 states open hearings if the
juvenile is a certain age or is charged with a certain
level of offense, such as a felony. Ohio allows closure
if a judge finds "that public access could harm
the child or endanger the fairness of adjudication and
there are no reasonable alternatives to closure,"
according to the legend of a map with the series.
story in the package focuses on Iowa, which opened
all juvenile proceedings in 1998. "Most of its
daily and weekly newspapers exercise discretion in what
they report and who they name, according to a study
published in 2000 by the Newspaper Research
Journal," The C-J's Andrew Wolfson writes,
noting that the Des Moines Register
"only writes about juveniles if they are charged
with major offenses that would be newsworthy if the
defendant were an adult."
"A few county weeklies, however, like the Daily
Democrat in Fort Madison, a Mississippi River
town of 10,715 about 200 miles southeast of Des Moines,
publish the name of every juvenile charged with any
offense. "It wasn't an easy decision -- I understand
kids make mistakes," editor Robin Delaney told
Wolfson. Delaney and a probation officer said "the
practice has caused parents to keep their children on
a tighter leash," Wolfson writes -- but notes that
"the rate of serious juvenile crime has increased
17 percent in Fort Madison since 1998 . . . while it
has declined slightly statewide."
'Weighted' study shows students
score better with poverty taken into account
An analysis of the latest National Assessment
of Educational Progress reading and math scores
"found that 11 states -- Florida, Kansas, Kentucky,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New
York, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas -- outperformed
the rest of the country in either the fourth or eighth
grade" when scores are weighted by poverty rates,
writes Kavan Peterson of Stateline.org.
Kansas, Massachusetts and Minnesota consistently made
the top 10 based on their raw NAEP scores. Alabama,
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Rhode Island
performed below the national average, and the remaining
33 states scored about the same with poverty levels
included. Massachusetts students outscored everyone
on both raw NAEP scores and the poverty-weighted analysis,
The report, Leveling the Playing Field 2005,
is the first to analyze NAEP data based on student poverty
levels. Research has found poverty to be one of the
greatest factors determining student performance. Its
findings turn the traditional NAEP ranking on its head.
Liquid meth produces
stronger high, leaves drug agents questioning potency
Methamphetamine dealers in Marshall County, Alabama,
are shopping around a new, potentially more potent liquid
form of the drug. The county Drug Enforcement Unit wants
to know the drug's potency.
Unit Director Ricky Phillips told George Jones of the
Sand Mountain Reporter he has talked
to Drug Enforcement Agency and the
FBI, but no one in regional or state
law enforcement has seen the new form. The DEA reported
that some arrived in Tequila bottles from Mexico this
past spring, Phillips told Jones. (Read
"The guys we got it from told us it was stronger
and better than any meth they had come across yet,"
Phillips told Jones. He also said the new meth could
be easier to transport and harder to detect. Samples
police recently found in Arab, Ala., were in a medicine
bottle with an eyedropper and a soft drink bottle.
Phillips told WAFF News that a flyer
has been sent out to alert law enforcement. A sample
was sent to the state department of forensic science
to find out what's in the liquid drug, the station reports.
Homeland Security report reveals
Red Cross services lacking in rural U.S.
A report for a Democratic congressman finds that American
National Red Cross has not provided effective
and necessary critical emergency relief to rural residents
"Specifically, the report finds that Red Cross
protocols are inadequate for large-scale emergency disaster
response. Cumbersome rules hamper the Red Cross's ability
to mobilize resources to quickly provide equal care
for all disaster victims, including the economically
disadvantaged and people of color," reports PRNewswire.
The report rural problems in post-hurricane situations.
When Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, S.C., in 1989, "countless
rural communities reportedly were ignored by the Red
Cross, and as many as 3,000 families in under-served
communities were still in need of assistance three months
after the hurricane," states the report. As for
Hurricane Katrina victims in rural areas, the committee
found: "They could not reach the Red Cross by phone
and many had no means of transportation to the charity’s
shelters. Even if transportation was available, moreover,
the fact that some Red Cross shelters were offering
assistance only to shelter residents would have prevented
these victims from receiving aid and supplies in any
The Red Cross is the only nongovernmental organization
tasked by the government to provide "mass care"
duties under the National Response Plan. The report's
sponsor, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson D-Miss., introduced
a bill Thursday to address these problems by providing
more accountability measures and requiring additional
services be put in place. Click
here to read the report.
Howard Berkes of National Public Radio
reported Tuesday on rural Hancock County, Mississippi,
"ground zero" for Katrina's strongest winds
and deepest floodwater, where Red Cross response was
virtually non-existent. (Click
here to listen) In October, Berkes provided an in-depth
look at Red Cross failures, especially in rural Hancock
here to listen)
Biloxi newspaper urges media
not to forget Katrina's damage in Mississippi
An unsigned, front-page editorial yesterday in the
Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., warned
the effects of Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi
coast have started to fade into what the newspaper described
as "a black hole of media obscurity," reports
Editor & Publisher.
The editorial states, "Never mind that, if taken
alone, the destruction in Mississippi would represent
the single greatest natural disaster in 229 years of
American history. The telling of Katrina by national
media has created the illusion of the hurricane's impact
on our Coast as something of a footnote." (Read
The editorial concludes, "On the third day after
Katrina crushed us, this newspaper appealed to
America: 'Help us now,' the headline implored. America
answered with an outpouring of love and help. That response
saved us then. Our plea to newspapers and television
and radio and Web sites across the land is no less important
today: Please, tell our story." (Click
here for the complete editorial.)
Congressional study likens San
Joaquin Valley to Central Appalachia
A nonpartisan congressional study suggests the San
Joaquin Valley of central California may be the West's
version of Appalachia, reports Michael Doyle of the
McClatchy News Service.
"The travails sound familiar. Poverty is high,
education is low and social needs abound. But the 365-page
regional report card released Wednesday, one of the
most comprehensive of its kind, also leaves unanswered
what may be the most enduring Capitol Hill question:
What must Congress do now, given the immensity of the
problem?" writes Doyle.
The Congressional Research Service concluded,
"By a wide range of indicators, the San Joaquin
Valley is one of the most economically depressed regions
of the United States." Doyle notes, "Even
notoriously poor Appalachia fares better in some respects.
Per-capita income is lower in the Valley's eight counties
than in the 68-county area known as Central Appalachia.
Predictably, but grimly, the Valley's public assistance
rates are higher than Appalachia."
"In Appalachia, 14.3 percent of residents are
age 65 or older; in the Valley, less than 10 percent
are 65 or older. Consequently, federal retirement and
disability payments are higher. Moreover, the Valley
does better than Appalachia in some areas, including
receiving federal grants," writes Doyle. (Read
Arkansas high court says legislature
still hasn't made schools constitutional
Arkansas has retreated from its constitutional obligation
to adequately support public education and must corect
itself by Dec. 1, 2006, the state Supreme Court ruled
"In a 5-2 decision, the high court ruled the Legislature
failed to make education spending its top priority in
this year's regular session and 'grossly underfunded'
school building repairs and construction," reports
Aaron Sadler of the Arkansas News Bureau of
Stephens Media Group.
Gov. Mike Huckabee "dismissed suggestions that
the state dip into a $123 million budget surplus to
address the high court decision," and said he would
wait to decide whether to call a special legislative
session, Sadler reports.
Lawsuits over school funding in Arkansas began in 1992,
two years after Kentucky reformed its system in response
to a state Supreme Court decision. Arkansas lawmakers
"adopted sweeping reforms," but 49 school
districts asked the state high court to reopen the case,
claiming that the legislature's freeze on per-student
funding made the system inadequate. The court voted
4-3 to reopen the case.
"The court said the Legislature was wrong to freeze
minimum state aid and funding for at-risk students.
The ruling also said lawmakers failed to make education
their top spending priority, and that they allocated
$85 million less than necessary for immediate school
building projects," Sadler writes. "The high
court did not specify what it considered a proper funding
figure, but said legislators should have abided by a
law that requires a biennial study to determine financial
Sadler added, "If the Legislature does meet in
special session before the court-mandated deadline,
Huckabee would consider renewing his push for broader
school consolidation. Meanwhile, he said he would review
how efficiently the state spends its public school dollars.
He called for greater transparency in how public education
money is spent," suggesting more should go to teacher
Federal judge declares Nebraska
corporate farming ban unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled that Nebraska's ban on corporate
farming is illegal under the Constitution and the Americans
With Disabilities Act [ADA]. "The ban, widely known
300, was added to the state constitution through
a petition drive spearheaded by the Farmers
Union in 1982," Kevin O'Hanlon of The
Associated Press writes of the ruling by Judge
The initiative generally prohibits corporations and
certain other businesses "from owning farmland
or engaging in agricultural activity, although there
are numerous exceptions," O'Hanlon writes. The
lawsuit was filed by former state Sen. Jim Jones of
Eddyville and several other people. One of the plaintiffs
was Shad Dahlgren of Lincoln, a paraplegic who owns
part of a feedlot near Bertrand.
The lawsuit said the initiative violates the ADA because
it requires at least one family member who owns the
farm to be engaged in day-to-day physical activities.
"The ban exempts farms that are family owned and
operated, nonprofit corporations, American Indian tribal
corporations, land used for seed or nursery purposes
and land used for research or experimental purposes,"
writes O'Hanlon. (Read
Western Kentucky county commission
enacts tough hog-farms regulation
The legislative body of Fulton County, Kentucky, has
enacted strict regulations governing area hog farms,
considered a major potential source of air and water
pollution and health problems.
Residents nationwide have complained about odors as
hog farms proliferate with consumer demand for pork
products increasing and producer profits rising. Nearby
residents and other farmers have also stated concerns
about runoff polluting nearby streams.
The ordinance, posted yesterday on the Kentucky
Resources Council's Web site, states, "Confined
hog facilities can be significant sources of air pollution,
odors, surface and groundwater pollution, and if improperly
sited, constructed or operated, can create a public
nuisance." The ordinance went on to state the local
government has a "need to carefully control the
management of swine wastes is a matter of public health
and sanitation concern because of the possibility of
transmittal of flu viruses from swine to humans."
The ordinance also states, "Odors and gases within
confinement buildings and emissions from confinement
barns, under floor pit systems and waste lagoons have
been identified as major sources of ammonia and other
noxious emissions, which must be managed and controlled
to prevent the unreasonable interference with the use
and enjoyment of the property of others." (Read
2019: Study predicts
small, large farms increase to squeeze out midsize
A two-year American Farm Bureau Federation
study suggests that over the next 15 years, American
agriculture will be productive and profitable, but will
look considerably different than it does today.
According to the study, "U.S. agriculture’s
future will include a drastically changed government
farm program, continued consolidation of production,
and the adoption of additional environmental practices
dictated by the marketplace," states the Federation
in a news release.
The study was conducted by a committee of 23 farmers
and ranchers from across the nation. AFBF President
Bob Stallman said, “It is obvious from the report
that America’s farm and ranch families are facing
big challenges, but also big opportunities.” The
committee was asked to develop a vision of where American
agriculture should be in 2019 and then develop policy
recommendations to help farmers make the needed transition.
According to the report, by 2019 there will be more
large farms and more small farms, but the number of
mid-sized farms will have decreased drastically. One
trend identified in the report shows that farmers rely
on rural communities more than they recognize, especially
for off-farm employment. The report will be publicly
unveiled at the federation's annual meeting, Jan. 8-11
in Nashville. (Read
Cigarette makers score victory
in Illinois court; 40 similar suits pending
The Illinois Supreme Court has given the tobacco industry
a huge victory, tossing out a $10.1 billion fraud judgment
against Philip Morris USA over the
marketing of its "light" cigarettes, but the
ruling doesn't shield the industry from oncoming litigation.
"But while shares of parent company Altria
Group Inc. soared to an all-time high on the
news, industry critics warned that the Illinois decision
does not insulate U.S. cigarette companies from future
lawsuits. There are at least 40 similar suits pending
against companies like Philip Morris and Reynolds
American, any of which could result in awards
into the billions of dollars, tobacco opponents said,"
reports Paul Nowell of The Associated Press.
Richard Daynard, president of the Boston-based Tobacco
Control Resource Center and a longtime industry
foe, told reporters, "They need to keep their legal
teams ready." Philip Morris USA, which controls
about half the U.S. cigarette market, issued only a
terse statement saying it was "gratified"
by Illinois court's decision. (Read
Ben Franklin serves as role
model for good journalism on his 300th birthday
Founding father Ben Franklin was many things, from
scientist and inventor, to statesman and diplomat. In
an opinion piece, the Pew Charitable Trust
commends Franklin's journalism past and bemoans the
current states of the industry.
"For all his accomplishments, Franklin was first,
and perhaps foremost, a newspaperman, publisher of the
lively and successful Pennsylvania Gazette,"
write Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of the Pew Charitable
Trusts, and Donald Kimelman, the Trusts' director of
information and civic initiatives.
"It is bittersweet such a celebration comes at
a time of some peril for his latter-day heirs in Philadelphia,
the people who write and publish The Inquirer
and its sister publication, the Philadelphia
Daily News," they write. The Inquirer's
owner, Knight Ridder Inc., has been
pressured by stockholders to sell. "At this writing,
it remains unclear whether the two newspapers will remain
part of Knight Ridder, will be sold together to a different
media company, or will be sold off separately,"
note Rimel and Kimelman.
"The newspapers could stabilize, improve or get
much worse under a new owner determined to improve the
bottom line through further cutbacks. This is more than
a fascinating business story. There is an important
public interest - a community interest - in the outcome
that deserves greater attention. For journalism is not
just a business. It's a public trust, an essential element
in the democratic mosaic," they opine. (Read
more) Blogger's note: Singing to the choir;
hopefully, others will hear and say Amen!
added to bill in Congress over FDA opposition
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has agreed on restricting
the sales of cold medicines used to manufacture methamphetamine,
which continues to be a scourge in many rural areas.
The restrictions are similar to those enacted in 34
states, but would impose nationwide uniformity.
"Under the proposal, Sudafed
and similar medicines would have to be under lock and
key in stores. Buyers would have to sign a sheet and
show a driver's license. Purchases would be limited
to one box a day and three boxes a month, writes Gardiner
Harris of The New York Times.
The legislation is attached to the renewal of the USA
Patriot Act, Senate prospects for which are uncertain.
The Food and Drug Administration has
quietly fought such proposals, arguing most methamphetamine
is imported and that restricting cold medicines would
lead to unneeded suffering. Dan Troy, former general
counsel of the agency, told Harris, "I think it's
very sad when you punish the good and the needy because
of a few bad actors."
Dr. William Schreiber of Louisville told reporters,
"The restrictions ... aren't that bad. Anything
that [limits] meth probably has to be done." Dr.
Mary Klotman of Mount Sinai School of Medicine
called the restrictions "reasonable" and told
Harris, "I don't think anyone should stockpile
these medicines." (Read
more) For another report, by Sam Hananel of The
Associated Press, click
Religious left protests cuts
for poor; right says abortion a higher priority
Hundreds of religious activists protested cutting programs
for the poor yesterday at the Cannon House Office Building
in Washington, but conservatives James Dobson, Pat Robertson
and Jerry Falwell were not among them, write Jonathan
Weisman and Alan Cooperman of The Washington
Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the
Family, Dobson's Colorado-based Christian organization,
told Weisman and Cooperman, "It's not a question
of the poor not being important or that meeting their
needs is not important, but whether or not a baby is
killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy,
that is less important than help for the poor? We would
respectfully disagree with that."
Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Christian journal
Sojourners, told the Post that conservative
religious leaders "have agreed to support cutting
food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them
on judicial nominees. They are trading the lives of
poor people for their agenda. They're being, and this
is the worst insult, unbiblical."
At issue is $50 billion in cuts over five years, trimming
mainline programs that impact the poor. Leaders of five
denominations -- the United Methodist Church,
Episcopal Church, Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian
Church USA and United Church of Christ
-- have called on Congress to "come up with a budget
that brings "good news to the poor," write
Weisman and Cooperman.
Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said
yesterday the activists' position is not "intellectually
right." The "right tax policy," he told
Weisman and Cooperman is one that, "grows the economy,
increases federal revenue -- and increased federal revenue
makes it easier for us to pursue policies that we all
can agree have social benefit." (Read
Plunging temperatures, rising
energy costs prompt interest in heating with corn
"With temperatures dipping and energy prices soaring,
homeowners everywhere are turning to alternative heat
sources to keep them warm this winter. Many are turning
to corn, writes Terri McLean of the University
of Kentucky College of Agriculture Communications
Even in Kentucky, with comparatively low electric rates,
there has been a renewed interest in burning corn as
a heating fuel -- a practice that can be traced back
at least to the Depression, when farmers couldn't afford
coal, notes McLean. Agriculture engineer Sam McNeill
told her, "Corn is not only for home heating. It
also has commercial and even industrial applications."
McNeill has recently fielded numerous calls from consumers
interested in corn as a heating source. (Read
Corn is becoming so popular as a heating fuel manufacturers
of corn-burning stoves and furnaces can't keep up with
demand. Leslie Wheeler of the Hearth, Patio
and Barbecue Association in Arlington, Va.,
told McLean, "It's enormous this year as people
look at alternative ways to stay warm."
Agriculture engineer Robert Fehr told McLean corn is
competitively priced, about $2 a bushel, costing about
$330 to heat a home this winter. By contrast, he notes,
the same amount of heat would cost about $1,130 with
electric heat, $1,000 with natural gas and $628 with
a typical heat pump, writes McLean.
However, Ivan "Red" Swift, alert reader of
The Rural Blog, reminds us that retail prices for corn
are higher than what farmers are paid wholesale: "
I bought 1,100 pounds of corn at Kirkland, Tenn., about
15 miles from my [Alabama] farm, Dec. 12. That's 19.64
bushels. I paid $2.80 a bushel," he writes. "You
drive under the hopper and employees shoot the corn
into your containers -- in my case three 55-gallon drums
in the bed of my truck. . . . It's about as cheap as
you can get corn around here. At a local Alabama co-op,
it's $3.50 a bushel. At the local feed store, it's $4.50
a 50-pound bag, 5 pounds less than a bushel."
Kentucky may get nation's first
law for broad drug testing of coal workers
A Kentucky task force looking into the problem of drug
abuse among miners is recommending a comprehensive drug
testing program for people who work in the coal industry,
and "A state drug-testing law for miners would
be the first of its kind in the country," reports
Gov. Ernie Fletcher endorsed the idea yesterday, telling
reporters, "Mining is a dangerous occupation and
miners deserve the right to work in as safe an environment
as possible." But he stopped short of saying he
would advocate the program. "We will seek to work
with members of the General Assembly to determine the
feasibility of enacting legislation," he said in
"Union and coal-industry officials said that they
support mandatory drug testing at mines, but that state
regulators will have a difficult time with the details
of such a program," writes Alan Maimon of The C-J's
soon-to-be-closed Hazard bureau. "We're generally
for it, but it's a much more complex issue than people
realize," Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky
Coal Association, told Maimon, who added, "Caylor
said his main concern is that industry would have to
pay for the tests."
The United Mine Workers of America
took no position on the proposal. Steve Earle, the union's
Kentucky political director and a task force member,
"said he needed to know, among other things, what
sanctions would be imposed on a miner who fails a screening,"
Maimon reports. (Read
Meanwhile: Federal inspectors
have issued a report calling an Eastern Kentucky mine
unsafe following a fatal roof fall. Roger Alford of
The Associated Press's Pikeville, Ky.,
bureau reports federal inspectors have ruled miners
were working beneath poorly supported overhead rocks
when two men were crushed in a cave-in at an Eastern
Kentucky coal mine earlier this year.
MSHA issued six citations to Stillhouse Mining.
One alleges the Harlan County company knew hazardous
conditions existed and allowed miners to continue working
in the area without correcting the problem or warning
them of the danger. The subsidiary of Black
Mountain Resources is contesting the allegations
by state and federal inspectors that it failed to ensure
the mine was safe. (Read
Appalachian Power energizes
new line that protesters called unsafe
A new high-voltage power line strung by Appalachian
Power Co. near Beckley, W. Va., which sparked
some protest, has been "energized," writes
Fred Pace of The Register-Herald in
Construction of the 7.2-mile, 138-kilovolt line began
in 2004. "Some residents protested the line being
to close to their homes and said they feared health
effects of magnetic fields from the high-voltage power
lines," Pace writes.
Appalachian Power officials said growth in the area
reached a point where reliability of electric service
was compromised. Project manager Jay Johnson told Pace,
“In this area, we’re seeing a load growth
rate of more than 5 percent a year. That’s good
news for the economy in the area, but it meant we needed
to make this improvement to our infrastructure.”
Virginia city prosecutor wins
defamation case; judgment smaller than sought
A Roanoke jury has ordered an alternative media outlet
to pay the top prosecutor in Martinsville, Va., $75,000
for defamation of character -- much less than she sought
but a large sum for the outlet.
"Media 6 owner and operator Charles
Roark said the jury's decision 'makes it tougher for
us to do our job.' He and his attorney said they would
consider an appeal. Martinsville Commonwealth's Attorney
Joan Ziglar, who triumphed in court but was awarded
far less than the $250,000 her attorneys asked for in
court, was not available for comment after the verdict,"
writes Mike Allen of The Roanoke Times.
Ziglar sued Roark and his Media 6 news company for
$3 million, charging a published letter defamed her
in a tabloid newspaper, Buzz. Roark's
Martinsville-based Cable 6 television
station "had a reputation for salacious, gossipy
innuendo, and Buzz had a similar reputation
for outrageousness," writes Allen.
In a letter to the editor, a city jail inmate charged
with first-degree murder claimed Ziglar encouraged his
co-defendant to lie to a grand jury in order to frame
him, and that Ziglar was seeking revenge for an affair
he alleged to have had with her sister, notes Allen.
Washington and Lee University journalism
professor Ed Wasserman, testifying of the decision to
print the letter without fact-checking, told the court,
"It's reckless, it's thoughtless, it's horrible."
Statewide candidates seek newspapers'
support, but spend little with them
Virginia's Press, the newsletter of
Press Association, uses the Old Dominion's
recent statewide elections as an opportunity to strike
the latest contrast between candidates' use of editorial
endorsements in TV commercials with the lack of money
they spend on newspaper ads.
During the recent election for governor, Virginia
Press Service records showed that only $50,000
was spent on campaign-related advertising that VPS provided
to newspapers. "The broadcast ads quickly pointed
out how newspapers, through their editorial coverage,
took the other candidates to task for voting and campaign
records," writes Bill Atkinson, VPA publications
By not advertising in newspapers, candidates are doing
a disservice to voters, said Colston Newton, editor
Northumberland Echo, circulation 2,800.
"People think of the weeklies as 'their papers,'"
said the editor of the weekly in Heathsville, 40 miles
northeast of Richmond. "An ad with the inherent
message, 'I can't reach every door, but I can reach
you in your paper,' I believe, would resonate almost
as well as that door-knock. Subconsciously, the reader
would think, 'Hey, he's in my paper. He must care about
"An additional aspect is that most weeklies are
read literally cover to cover," Newton continued.
"An ad in all the state's weeklies will be seen
by more voters at an exponentially lower cost than any
TV ad, and it will be taken more seriously."
The Newspaper Association of America
recently invited political consultants and interest
groups to nominate good examples of political ads in
newspapers. The top 50, rated for their creativity and
effectiveness by a panel of experts, are available from
Jack Brady, director or marketing and advertising, at
703-902-1861. To see samples of the top 50, click
Knight Ridder raises $640,000
for hurricane-battered Biloxi Sun Herald staffers
Employees from all of Knight Ridder's
properties and others have pulled together $320,000
for their colleagues at The Sun Herald
in Biloxi, Miss., who suffered from Hurricane Katrina.
Knight Ridder is matching the money, for a total of
"The fund officially closed on Nov. 15, though
Knight Ridder spokeswoman Lee Ann Schlatter said that
checks keep trickling in. Most of the money consisted
of personal donations from company employees that ranged
from $20 to $500. Schlatter said there were many checks
for several hundred dollars," writes Jennifer Shea
of Editor & Publisher. (Read more)
Schlatter told Shea, "People that lost really lost."
So far, Knight Ridder has distributed tax-free donations
totaling $525,000 to 150 employees at the Sun Herald.
Knight Ridder said it will evaluate who gets the remaining
money of about $115,000. The paper
has 250 people on staff. (Read
Buffalo reluctant to roam home;
some return, some still on the range
"Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,"
is the refrain we know; another might be, "How
you gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they see how
it is to roam free." In Minnesota, officials
are trying to ply some stubborn, roaming buffalo back
home after they've escaped and roamed far from home.
"Authorities in western Minnesota knew where the
buffalo roamed Wednesday. Their problem was luring a
stray herd of 75 bison that remained reluctant to beat
the retreat, even after being offered a sugar-coated
bribe," writes Paul Levy of the Minneapolis Star
Tribune. About 40 have returned. The herd escaped
their 150-acre pasture at a Barnesville, Minn., farm.
and drifted about two miles north of a blacktopped county
highway which they will have to cross to return home,
Gail Griffin, executive director of the Minnesota
Buffalo Association, told Levy, "Offering
them hay or other food seems like the best way to get
their attention. Otherwise, I'm afraid they may be going
about this all wrong. These are wild animals; machines
scare them." (Read
Griffin and others are praying for a heavy snowfall,
because buffalo become docile in inclement conditions.
David Halvorson, who has his own buffalo herd, told
Levy, "You want them docile. You can't pressure
them. If you do, they'll scatter." Blogger's
note: Encyclopedia.com says bison can
stand nearly 6 feet tall at the shoulders and weigh
up to 2,000 pounds. Their horns may reach a length of
Cuts prompt group
to question feds' interest in improving rural health
A House-Senate conference committee finalizing
the federal health-care budget has cut $136 million
from what the National Rural Health Association
calls the "federal rural health safety net,"
prompting the association to question the Bush administration's
commitment to rural health.
Funding was cut from health programs,
created either specifically for rural areas or for all
underserved areas, including the elimination of funds
for rural emergency medical services, Healthy Community
Access grants, health-education training centers, geriatric
education centers and the Quentin Burdick Program for
Rural Training, NRHA notes in a news release. The conference
committee recommendation also reduces funding for state
offices of rural health, rural community access to medical
devices, the National Health Services Corps.
NRHA indicated gratitude for some proposed
cuts that the committee dropped, but said of those that
remain, "There is no policy basis for the reduction
or elimination of these successful and necessary programs.
The NRHA must seriously question the federal government's
commitment to actually improving health in rural and
underserved areas, rather than just keeping it barely
to read more)
It's a local story, too:
Rural journalists, ask your local health-care agencies
and private providers what these cuts would mean to
your readers, listeners and viewers. And ask your elected
representatives where they stand on the issue, as Casper-Star
Tribune Washington reporter Noelle Straub did
keeping secret names, locations of many civilian workers
A lawsuit filed Dec. 6 reveals the Bush administration
has without explanation withheld the names and work
locations of about 900,000 of its civilian workers,
breaking a tradition of openness begun in 1816.
Adina Rosenbaum, attorney for the co-directors of the
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse,
told The Associated Press, "Citizens
have a right to know who is working for the government."
The research group at Syracuse University
sued under the Freedom of Information Act to get the
data. Since 1989, the group has posted an online database
with the name, work location, salary and job category
of all 2.7 million federal civilian workers except those
in some law enforcement agencies. Reporters and government
watchdog groups used the data to monitor policies and
detect waste or abuse.
The TRAC co-directors wrote the federal Office
of Personnel Management when the agency withheld
the data, saying "Secret governors are incompatible
with a free government. Basic information about the
employees who carry out the day-to-day actions of government
is critical for meaningful public oversight."
The federal government began publicly naming its employees,
job categories, salaries and workplaces in 1816, AP
writes. The first entry was President James Madison,
author of the First Amendment. Click
here to read more of the AP story. For TRAC's report
on the lawsuit, click
Louisville paper's closing of
bureaus draws concerns about state coverage
The Courier-Journal said yesterday
it will close bureaus in Elizabethtown, Hazard and Paducah,
Ky., early next year. It marks the end of an era for
the paper, which was a statewide force and presence
when owned by the Bingham family of Louisville. Gannett
Co. Inc. has owned the paper since 1986, and
in the last 10 years has made significant reductions
in state circulation and coverage -- cuts that began
under the Binghams.
Publisher Edward Manassah told reporter Laura Ungar
for a story in this morning's C-J, "We want to
continue to focus on local news and better utilize our
resources. . . .We would like very much to grow our
suburban coverage. We'd like to intensify our online
presence to continue to improve the newspaper in terms
of impacting our readers." The move will leave
the paper with bureaus in Washington, Southern Indiana
and the state capitals of Frankfort and Indianapolis.
Former Publisher Barry Bingham Jr. told Ungar, "I
don't know if you can be a statewide paper without bureaus
to cover the state," but said he realizes "Newspaper
groups are in serious trouble. The news business is
having a hard time."
Michael A. Lindenberger, the Elizabethtown bureau's
reporter, told Ungar, "I think it's a huge step
backwards … it's a really sad day for the newspaper."
Lindenberger said he came to The C-J "because of
the paper's tradition of doing big-picture stories that
try to hold the state together." Longtime Hazard
Mayor Bill Gorman, 81, told Ungar, "It will be
a terrible thing. I just think that it's going to cause
all of Kentucky to suffer." Gorman noted the newspaper's
long history of Appalachian coverage. "We have
the Holy Bible and The Courier-Journal," he said.
The C-J Eastern Kentucky Bureau opened in Pikeville
around 1950. Its reporters have included David Hawpe,
the paper's editorial director and former editor; Stephen
Ford, Forum editor and former managing editor; Mike
Winerip, now of The New York Times;
R.G. Dunlop, prize-winning investigative reporter and
former city editor; John Voskuhl, projects editor of
the Miami Herald; Gardiner Harris of
the New York Times and formerly The Wall Street
Journal; and Judy Jones, lawyer and former
director of the University of Kentucky
Center for Rural Health in Hazard. The Western Kentucky
Bureau was opened in Paducah in 1933 by Harry Bolser;
its reporters included Bill Powell, former editor of
the Paducah Sun-Democrat, now The Paducah Sun.
To read more of Ungar's story, click
Not just papers: Other media
firms slimming down to fatten up investors
While stories abound about cuts and closures at newspapers,
they are not the only ones experiencing some belt tightening
as competition ramps up, spreads out and goes deep.
"The broad shift of viewers and advertising dollars
to the Internet is deeply troubling to many media companies,
TV networks are grappling with the implications of ad-skipping
technologies, and key advertisers like automakers and
retailers are rethinking their ad budgets," writes
Seth Sutel, business writer for The Associated
Cable companies like Comcast Corp.
and satellite broadcast providers like EchoStar
Communications Corp. and DirecTV Group
Inc. are among those facing a new threat from
phone companies laying ultrahigh speed fiber optic cables
that carry high quality video, data and phone signals.
And, investors at several media companies are calling
for trimming down and splitting up to boost share buybacks
or to increase shareholder value, notes Sutel.
Heather Goodchild, a chief media analyst at Standard
& Poor's, told Sutel, "There is a
benefit from portfolio diversification. If one of your
cylinders is not firing, the others may be." Goodchild
calls the current trend "tough love" time
for the media.
"Who knows what kind of technology may come along
that could challenge traditional media business models
anew. [Who] could ... have predicted you would see Walt
Disney Co.'s ABC selling episodes
of Desperate Housewives for $1.99 to watch on your video
iPod?" notes Sutel. (Read
The Amcore Bank News?
Station's sale of naming rights sparks SPJ criticism
The Society of Professional Journalists
has urged Clear Channel Communications
to stop its radio stations from selling naming rights
to their newsrooms. WIBA, a Clear Channel
station in Madison, Wis., sold the naming rights for
its newsroom to a local bank.
SPJ President David Carlson said in a news release,
"The only thing a news organization has is its
credibility. When that's lost, listeners, viewers and
readers will not be far behind. Does it sound credible
to introduce a news report with 'Here's Jennifer Miller
from the Battz Beer News Center?'" WIBA sold its
naming rights to a bank. "But does it really sound
any more credible to say, 'From the Amcore Bank News
Center, here's Jennifer Miller?'" Carlson asked.
Carlson also questioned a newsroom's ability to thoroughly
report on an entity when that entity has the naming
rights to the newsroom. "When news breaks at Amcore
Bank? Will they get the same level of reporting they
would get if the story were at another financial institution?"
SPJ noted that in 1948-56, the NBC
Nightly News was called the "Camel News Caravan."
Carlson said, "It was a bad idea then, and it's
a bad idea now." (Read
Six schools to host new journalism
program for international media pros
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced
in Washington, D.C., yesterday the State Department
will be a partner in the Edward R. Murrow Fellows Program,"
writes Art Jester of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The program, set to begin in April 2006, will bring
100 international media professionals to the United
States. They will attend seminars at six journalism
schools and visit state capitals to learn about news
coverage of state politics and government.
Beth Barnes, director of the University of
Kentucky's School of Journalism and Telecommunications,
said the university will host 10 to 12 journalists from
Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. They
will be on campus April 5-13. The universities of Minnesota,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Southern California and Texas
at Austin are the other participating journalism schools.
The universities will offer academic seminars on journalistic
principles as well as opportunities to work with American
journalists. The program is named for the legendary
CBS newsman who also served as director of the U.S.
Information Agency late in his career. (Read
American Hometown Publishing
buys three family-owned Virginia newspapers
Three Virginia family-owned newspapers, The
Coalfield Progress in Norton, The Post
in Big Stone Gap and The Dickenson Star
in Clintwood, have been bought by American Hometown
Publishing, headquartered in Nashville. The
newspapers were owned by Norton Press Inc.
Founded in 2003 by L. Daniel Hammond, American Hometown
Publishing says it acquires community newspapers, but
keeps local publishing partners in place, while strengthening
the business operations. The southwest Virginia papers
may be the first announced purchases by the company,
which reportedly is buying newspapers in Oklahoma. Hammond
did not return e-mails seeking comment. Hammond founded
American Profile, the newspaper magazine
that is inserted in many rural newspapers, but is no
longer involved with that publication, the Progress
Norton Press had struggled financially, reports The
Coalfield Progress. "I see this as a great thing
for all parties," Norton co-owner Michael Tate
said. "American Hometown Publishing believes in
community journalism and the local people who put out
good newspapers. They believe in the relationships between
newspapers and communities. And they believe in what
our family has always believed in. They are committed
to preserving the integrity and independence of community
Online news site invites readers
to interact, post content, add comments
Topix.net, the Web site and search
engine that collects news stories worldwide, is expanding
to citizen journalism business, offering readers a chance
to publish their own stories.
"The move is a part of a broader overhaul that
includes the addition of public forums and the ability
to comment on stories," writes Michael Bazeley
of The Mercury News in San Jose, Calif.
Chris Tolles, Topix's vice president of marketing, told
Bazeley, "The nature of news is changing as interactivity
comes into play. The number of people blogging and wanting
to participate seems to be an opportunity."
The company is jointly owned by media companies Gannett,
Tribune Co. and Knight
Ridder. Topix gets much of its revenue from
advertising and from business partners that pay to tap
into its news content. The company hopes the new features
will draw more visitors and increase ad revenue, writes
San Jose media consultant Susan Mernit noted the bigger
opportunity for Topix may be in helping its newspaper
partners make their sites more interactive. Mernit told
Bazeley, "My sense is the greatest opportunity
will come with some affiliation with a local brand."
Groups sign on to bill that would
protect local government broadband
The Community Broadband Coalition,
a diverse group of businesses, special interest groups
and local government organizations, is urging Congress
to pass the Community Broadband Act of 2005.
"The bill's main sponsors are Sen. Frank Lautenberg,
D-N.J., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who say the United
States lags behind other industrialized nations in providing
broadband Internet to its citizens," writes Akweli
Parker of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The coalition says only 30 percent of U.S. households
subscribe to broadband services, because of high prices
and lack of choices.
AARP, EarthLink Corp.,
Intel Corp., The United States
Conference of Mayors were among signers of
a letter endorsing the bill -- which responds to pressure
from telephone and cable television firms for the passage
of laws forbidding local governments from providing
telecommunications services. Cable and phone firms,
including Comcast and Verizon,
say government networks undermine their Internet access
businesses and unfairly burden taxpayers, notes Parker.
Feds reject Wyoming's call for
Arapaho casino payment; counties need revenue
The Department of the Interior has
rejected Wyoming's request that the Northern Arapaho
Tribe be required to pay money to the state under the
terms of a proposed gambling compact the state has rejected.
"George Skibine, an acting deputy assistant secretary
of interior, wrote Gov. Dave Freudenthal ... saying
the federal government would not require the tribe to
pay $450,000 a year," reports The Associated
Press. The tribe offered to make payments in
2002, but the state rejected that offer. Freudenthal
noted, "The counties surrounding the reservation
are concerned about the loss of this $900,000."
However, Skibine told Freudenthal, "The department
could not require the tribe to pay the state $450,000
for something the State would not actually be doing
and could not be required to do," Skibine wrote.
"However, it is reasonable for local governmental
entities themselves to negotiate local impact costs
directly with the tribe," AP reports. (Read
Lawmakers say USDA may circumvent
their legislation banning horse slaughter
Four members of Congress who want to end slaughter
of U.S. horses for human consumption overseas are concerned
the Department of Agriculture may try
to circumvent pending legislation, which would strip
federal funding for USDA meat inspectors at the three
remaining horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. and at the
Canadian and Mexican borders -- in effect blocking legal
"We're very concerned the USDA is trying to ignore
congressional intent to stop horse slaughter,"
said U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., who co-signed the
letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns
with U.S. Reps. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., and John Spratt,
D-S.C., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., reports The
A 2006 agriculture appropriations bill amendment removed
federal funding for the meat inspectors. A joint congressional
conference committee managed to insert a 120-day grace
period. The grace period began Nov. 10 and ends March
9. Horse slaughter could continue after March 9 if USDA
meat inspectors are paid on a per-fee inspection by
the companies rather than by federal funds. The letter
asked for a response by Dec. 21. (Read
Patriot Act extension
targets meth, provides new tools for police, prosecutors
A proposed four-year extension of the Patriot Act would
restrict the sale of products containing ingredients
needed to manufacture methamphetamine and help police
and prosecutors combat dealers.
"Sens. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, and Dianne
Feinstein, California Democrat, said the Combat Meth
Act -- together with anti-meth measures championed in
the House -- were included in the Reauthorization Conference
Report filed Thursday," writes Jerry Seper of The
Leaders in both parties are expected to push for the
legislation, which will likely be debated this week.
The proposal includes treatment funding to help meth
addicts. Meth use nationwide has increased by 300 percent
in the past decade, notes Seper. The bill provides an
additional $99 million a year for the next five years
to train state and local law enforcement and allocates
$20 million for rapid-response teams to assist and educate
children who have been affected by methamphetamine.
GOOD WORK: For a powerful story on
one Kentucky woman's fight with meth addiction, Resurrected
from Meth, by Ronica Brandenburg of the
Richmond Register and the Community
Newspaper Holdings Inc. News Service, Click
Midwestern farmers, families
get 'golden age' retirement training
It's hard leaving the farm behind. Many farmers have
toiled so long and so hard, it's difficult to stop.
But, a special program is helping some plow new fields,
metaphorically, in retirement.
"Organizers of the Golden Age Farming pilot program
through the University of Missouri
extension office -- which is also under way in Nebraska
and Iowa -- hope the sessions will initiate discussions
not typically heard in an industry in which workers
often labor until they die," writes Alan Scher
Zagier of The Associated Press.
Cynthia Crawford, a family financial education specialist,
told Zagier, "In farming, there isn't a golden
handshake. There's no magic cutoff date. There aren't
early retirement packages.'' The Missouri extension
service had offered farmers estate planning courses,
but organizer Mary Sobba said the new course is more
integrated. Participants called the program an eye-opener.
In Missouri, 53 percent of farmers are older than 55
and nearly 80 percent are older than 45.
In the program, a former accountant conducts estate-planning
sessions. Living wills, durable power of attorney and
long-term care health insurance are also topics. But
participants are asked "to brainstorm, to daydream,
to map out established goals" as well as pie-in-the-sky
scenarios. Crawford told participants, "Don't tell
me what you're retiring from, but what you're retiring
to," Zagier writes. (Read
HE'S AN ALUM: Zagier attended a rural reporting
seminar, programmed by the Institute for Rural Journalism
and Community Issues, in June at the Knight
Center for Specialized Journalism at the University
of Maryland .
MORE ON FARM FRONT: For a special
report on a young 4-H leader, Farming strikes right
chord with well-versed student, by Ben Sutherly
of the Dayton Daily News, click
N.C. tobacco co-op becomes cigarette
maker; some growers sue for cash
A farmers cooperative rose from the ashes of the federal
tobacco era to become a cigarette maker and exporter,
targeting China's 300 million smokers.
The Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative
bought a state-of-the-art cigarette manufacturing plant
in Roxboro, N.C., north of Durham, for $26 million from
Miami-based Vector Tobacco, reports Lee Weisbecker of
the Triangle Business Journal.
The co-op also owns a processing plant near Roxboro,
where tobacco is stored and prepared for export to Spain,
the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, writes Weisbecker.
Some owner-members disagree with the Raleigh-based organization's
new strategy. Two lawsuits argue that the co-op's reserves
should be distributed among its members. Those cases
There are about 100 workers at the plant. A spokesman
says employment could rise as high as 400 over the next
few years. "Meanwhile, some 14 million pounds of
processed, flue-cured tobacco, purchased from the co-op's
list of 3,500 active farmers and valued at $35.3 million,
is set for shipment to China in February in the group's
biggest overseas deal," Weisbecker writes.
Co-op Director Arnold Hamm told Weisbecker, "The
results have exceeded expectations," but the co-op
has not yet made a profit. Hamm said they plan to meet
that target in the third year of operation. The co-op
also plans to begin sharing revenue with its members.
Immigrants, descendents struggle
with poverty, lack of health insurance
"Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account
for 1 in 4 people living in poverty, and have contributed
to nearly three-fourths of the increase in the uninsured
population since 1989, according to a new report
by the Center for Immigration Studies,"
reports Deborah Bulkeley of the Deseret Morning
There are 35.2 million immigrants living in the nation,
more than at any other time in the nation's history,
according to the report. Nearly half of the 7.9 million
immigrants who arrived between January 2000 and March
2005 were illegal, writes Bulkeley for the in Salt Lake
The 11 million illegal immigrants comprise about 3
percent of the population, but are an estimated 14 percent
of all uninsured individuals. CIS is a nonpartisan research
organization that supports lowered levels of immigration.
The U.S. Congress is preparing to debate several immigration-reform
Steven Camarota, the report's author, called Utah's
overall immigrant growth "modest compared to other
states." Camarota said a key question is the social
cost to taxpayers as increasing numbers of low-skilled
workers compete with the poorest Americans for jobs,
writes Bulkeley. Angela Kelley of the immigrant rights
group National Immigration Forum told
Bulkeley, "It's counter-intuitive to say we want
to keep 11 million people in a suppressed, underground
Judge orders FEMA
aid extension, calls cutoff 'economic discrimination'
A federal judge has given thousands of impoverished
and displaced Katrina victims another month of federal
aid and criticized a planned cut-off as discriminatory.
"Calling the Federal Emergency Management
Agency 'numbingly insensitive' and 'unduly
callous,' a federal judge [has] ruled the agency must
pay the hotel bills of hurricane evacuees until Feb.
7. Thousands faced a Thursday deadline to check out
or begin picking up the tab themselves," writes
Jodi Wilgoren of The New York Times.
The ruling covers 42,000 evacuee families in 4,000
hotels in 47 states and the District of Columbia. FEMA
had planned to stop paying for their rooms on Dec. 15
or Jan. 7. Then, several of the evacuees filed a class-action
lawsuit. The ruling demands that 84,470 applications
for assistance be resolved and mandates hotel bills
be covered for two weeks after each family receives
its check, notes Wilgoren.
Lawsuit plaintiff Leonora Bartley told Wilgoren, "Now
I have an opportunity to look for housing and to provide
a home for me and my son. I was panicking because I
was going to be homeless." FEMA spokeswoman Nicol
Andrews told Wilgoren the agency's "aim is to ensure
that all victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have
Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. said he based his ruling
on federal law that requires the government to ease
suffering and damage caused by natural disasters. "The
arbitrary deadline violates that legislation, Judge
Duval wrote, and discriminates against victims based
on economic status," writes Wilgoren. (Read
Arizona city going wall-to-wall
wireless in effort to develop economy
The city of Tempe, Ariz., is joining the growing ranks
of cities and suburbs with wireless Internet service.
"Call it a municipal status symbol in the digital
age: a city blanketed by a wireless Internet network,
accessible at competitive prices throughout the town's
homes, cafes, offices and parks," writes Michelle
Roberts of The Associated Press.
Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix and home to Arizona
State University, plans to have wireless Internet
for its 160,000 residents in February. It will become
the first city of its size in the United States to have
Wi-Fi citywide. City officials hope high-speed Internet
will attract more technology and biotech companies "and
the young, upwardly mobile employees they bring,"
Cheryl Leanza, of the National League of Cities,
told Roberts more U.S. cities are looking at using Internet
access as an economic development tool, but few cities
have gotten as far as installing systems. "Most
cities are realizing that it may be something that they
want to do," Leanza said. (Read
Industry, enviros debate Schwarzenegger's
contradictory stance on coal
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hates pollution
from coal-fired power plants but he also likes the low-cost
of electricity they produce. The two sides of "the
governator' have people confused and combatant in a
tug-o-war with high stakes for consumers, industry leaders
"Over the last year, the governor has enthusiastically
embraced both positions ... now he's getting pressure
from pro- and anti-coal factions in his administration
and across the West to reconcile his stances. All the
vying parties hope to influence energy policy in California,
the region's biggest electricity market," writes
Marc Lifsher of The Los Angeles Times.
Gary Ackerman, executive director of the Western
Power Trading Forum, an industry group for
electricity sellers, told Lifsher, California, like
others in the states "want[s] the cheap power and
they also want renewables" such as wind and solar
energy, which are more expensive.
Lifsher writes, "Schwarzenegger can try to lower
California energy costs, among the highest in the nation,
by building transmission lines to import coal-generated
power from Wyoming, New Mexico and other mountain states,
or he can make his state a leader in efforts against
global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
'Friends of Smokies' specialty
plates raises $740,000 for park programs
The Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National
Park are getting good mileage out of license
"Sales of Smokies tags in Tennessee and North
Carolina raised nearly $740,000 this year to support
the nonprofit group's conservation, education and maintenance
programs in the country's most visited national park,"
writes Duncan Mansfield of The Associated Press.
Gary Wade, chairman of the Friends board, told reporters,
"With such strong public support for the plates
and the park, we hope to accomplish as much or even
more in 2006."
The Smokies plate in Tennessee remains the most popular
specialty tag out of more than 90 offerings, notes Mansfield.
Friends spokesman George Ivey said an increase in the
Knox County wheel tax likely lowered sales "in
tag-friendly Knoxville," writes Mansfield. The
Friends keep $30.75 of the extra $35 annual fee for
a specialty plate in Tennessee, and $20 of the extra
$30 fee in North Carolina. (Read
Kentucky Power reapplies for power line through part
of national forest
Kentucky Power Cooperative has reapplied
to construct a power line in Rowan County, Kentucky,
a portion of which would go through the Daniel
Boone National Forest, appealing what some
industry observers say was an unusual ruling.
"In August, the Kentucky Public Service
Commission declined ... an application for
the same route. The commissioners said they 'will not
prohibit a new application for this same route, if further
study of alternatives shows all of them to be infeasible,'"
states a company news release. The company said it considered
several alternatives, "including routes that follow
existing rights of way through the national forest and
routes that do not enter the national forest at all,"
and said the U.S. Forest Service agreed
that "the best route is the one that was originally
Big Box Politics: California
weekly scrutinizes Wal-Mart's election influences
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is suing Turlock,
Calif., a city in the San Joaquin Valley south of Modesto,
for trying to block another Supercenter in the area
-- but lawsuits are not the company's only way of getting
around opposition, writes Abby Souza of the twice-weekly
In Contra Costa County, she writes, Wal-Mart put more
than $1.5 million into a successful 2004 campaign to
reverse the county's "big box" ordinance,
which banned stores with more than 100,000 square feet
and more than 5 percent non-taxable merchandise. It
funded “Contra Costa Consumers for Choice,”
which gathered 30,000 signatures to get the ordinance
on the March 2004 ballot. Voters overturned the ordinance,
54 percent to 46 percent.
In Inglewood, Calif., Wal-Mart donated more than $1
million to “Citizens Committee to Welcome Wal-Mart
to Inglewood,” which collected 15,000 signatures
to get the approval of a Supercenter on an April 2004
ballot, but that measure was defeated. The secretary
of state's office says Wal-Mart has paid more than $4.3
million since 2000 to 10 different groups to run political
campaigns against California cities' big box ordinances.
Katrina put poor blacks in less
familiar rural surroundings, study indicates
Rural, predominantly white areas appear to be seeing
an influx of African Americans from Hurricane Katrina,
and the newcomers are less well-to-do than their new
neighbors, the Los Angeles Times found
by analyzing address changes fuled with the U.S.
The records indicate that poor African Americans settled
in places much different from home, and in most cases
wherever government-chartered buses or planes stopped.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the University
of Michigan, said there is evidence to corroborate
the finding that poor blacks ended up in wealthier,
more rural areas that are predominantly white.
"Frey and other researchers said there was evidence
— primarily anecdotal — corroborating the
Times' finding that poor blacks ended up farther away
in wealthier, more rural areas that are predominantly
white. The move to more-prosperous cities could amount
to a second chance for many evacuees and could change
New Orleans forever," Tomas Alex Tizon and Doug
Evacuees from New Orleans' suburbs, mainly middle-class
whites, tended to relocate nearby in areas that resembled
their former surroundings. Fifty-nine percent of evacuees
relocated without leaving the storm-damaged area. "Overall,
about 80 percent of the evacuees remained in the Southern
states closest to the hurricane-damaged region, with
the top destinations being suburban New Orleans, followed
by Houston; Baton Rouge, La.; Dallas; and Atlanta,"
the Times reports.
The newspaper's analysis included 325,000 address changes
from Aug. 29, the day Katrina hit, through mid-October.
That represented about a quarter of the 1.5 million
addreseses in the region that are no longer receiving
postal delivery. "We should look at this situation
as a kind of motion picture, and this gives us a glimpse
of one scene," Frey said.
A lack of financial resources make it harder for poor
people to return, while middle-class residents are able
to afford it. This means New Orleans may have radically
different demographics. "It points to a New Orleans
that could become much more white and middle-class,"
Laura Ann Sanchez, a researcher at the Center for Family
and Demographic Research at Ohio's Bowling Green
State University, told Tizon and Smith. New
Orleans' "melting pot of race and culture"
may be lost, she said. (Read
Digging for black gold: Coal
industry rides high, but some wary of bust
U. S. News & World Report is the
latest major news outlet to realize that the coal industry
is in a boom unlike any since the 1970s. "While
Americans have been transfixed by the spectacular rise
in oil and natural gas prices and the fat profits of
the oil giants, coal has quietly risen to prices not
seen for nearly three decades," writes the weekly
magazine's Kit R. Roane.
A sustained boom "would be one that the coal industry
hasn't seen since the OPEC oil shocks of the mid-1970s
brought coal prices up to nearly $100 a ton and turned
Appalachia's coal country into a Wild West free-for-all
of bootleg miners and golf-course business deals,"
writes Roane. For consumers, rising coal prices could
mean even higher energy prices. David Khani, an industry
analyst, told Roane, "There haven't been many coal
booms, so it's hard to compare. But there has clearly
been a spectacular change."
The federal National Energy Information Center
projects domestic demand for coal will increase to 1.5
billion tons by 2025, a nearly 38 percent increase from
current levels. Most of that demand will come from electric
utilities, notes Roane. And, the boom means big profits
for companies such as Peabody Energy Corp.,
which reported a 141 percent increase in third-quarter
earnings last month.
Industry officials say costs of digging coal are rising,
and many worry about an industry bust. Consol
Energy has publicized a $500 million expansion
in Pennsylvania that promises to increase capacity there
by 70 percent, or about 7 million tons a year contingent
on buyers coming to the table first, writes Roane. The
Department of Energy has lined up several
coal and utility companies to jointly invest with the
federal government in a new "zero-emission"
$950 million coal-fired power plant. The plant could
be operational by 2012, notes Roane. (Read
The boom makes some folks worry about environmental
damage and safety risks. The Charleston
Gazette reports here
on a coal-slurry spill at a Massey Energy Co.
subsidiary’s plant in Raleigh County. State regulator
said about 10,000 gallons of slurry was spilled.
Some see the boom as a chance to steer futre development
in Central Appalachia, but an industry expert warns
that the region is having a hard time keeping up with
demand. For that and other news from the "Covering
Coal" seminar of the Institute for Rural
Journalism and Community Issues, click
Japan eases ban on U.S. beef,
but Japanese have developed an Aussie taste
Japan has eased a two-year ban on U.S. beef, defusing
a trade dispute and reopening what has been the largest
overseas market for American ranchers.
"The Cabinet decided to allow the import of beef
from younger American cattle after a government food-safety
commission made a long-awaited ruling last week that
meat from those animals was as safe as Japanese beef.
Japan imposed the ban in December 2003 after the discovery
of mad-cow disease in a dairy cow in Washington state,"
writes Martin Fackler of The New York Times.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns told reporters the
decision was "an important step in terms of normalizing
beef trade based on scientific standards." Japan's
decision allows the resumption of imports of beef from
cattle less than 21 months old, considered too young
to catch the disease, also known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, which can be fatal to humans.
A Kyodo News survey last week showed
75.2 percent of respondents unwilling to eat American
beef. Australian beef has filled the void. In 2004,
Australian beef sales jumped a third to 51 percent of
beef consumed in Japan. Japan bought $1.4 billion worth
of U.S. Beef in 2003. (Read
Alltel merger boasts rural focus;
selling telephone unit for $4.9 billion
Alltel Corp. has announced plans to
spin off its local telephone unit to shareholders and
merge the business with Valor Communications
Group, a deal worth $4.9 billion.
"The transaction would create a local telephone
company with a rural focus and 3.4 million access lines
in 16 states. The companies said the deal was attractive
because of their complementary market regions, and
they forecast $40 million of cost savings annually,"
reports the Houston Chronicle.
Based in Little Rock, Ark., Alltel is considered one
of the nation's leading rural telephone companies. In
September, the company said it was talking with multiple
possible buyers of its local business so it could concentrate
on wireless. The deal is expected to close by mid-2006.
Alltel would emerge from the deal as an all-wireless
carrier serving 11 million mostly rural and small-town
customers, the Chronicle reports. Analyst Taher Bouzayen
told the Chronicle, "The wireless market is definitely
where the growth is."
Some industry analysts speculated the company could
become a takeover target for other wireless companies,
but Alltel Chief Executive Officer Scott Ford said,
"We are not having discussions of those kinds of
transactions with anybody." Alltel, derives most
of its revenue from wireless service, the Chronicle
Meth summit of 13 Midwestern
governors convenes in Indiana tomorrow
Governors from 13 midwestern states will gather for
three days beginning tomorrow to work on plans for combating
the spread of methamphetamine production and abuse.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who will host the summit
in downtown Indianapolis, told Indianapolis
Star reporter Michele McNeil, "I look
forward to not only learning from other states, but
also sharing the tactics that Indiana has developed
to protect Hoosiers from meth." In 2004, the Drug
Enforcement Agency found more than half of
all meth lab incidents in the U.S. occurred in the Midwest.
The governors will visit the Miami Correctional
Facility about 60 miles north of Indianapolis.
The prison operates a meth rehabilitation program for
inmates. The first 22 inmates to complete the nine-month
program graduated in October. The Indiana Department
of Child Services' protocol for removing children
from homes containing meth labs also will be discussed.
Officials also will review anti-meth initiatives from
South Dakota and Minnesota.
About 150 officials are expected at the meeting sponsored
by the Midwestern Governors Association
and the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy. John Walters, director of the
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,
is the keynote speaker. The Midwestern Governors Association
includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,
Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North
Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. (Read
Minnesota governor lays groundwork
for changes in laws on illegals
A study ordered by Minnesota's governor tabulates the
cost of services to residents who are not legal citizens,
but doesn't consider any financial contributions they
may make to the state's coffers.
"About 80,000 illegal immigrants live in Minnesota,
and the state services they and their children use cost
taxpayers more than $175 million a year, a new study
concludes. The study was ordered by Republican Gov.
Tim Pawlenty, who plans to propose law changes affecting
illegal immigrants during the coming legislative session,"
writes Patrick Sweeney of the St. Paul Pioneer
Pawlenty told reporters last week, "We should
support immigration that is legal and orderly. Unfortunately,
the current system is neither and needs to be reformed."
Brian McClung, a spokesman for the governor, told Sweeney
that Pawlenty believes current immigration laws and
practices have produced a chaotic situation that "can't
be justified by simply saying that it provides cheap
labor to the state."
The report focused only on how much illegal immigrants
cost the state. Some studies conclude "the benefit
to the national economy of work by noncitizens exceeds
the cost of public services they consume," Sweeney
noted. An administration official said Pawlenty did
not request an analysis of the economic benefit contributed
by illegal immigrants. (Read
Requiem for small tobacco farmers:
One woman embodies an era's passing
The story of one Central Kentucky woman, whose life
embodies tobacco farming as it was for most of the 20th
Century, is told today by reporter Amy Wilson of the
"She stood in the tobacco warehouse on the opening
day of burley sales, as she had done for many of her
75 years. But this time, there was no fanfare, no governor,
no commissioner of agriculture, no crowd of buyers and
hum of sellers. There was just her and men with calculators.
They told her what they would give her for her tobacco
and she had to agree with the price or go home with
her unsold crop," writes Wilson. "So Pat Thompson
did something she never ever does. She cried."
Thompson has decided it is her last year growing tobacco
because the federal program of price supports and production
controls is over, and that "has done what the changeable
weather could not: make her quit," writes Wilson.
Thompson said tobacco quit her before she was ready
to quit it. Pat met her husband, farmer John Thompson,
in early fall 1958. "She stayed in the fields alongside
her husband ... but she was not some delicate flower
likely to be laid low by sunshine," Wilson writes.
"Thompson remembers when tobacco fetched good
money, but this year ... the plants didn't grow in the
greenhouses like they should ... they didn't get enough
good sunlight. They ... didn't get rain. She irrigated
day and night, then came six inches of rain. Nothing
you could do but watch it fall," describes Wilson.
Thompson told her, "You can gamble every day of
the year and never once leave the farm." (Read
Man who defamed John Siegenthaler
Sr. on Wikipedia is found, confesses
A Nashville man "has admitted that, in trying
to shock a colleague with a joke, he put false information
into a Wikipedia entry" about
journalist John Seigenthaler Sr., The New York
Times reported yesterday.
"Brian Chase, 38, who until Friday was an operations
manager at a small delivery company, told Mr. Seigenthaler
on Friday that he had written the material suggesting
that Mr. Seigenthaler had been involved in the assassinations
of John and Robert Kennedy. Wikipedia, a nonprofit venture
that is the world's biggest encyclopedia, is written
and edited by thousands of volunteers," writes
Seigenthaler, a former editor of The Tennessean,
raged about the libel, in an op-ed article in USA
Today, of which he was once editorial director.
"His plight touched off a debate about the reliability
of information on Wikipedia -- and by extension the
entire Internet -- and the difficulty in holding Web
sites and their users accountable, even when someone
is defamed," Seeyle reports.
Seigenthaler had been told his only recourse was to
file suit against his defamer's Internet service provider,
but a book indexer named Daniel Brandt in San Antonio,
who runs Wikipedia
Watch, played detective with the Internet
protocol address of the defamer's computer, which Seigenthaler
"Every computer connected to the Internet has
a unique IP address, and sometimes, even if that's all
you know, it can be used to find which city someone
lives in," explains Mark Schaver, computer-assisted
reporting director for The Courier-Journal
in Louisville, noting that GeoBytes
offers such a service. "Brandt doesn't
say what he used to trace Chase to Nashville, although
he did use a free software tool called Curl
to learn that the IP address was for a computer server,
which gave him the clue that told him which company
Chase worked for," Schaver writes in a memo to
Brandt then sent an e-mail message to the delivery
firm, asking about its services. "A response bore
the same Internet protocol address that was left by
the creator of the Wikipedia entry, offering further
evidence of a connection. A call by a New York Times
reporter to the delivery company on Thursday made employees
nervous, Mr. Chase later told Mr. Seigenthaler,"
Seelye writes. "Mr. Chase resigned from his job
because, he said, he did not want to cause problems
for his company. Mr. Seigenthaler urged Mr. Chase's
boss to rehire him, but Mr. Chase said that, so far,
this had not happened."
here for the Times story and
here for The Tennessean's Sunday
story, by Natalia Mielczarek.
Rooting out threat to rural
Virginia: ‘Ham on the lam’ tromping the
Ever heard the saying, "When pigs fly"? Well,
rural Virginia has a bigger problem with pigs that have
flown the coop, reports columnist Bob Gibson of The
Daily Progress in Charlottesville.
"Large feral pigs are trampling through the remnants
of our state’s once pristine forests, glens and
dales. Industrial hog farms, where the last lots of
captive domestic creatures are kept, experience an escape
rate perhaps greater than Virginia’s well-populated
prisons at last, quite unofficial, count," Gibson
Small farms hide surprisingly large escape problems,
notes Gibson, with a memorable phrase: "There is
no mandatory reporting of ham on the lam." Gibson
notes that deer-vs.-car accidents catch more attention
or, he writes, "drivers would be complaining more
about ... the hogs that slip farm fences and wander
Farmers in Culpeper County are suffering property damage
from an estimated 50 or more wild hogs roaming through
the county, writes Gibson. "Feral pigs are mean.
And they’re kind of pig-smart. A wild hog views
fences with contempt and sees farmers as helpful producers
of fresh grains. Private hunting is being recommended
by state game officials. Public hunting may even be
tried," he writes. (Read
Chief Blogger Bill Griffin notes: Experienced wild-hog
hunters will warn first-timers that it's not deer hunting.
Hogs will charge. Mean, nasty, snorting, 250-pounds-plus
of tough bacon bent on goring a leg (at the very least).
The best site is up in a tree stand, or close by a tree
you can scramble up quickly after firing your first
shot. And take a change of underwear.
Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005
series on health draws on, offers lessons for, other
The Courier-Journal of
Louisville is concluding its series on Kentucky's poor
health this week, beginning today with a
story about lessons the state's leaders can learn
from other states -- thus offering lessons not just
for Kentucky but for other states, many of them rural,
with low health status.
Medical writer Laura Ungar cites Maine's
"all-out assault on tobacco," New Mexico's
"concerted efforts to attack smoking and obesity"
and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who "turned his
personal weight battle into a statewide crusade."
sidebar story examines those states and Utah.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a physician, "likes
to say that he considers Kentucky's 4 million residents
his patients. And he says he has a prescription to improve
their health," Ungar writes. "It includes
setting policies that support healthy lifestyles, bolstering
Medicaid and taking steps to recruit and keep doctors."
Another plan in the works would give "Get Healthy
Accounts" to chronically ill Medicaid recipients,
for them "to spend on wellness programs if they
work to improve their health through regular checkups
or disease-management programs," Ungar writes.
"To attack obesity, Fletcher said he will encourage
local school boards to increase physical activity for
students. And he said he plans to introduce a Governor's
Fitness Award program soon." (Read
Fletcher's tax-reform package last year raised the
state cigarette tax 27 cents, to 30 cents a pack, and
the governor continues to say that he would like to
see it raised another 13 cents, but may not push for
it in the legislative session that begins next month
because of resistance from legislators. "Like many
of the health issues facing Kentucky today, smoking
is a challenge with deep roots in our culture, history
and economy," he told Ungar. Changing that takes
time, he said, and "The biggest thing is the culture
of education, making sure people understand healthy
habits, assisting them in getting the health care they
need, but also assisting them in taking responsibility
for their own health, because that's where the key lies."
Monday update: For today's story,
about the private and academic sectors playing a bigger
role in improving health, click
here. For a sidebar on the work of volunteers and
National study shows less traffic,
more highway fatalities in rural areas
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
said yesterday 42 percent more fatal crashes occur in
rural areas than on much busier highways in urban or
"Focusing on fatal crashes from 1994 through 2003,
the study found rural crashes are more likely to involve
multiple fatalities, rollovers and motorists being thrown
from their vehicles ... [and] it takes longer for emergency
medical services to arrive," writes Ken Thomas
of The Associated Press.
In 2003, Montana led the nation with 95.4 percent of
its fatal crashes on rural roads, followed by Maine,
South Dakota and South Carolina. The report found that
while more fatal crashes occur in rural parts of the
country, rural traffic is far lower, notes Thomas. The
report found motorists drove 10.3 trillion miles on
rural roads during the 10 years studied, compared with
16.1 trillion miles on urban roads.
The study found rollovers happen in about one of every
four rural crashes involving at least one traffic death,
compared with one in 10 for urban crashes; motorists
were thrown from their vehicles in 17 percent of rural
crashes compared with 8 percent in urban crashes; and
multiple deaths occurred on rural roads about 11 percent
of the time, compared with 7 percent on urban roads,
writes Thomas. (Read
Alaska National Guard acknowledges
a push for recruiting in rural areas
More rural news media are taking a local
look at national reports about military recruiters concentrating
on young men and women in predominantly poor, rural
areas. The national reports said a disproportionate
number of rural recruits choose the military because
they have few if any other career prospects.
Alaska Public Radio and
KTUU-TV in Anchorage are reporting
increased Army recruiting efforts in rural Alaska. APR
reports, "The Alaska National Guard
is launching a major drive," its largest in a decade.
here to listen to APR's report. Army National
Guard Commander Craig Christianson told KTUU's
Natasha Rasheed, “We will be traveling to all
of our rural locations to meet with the community leadership
... to increase our presence.” (Read
The American Friends Service Committee
sued the Department of Defense to get
a listing of all recruits and their hometowns, a valuable
analytical tool for newspapers. Click
here for that resource.
Wal-Mart runs ads in response
to National Newspaper Assn. complaints
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. placed full-page
advertisements in 336 smaller newspapers in Missouri
and Oklahoma after weekly publishers complained they
are ignored by the world's largest retailer.
"The move comes at a time when the company is
trying to address accusations it treats workers poorly
and drives local shops out of businesses. The ads, which
ran . . . between Nov. 30 and Dec. 6, were a test for
a possible change in newspaper advertising policy at
Wal-Mart, which publishers say has ignored their dailies
and weeklies for years," reports Marcus Kabel of
The Associated Press.
Mike Buffington, past president of the National
Newspaper Association and editor and co-publisher
of the Jackson Herald in Georgia, told
Kabel, "I think it is a good first step."
Buffington wrote in a letter posted on the NNA's
Web site, "Wal-Mart built its foundation of
stores in many of our rural and suburban communities,
the places where I, and many of my fellow publishers,
operate newspapers." (Read
Wal-Mart regularly faces criticism, lawsuits and organized
attacks from labor union-backed campaign groups. Brian
Steffens, executive director of the NNA, said retail
and grocery store ads together account for about 60
percent to 80 percent of revenues for community newspapers,
writes Kabel. For an Institiute for Rural Journalism
and Community Issues report on Wal-Mart and
NNA, click here.
Georgia ordinance protects mountains
from development, angers opponents
A mountain protection ordinance is now on the books
in White County, Georgia, the state's first county to
do so, and real-estate interests want to fight the measure,
which preserves undeveloped land.
The ordinance, adopted earlier this month, applies
to large tracts with a slope of 25 percent or more,
regardless of elevation. That protects 9 percent of
White County's privately owned land, but properties
already being developed do not fall into that category.
However, developers without a building permit will face
limitations on grading, clearing, the height of the
house, and other aspects of construction, notes Debbie
Gilbert of The Gainesville Times.
The county commission's approval enraged opponents,
who consider the ordinance an unconstitutional taking
of private property, because it permits development
only on a small portion of a steep lot. "We think
it's an eminent-domain issue," Harriet Carter,
a White County real-estate broker, told Gilbert. "I
was aghast that just two guys could ramrod this down
people's throats. I don't know what their agenda is."
Proponents countered that the ordinance was needed
to both protect mountains and so that the county could
comply with the 1989 Georgia Planning Act's rules for
environmental protection. Counties in the Appalachian
foothills are supposed to have a mountain ordinance,
but many counties have delayed adoption of any such
measure, reports Gilbert. (Read
farm revenue could top $4 billion despite tobacco sales
Agricultural economists say Kentucky agriculture could
yield a near-record $4 billion this year with the livestock
sector flourishing while grain farmers struggle and
tobacco's influence wanes.
"The state's signature equine industry will exceed
$1 billion in gross receipts in 2005, and the growing
poultry industry is close behind at around $900 million,
said Craig Infanger, a University of Kentucky
ag economist. Beef cattle receipts also were up,"
reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Infanger told Patton the livestock sector offsets declining
receipts for crops and tobacco. High land values, strong
export markets and an infusion of government payments
put the ag industry in a strong position for next year.
"This is a strong agricultural sector right now.
This year's farm cash receipts should come close to
last year's level," Infanger told reporter Janet
Infanger predicted "farm cash receipts could reach
a record $4.14 billion next year if exports remain strong
and farmers have normal weather conditions." But,
he noted, "Farmers will face production challenges
from rising interest rates and higher energy costs."
UK tobacco economist Will Snell said tobacco receipts
will likely drop by $250 million to $275 million this
year, with burley production down 35 percent. Not only
did many growers leave the industry with the end of
the federal tobacco program, it was a bad crop year.
Tobacco settlement money spent
to balance budgets, not prevent smoking
Only a small fraction of the money from the 1998 tobacco
settlement and tobacco taxes is being used to prevent
smoking, according to an update by several advocacy
groups. Much of the money is going toward bailing out
The report, "A Broken Promise to Our Children,"
was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free
Kids, the American Heart Association,
the American Cancer Society and the
American Lung Association.
"The researchers said rather than funding smoking
prevention efforts, states often use tobacco-related
funds to pay off budget shortfalls or fund capital campaigns
and construction projects. Tobacco industry officials
said states should use funds from the $206 billion settlement
for their intended purpose," reports the Daily
Policy Digest of the National Center
for Policy Analysis in Dallas, a foundation
that looks for free-market solutions to public-policy
problems and private alternatives to government regulation.
Researchers found states in total allocated $551 million
for tobacco-prevention programs in fiscal year 2006.
The Centers for Disease Control recommend
$1.6 billion. The tobacco industry spends $15.4 billion
to market tobacco products, nearly 28 times the amount
states spend on prevention. (Read
Only Maine, Colorado, Delaware and Mississippi spend
at least the minimum recommended levels. Michigan, Missouri,
New Hampshire, South Carolina and Tennessee spend no
state funds on prevention, while 30 other states spend
less than half of the recommended amount. Click
here for the full report.
Efficacy of new
truck weight law not proven, opines W.Va. newspaper
A Huntington, W. Va., newspaper has cast a skeptical
eye at official optimism about a new law allowing heavier-laden
trucks to rumble down designated highways in the state,
opining thatg the proof will be in the highway safety
data reported at year's end.
"Changes in state law that allow heavier coal,
logging and other trucks to use designated roads in
southern West Virginia have improved public safety,
the state Public Service Commission
said Tuesday. Problems with overweight trucks and speeding
are being addressed through enforcement, the PSC said
in its annual report," noted the Huntington
"So far, the PSC has measured improvement in
the number of permits to haul heavy loads and in enforcement.
In the long run, improvement will be measured in how
those roads fare in terms of maintenance, in how safe
people feel driving on those roads and the actual safety
record of those roads," the newspaper concluded.
Unknown critters discovered
in Smokies; other national, state parks checking
A scientific critter head count has found greater numbers,
greater diversity and unique species in the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park.
"The ambitious All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory
project, which aims to catalog every life-form
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has already
found 3,500 species new to the park and more than 500
previously unknown to scientists. Now the idea is spreading
through the 388-unit national park system and to many
state parks, including the 54-unit Tennessee park system
that began its own ATBI last year," writes Duncan
Mansfield of The Associated Press.
Michael Soukup, chief scientist with the National
Park Service, told reporters, "If this
effort could prosper, I think it would have an enormous
impact on how people relate to biodiversity in this
About 150 national scientists and researchers attended
the annual Smokies conference and reported on their
own studies in the 520,000-acre preserve on the Tennessee-North
Carolina border. Reports also included efforts to start
ATBIs on the Colorado Plateau, the Adirondacks of New
York and a state park in southern Ohio, notes Mansfield.
The country's 57 national parks and 113 other scenic
areas are trying to identify their major animal and
plant inhabitants to be able to better manage resources.
Slime molds, fungi, beetles, moths and salamanders
have made up a large portion of the discoveries so far
in the Smokies. Chief Blogger Bill Griffin opines:
They should check the nation's capital.
Kansas professor resigns as
religion chair after sending anti-creationism e-mail
A University of Kansas professor
resigned as chair of the religious studies department
Wednesday and his prior anti-Creationism e-mail is still
bothering Christian conservatives.
"Associate Professor Paul Mirecki said his resignation
was a response to the controversy over his canceled
plan to teach a course criticizing intelligent design,
the idea that life on Earth was created by a higher
power and is too complex to have arisen through evolution.
Mirecki told police earlier this week that he had been
beaten by two men who apparently objected to his widely
publicized statements against creationism. In a brief
resignation letter, he cited the ongoing controversy
and the 'recommendation of my colleagues in the department,'"
writes Dion Lefler of The Wichita Eagle.
Mirecki will stay at the university as a tenured professor.
Longtime conservative activist Mark Gietzen called for
Mirecki's firing. "He's not the type of person
I want to pay taxes to . . . to poison the minds of
young kids. He doesn't belong in a university teaching
anything," Gietzen told Lefler. (Read
Since late September, University Chancellor Robert
Hemenway has posted a statement on the university's
home page calling evolution "the central unifying
principle of modern biology" and saying "creationism
and intelligent design are most appropriately taught
in a religion, philosophy, or sociology class, rather
than a science class. . . . On a personal level, I see
no contradiction in being a person of faith who believes
in God and evolution." To read the full statement,
Knight Ridder to examine bids
today; won't identify interested parties
Investment bankers for Knight Ridder
are to review "initial expressions of interest"
today from possible buyers of the newspaper chain.
The San Jose, Calif.-based chain publishes 32 daily
newspapers and is worth "about $4 billion on the
New York Stock Exchange. Investors,
led by Legg Mason Inc.'s Private Capital
Management, have pushed chief executive P. Anthony Ridder
and other board members to sell, in hopes a buyer would
pay a higher price," writes Joseph N. DiStefano
of the Knight Ridder News Service.
Spokesman Polk Laffoon IV said the company won't identify
would-be bidders. Newspaper chains, such as Gannett
Co. Inc., as well as private investment firms
appear interested in some or all of Knight Ridder's
papers, but none has made an offer.
Knight Ridder is profitable but has suffered from higher
newsprint and employee-benefit costs, while ad sales
have flattened. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of the
Annenberg School of Communication at
the University of Pennsylvania, says
chain ownership has already eroded regional dailies.
As job cutbacks continue, she sees a risk of "homogenized
news" and a decreased accountability of local officials
who face less scrutiny. (Read
Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein
said he could see paying eight to 10 times cash flow
for a newspaper company, which is about its current
stock market price: "I don't care about the Internet,
I don't care about people not reading newspapers. ...
At a certain price, it's attractive."
Jennifer Saba of Editor & Publisher reports
Gannett approaching record revenues, taking
'hard look' at Knight Ridder acquisition; click
here to read. Kit Seelye of The
New York Times reports Knight Ridder papers
making high profits, despite uncertainty; click
here to read.
University of Wisconsin expert
sees newspaper Web sites as possible salvation
James Baughman, journalism professor and director of
University of Wisconsin - Madison's
School of Journalism and Mass Communication, believes
newspaper Web sites may save publications in light of
declining circulation, and he believes blogs are not
a substitute for professional, commercial journalism.
Baughman made his remarks on those issues and more
in an interview with Maggie Shea of the Wisconsin
State Journal in Madison. He "has a keen
interest in the changing role of newspapers, the Internet
and journalists in today's world," writes Shea.
Shea asks Baughman about newspaper circulation declines
and what he sees for the next 50 years for the newspaper
industry. He told her, in part, "I think [newspapers]
are going to be less important in American life. I think
they've been declining as a source for more and more
Americans ... It's possible that the newspaper Web site
will, if not displace the newspaper, become more and
Shea also asks him about the emergence of blogs. In
part, Baughman told her, "The best data that I've
seen suggest that people are still turning to established
news sites." For more of the interview, click
here. Julie Bosman of The New York Times
reports Newspaper executives
predict growth, higher ad rates in 2006; to read,
States failing science, math,
lowering U.S. standing; Kansas gets F-minus
About half of the country's public schools systems
are poorly educating students in science and math, according
to a new report anticipating 2007, when states will
be required to tests students' progress in science.
The report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
said Kansas, which has opened the door to teaching "intelligent
design" in its schools, flunked -- and then some.
The report "suggests the focus on reading and
math as required subjects for testing under the federal
law, No Child Left Behind, has turned attention away
from science, contributing to a failure of American
children to stay competitive in science with their counterparts
abroad," reports The New York Times.
Writer Mike Janofsky says the report appears to support
concerns schools have undermined the country's production
of scientists and engineers and put the nation's economic
future at risk. Leaders warn the nation's talent pool
in science needs expanding to stay ahead of countries
like China and India.
Michael Petrilli, vice president for national programs
and policy at the Fordham institute, told the Times,
"The first step is to set higher expectations,
and too many states have low or a lack of expectations
to respond to the new global competitiveness."
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told Janofsky,
"If children are not taking [Algebra] until the
ninth grade or ever, we are in a world of hurt."
Only seven states got an A, with 12 receiving a B,
and 8 plus the District of Columbia receiving a C. Seven
states got a D, and 15 got an F. The authors also awarded
22 states a D or F, with Kansas winning a special distinction,
F minus, notes Janofsky, for its decision to allow teaching
of intelligent design. The report cited mounting "religious
and political pressures" as undermining the teaching
Newspaper reports on dangerous,
secret rail traffic; lots of rural wrecks
A package of stories by The Press-Enterprise
of Riverside, Calif., extensively details
how much dangerous cargo is carried by rail through
cities of all sizes nationwide and reports that about
half the wrecks that have occurred have been in rural
One of these reports shows
what a community should do in the event of a toxic chemical
release, and how these shipments are being kept secret
to avoid terrorists. But the secrecy keeps the public
from knowing what is passing through their towns. And,
the reports take a step by step approach for journalists
on how to report such an event.
The newspaper reports affected communities do not have
adequate emergency plans in case of a derailment, dangerous
spill or chemical release. The Press-Enterprise also
notes that large-scale wrecks have occurred coast to
coast the last couple of decades. About half of these
big wrecks have occured in rural areas. Click
here to see the list.
Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institiute
alerted us to these articles in his Morning
less public water, pay more for it; sewage hits other
People in Appalachia have less access to public water
and sewer systems and spend more for it than other Americans,
says a report from the Appalachian Regional
Commission. Also, "straight-piping,"
in which sewage goes directly into a stream, is still
a problem in remote areas, and some towns that have
treatment systems can't afford to operate them up to
standards, researcher Jeff Hughes said.
The report by the University of North Carolina
Environmental Science Center said because the
headwaters of the Eastern United States' major rivers
are all in Appalachia, "whatever happens to Appalachian
waters has major consequences for the nation as a whole."
The ARC hired the center to study infrastructure in
its 13-state region, writes Jennifer Bundy of The
Hughes said the region's topography makes it more difficult
and expensive to lay and repair water and sewer pipes
or install septic systems. Because of the expense, Appalachian
residents spend more of their incomes on water and sewer
bills. Only 52 percent are served by public sewer systems,
compared to 75 percent of U.S. households in 1990, Bundy
here to read more of her story; click
here to read a summary of the report on the ARC
Of the 23 million people living in Appalachia, about
74 percent are served by community water systems, compared
to 85 percent of the nation. Some 33 percent in the
region are served by small and medium-sized water systems,
compared to 20 percent of the nation. About 18 percent
of Appalachia's public water systems rely on more easily
contaminated surface water, compared to 11 percent nationally.
New strategies, entrepreneurial
spirit eyed for improving Kentucky's economy
Kentucky is joining the growing list of predominantly
poor, rural states looking at "growing their own"
businesses and industries as a means of boosting economic
development and providing jobs. "The development
of small businesses enterprises is the way we're going
to grow and develop our economy in Eastern Kentucky,"
University of Kentucky history professor and Appalachian
specialist Ron Eller told the Lexington Herald-Leader
for the final installment of its series of reports on
"After pursuing essentially the same job-creation
strategy for more than a decade, Kentucky has little
to show for its efforts. Even though the state spent
a majority of its development dollars recruiting and
retaining industrial businesses, the state has fewer
manufacturing jobs today than it did in 1990,"
write John Stamper and Bill Estep.
The rest of the nation has also lost manufacturing
jobs, at a faster rate than Kentucky, but the state
remains near the bottom of nearly every national economic
measure. "Per capita income: 44th. Poverty: 45th.
Average wage per job: 39th. University research and
development: 41st," note Stamper and Estep.
The state's average weekly wage was the slowest growing
in the nation during the first quarter of 2005. The
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports
Kentucky's average was $628, well below the national
average of $775. (Read
more) The Web site contains multiple links to
this multifaceted series.
Guide balances ecology, economics
for property owners with forests
As rural areas experience rapid development with profound
ecological consequences, the Community Forestry
Resource Center is making available a guide
to balancing development and forested land.
The 160-page "Balancing Ecology and Economics:
A Start-Up Guide for Forest Owner Cooperation"
guide is intended to show how private landowners "can
improve the ecological conditions of their lands while
improving their own economic well-being and that of
the communities in which their forest land is located,"
says the center.
The guide is intended primarily for landowners and
resource managers and "provides information on
all aspects of establishing a forest owner cooperative,
including: forest management, marketing, business planning,
co-op governance, cooperative structures, non-timber
forest products, sustainable certification, developing
member education programs, and more," writes the
center. For more information about Sustainable
Forestry Cooperatives, or to order a copy of
the guide, click
West Virginia looks at appraisals
as way to boost rural housing market
A legislative subcommittee of West Virginia legislature
has outlined some ways to improve real-estate appraisals,
particularly in rural areas, where lack of appraisers
hurts the housing market, reports the State
Journal, a Charleston weekly.
The subcommittee wants to gather data to compare appraisals
around the state, especially in rural areas, improve
the accessibility of appraisals for rural areas, and
create standards to fit the topography and terrain for
the state. It also wants to improve communication between
agencies and lenders to create firm appraisal standards,
and make sure that the manufactured housing industry
receives fair appraisals.
Appraisers are often hard to come by. Berkeley County,
in the rapidly growing Eastern Panhandle, has 29 appraisers
and Kanawha County, West Virginia's most populous, has
58. Others, such as Lincoln and Taylor, have only one.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
often can't find an appraiser, especially in rural areas,
Danny Forinash writes.
West Virginia's HUD director, George Rodriguez said,
Federal Housing Administration loans
aren't given in rural communities as much as urban areas
because of the limited lender outreach and appraiser
availability. "If you have to pay an appraiser
to go out to Webster County and do more work,"
he said, "it's going to impact the cost of the
Finding data for rural areas to make fair appraisals
is a major focus, David Rathbun, senior director of
loan origination and underwriting for the West
Virginia Housing Development Fund, told reporter
Danny Forinash. "In more rural areas, they literally
have to knock of doors and ask people if they've sold
property lately," Rathbun said. "They probably
have to do that because those areas don't have enough
Realtors for multi-listings. But it's unfair that people
in Pocahontas County have to spend so much time getting
Washington state resources,
coordinated efforts keys to fighting meth
Washington state, city, and county officials say it
will take a coordinated effort and education, backed
by funds to confront and conquer their methamphetamine
"At the federal level, Congressman Rick Larsen,
co-chair of the bipartisan House Meth Caucus, is working
to get money to local law enforcement agencies to help
communities battle meth-related crimes," writes
Gordon Weeks, news editor of the Anacortes
American. Larsen told Weeks, “It’s
been a bottoms-up approach. It’s time for the
federal government to fight it from the top.’’
The state legislature received recommendations in November
crafted by state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s
“Operation: Allied Against Meth’’
task force. The task force includes representatives
from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,
treatment programs, business, real estate, nonprofit
organizations, government and the Legislature, notes
Final recommendations include creating a new crime
for possession of large quantities the chemicals needed
to make meth; $3 million to support law enforcement
to compensate for cuts in federal grants; creating a
revolving fund to help communities clean up; and establishing
new treatment and education guidelines to help adults
endangered by meth use, writes Weeks. (Read
The group also recommends increasing the power of local
health officials to post immediate warnings on meth
lab properties and prevent reoccupation or the removal
of contaminated properties, notes Weeks.
Funding boost for chemical-weapons
destruction in Colorado, Kentucky
Preliminary figures from the Pentagon show chemical-weapons
destruction plants planned in Madison County, Ky. and
Pueblo, Colo., could share $300 million or more in the
next federal budget.
"What's more, similar funding levels are proposed
for the next five years, said Craig Williams, director
of the Berea-based Chemical Weapons Working
Group. Williams spoke at a meeting yesterday
of the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory
Board, which he co-chairs," writes Peter
Matthews, Central Kentucky Bureau Chief for the Lexington
The preliminary numbers would represent a huge boost
over the current budget -- $33 million for the two plants
this year, with similar amounts proposed for the next
few years. Construction funding is not set for the Kentucky
plant until fiscal year 2011. The United States has
until April 2012 to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile,
including 523 tons of nerve and blister agent at Blue
Grass Army Depot.
Things that bite in the night:
Bedbugs are back, and we have the expert
After some 50 years of near extinction in the United
States, bedbugs are back, and the University
of Kentucky College of Agriculture
has the 'Indiana Jones' of combating the pests.
Michael Potter, an entomologist, is the much sought-after
expert on the topic, writes Terri McLean, an extension
communications specialist in the college's communications
"I'm basically trying to bang the drum and get
the word out about bedbugs so that the public can begin
to understand this critter," said Potter, who in
recent weeks has fielded calls from "Dateline
New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington
Post, and "Inside Edition."
Potter is working closely with UK entomologists Ken
Haynes and Dan Potter and doctoral student Alvaro Romero
to study the "hottest bug issue in a generation."
The bedbug, or Cimex lectularius, virtually
vanished after World War II but began returning in 2001,
Potter believes changing cultural habits, increased
international travel and emigration from countries where
the bugs are prevalent is the reason for the resurgence.
The practice of recycling mattresses and buying secondhand
furnishings may also have contributed, and Potter also
notes that pesticides that controlled the bugs have
been banned. "DDT was a phenomenal bedbug product
that was used in the '40s, '50s and '60s before we lost
it [in 1972]. We do not have products today that are
nearly as effective." He advises, "The best
thing to do is to know the likely ways they can get
into your home," adding there are a variety of
low-odor sprays, dusts and aerosols to combat bedbugs.
Knight Ridder stirs interest;
mixed signals from Gannett on possible bid
Gannett Co. Inc. CEO Craig Dubow told
an investor group yesterday his company would take a
"hard look" at any acquisition opportunities,
including Knight Ridder, reports The
Dubow said Gennett would proceed only if it were in
the best economic interest of its shareholders. Knight
Ridder has been forced by its largest investors to explore
the possibility of a sale. Gannett director Karen Hastie
Williams recently told reporters Gannett had "a
full plate" and that the board had not seriously
discussed such an acquisition. The first round of bids
is due Friday, AP reports.
Gannett, based in McLean, Va., is the nation's biggest
newspaper publisher with 99 daily newspapers and 21
television stations. It also owns
more weekly newspapers than any other company. Knight
Ridder is the second-largest in terms of circulation,
with 32 dailies in 29 markets. It owns more large-city
newspapers than any other media company, notes AP. (Read
Pulitzer Prize rules expand
to allow online entries in all categories
Internet journalism received a leap in recognition
yesterday -- though not as much as some online journalists
wanted -- as the Pulitzer Prize Board widened its submission
guidelines to include online material for all of its
journalism categories. "The new rules come as newspapers
increasingly rely on their Web sites to disseminate,
support and enhance their work, even as print circulation
declines, writes Nahal Toosi of The Associated
The new guidelines will apply to the 2006 awards, which
cover work in 2005. "It's a very significant change,"
said Sig Gissler, administrator of the program. "This
reflects the growing importance of online content, but,
at the same time, print remains very important, and
I think the Pulitzer competition now reflects a blend
of print and online, which is what most newspapers are
seeking to achieve these days."
Some online journalists said the Pulitzer board needs
to go farther and accept entries from online-only publications.
"They have to figure out a way to honor the very
best journalism . . . and not merely protect the newspaper
industry, which is what this decision kind of looks
like," Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com,
told The Wall Street Journal.
"If they want to follow their readers, they should
start by being more creative about their decisions."
The competition's Public Service category, considered
the most prestigious, has since 1999 allowed an online
presentation to be part of entries. That category will
continue to accept various forms of online work, but
the 13 other journalism categories will allow online
content for the first time. (Read
West Virginia Press Association
President Frank Spicer dies; funeral tomorrow
Frank Spicer, president
of the West Virginia Press Association,
died Sunday of lung cancer.
Spicer was elected president
of the WVPA in August, after serving as vice president
and treasurer and serving on association boards over
the past eight years. He recently retired from the West
Virginia Daily News after 34 years where he
worked as advertising manager and as publisher.
A memorial service is
set for 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Greenbrier Valley
Theatre in Lewisburg. There will be no visitation.
Online condolences can be sent by clicking
to the country; study says rural sprawl damaging ecology
"For the first time in more than
a century, more people are moving to rural areas than
from rural areas,” according to a report in Ecological
Applications, based on data from 1950-2000.
The report was edited by Andrew Hansen of Montana
State University and Daniel Brown of the University
of Michigan, and it showed profound changes
in land development. One-fourth of the lower 48 states
now house exurbia development, a five-fold increase
since 1950, say the authors. The Southeast, Southwest,
the upper Midwest, the Rocky Mountains, and the western
seaboard have attracted the most rural development.
The authors note that the land use pattern is not good
for the country’s native plants and animals and
they conclude: The population has shifted from East
to West; forest and agricultural land covers have decreased
in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states; and the
information-driven economy has fueled rural sprawl by
enabling people to make a living even in relatively
isolated areas. In addition to the impact on plants
and animals, the authors said land use changes will
lead to increased air and water pollution.
The authors hope for greater collaboration between
ecologists and social scientists "to help shape
land use decisions that will mitigate damage to the
environment while still offering viable and attractive
choices for U.S. residents," writes Newswise,
a research-reporting service. (Read
Nebraska farm leader wary of
stereotypes in proposed reality TV show
The president of the Nebraska Farmers Union
is worried about how accurately a new TV reality show
would portray farmers and their problems.
"John Hansen doesn't know whether 'The Farmer
Wants a Wife' would bend its rural reality cast into
media fodder as naive bumpkins. But, he said, 'I'm not
inclined to be helpful to any of those efforts that
would trivialize the enormous problems that farm and
ranch families face,'" writes the Associated
Press based on an article in the Grand
The reality show is being handled by FremantleMedia,
which produces "American Idol" and "The
Price is Right." The show's producers are scouring
Nebraska, California, Ohio and Texas for the cast. "We're
looking for all types of farmers, not just the country
bumpkin," casting director Deborah Tarica told
Previously, Hansen worked to stop a reality show about
an Appalachian family going to Beverly Hills. "We
(Nebraska Farmers Union) were very much involved on
the national effort to beat that down," he said.
Hansen likes the new show's angle, but he's also worried
about how Americans perceive family farmers. "It's
somewhere between rednecks and 'Hee Haw': culturally
backward and unwashed," he told AP.
FremantleMedia has launched "The Farmer Wants
a Wife" in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium,
France and Norway, notes AP. (Read
U.S. signs plan to build emissions-free
power plant; enviros call it a distraction
"The Bush administration announced on Tuesday
that it had signed an agreement with a coalition of
energy companies to build a prototype coal-burning power
plant with no emissions. The project, called FutureGen,
has been in planning stages since 2003. But the Energy
Department said here that a formal agreement had been
signed under which companies would contribute $250 million
of a cost estimated at $1 billion," writes Andrew
C. Revkin of The New York Times.
Environmental advocates criticized the announcement,
saying it was a move to block discussion of new commitments
to cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gas emissions.
"It's getting to be like Charlie Brown with Lucy
holding that football," said Alden Meyer, a representative
of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Every time, at the last minute, the U.S. pulls
The latest talks are another step in an international
effort that began in 1988 to reduce heat-trapping smokestack
and tailpipe gases. Since then, climate scientists,
with widening consensus, have connected a global warming
trend to rising levels of those gases in the atmosphere.
Curbing kudzu: South Carolina's
use of native plants becomes national model
In order to block foreign invaders such as kudzu, volunteers
are planting native flora in South Carolina forests
in what has become a national model.
"Volunteers ... have collected seeds from native
plants growing along local roads. Then, with the help
of the U.S. Forest Service and other
government agencies, they planted these seeds in a special
farm in the Francis Marion National Forest.
The seeds grew into plant plugs that were replanted
in the state's national forests. The program is now
considered a national model that some think could help
solve a growing problem: The spread of invasive plants,"
writes Tony Bartelme of the Post and Courier.
Bill Stringer, a Clemson University agriculture
professor and a leader of the S.C. Native Plant
Society, told the Charleston newspaper, "We're
pretty doggone passionate about native plants, so one
day six or seven years ago, one of our fellows was talking
to a soil scientist ... and asked why they didn't use
native grasses to revegetate areas. The soil scientist
said they didn't have a supply of native seeds."
The program is being copied across the Southeast. "There's
a lot of interest nationally in restoring native plant
communities," Stringer said. Last week in Atlanta,
the Native Plant Society, U.S. Forest Service
and Natural Resources Conservation Service
received the 2005 Regional Forester's Award for their
work on the project, writes Bartelme. (Read
Indiana residents oppose hog
farm near refuge for sandhill cranes
Northwestern Indiana residents who live near an area
where thousands of sandhill cranes gather each fall
want the state to halt construction on a nearby hog
"A coalition of residents fear [the 2,500 sows
on] Belstra Milling Co.'s hog farm
just north of the refuge will lead to air, water and
land contamination, and threaten the sandhill cranes
that pass through northwestern Indiana while migrating
south," reports Jon Seidel of the Post-Tribune
Coalition members collected signatures from 1,000 residents
opposed to the project and have appealed the Indiana
Department of Environmental Management's approval
of the DeMotte company's permit for the site, writes
Seidel. Each fall, tens of thousands of the once-endangered
cranes migrate through the fish and wildlife area which
attracts about 30,000 birdwatchers.
Work on the farm has already begun. The 8,000-acre
wildlife area is internationally recognized for supporting
a significant proportion of the sandhill's total population.
Diane Packett, president of the Sycamore Chapter
of the Audubon Society, told Seidel, "If
they put a shopping mall in the same place, we would
still be worried about it." The residents have
until next Thursday to provide additional material requested
by the environmental management office. Malcolm DeKryger,
Belstra's vice president, said the residents' fears
about the farm were unfounded. Story may no longer
be available; click
here to see.
Maryland Farm Bureau to push
for financial aid as key to industry's future
A Maryland Farm Bureau report on farming's
future in the state will likely contain a recommendation
for financial help for young farmers trying to break
into the business and for investment in new crop products.
The bureau recently gave farmers a preview of the report,
the result of a series of forums at the direction of
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The report is due in February
and will suggest ways to protect farmland and help farmers
be more profitable, reports Kristen Wyatt of The
Maryland farmers have to contend with high land prices,
making it difficult to get started while tempting others
to sell to developers, notes Wyatt. The report will
recommend putting money into an existing program designed
to help make the industry more profitable, and to help
young farmers buy land. The program hasn't been funded.
Gene Roberts, a turf farmer who is helping put together
the report, told Wyatt, "Basically what we're looking
for is more support."
State officials held seven town hall-style meetings
with farmers for suggestions. The Maryland Agriculture
Commission, which will present the report,
hopes it will encourage lawmakers. (Read
Wikipedia tightens rules after
prominent journalist charges 'online vandalism'
"Prominent journalist John Seigenthaler [Sr.]
described as 'false and malicious' an entry on Wikipedia
implicating him in the Kennedy assassinations. When
he phoned Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, he was told
there was no way of finding out who wrote the entry.
Wikipedia has since removed the entry and now requires
users to register before they can create articles,"
reports BBC News.
But, BBC notes, site visitors will still be able to
edit content posted without having to register. The
case has highlighted once again the problem of publishing
information online. Online information can be posted
anonymously by anyone. The Rural Blog
news on Seigenthaler's charge Dec.1.
Wikipedia has used volunteers to edit previously submitted
articles. Wales acknowledged the new procedures won't
prevent the posting of false information but it might
limit them, and make it easier to edit content. Wales
told BBC, "In many cases the types of things we
see going on are impulse vandalism."
In an opinion piece for USA Today,
where Seigenthaler was the founding editorial director,
the 78-year-old journalist said only one sentence in
his Wikipedia biography was correct - the fact that
he was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in
the early 1960s. Seigenthaler described Wikipedia as
a "flawed and irresponsible research tool."
He asked, "The marketplace of ideas ultimately
will take care of the problem but in the meantime, what
happens to people like me?" (Read
Community Publishers Inc. to
acquire newspaper chain in Oklahoma
Community Publishers Inc. (CPI) has
struck a deal to purchase Retherford Publications,
the largest privately owned newspaper chain in Oklahoma,
according to The Oklahoma Publisher.
CPI will acquire 15 community newspapers and four specialty
publications. The company already owns 10 daily and
weekly newspapers in Arkansas and Missouri, reports
the official publication of the Oklahoma Press
Association. CPI President Steve Trolinger
said his company looks "forward to working with
the staff of each publication to help them find ways
they would like to grow and improve."
"Retherford Publications was founded in 1965 when
the late Bill Retherford purchased the Tulsa
County News," writes The Oklahoma Publisher.
more -- subscription required)
Study shows agriculture
heavily dependent on illegals for harvest
A booming construction industry in the nation's Southwest
is offering better pay while beefed-up patrolling along
the Mexican border has made it harder for unauthorized
workers to reach farms.
"Men and women who have crossed the border illegally
— mostly from Mexico — may number as high
as 20 million, with 12 million to 15 million holding
jobs, according to analysts at Bear Stearns in New York.
An analysis by Barron’s estimated
they account for about $970 billion of the goods and
services produced by the real economy," writes
Juliana Barbassa of The Associated Press.
The majority of farm workers are illegal immigrants
who make up 53 percent of the approximately 1.8 million
farm workers in the country, up from about 12 percent
in 1989-90, according to a government survey, she writes.
Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers Association,
which represents more than 3,000 farmers in Arizona
and California, told Barbassa, "The fresh produce
industry couldn't exist without a foreign workforce."
Nassif wants a temporary program allowing undocumented
workers to pick winter vegetables in order to avoid
a worker shortage that could cost the industry billions.
Produce farmer Don Stutsman said, "We’re
not policemen. And there just isn’t anyone else
who’ll do it." (Read
Competing interests: Nation's
energy needs vs. preserving 'pristine' land
"Soaring energy prices and profits
have revived plans for two massive pipelines to bring
natural gas hundreds of miles south from the frozen
Arctic Ocean, through vast untouched forests and under
wild rivers, to the United States," writes Doug
Struck of The Washington Post.
The biggest private construction projects in North
America "would flood isolated areas of Alaska and
Canada with thousands of construction workers, pump
billions of dollars into poor native economies, and
bring the roar of heavy cranes and bulldozers to pristine
areas where it is now quiet enough to hear the hoots
of snowy owls and the rustle of pine boughs," writes
Oil company officials and energy analysts call the
projects crucial. "Supporters and opponents agree
the projects would affect Canada's sparsely populated
north on a scale larger than the Alaska oil pipeline
in the 1970s, and unleash a rush of new exploration
and drilling," notes Struck.
Michael Miltenberger, Northwest Territories
minister of natural resources, told Struck, "Every
square inch is going to be opened to diamonds, sapphires,
gold, oil and gas. There's an insatiable demand. And
the critical first step is the pipeline."
The two pipeline projects have to be built one at a
time. Native groups in Canada have not given access
rights, environmentalists are concerned about caribou
and permafrost, and the pipeline companies face regulatory
red tape and lawsuits, writes Struck. The Alaska Gas
Pipeline would stretch 1,700 miles, cost $20 billion
and take a decade to build. The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline
would snake 800 miles along the Mackenzie River, cost
$6 billion and take three years to complete. (Read
Pennsylvania leads coal bandwagon;
W.Va., Montana, Wyoming, more aboard
Pennsylvania and West Virginia are investing in a new
generation of coal-fired power plants in hopes that
they will boost economies and help makes the United
States less petroleum dependency. "The governors
of Montana and Wyoming also are promoting their state's
coal reserves -- in the media and in talks with energy
companies -- as a new source of fuel for the country
and a new source of revenue for rural communities,"
writes Eric Kelderman of Stateline.org.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told reporters, "Our
current system of centralized supply is obviously more
vulnerable than most of us ever imagined." Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita disrupted nearly half of the nation's
gasoline and 19 percent of natural gas supplies. Winter
prices are projected to rise as much as 70 percent.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin has outlined plans to
spur coal liquefaction. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer
is wooing commercial partners and the U.S. Department
of Defense for money to convert coal to liquid
fuel. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal is talking with
energy companies about a liquefaction plant, and his
state is looking at competing for new energy business
initiatives, writes Kelderman.
Florida and Minnesota have plans to build new power
plants that would burn gasified coal as part of President
Bush's 10-year, $2 billion Clean Coal Power Initiative.
While technologies to reduce pollutants at coal-fired
power plants may improve air quality, Antonia Herzog,
a climate specialist with the Natural Resources
Defense Council, told Kelderman mining still
impacts streams and rivers. (Read
For a United Press International story
on how rising natural-gas prices are driving up overseas
interest in U.S. coal, U.S. coal starting to get
Firms urged to prepare for bird
flu; telecommuting praised as alternative
People who live in the suburbs and exurbia but work
in the cities may have to double-up on their telecommuting
in the event of a avian flu pandemic, according to a
business and insurance study.
"Corporations need to 'anticipate and prepare
now' for a virus that could sicken or even kill many
workers, disrupt supply chains, shut down essential
government services and make overseas travel impossible,
according to Robert Wilkerson, corporate preparedness
expert at Kroll Inc., a New York-based
risk-consulting company," reports Marilyn Geewax
of the Cox News Service.
A survey by the Deloitte Center for Health
Solutions and an insurance industry committee
reports 66 percent of employers said they had not adequately
planned to protect their companies from a pandemic flu
outbreak. An additional 14 percent said their company
had adequately planned, and 20 percent were undecided,
Wilkerson told Geewax that expanding telecommuting
capabilities should be a high priority. Government officials
might shut down mass transit systems or order people
to stay home. Even in the absence of government edicts,
people might decide to stay home because they are sick
or fear catching the disease. Many will have to stay
home with children whose schools have been closed, he
said. The full Cox News Service story has suggestions
on how to prepare for pandemic flu. (Read
Anti-meth campaign hits homegrown
product; more potent version arriving
A nationwide campaign launched to warn people about
methamphetamine is aimed primarily at the home-cooked
variety despite a wave of the more potent "ice"
version coming from Mexico and the Southwest.
"Some 562 meth labs and dump-sites were found
in Kentucky during 2004, and over 1,000 sites were found
in Indiana. While there's been a significant decrease
in meth labs ... new public service announcements will
soon hit the airwaves educating viewers on the dangers
of meth," reports Ann Marshall of WAVE-TV
in Louisville, Ky.
The Office of National Drug Policy
and the Partnership for a Drug Free America
are behind the public service announcements
discussing the dangers of meth. "One commercial
features a woman making meth in a lab as the fumes flow
up into an upstairs apartment where a little girl unknowingly
inhales the toxic fumes," she writes. The tag line
to the spot is, "So, who has the drug problem now?"
The TV ads are targeted toward teens and parents. Radio
and print ads are being prepared. Louisville is one
of 23 cities where ads will get airtime. Tony King with
the Drug Enforcement Agency told Marshall
while the number of home labs has decreased by 80 percent,
"ice" in much greater quantities is being
smuggled into Kentucky. (Read
Ohio River towns produce blue
smoke, tainted water, most of Ohio's pollution
"The people who live along the river, in centuries-old
towns and large riverfront neighborhoods ... make up
less than 6 percent of Ohio’s population. But
a [Columbus] Dispatch
analysis found that factories and power plants along
the river produce 25 percent of Ohio’s toxic waste
and just under 70 percent of its smog and soot-producing
pollution," writes the Dispatch's Spencer Hunt,
one of a series.
Mike Fremont of Rivers Unlimited,
a nonprofit group that protects and restores Ohio’s
streams, told Hunt, "There is a power plant on
one side of the river or the other for what seems like
every 5 miles." Hunt notes that health fears often
collide with concerns for jobs and cleaning up industrial
Eric Fitch, an environmental-science professor at Marietta
College, told Hunt, "It’s all kind
of running together in this foggy soup. We’re
releasing all this stuff into the environment, and we
don’t know what the result is. We’re an
open-air test tube." Today's installment in the
series talks about the toxic residue that creates brownfields
and the subsequent environmental threats. (Read
Clarksburg, W.Va., councilman
to lead National League of Cities
A city councilman from Clarksburg, W.Va. -- population
16,522 -- will assume presidency of the National
League of Cities this December, following the
mayor of Washington and preceding the mayor of Indianapolis,
reports The Exponet-Telegram of Clarksburg.
"By all accounts, it is not an office often held
by a councilman from a small city, but it is a position
for which Jim Hunt is particularly well-suited,"
writes Gary A. Harki. "We are an organization that
represents cities of all sizes, and we have leaders
from cities of all sizes, but it is not usual that someone
from a city the size of Clarksburg is our president,"
Donald Borut, the executive director of the league,
"The National League of Cities is 80 percent small
towns," said Karen Anderson, past president and
the mayor of the Minneapolis suburb Minnetonka, Minn.
"(Hunt) brings that perspective of small town leadership
to the league."
The League has 1,600 cities and towns that pay membership
dues for services such as lobbying in Washington and
training for community leaders, writes Harki. Lisa Dooley,
executive director of the West Virginia Municipal
League, said her state has not had a representative
serve as a league officer in at least 80 years. Hunt
served as first vice president this year, and as second
vice president two years ago.
Hunt testified before Congress against cuts to the
Community Development Block Grant program,
which could have devastated the state, Dooley told Harki.
"He was able to talk to Congress specifically about
the effects it would have on West Virginia and in particular
Clarksburg," Dooley said. (Read
Mayberry survives in a police
cruiser, complete with Opie's fishing pole
A Warrenton, Va., man can relive every nostalgic episode
of "The Andy Griffith Show," a program that
symbolized the essence of rural America -- a simple
life with honest and sincere people.
Ricky Brown can relive Deputy Barney Fife making an
illegal U-turn on Main Street in Mayberry. All Brown
has to do is go into his garage, open the car door to
his 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 and start the engine, writes
Donnie Johnston of the Free Lance-Star
in Fredericksburg, Va.
Brown purchased the cruiser at a car show in Pigeon
Forge, Tenn. If not an original, the car is "an
exact replica of the vehicle Sheriff Andy Taylor used
to drive Ernest T. Bass to Mrs. Wiley's party,"
writes Johnston. Brown says he was told the car was
one of a number of vehicles used on the show and had
been in the seller's family for 40 years.
Opie's fishing pole is in the trunk. In the back seat,
there is a faded 8-by-10 color photo of Andy, Barney
(Don Knotts), Opie (Ronnie Howard) and Gomer Pyle (Jim
Nabors) with each actor's autograph. Brown has had the
picture authenticated. Brown smiles as he looks down
at the rear wheels of his prize vehicle, and told Johnston,
"Hey! It even has its original hubcaps!" (Read
Marketing group forms in southwest
Virginia to help artists tap into tourism
A regional marketing group for southwest Virginia artisans
will cover 19 counties and three cities, from Patrick,
Montgomery, Floyd and Giles counties west to Lee County.
It is currently identifying artisans, organizations
and crafts venues, writes Paul Dellinger of the Roanoke
Times' New River Current.
Woody Crenshaw, president of Round the Mountain,
said, "Right now, we've got about 700 artisans
who have been identified.We know who they are. Now we
need to find out what they need from us," writes
Dellinger. Round the Mountain will have its big public
outing next spring, probably in Abingdon, at a conference
on creating a new cultural tourism economy in the region.
Diana Blackburn, executive director of Round the Mountain,
told Dellinger, "It's really an important new development
for Southwest Virginia. It is a big project that will
unfold over the next decade."
The organization will be modeled on Handmade
in America in Asheville, N.C., which covers
22 western North Carolina counties and focuses on crafts
as a business. A 1996 study showed arts and crafts contribute
$122 million to North Carolina's economy, writes Dellinger.
Dec. 7: Innovators to gather
for Vermont 'Manure Summit'
Farmers and innovators from all over Vermont will gather
this Thursday to hear about the latest farming technology,
including high-tech suggestions for how to handle animal
Dubbed "The Manure Summit," the agriculture
and the environment conference will focus on how to
manage manure in an environmentally safe way and how
to generate money and extra nutrients out of it with
new technology, writes Susan Smallheer of the state's
David Lane, deputy secretary of the Agency of Agriculture,
will moderate the panel on nutrient management. He told
Smallheer, "It really is about alternatives to
handling manure and nutrient management." Lane
said the high cost of electricity is a major issue for
farmers as well. (Read
The day features several panel discussions with contributions
from 31 speakers. The keynote speaker will be Richard
Waybright of the famed Mason-Dixon Farm in Gettysburg,
Pa., which has been called a "living
laboratory" for its innovations in handling manure
to milking cows with robots, notes Smallheer.
For more details, contact the Vermont Environmental
Consortium at Norwich University,
USDA undersecretary says agency
to put more emphasis on rural development
Tom Dorr, undersecretary of agriculture for rural development,
told the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
meeting in Des Moines last week that "changes are
coming in the way government thinks about rural economic
development," reports The Des Moines Register.
In the past, government spending has been focused on
the belief that subsidies to farmers would eventually
work their way into the rural economy. Those days will
end, Dorr said, "as government policy shifts from
commodity programs to rural development programs,"
writes Jerry Perkins, farm editor for the Iowa newspaper.
"Farmers won't be left out," he said. But
limited farm budgets, the globalization of agricultural
trade and constraints on farm programs imposed by the
World Trade Organization are the three factors driving
the change. Dorr said rural America's economy depends
more on off-farm jobs and income than it does on farm
receipts."We can't keep doing things the way we've
been doing them and expect to succeed, "Dorr told
the Farm Bureau. "It's time to look for new strategies
recognizing the new realities," he said.
The Associated Press reports Dorr
touting the Internet and energy from biofuels as the
key to economic growth in rural areas. Dorr met with
residents in Lamar and Fort Morgan last week to discuss
major issues surrounding rural communities and development.
Dorr referred to the USDA as "the venture capital
bank for rural America" that can help create opportunities.
He agreed rural communities should take advantage of
the growing need for renewable energy. (Read
Dorr told the Lamar
Daily News, "Energy is the hot new
cash crop in America," and said clean air, quiet
surroundings, lower cost of living and low crime rate
make rural areas prime for economic development.
Michigan launches initiative
for rural broadband access by 2007
The Michigan Broadband Development Authority
(MBDA) has announced it is seeking to expand services
into the state's most rural and underserved regions.
The move is in response to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's
call for affordable broadband throughout the state by
"In eligible regions, qualifying broadband providers
may receive 4 percent loans with interest-only draw
periods of up to 24 months. Providers will work with
local government and economic development organizations
to qualify their proposals," reports the Niles
Granholm told reporters, “Making affordable broadband
access available to residents, public entities, and
businesses across the state will make Michigan more
competitive." The newspaper notes, "large
users of high-speed Internet services in underserved
regions are being encouraged to leverage community-wide
access. It is hoped these entities will partner with
providers to lower the cost of such infrastructure."
Teri Takai, director of the Department of Information
Technology, told the newspaper, "There
is no one technology or ... strategy that can be applied
to each region of the state, ... but the key will be
innovative partnerships." James W. Butler, III,
executive vice president of the MBDA, said, "By
... concentrating our efforts on the parts of the state
that do not currently have widely available access,
we are in a strong position to move the state toward
its universal coverage goal." (Read
Cody's wi-fi for tourists ahead
of some metros; buzz may boost business
A Wyoming town is leaping ahead of some
major metropolitan areas by fast-tracking wireless broadband
connections for tourists, a move that could have major
economic development ramifications.
"Tourists and locals can get online
to surf the Web from dozens of spots along [Cody, Wyo.'s]
busiest streets, putting the city ahead of metro areas
such as San Francisco and Philadelphia, which are still
developing their city wi-wi plans. Wi-fi is a communications
industry protocol by which consumer devices can communicate
wirelessly with larger networks, including the Internet,"
writes Ruffin Prevost of the Billings Gazette.
"Wi-fi" is short for "wireless fidelity."
Prevost writes, "It's not a fantasy
thanks to a new wireless Internet service called Yellowstone
WiFi, launched earlier this year by TCT West
of Basin." Chris Davidson, TCT West general manager,
told him the company is still fine-tuning the system.
"It's a new technology for us as well," he
A marketing push aimed at tourists is planned for the
summer 2006 which will allow free access to online information
about area attractions and city services, notes Prevost.
Davidson told him TCT West has spent more than $100,000
to set up the system, and he's counting on heavy use
by tourists to pay for the investment. "There's
hundreds of thousands of people who pass through Cody,
and people are becoming a lot more connected. They need
to have their information," he said.
Customer Jean Good told Prevost, "I am absolutely
thrilled to the toes with it." She uses TCT's fixed
wireless service for her home-based desktop publishing
business and logs onto the Yellowstone Wi-Fi network
when she needs to get online while in town. (Read
The Chicago Tribune now provides a
Q&A column on wi-fi technology at this
Tribune looks at phenomenon
of rural poor in Midwest enlisting in military
The Chicago Tribune joins the ranks
of newspapers examining recent data showing military
recruiters benefit from a lack of alternative economic
and educational opportunities for many rural poor.
"Nationally, rising anti-war sentiment and news
of mounting casualties in Iraq led this year to the
most dismal Army recruiting season since 1979. But in
the expanses of the Midwest, the downturn has been much
less than in other places," writes, E. A. Torriero
of the Tribune.
In dozens of sparsely populated Illinois counties,
places with some of the state's highest poverty rates,
an average of nearly one in 10 young people joins the
military. That's more than twice the rate nationwide
and makes downstate Illinois one of the prime recruiting
grounds in the country. But more than patriotism is
at work. Tough times in the heartland make the military
an appealing alternative.
Pfc. Tyler Platt, 19, who signed up last summer and
is studying information technology, told Torriero, "The
Army offered a better future than what I could find
by staying back home." Anita Danes, research director
for a non-partisan Massachusetts group, said, "Rural
America is ripe territory for military recruitment."
Rural areas "are places, as military recruiters
put it, without the negative influences they encounter
elsewhere in the country," notes Torriero. (Read
more) The American Friends
Service Committee sued the Department
Of Defense to get a listing of all recruits
and their hometowns, a valuable tool for newspapers
to do sophisticated analysis for their readers. Click
here for that resource.
Poverty program cuts showdown
expected; hurricanes press needs, funding
Efforts to cutback poverty programs will be at the
center of an expected bruising fight as lawmakers return
to Capitol Hill this week.
"A showdown is expected between conservative House
Republicans and their more moderate Senate counterparts
as congressional negotiators try to resolve differences
in cost-cutting measures GOP leaders argue are necessary
to cut the deficit," writes Robert Dodge of the
Dallas Morning News.
The budget reduction proposals will trim future spending
for Medicaid, food stamps and other programs. The changes
come as a handful of states are dealing with the immediate
and long-term costs of providing support for families
displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, notes Dodge.
The House bill would reduce Medicaid spending by giving
states the option of reducing benefits and imposing
premiums and co-payments on beneficiaries. It would
reduce payments for prescription drugs and make it more
difficult for seniors to dispose of assets so they can
qualify for long-term nursing care.
The House measure tightens food stamp eligibility,
cutting off benefits to 220,000 people nationwide. The
Senate's smaller $35 billion package contains fewer
savings in poverty programs and would reduce funds the
government pays to encourage private insurance companies
to participate in Medicare. (Read
Measure would allow new 'bioterrorism'
agency to avoid public disclosure
The American Society of Newspaper Editors
reports a bill working its way through the Senate "would
significantly hamper the ability of the public, the
press, and even Congress to oversee efforts to protect
the population against bioterrorism and pandemic outbreaks."
The Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development
Act of 2005 [S. 1873] has passed in Senate committee.
It would create a new "Biomedical Advanced Research
and Development Agency" or BARDA within the Department
of Health and Human Services. "The agency
would be excluded from the requirements of the Freedom
of Information Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act
and large portions of federal acquisition regulations,"
"The public would be prevented from participating
in its own defense against bioterrorism and pandemic
such as the Avian Flu," writes ASNE. The ASNE is
offering materials to assist news agencies in an effort
to notify the public, and possibly block the effort
to skirt public notice requirements. For the text of
the bill, click
here. Section 3(f) is the particular provision related
to open government laws.
"Talking points" which lay out the arguments
against this legislation, drafted by the Sunshine in
Government Initiative, are available through the ASNE
Web site. Click
here for a copy of a letter in opposition to the
legislation drafted by the Coalition
of Journalists for Open Government. For newspaper
articles and editorials discussing the legislation:
here for an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution;
here for a Seattle Times article; and here
for one in the Roanoke Times.
To contact ASNE Freedom of Information Chair Andy Alexander,
call 202-887-8334 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can call ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at
202-452-4840 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Mississippi weeklies with integrity
show it by doing 'what needs to be done'
Freelancer Julia Cass reports in the latest issue of
American Journalism Review that four
"weekly newspapers in rural Mississippi reveal
that good, enterprising journalism still goes on in
the hinterlands even in the poorest state in the nation."
"Mississippi has a relatively large number of
weekly newspapers. The Mississippi Press Association
membership includes 86 of them compared with 24 dailies,
and 56 of them are individually owned, according to
Carolyn Wilson, the association's executive director.
The Deer Creek Pilot, Carthaginian,
Enterprise-Tocsin and Neshoba
Democrat, all owned and run by native Mississippians,
maintain independent voices solidly rooted in a particular
place," writes Cass.
Jim Abbott helms the Enterprise-Tocsin (circ. 6,125)
in Indianola. He faces a challenge as the white owner
of a newspaper in a county that is 70 percent African
American. "But because we're dedicated to accept
the challenge of controversy and publish a newspaper
that's trusted by all in our community, we won't hold
back due to economic threats or petty things like getting
the cold shoulder from people," Abbott told Cass.
When a big storm damages Carthage, Waid Prather doesn't
quit after taking a photograph and gathering information
for the Carthaginian (circ. 5,759). Instead, the editor
removes debris from the roads. "When you run a
newspaper, you own the community. I don't care who the
sheriff or board of supervisors are. It's yours to take
care of. You defend it, you criticize it, you do what
needs to be done," Prather told Cass.
Stanley Dearman, former owner of the Neshoba Democrat
(circ. 8,070) in Philadelphia, refused to sell to a
chain before eventually selling to James Prince III.
"From what I've seen happen in other places, they
try to squeeze out every cent they can and rotate publishers
and editors in and out whose primary concern is their
own upward mobility. They don't take a heart-and-soul
interest in a town," Dearman told Cass.
Unlike urban dailies, these weeklies are not losing
readers, notes Cass. "We are the only media outlet
in the world that gives a damn about Sharkey and Issaquena
counties," says Ray Mosby, publisher of the Deer
Creek Pilot (circ. 1,550) in Rolling Fork, Miss. Mosby
wrote an editorial addressed to a judge who said the
paper better not mention him again. It was titled "And
what if we do, Judge?" (Read
Virginia's highest court OKs coal-exports tax over industry
West Virginia's Supreme Court has affirmed the state's
right to tax coal exports, rejecting coal companies'
arguments that the state's severance tax is actually
a sales tax that violates interstate commerce protections.
If the court had struck down the tax, the state said
it would have been forced to refund an estimated $500
million in tax revenue and interest to the 11 coal companies
that challenged it. Coal-company attorneys place the
figure at half that amount, reports Lawrence Messina
of The Associated Press.
Of the 11 coal companies that originally filed the
lawsuit in 2003, at least seven have since changed hands.
The companies now involved in the lawsuit are Alpha
Natural Resources Inc., Arch Coal Inc., Consol Energy
Inc., Foundation Coal Holdings Inc., International Coal
Group Inc., Massey Energy Co., Peabody Holding Co. Inc.
and U.S. Steel Mining Co.,
writes Messina. (Read
Justice Larry Starcher wrote for the majority, "West
Virginia's coal severance taxes are substantially similar
to coal severance taxes that have been found to be constitutional
by the United States Supreme Court." Eliminating
the exports' severance tax would have cost the state
between $40 million and $50 million in future annual
revenue. The coal companies say they will appeal the
ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meth use creates workplace injuries,
economic struggles in rural Wyoming
Methamphetamine use is rising in Campbell County, Wyoming,
and business owners see the drug damaging an already
downtrodden economy. Businesses in industrial parks
are battling both meth use and the related injuries,
reports James Warden of The Gillette News-Record.
Industrial workers must be able to concentrate on essential
safety measures, such as properly building a scaffold,
but drug addicts simply can't function as well as nonusers,
said John Pettyjohn, safety manager at S&S
Builders. In addition to meth's damage to the
human body, secondary effects from lack of sleep and
poor nourishment pose additional dangers at job sites,
Pettyjohn told Warden.
Ultimately, non-meth users face dangers, and costs
can surpass $1 million in the event of an accident,
reports Warden. Even companies with extensive safety
programs can face rising insurance premiums. Meth problems
aren't limited to heavy-equipment industries, Pettyjohn
said. Drug-related theft and lost time threaten everyone,
he said. (Read
For an Associated Press report on
senior citizens selling drugs in Appalachia, click
Ball State University makes
First Amendment video for pro-censorship students
"Alarmed by a study that shows opposition to the
First Amendment from many high school students, a Ball
State University journalism teacher made an
educational DVD about the U.S. Constitution and is sending
it to 4,000 high schools nationwide," writes Will
Higgins of The Indianapolis Star.
"That study was a real wake-up call," Warren
Watson, director of J-Ideas, Ball State's national scholastic
journalism and First Amendment institute, told Higgins.
"More than one in three (high school students)
would welcome government censorship of newspapers?"
The study, released earlier this year by the John
S. and James L. Knight Foundation and researchers
at the University of Connecticut, reported
that 35 percent of the students said the First Amendment
went too far in guaranteeing rights; 21 percent didn't
know enough to have an opinion.
The video provides historical background on the Constitution
and includes with journalists and journalism educators.
"If you make journalism more of a staple in class
or encourage more civics learning," Watson said,
"it would change students' opinions" about
the First Amendment, reports Wiggins. (Read
Many large rural
electric co-ops aren't so rural, as suburbs expand
"Rural electric cooperatives were
born out of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, to bring
electricity to far-flung farms that profitmaking utilities
refused to serve," but are now scrambling to keep
up, and keep in touch, with suburban growth in their
territories, writes Nikita Stewart in The Washington
"Because co-ops' distribution systems
are aging and were built to support a few farms, not
thousands of homes, they are upgrading their equipment,
such as new wiring and transformer substations. They
also try to provide the level of service their growing
numbers of suburban customers expect." Herbie Smith,
a district manager of the Southern Maryland
Electric Cooperative, told Stewart, "We've
got a different customer base," said "It was
tobacco farmers and livestock farmers and watermen.
. . . Now, they are younger, and they have higher expectations.
They are mathematicians and engineers."
Under the laws that authorized them long ago, the co-ops
"have an additional problem that puts them in conflict
with modern times: They have to persuade thousands of
new customers to participate in the running of the co-op
-- annual meetings must have a quorum, although proxy
voting for the board is allowed -- or the co-ops lose
their nonprofit status," Stewart writes. "That's
tough: The new customer/member is more often than not
a commuter with a working spouse, children in school
and, thus, no time to attend meetings. . . . Many newcomers
have no clue that the law requires customers' participation
Co-ops offer free food and entertainment to attract
customers to annual meetings, and use door prizes even
for casting a proxy vote. Members of the Northern
Virginia Electric Cooperative who attended
their meeting "or voted by proxy were eligible
to receive lawn mowers, digital cameras, flat-screen
TVs and $50 gift certificates for Target or Sears,"
the Post reports. The Southern Maryland co-op did much
the same, attracting votes about 1,440 of its 130,060
members -- just over 1 percent, but enough to meet the
co-op's bylaws, Stewart writes.
Here are some basic facts about how Americans get their
electricity, from the second largest co-op, Jackson
Electric Membership Corp. in Georgia: The
U.S. has 3,190 electric utilities, most of which, 2,013,
are publicly owned, mainly by cities. Only 242 are investor-owned,
but they are in major urban areas and serve 75 percent
of all U.S. electric customers. The other 935 electric
utilities are cooperatives, which serve 11 percent of
the total. Of the co-ops, 875 merely distribute electricity,
while 60 generate and 12transmit it. Co-ops have more
than 32 million members in 46 states. For more data
from the National Rural Electric Cooperative
here. For a detailed history of co-ops, from Cumberland
EMC in Tennessee, click
multi-topic resource guide for reporting on rural issues
The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community
Issues was founded to help all journalists
better understand rural issues and small communities,
which are often drowned out by the bustle of metropolitan
life. The issues facing rural America are covered inadequately
or sometimes not at all by short-staffed rural media,
leaving them to be covered by wire services or the bureaus
of larger newspapers -- which usually give them lesser
play than they would receive in areas where the issues
The Institute wants these issues -- such as education,
health care, the environment and economic development
-- to be part of the public agenda, so we are launching
Reporting Resources, a collection of
computer-assisted reporting resources for covering a
variety of rural issues.
The guide contains sources on the major issues listed
above, plus agriculture, cultural and social issues,
plus a separate section on the craft of journalism,
including media law and ethics, writing, grammar, investigative
reporting, technology, professional networking and online
More topics will be added as the guide develops. We
want you to help us make it dynamic. If you are a journalist
who used certain resources to prepare a story or deal
with a professional issue, or someone interested in
rural issues who knows of a resource that should be
listed, please e-mail Institute Director Al Cross at
We also want to know of any shortcomings among the listed
The resource guide is located at http://www.uky.edu/CommInfoStudies/IRJCI/resources.htm.
Michigan joins nine other states
in restricting release of autopsy photos
The death of a 16-year-old female in a car crash in
1996 helped lead to restrictions last year on autopsy
photos being shown in Michigan -- one of at least 10
states to enact laws to prohibit coroners from releasing
pictures or other death records to the public.
Pictures of the girl were shown during court-ordered
morgue tours for people convicted of drug- or alcohol-related
offenses. "I felt like the government has no right
to use my daughter as an administrative tool, as a tool
for punishment," said Connie Ayres, the girl's
mother, reports The Associated Press.
The new laws were prompted in part by a legal battle
in Florida over autopsy photos of NASCAR driver
Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in a crash in 2001. Several
newspapers sought the pictures after questions arose
over how Earnhardt died and whether better safety equipment
might have saved him. Ultimately, Florida passed a law
blocking public access to autopsy photos.
Supporters of such restrictions say the release of
autopsy records could compound family members' pain,
and they worry about the possibility of gruesome morgue
photos being published on the Internet or elsewhere.
Ohio and Pennsylvania are considering such restrictions.
574 S.C. teachers, many rural,
have national certification; third in nation
South Carolina boasts the country's third highest
total of teachers with a special national certification,
and many of them serve rural areas where the need is
The 574 teachers who earned certification through the
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
this year each receive $75,000 in bonuses over
the next 10 years, writes Ron Barnett of The
Greenville News. He notes that this "comes
at a time when the program is under scrutiny by a governor
who wants to trim and focus it and some policymakers
who are questioning whether the money might be better
South Carolina's total of 4,444 nationally certified
teachers falls below North Carolina and Florida. In
2001, South Carolina set a goal to have 5,000 certified
by 2005, compared to just the 40 teachers with the distinction
in 1999, writes Barnett. (Read
Pennsylvania firm develops new
method to control, lessen farm animal odor
With more people moving into rural areas, farm-related
odors, especially pig farms, are sparking more confrontation
between new residents and farmers raising livestock
with major economic repercussions if farmers are forced
to relocate or reduce production, says the research-reporting
"Now, a new patent to be issued to Philadelphia’s
Monell Chemical Senses Center utilizes
a unique method to reduce animal waste malodors, ...
helping farmers ... co-exist ... with their new neighbors.
The method was developed by Monell analytical organic
chemist George Preti and olfactory neuroscientist Charles
Wysocki in response to a request for help from Pennsylvania
state officials," writes Newswise.
A grant from the Pennsylvania Department of
Agriculture funded the project. The olfactory
cross adaptation method they developed reduces the ability
to detect foul odors. The nose adapts to one odor and
becomes less sensitive to a second more offending odor.
Preti explained, "It reduce[s] the ... malodor
bouquet found in farm manures." (Read
more) Blogger's note: Anyone attaching the words
'malodor bouquet' to pig manure must not have smelled
it. There ain't no stank like pig stank.
Scholar opines about need for
rural health care in Thanksgiving column
In his latest column, A Health-Filled Thanksgiving,
Thomas D. Rowley, a fellow for the Rural
Policy Research Institute, uses his latest
Thanksgiving experience, involving a relative's health
problem, as a springboard to cite shifts in treatment
of rural residents.
Rowley notes, "Many rural Americans face obstacles
in getting quality health care — ranging from
lack of access to services to lack of insurance to pay
for those services if they can get them. It’s
also true that many rural Americans face perceptual
hurdles in using locally available care, believing that
quality is found only in the big city. As a result,
rural people and rural providers alike suffer. Fortunately,
there’s a move afoot to improve the quality of
Rowley pays tribute to the National Rural Health
Association, which has kicked off an initiative
"on the belief that rural providers can not only
achieve high quality standards, but can actually be
leaders in improving the quality of care across the
nation," he writes. Rowley says his experience
is that those beliefs are well founded, and he lists
examples in collaboration, integration, technology and
Rowley mentions shifts in reimbursement toward performance-based
pay and the increasing tendency of rural people to look
past local providers and go instead to the city for
care. "Other rural providers must join them if
they are to survive," said Dr. Forrest Calico,
NRHA senior advisor for quality. (Read
percent of Minnesota's HIV patients live in rural areas;
trend mirrors nation
On World AIDS Day, the Minnesota Department
of Health reports 300 state residents were
recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, adding to the state
total of about 5,000, 13 percent of which live in rural
"The Minnesota statistics mirror those nationwide.
They foster the myth that rural areas are safe from
the disease and its agent, said Rosemary Thomas, program
manager for AIDS Information Duluth,
a program of Lutheran Social Service," writes Peter
Rebhahn of the Duluth News Tribune.
Rebhahn's story centers on Jamie Kutasevich, who is
speaking out against people being judged because they
have HIV/AIDS. "For Kutasevich, acting on the belief
carries a cost, because she has the HIV virus, and the
stigma it carries is real," Rebhahn notes. The
23-year-old, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1999, says,
"I want to get the word out. I'm not afraid. It's
out there, and it can happen to anybody."
Rebhahn notes that Kutasevich "had never used
intravenous drugs or engaged in promiscuous sex -- two
of the risky behaviors that lead to HIV transmission
and add to the stigma of the infection. She got HIV
from her former boyfriend." (Read
Hospital Corporation of America
sells five rural hospitals for $260 million
Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)
has announced the completed sale of five rural hospitals
in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington to
Capella Healthcare for about $260 million.
The facilities involved include Grandview Medical
Center, Jasper, Tenn.; River Park Hospital,
McMinnville, Tenn.; Southwestern Medical Center,
Lawton, Okla.; Capital Medical Center,
Olympia, Wash.; and North Monroe Medical Center,
Monroe, La., reports PRNewswire.
These facilities are part of a previously announced
sale of hospitals located primarily in rural and non-urban
markets. The company's remaining hospitals are primarily
located in larger urban and suburban areas. HCA writes
that it "believes the divestitures will not have
a material effect on its future financial position or
results of operations." (Read
Unsung hero? Weekly publisher
took on Joe McCarthy, lost newspaper
The hit movie "Good Night, and Good Luck"
chronicles Edward R. Murrow's heroics, but other figures
took on Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin 50 years ago
without the resources or protection of CBS-TV,
opines columnist Bill Wineke of the Wisconsin
"So when it comes to awarding 'courage' badges,
my candidate is a guy who is far less known by the public.
LeRoy Gore, publisher of the Sauk Prairie Star,
a weekly newspaper in Sauk City, also took on McCarthy
in 1954. He organized the 'Joe Must Go' campaign to
recall the senator. The campaign gathered 375,000 signatures,
but it needed more than 400,000 to be effective,"
"(Gore) ended up losing his newspaper. Sauk County
District Attorney Harlan Kelley convinced a justice
of the peace to issue warrants for Gore's arrest for
aiding and abetting a felony. The charges, incidentally,
were based on a state law forbidding corporations from
being involved in election activity, essentially the
same charges being levied in Texas against Rep. Tom
DeLay. The main difference is that the 'corporation'
in this case was the Joe Must Go Club. In other words,
organizing a recall petition drive was deemed a felony
in itself. The Wisconsin Supreme Court threw the case
out," continues Wineke. (Read
Gore, who died in 1977 of emphysema, once explained
why he took on McCarthy. "I've wondered sometimes
about people like me who take up crusades -- I think
any newspaper man has a penchant for exhibitionism --
you wonder how much of it is high principle and how
much is a compulsion you can't help," he answered.
"You don't find too many news people with compulsions
for exhibitionism anymore. Nor do you find too many
of us willing to take on the structures of power,"
This story received national notice on Romenesko at
West Virginia University launches
Web site to tell hurricane evacuees' stories
West Virginia University's Perley
Isaac Reed School of Journalism students and faculty
have created an interactive, multimedia Web site to
document Hurricane Katrina's evacuees' stories.
"The Web site, 'Starting
Over: Loss and Renewal in Katrina's Aftermath,'
includes photo essays, written stories, multimedia pieces
and documentary footage. The pieces explore how the
victims of the late August hurricane are coping with
tragedy and beginning new lives more than a thousand
miles from home," reports Newswise.
Students and faculty began by working with people who
came from New Orleans to Kingwood, W.Va., to seek help.
The project combines news writing, video, photography
and the Web, notes Newswise. "These are skills
that our students will need as they enter 21st century
newsrooms, where media convergence is happening more
and more each day," said Interim Dean Maryanne
Associated Press unveils new
values and ethics policy, says transparency needed
The Associated Press has released
an updated "statement of news values and principles"
in a move AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said
was meant to provide for more transparency.
The policy combines information about reporter conduct
from different manuals under a new preamble designed
to enunciate AP's ethical standards. "We really
wanted to express a higher purpose we all feel about
what we do," Carroll explained, writes Miki Johnson
of Editor & Publisher. (Read
The preamble lists practices that constitute "ethical
behavior," advising staff to try to identify sources,
not plagiarize, not misidentify themselves to get information,
and quickly deal with any questions of abuse. Although
the anonymous source section call to mind recent scandals
-- "The description of a source must never be altered
without consulting the reporter" -- Carroll said
a combination of issues raised in the past five years
had prompted the detailed look at anonymous sourcing.
While the statement is meant to be a resource for new
AP employees, Carroll acknowledges it is also a step
toward the transparency the statement lists as "critical
to our credibility with the public and our subscribers."
For the full text of the statement, click
FCC approves sale of WSAZ-TV
NewsChannel 3 to Gray Communications
The Federal Communications Commission
has approved the sale and transfer of license of WSAZ
NewsChannel 3 in Huntington, W.Va., from Emmis
Communications to Gray Television,
Gray announced Aug. 22 that it had entered into an
agreement with Emmis to acquire the assets of the the
NBC affiliate in the nation's 62nd largest designated
market area for $186 million, reports The Ironton
(Ohio) Tribune. (Read
more) In the region, Gray owns WTAP-TV
in Parkersburg, W.Va., WKYT-TV in Lexington,
Ky., WYMT-TV in Hazard, Ky., and WHSV-TV
in Harrisonburg, Va. To read Gray's press release, click
In remembrance: Two former American
Press Institute executive directors die
Malcolm F. Mallette and Walter Everett, both former
American Press Institute executive
directors, died in the past week. Mallette, 83, died
Nov. 25 at his home in Durham, N.C., and Everett, 95,
died Nov. 28 at his home in Middletown, R.I. "Both
men were giants in the industry, true pioneers, and
left a real legacy of achievement," Andrew Davis,
API's president and executive director, said in a statement,
reports Editor & Publisher.
Mallette, who was with API for 21 years, served as
an associate director, managing director, director,
and director of development. He retired in 1987. Before
joining API, he worked as a sports editor at the Asheville
Citizen Times and as sports director of the
Winston-Salem Journal, both of which
are are in North Carolina. He also became the latter
paper's managing editor.
Everett worked for API for 26 years, during which he
oversaw API's move from Columbia University
in Manhattan to its current headquarters in Reston,
Va. Before joining API, he worked for 15 years at daily
newspapers, beginning in 1933 as reporter with The
Providence Journal. (Read
Award-winning Oregon editor
wrote for 46 years, died at 74 from cancer
Jerry Tippens, whose career as a reporter, columnist
and editor spanned more than 40 years in Oregon, has
died Monday of cancer at age 74.
His daughter, Julie Tippens, chief of staff for Rep.
David Wu, D-Ore., said, "From 17 to 74, he was
an active journalist." The last piece he wrote
was for The Daily Astorian, where he
was a longtime columnist, reports The Associated Press.
Tippens started his career at The Daily Republic
in Mitchell, S.D., while at Dakota Wesleyan
University, which recently gave him a doctorate
of humane letters for journalism and for fighting hunger
in Oregon. Tippens joined the former Oregon
Journal as night city editor in 1962 and covered
the Oregon Legislature in the mid-1960s. Tippens was
editorial page editor when the Journal merged with The
Oregonian, and he retired from that newspaper
in 1991 as associate editor. (Read
Appalachian State University
announces new graduate school dean
Edelma Huntley has been named dean of the Cratis D.
Williams Graduate School at Appalachian State
University, an academic of the Institute
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.
"Huntley ... was associate dean from 1995-2000,
and was a faculty development consultant for the university’s
Hubbard Center for Faculty and Academic Development
from 1993-95," reports the Asheville Citizen
Huntley joined the university in 1978 as an assistant
professor in the Department of English, was promoted
to the rank of associate professor in 1983 and named
full professor in 1989. She has a Ph.D. in restoration
and 18th-century British literature from the University
of Louisiana. (Read
Dec. 9: Carl A. Ross Student
Paper Competition entry deadline
Dec. 9 is the first of several upcoming deadlines related
to the Appalachian Studies Association's
annual meeting, to be held in Dayton, Ohio, March 17-19.
The Carl A. Ross Appalachian Student Paper Competition
is open to middle/high school and undergraduate/graduate
students. The winners will receive $100 each. Costs
of attending the conference are the winners' responsibility.
All papers must adhere to guidelines for scholarly
research. To make a submission, e-mail a Microsoft Word
copy of a 20 to 30-page paper by December 9, 2005 to:
Roberta Herrin, Ph.D. Director, Center for Appalachian
Studies and Services, Box 70556, East
Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tenn.,
37614, telephone 423-439-7997, fax 423-439-7870, or
Students who wish to present their papers at the conference
must also submit a Proposal for Participation following
the guidelines above by Dec. 9.
Dec. 4: Partners for Family
Farms book signing at Kentucky distillery
Partners for Family Farms invites
you to help celebrate local food with a presentation
and book signing by Michael Ableman to celebrate his
new book, Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey In
Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It, from
4 to 6 p.m. at the Woodford Reserve Distillery between
Versailles and Frankfort, Ky.
The event is sponsored by Brown-Forman Corp.
and its Woodford Reserve subsidiary and WUKY-FM
in Lexington. For more information contact
Partners For Family Farms at (859) 233-3056.
Dec. 7: Neighbor Works Training
Institute's Symposium, San Francisco
NeighborWorks Training Institute's The New Rural
America: Partners and Progress, a community economic
development symposium showcasing innovation and excellence,
will be held Dec. 7 at the Hilton San Francisco. For
information, see http://nw.org/network/training/upcoming/ruralSymposium05.asp.
McCain seeks limits on Indian
casinos, as Shawnee eye ancestral Ohio
A push for land and casino expansion in Ohio by native
Americans has caught the attention and the ire of a
key U. S. senator who thinks the tribes are over-extending
their reach and need to be reined in.
The Eastern Shawnee Indians, based in Oklahoma and
Missouri, say settlers pushed their ancestors off tribal
land in Ohio two centuries ago and they want the land
back to build four casinos, which would be Ohio's first,
reports Bloomberg News.
"Some 20 U.S. tribes are staking similar claims
off their reservations. As Indians and their corporate
partners pursue distant new markets, lawmakers in Washington,
including U. S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are moving
to set new federal limits," writes the business
McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian
Affairs, said "No one believed that Indian gaming
would be an $18.5 billion-a-year business, no one in
their wildest dreams.'' McCain helped write the 1988
U.S. law that allowed Indian tribes to run casinos in
states that permit gambling. Nov. 18 he introduced a
bill to restrict off-reservation gaming to a tribe's
home state, reports Bloomberg.
McCain said it was time to review the 1988 law. ``It
is going to be a delicate proposition,'' he said. Votes
on McCain's bill and similar legislation haven't been
scheduled, Bloomberg reports. (Read
Locals say grasslands restoration
plan is a burden, denies youth experience
Since 1998, environmentalists have tried
to keep Western grasslands grassy by paying ranchers
not to graze their cattle. But some locals object, saying
it's economically burdensome and denies young people
a traditional Western experience.
"Seven years ago an Arizona environmental
group began paying ranchers to give up their grazing
rights when their herds, or bank accounts, had failed
to thrive. By this fall, the Grand Canyon Trust,
had spent more than $1 million to end grazing on more
than 400,000 acres," reports The New York
Former Bureau of Land Management employee
Michael E. Noel, a Republican state representative from
southern Utah, wants to roll back trust agreements.
Noel told reporter Felicity Barringer the loss of the
grazing allotments hurts ranching and deprives young
people of the chance to work the land. He contends retiring
the lands goes against an "implicit agreement."
and said, "if we allow that to occur, we go down
the path of eliminating all grazing on public lands."
Grand Canyon Trust Executive Director Bill Hedden said
he could not understand why his efforts seemed a threat
to Mr. Noel and "had hoped to create a situation
with no losers where ranchers could consolidate their
herds in more congenial settings." Under the alternative,
Hedden told Barringer federal officials could bar grazing
during a drought without bankrupting ranchers. (Read
War on geese: U. S. combating
loitering birds that leave progeny and poop
Even as it fights wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and
a global war on terrorism, the U. S. government is establishing
a new front to thin out some migratory birds that linger
too long on their way to warmer climes and leave too
much of themselves behind, reports Poynter Institute's
Al Tompkins in his latest Morning Meeting
"The Philadelphia Inquirer says
the federal government has launched what amounts to
an all-out war on the rising number of resident Canada
geese loitering in the nation taking up residence in
parks and farms and leaving behind lots of mess and
little geese, writes Tompkins. (Read
The Inquirer explains: "With nationwide numbers
of so-called resident Canada geese soaring and the headaches
they create for landowners, farmers and officials mounting,
the federal government is declaring all-out war,"
And, adds Tompkins, "You, dear reader, could become
one of its trusty foot soldiers." For the full
Inquirer story, by Jennifer Moroz, click
Tompkins notes the new U.S. Fish and Wildlife
rules take effect before year's end and give local officials
more power "to help get rid of the notoriously
pesky fowl," he writes. The goal is to reduce the
birds' numbers nationwide from 3.2 million to about
2 million by 2015, he notes.
Tompkins concludes, "There are other effective
ways of controlling the resident populations without
killing birds. GeesePeace has worked
in 10 states and the United Kingdom. The project involves,
in some cases, treating geese eggs to keep them from
Sierra Club tries to attract
allies, says not all development of land is bad
The Sierra Club, in a move that could
help it gain new allies, is starting to go to bat for
The club plans to release this week its "Guide
to America's Best New Development Projects," an
endorsement of mixed-use residential, commercial and
retail developments which includes a project to build
as many as 5,000 homes on the site of a former steel
mill in Atlanta; the conversion of a high school into
apartments and condominiums in Albuquerque, N. M.; and
redeveloping a factory and warehouse district in Portland,
Ore., into more than 2,000 town homes and apartments,"
writes Jim Carlton of Canada's Globe and Mail.
"We are trying to be supportive of developers
who are doing the right thing," said Eric Olson,
Washington-based director of the Sierra Club's Healthy
Communities Campaign. "We're also recognizing that
you can't just be against things all the time. You have
to be for things."
Keith Woods, chief executive officer of an industry
group north of San Francisco, where the Sierra Club
has fought to block many proposed developments, told
Carlton, "I think someone at the Sierra Club has
taken a reality pill, and I'm glad."
Carlton notes, the Sierra Club filed a brief on behalf
of a developer planning to build 40 units of affordable
senior housing in Berkeley, Calif. A neighborhood group
opposed the project challenged it in court, says Tim
Frank, a senior policy adviser for the environmental
group. The California Court of Appeal cleared the way
for that development last year. (Read
TVA, formed to get power to
rural poor, remains largest public utility
Tennessee Valley Authority revenues
grew to nearly $7.8 billion in 2005, a 3.5 percent jump
in electricity sales in the seven-state Tennessee Valley,
keeping TVA the nation's largest public utility.
"The self-financing government agency said revenues
rose $261 million compared to the year before, but blamed
rising fuel costs for a drop in net income to $85 million,
compared to $386 million in 2004," writes Duncan
Mansfield of The Associated Press.
In a TVA news release, TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore
said, "Overall, TVA's integrated power system had
its most successful year on record, supplying our customers
with more than 171 billion kilowatt hours of electricity
At the same time, the rising prices of coal, natural
gas and purchased power significantly increased our
operating expenses in 2005 and will continue to be our
toughest challenge in 2006."
TVA supplies electricity to most of Tennessee and parts
of Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina
and Virginia. (Read
U.S. lawyer in
tobacco suit leaving his post; acknowledged clash with
The Justice Department lawyer who
led the government's civil racketeering case against
the tobacco industry for the past five years is leaving
the department after clashing with some of her supervisors
over the direction of the multibillion-dollar case,
reports The New York Times.
"The Justice Department told the federal judge
hearing the case of the lawyer's departure on Wednesday.
The lawyer, Sharon Y. Eubanks, said ... she was leaving
voluntarily to explore work as a lawyer in the private
sector or elsewhere and that she had enjoyed her 22
years at the Justice Department. But Ms. Eubanks acknowledged
the clashes with supervisors at the Justice Department,
including Robert McCallum, associate attorney general;
Peter Keisler, the head of the civil division; and Dan
Meron, Mr. Keisler's deputy," writes the Times'
Eric Lichtblau. (Read
Eubanks told Lichtblau, "I didn't feel like I
had the support at all times of the political team."
Justice Department officials declined comment , citing
the privacy of personnel matters. Eubanks was at the
center of a political dispute when she objected to a
decision to reduce the penalties they were seeking by
$120 billion. For The Washington Post version, by Carol
D. Leonnig, click
Nurses plan Dec. 12 strike at
Appalachian Regional Healthcare hospitals
Registered nurses at nine Appalachian Regional
Healthcare hospitals in West Virginia and Kentucky
say they will strike in December claiming the nonprofit
health system reneged on agreement allowing modified
Bill Riggs, the Kentucky Nurses Association's
labor relations director, says nurses work three 12-hour
shifts with no overtime and receive 40 hours pay under
the modified schedules at hospitals in Beckley and Summers
County, W.Va. and seven Eastern Kentucky hospitals.
The contract, signed a year ago, extends to 2007, reports
Bev Davis, senior editor of the Beckley Register-Herald.
Riggs told reporters ARH said it will end the modified
schedules for many registered nurses on Dec. 12. Riggs
said, "They signed an agreement with ARH and have
built their schedules around that contract."
ARH, headquartered in Hazard, Ky., said, "Management
has ... found a substantial amount of non-productive
time provided by the modified schedule drains financial
resources that could be utilized to provide system improvements
in patient care," ARH began in 1956 as the Miners
Memorial Hospital Association, which was created
by the United Mine Workers to provide
health care in the Kentucky and West Virginia coalfields.
Newswise unveils online resources
for feature and breaking-news stories
Newswise, a comprehensive database
of current news, archives, and subscription wire services,
reports that it has created two new online tools for
reporters -- one for journalists writing about major
breaking news events, and another for feature reporters.
The news service says the “Breaking News Channels”
and “Feature Channels,” are available on
its Channels page at http://www.newswise.com/channels.
Newswise said feature reporters can review a large number
of ideas that will enhance their reporting on trends
and human-interest stories. Offerings from knowledge-based
institutions grouped in a thematic way will open access
to feature writers.
Roger Johnson, president and founder of Newswise, said,
"Journalists can tap into these channels to find
both the inspiration for and the necessary materials
to create their own unique stories. Both of these novel
tools will enable reporters’ to find and use information
from sources in creative ways."
In addition, Newswise will have four groups of more
general feature ideas within science, medicine, lifestyle,
and business. Newswise says its expansion goes beyond
news research to "using online technology to help
journalists respond quickly, creatively, thoughtfully,
and comprehensively to culture-changing events and trends,"
they write. (Read
NPR podcasts topping charts,
rewriting business model, reports online mag
National Public Radio, reacting to
member-station demands, has begun podcasting its major
"The public spoke, and NPR listened, launching
podcasts on Aug. 31. According to Maria Thomas, vice
president and general manager of NPR Online, it took
only six days after launch for NPR's "Story of
the Day" podcast to reach the coveted No. 1 spot
on iTunes for most downloaded podcast.
On Nov. 21, NPR's podcasts held down 11 spots on the
iTunes Top 100, more than any other media outlet, "writes
Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review.
NPR has also is hosting podcasts for member stations,
and selling and splitting underwriting revenues with
them. And, it's launched three original podcasts under
the new alt.NPR brand as an incubator for edgier content,
writes Glaser. Thomas told Glaser there were two driving
forces for NPR: listener demand for portable audio and
the chance to find a new business model for working
Glaser notes that Podcasting gave NPR a new model for
selling underwriting, and sharing the proceeds with
Truthdig, 'anti-blog' news site,
launched to sort out the facts online
A communications professor and former editor of an
online magazine has joined with a reporter-entrepreneur
to launch an "anti-blog news site" to counter
what they consider the cacophonous proliferation of
blogs and the resulting glut of information much of
which is barely or non-corroborated.
"The newly launched Truthdig.com
[is] an online news magazine that editor-in-chief Robert
Scheer described as 'anti-blog.' Scheer, a clinical
professor with USC's Annenberg School for Communication
and former editor of Online Journalism Review,
said the current World Wide Web is a 'food-fight' and
claimed 'people are suspicious of the Internet ... due
to the lack of trust,' writes the OJR's Jennifer Sun.
Scheer and the site's publisher, Zuade Kaufman unveiled
Truthdig this week. Scheer told Sun, "There is
truth for any given subject. But you have to dig for
it." Scheer described his position as editor as
"turning strong writers to dig leaders, but controlling
the direction of the digs." (Read
Seigenthaler says false Wikipedia
biography is example of online vandalism
For 132 days, the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia
said this about a prominent journalist: "John Seigenthaler
Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy
in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought
to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations
of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever
As you might guess, Seigenthaler is hopping mad. "At
age 78, I thought I was beyond surprise or hurt at anything
negative said about me. I was wrong," the former
editor of The Tennesseean and editorial
director of USA Today wrote in the
national newspaper this week.
"I had heard for weeks from teachers, journalists
and historians about 'the wonderful world of Wikipedia,'
where millions of people worldwide visit daily for quick
reference 'facts' composed and posted by people with
no special expertise or knowledge — and sometimes
by people with malice," he wrote. "At my request,
executives of the three Web sites now have removed the
false content about me. But they don't know, and can't
find out, who wrote the toxic sentences. . . . Naturally,
I want to unmask my 'biographer.' And, I am interested
in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed
and irresponsible research tool."
Seigenthaler concluded, "And so we live in a universe
of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide
communications and research — but populated by
volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects. Congress
has enabled them and protects them. . . . Unlike print
and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot
be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens
posted by others. Recent low-profile court decisions
document that Congress effectively has barred defamation
Dec. 4: Fields
of Plenty author to appear at Kentucky family farm
Writer, photographer and farmer Michael Ableman, widely
known for his work in sustainable agriculture, will
be the featured guest at the Partners for Family
Farms' statewide gathering Dec. 4. at Woodford
Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Ky.
The event, from 4 to 6 p.m., is open to the public.
It is sponsored by the University of Kentucky
College of Agriculture, Brown-Forman/Woodford
Reserve and radio station WUKY,
writes Terry McLean of the U. K. College of Agriculture
Tickets are $25 for members of Partners for Family
Farms and $45 for nonmembers. All ticket purchases are
tax-deductible. Nonmember tickets include 2006 membership
in PFF, a private, nonprofit organization
dedicated to sustaining farm life and farm land. To
reserve tickets, call (859) 233-3056 or write P.O. Box
22259, Lexington, Ky., 40522. (Read