Oct. 31, 2005
High price pumps up interest
in Appalachian oil; tiny refinery revving up
Appalachian journalists should take a heads
up from a story over the weekend by Roger Alford of The
Associated Press, reporting that "New wells
are going in every day throughout the region thanks to an
oil rush powered by record high prices. With crude selling
for $60 a barrel, even the traditionally slow-producing oil
fields in the[foothills] of Kentucky and Tennessee, where
most wells churn out one to two barrels a day, have become
Frank Lynch, president of Somerset Oil, told
Alford, "With the high-dollar crude, all of a sudden
we were thrown into the big game." Somerset Oil was almost
unnoticed for decades. Then last year crude jumped beyond
$20 a barrel and kept on rising. Now Lynch expects the local
supply to his refinery to increase from 2,800 barrels to 5,500
barrels within the next month and to 7,500 by the end of March.
Its capacity is 10,000 barrels, making it one of the nation's
smallest refineries. (Read
This is an example of an AP story that should spawn lots
of local stories -- about on-the-ground activities that directly
affect people, such as reopening of old wells, drilling of
new ones and leasing of mineral rights for drilling. Oil leases
typically last just a few years, unlike most mineral leases.
Leases must be filed as public record, so they are available
in courthouses. Also, the Kentucky Division of Oil
and Gas recently began posting lease-by-lease production
data, based on pickups of crude by trucks from Somerset and
other regional refineries such as the Indiana Farm
Bureau. To access this data, click
shows excellence trumps size, structure
A hopeful endeavor to turn a small Washington-state
school system into a model for similar schools nationwide
has produced results counter to what was expected -- indicating
that regardless of how schools are structured, excellence
is still the key to higher academic achievement.
"Mountlake Terrace High School was supposed
to lead the way in the national movement to remake large high
schools into smaller ones that graduated more students and
better prepared them for college. But the school that reorganized
itself into five small academies with one of the first Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation Small Schools Grants
in 2001 is also serving as a cautionary tale about the difficulty
of change," writes Lynn Thompson of The Seattle
The foundation is moving away from converting
large high schools into smaller ones and is instead giving
grants to specially selected school districts that have proven
academic improvement and effective leadership. Foundation
experts have concluded "improving classroom instruction
and mobilizing the resources of an entire district were more
important first steps to improving high schools than breaking
down the size," writes Thompson.
The Washington school system hasn't given up on the idea
of independent small schools organized around themes such
as technology and the performing arts, but is rethinking how
to organize its three other large high schools. Ken Limón,
the district's assistant superintendent for secondary education,
told Thompson. "I think we're finding that it's not necessarily
about the structure of the school as much as it's about the
quality of instruction. It's the relationship between teacher
and student that's critical."
The district described in Thompson's story is in the urban
area of Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, but the small-schools
experiment could have implications for rural schools. (Read
County considers rule to make growth
planners consider impact on schools
The newest elementary school in Shelby County, Kentucky,
opened in August and is bulging at the seams -- perhaps evidence
of the need for local planners to consider impacts on schools.
"The county's population rose about 11.6 percent, or
3,880 residents, between 2000 and 2004 as it became a bedroom
community of Louisville. Now Shelby County residents and elected
officials are debating a proposed ordinance that would help
ensure that population growth doesn't outstrip the capacity
of the county's schools," writes Michael A. Lindenberger
of The Courier-Journal.
The ordinance would allow zoning officials to consider a
project's impact on schools as grounds for rejection. It also
permits developers to offer school districts incentives such
as including land for a new school as part of the proposal
-- to ease the impact, reports the Louisville newspaper.
Chuck Kavanaugh, executive vice president of the Home
Builders Association of Louisville, said builders
oppose such a measure. By focusing on new homes, officials
ignore other growth, including growth caused by families with
children who move into a county and rent or buy existing homes,
Kavanaugh told Lindenberger. (Read
Impact statement on mountaintop-removal
mines pleases industry, not enviros
A programmatic environmental impact statement released by
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attempts
to coordinate reviews of mountaintop-removal mining permit
applications and ease concerns over the controversial practice.
follows several years of study by the Army Corps of
Engineers, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining,
the Environmental Protection Agency, the
Fish and Wildlife Service and the West
Virginia Department of Environmental Protection into
mountaintop removal in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and
Tennessee. In essence, this statement approves a proposal
to combine the mining permit reviews required by state and
federal agencies into a single, joint evaluation, writes Ken
Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette.
The $5.5 million study was promised in December 1998 to settle
parts of a federal court lawsuit filed against mountaintop
removal. "The draft study, published in May 2003, confirmed
that mountaintop removal is destroying forests and streams
in West Virginia and other coal states in the region. Among
other things, the draft reported that coal operators had buried
more than 720 miles of Appalachian streams between 1985 and
2001," writes Ward. (Read
"Coal industry officials welcomed the final study’s
release, while environmentalists harshly criticized the lack
of any concrete rule changes to more strictly police large-scale
strip mining," Ward writes, quoting Carol Raulston, spokesman
for the National Mining Association: “We
think this will be helpful both for people filing permits,
knowing what they need to file, and for the public, to review
permits and get a more complete picture rather than something
Joe Lovett of the Appalachian Center for the Economy
and Environment told Brian Farkas of The
Associated Press,"It's laughable to call it
anything except a way to ease permitting for the coal industry.
In my view, it's a complete abdication of the federal government
under the Clean Water Act to protect this region's water.
There is nothing protective about the EIS." (Click
here for AP story)
If Katrina turns focus
to poor, W. Post has a nominee: Central Appalachia
Tennessee Ernie Ford sang, "Sixteen tons and what'll
you get, another day older and deeper in debt." But what
happens when the coal is gone and poverty is pervasive and
palpable? In the old coal-mining community of Kermit, W.Va.,
“junkin'” keeps a body alive, but barely. Evelyn
Nieves of The
Washington Post captured the karma of Kermit this
way over the weekend:
"Work is hard to find in Kermit (population 201), not
to mention in all the other coal towns of southern West Virginia.
So Greg Hannah, a 38-year-old single father, relies on the
refuse ... to put some money in his pocket and help support
his 8-year-old boy. Hannah is 'a junker' ... sifting through
trash for metal and other junk and [he] sells it to a plant
that buys aluminum for 50 cents a pound. If he works 'really
hard, every day,' he says, he could make as much as $200 in
Nieves writes, "After New Orleans's destruction, politicians
and commentators predicted that Hurricane Katrina would force
the nation to focus on the plight of poor people. If that
were to happen, this swath of lush, green central Appalachia,
where President Lyndon B. Johnson launched his 'War on Poverty'
more than 40 years ago, would once again be a prime candidate
for attention. ... Appalachia leads the nation in disabilities,
deaths by preventable diseases, dental problems and prescription
drug abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. In Mingo County, where Kermit is
located, the poverty rate is 29.7 percent, slightly higher
than pre-Katrina New Orleans. Coal is the big industry, but
mining jobs are as rare as luck." (Read
Meth candy? Chinese meth?
Officials fear new forms from various sources
Methamphetamine, once a mainly rural drug, is making its
way across American communities and now a new version of the
killer may be on its way from China.
Hasan Davis is vice president of the Federal Advisory
Committee on Juvenile Justice, and he is talking
about dealing with that development at various tour stops
throughout the United States. While the Chinese meth looms
on the horizon, Davis said the current meth problem must be
dealt with first, writes Katie Brown of the Bismarck
Tribune in North Dakota. "We really need to
address the problems we have now so if and when we are faced
with this we can do what we need to in order to keep it from
becoming a catastrophic event," Davis said.
While Davis' committee continues to seek information about
the Chinese meth, news is spreading that meth manufacturers
have started creating candy-coated pill versions of the drug,
reports Brown. "It probably isn't in the United States
already, but with the global economy and global market, who
knows how long we have before it makes it over here,"
Davis said. (Read
Cumulus Broadcasting to buy Susquehanna
Media radio stations
In the largest radio-industry deal in several years, "Susquehanna
Media Co., the nation's largest closely held radio
operator by revenue, has agreed to sell its radio assets to
a group led by Cumulus Media Inc. for $1.2
billion," reports Sarah McBride of The Wall Street
Cumulus Media Partners consists of Cumulus
Media and three investment firms -- Bain Capital LLC,
Blackstone Group LP and Thomas H. Lee Partners
LP. All hold one-fourth interest, but Cumulus said
it could raise its stake if it meets performance targets.
"Cumulus, which owns more than 300 stations mostly in
smaller and medium markets, would have stakes in stations
in several big cities like San Francisco and Dallas when the
transaction is completed," the Journal reports. Cumulus
and other companies have their eyes on the radio stations
of the Walt Disney Co., including the ABC
"Acquiring the Disney stations, which had net revenue
last year of about $450 million, would help any of the half-dozen
or so second-tier radio groups around the country better challenge
the dominance of industry giants Clear Channel Communications
Inc. ... and Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Broadcasting,"
McBride writes. "Susquehanna is a unit of Susquehanna
Pfaltzgraff Co., which recently sold its dinnerware
here to read more; subscription may be required)
United Nations envoy to examine Eastern
Kentucky's poverty today, tomorrow
"A United Nations official who is studying
'extreme poverty' in the United States is scheduled to travel
to Eastern Kentucky early next week to learn about Appalachia's
economic and environmental problems," writes Frank E.
Lockwood of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Arjun Sengupta, with the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights, will visit a homeless shelter in Hazard and
a low-cost medical clinic in Paint Lick. Rev. John Rausch,
director of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia,
arranged the visit. Sengupta, a former Indian ambassador to
the European Union, "is looking at numerous places in
the United States where poverty has been overlooked or exists
and is not dealt with," Rausch told Lockwood.
Sengupta has visited New Orleans and will soon see inner-city
Philadelphia. In Kentucky, Rausch is encouraging people to
give the official a realistic view of poverty. "I don't
want to hear any glossy nonsense. I want to know where the
cracks and fissures are," Rausch said, noted Lockwood.
The Appalachian Regional Commission reports
that 32 of the 77 most economically "distressed counties"
in its 13 states are in Kentucky. Sengupta is studying "income
poverty, human development poverty and social exclusion"
during his U.S. tour, reports Lockwood. (Read
Rural roots may help make Jerry Kilgore
governor of Virginia next week
Jerry Kilgore could become the first Virginia governor from
Scott County, an Appalachian community closer to seven other
state capitals (even Columbus, Ohio) than to Richmond. Small-town
life in his hometown of Gate City involves plenty of hunting,
church gatherings and of course, football. "This is the
place that defines who I am," Kilgore told Bob Lewis
of The Associated Press.
Kilgore, 44, completely embraces his roots in Virginia's
southwestern hills, "where life is tied closely to church
and family, where pretense is a social blunder and where people
feel forgotten and unappreciated by their leaders in Richmond,
348 miles away," writes Lewis. Now Kilgore, a Republican,
wants Gate City's residents to have a leader that they know
appreciates them. He started by becoming attorney general
in 2001, and now faces Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, for
the state's top post. (Read
"Kaine has taken a narrow lead [of 47 percent to 44
percent] buoyed by newfound strength in Northern Virginia's
outer suburbs and an electorate turned off by what it considers
the negative tone of his Republican opponent, according to
a new Washington Post poll," write Michael D. Shear and
Claudia Deane of The Washington Post. However,
Virginia's recent electoral history suggests that Kaine may
need an even wider lead in polls to win on Election Day, since
Democrats' figures are usually inflated. Kaine is leading
among women, older voters, and suburban voters, Kilgore is
leading among whites, men and those who say they live in rural
areas, reports The Post. (Read
Minister who opposed gay-marriage
ban sues Ky. Farm Bureau over firing
A Unitarian minister has filed a lawsuit claiming that the
Kentucky Farm Bureau wrongfully fired him
in January, after he spoke out against a state constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage.
Rev. Todd Eklof, a minister at Clifton Unitarian
Church in Louisville, announced during a November
service that he would no longer perform marriages until gay
marriage was legalized. "In the lawsuit, filed in Jefferson
Circuit Court, Eklof claims he was fired about two months
after a television interview regarding his stance. Eklof was
a corporate video producer for the Farm Bureau," says
"What happened to freedom of speech?" Eklof asked
about 50 supporters during a weekend rally. "We will
not remain silent. We will not keep our opinions to ourselves."
A Jan. 18 letter from David Beck, the Farm Bureau's executive
vice president, said Eklof's public statements violated a
company policy against such opinionated displays and that
Eklof had performed poorly at work, reports Jason Riley for
the Louisville newspaper. "Kentucky was one of 11 states
last fall that changed their constitutions to outlaw same-sex
marriages," he notes. (Read
Halloween weekend hayride in South
Carolina ends with four people dead
Journalists who serve rural areas might want to report this
item as a reminder to readers, listeners and viewers that
hayrides can be dangerous.
"Four people were killed and at least 14 were injured
during a hay ride Sunday in Florence, S.C., when an 18-wheeler
slammed into a farm tractor pulling a trailer on which the
people were riding, officials said," reports the Charlotte
Observer. The trailer had no rear lights, and there
were as many as 20 people participating in the hay ride through
rural Marion County. When the truck hit the tractor and the
wagon, the latter broke away and spun around, and passengers
were flung from the wagon. (Read
Nov. 5: Hotel reservation deadline
this Saturday for Farm Journal Forum
The deadline for making hotel reservations for the 10th Farm
Journal Forum, presented by Monsanto and
ADM, is this coming Saturday. The forum is
designed for participants to learn about what's new in consumer
demands for food, farm policy, renewable energy and rural
The forum will be held Dec. 5-6 at the Hyatt Regency Washington
on Capitol Hill. Sign up for the forum by calling (703) 683-6334,
or faxing the registration form to (540) 373-8893. This year's
theme is "Promoting Farmer-Consumer Connections."
Invited speakers include Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.
The conference registration fee is $295. To make hotel reservations
for $199 single and double occupancy, call (202) 737-1234
or (800) 233-1234 and mention the Farm Journal Forum. (Read
Nov. 1-18: Online Ecotourism Emerging
Industry Forum starts
Planeta.com and EplerWood
International invite you to take part in the Ecotourism
Emerging Industry Forum Nov. 1-18.
The Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum will be conducted
on-line. It will bring together key business, finance, and
market players worldwide to discuss the needs of their industry.
Moderators will be selected with experience and understanding
of business goals and objectives.
Nearly 100 people have registered for this innovative online
forum, designed to provide professionally moderated, up-to-date
results on small and medium enterprise (SME) priorities for
funding and investment decisions for sustainable tourism in
developing countries. The organizers will prepare final results
with a small editorial board to be announced. The results
will be delivered to all of the development agencies via personal
correspondence and meetings with the key individuals involved
in donor policy development. (Read
Oct. 28, 2005
'Covering Coal' conference for Central
Appalachian journalists Nov. 18
Coal has made news in Central Appalachia for more than a
century, and it is particularly newsworthy right now. Prices
are high and mines are hiring, but citizens are complaining
about the impacts of the industry. Journalists, the major
players may not live in your area, but the impacts –
good and bad – are local, and your readers, listeners
or viewers are interested in them.
But covering those impacts is often difficult, because coal
is a complex industry – in its technology, its regulation
and its economics, for example – and the decision-makers
are often not readily at hand. If you’re a small daily
paper or station, it’s easy to leave it to The Associated
Press; if you’re a weekly and don’t have AP, reliable
information is often hard to find. Even larger papers often
need better access to experts and decision-makers.
To help Appalachian journalists cover this business that
is so important to the region, the Institute for Rural
Journalism and Community Issues and its partners
at other schools are presenting "Covering Coal,"
an intensive seminar on Friday Nov. 18 at the Graduate College
of Marshall University in South Charleston,
W.Va. Attendees will hear from people in the coal business,
the bureaucrats who regulate them, environmentalists and other
citizens who point out the others’ shortcomings, and
veteran journalists who will offer useful advice. You will
leave with a better understanding of the industry and its
issues, and with story ideas, sources and the right questions.
The fee is $25 (after Nov. 10, $35). Because space is limited,
attendance will be limited to the first 25 paid registrations.
Details appear on this page of
our Web site. To download a .pdf copy of the conference schedule
and registration form, click here.
Alliance Coal to reopen long-dormant
mine in West Virginia panhandle
The Old Valley Camp coal mine near Wheeling, W.Va., is being
revived after laying dormant for 30 years. "This will
be the first time coal is mined in Ohio County in 30 years,"
State Sen. Andy McKenzie told Juliet A. Terry of The
State Journal in Charleston. "It's going to
be one of the largest openings of a coal mine in a long time."
The Old Valley Camp mine, now the Tunnel Ridge reserve area,
covers 50,000-plus acres in Ohio County and adjoining Pennsylvania.
Resource Partners is in the permitting process
to open the mine, Terry writes.
Alliance said the mine could produce up to 6 million tons
of coal annually, also predicting about 300 new jobs will
be created when it opens, with salaries averaging $50,000
to $55,000. It's expected to be a $200 million investment
over the next five years, Terry writes. The company estimated
Tunnel Ridge could generate $179 million in state severance
taxes and $9 million in county severance taxes over its lifetime.
FCC chairman wants to shore up funding
for rural telecom services
Declining costs of pohone service, telephoning over the Internet
and a blurring definition of telecom company have hurt the
Universal Services Fund that hels rural areas. The Federal
Communications Commission chairman, Kevin Martin,
says the government should help.
On Wednesday, Martin told Telecom '05 conference
attendees in Las Vegas he hopes the government will improve
funding for advanced telecom services for rural and isolated
businesses, schools and consumers, reports Nicholas Hoover
of Information Week.
"The commission needs to revise the way in which it
collects universal service funds," said Martin, who grew
up in rural North Carolina. He noted the FCC is charged with
assuring that rural America doesn't get left behind in services.
The Universal Services Fund requires interstate telecom carriers
to pay taxes into the fund based on their revenue, notes Hoover.
Broadband and other high-tech telecommunications services
are costly in rural areas, so the fund subsidizes small rural
Martin has proposed that companies pay taxes based on the
number of lines they service, not on their total revenues.
Martin noted not everyone is happy with the proposal, and
is open to any proposal that would make the system more technology-neutral,
Hoover writes. (Read
Congress delays country-of-origin
meat labeling, possibly to 2008
Under a joint recommendation from congressional appropriations
committees, meat processors probably won't have to label where
products come from until 2008.
Both chambers of Congress will vote on the recommendations,
which include delaying mandatory country-of-origin labeling
until Sept. 30, 2008, writes Shea Van Hoy of The Morning
News of Springdale, Ark., home of Tyson Foods
Inc. The U.S. Department of Agriculture
reports the cost of mandatory labeling for beef and pork packers
would be more than $2.4 billion in the first year, writes
Tyson spokesman Gary Michelson told Van Hoy, "While
we're pleased it has been delayed again, we still believe
this measure should either be repealed or made permanently
voluntary." Tyson opposes mandatory labeling, citing
high costs, lack of consumer demand and difficulty in tracking
Consumer groups and cattlemen organizations, such as the
Montana-based Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund/United
Stockgrowers of America, back country-of-origin labeling.
Danni Beer of the cattlemen's group told Van Hoy the joint
committee "caved in to Tyson's pressure" when it
adopted the country-of-origin delay. The consumer group,
Americans for Country of Origin Labeling, contends
costs for a mandatory program are overestimated, and it says
U.S. trading partners require labeling to allow consumers
to make better choices. (Read
New owners shake up Eagle-Tribune;
Ketter named 'educator, trainer'
Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. has replaced
Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune Publisher
Irving ''Chip" Rogers II with Richard Franks, who had
been chief executive officer, and made the company's vice
president of news, William Ketter, an "educator and trainer"
who will no longer oversee the day-to-day editorial content.
That role goes to executive editor Karen Andreas, 39, who
worked at North Shore newspapers for 17 years, including three
as Salem News editor, reports the Boston Globe.
The Eagle-Tribune, which CNHI bought recently, is the Alabama-based
chain's largest daily. Mike Reed, president and chief executive
officer of CNHI, told Crane that Ketter, 65, will work with
editorial personnel company-wide. Under Ketter's leadership
the Eagle-Tribune won one of its two Pulitzer Prizes. "Why
not expose (Ketter) editorially to the whole company?"
Reed asked. "He can ... see how they conduct newsroom
proceedings. Do they have a good grasp on what should be on
page one versus page three? Maybe he can make future editors
by passing on his experience."
Ketter's experience includes work for The Patriot
Ledger of Quincy, service on the Pulitzer Prize board,
and teaching journalism at Boston University.
Wal-Mart chief wants higher minimum
wage to help workers, customers
Wal-Mart's top official asked Congress to
consider raising the minimum wage this week, saying he wanted
to help his employees and the customers who shop at the retail
Wal-Mart Chief Executive H. Lee Scott said he wants to improve
worker wages, which at his company average less than $10 an
hour. "Even slight overall adjustments to wages eliminate
our thin profit margin," Scott said, but said the wage
should be raised to also help Wal-Mart's cash-strapped customers.
Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club
and a board member of Wal-Mart Watch, a group
critical of the company, said the firm still needs to address
some environmental issues, such as how new stores impact rural
areas. The massive buildings cover fields or wetlands and
prompt customers to consume extra gasoline, Pope told Barbaro
and Barringer. (Read
On the prowl: Wal-Mart's critics to
take fight inside churches, synagogues
Wal-Mart's critics will be
preaching their gospel from pulpits, figuratively speaking,
across the nation.
"Producers of a new documentary, Wal-Mart: The High
Cost of Low Price, will show it in about 1,000 churches,
synagogues and religious sites nationwide on Nov. 13 in a
bid to force changes in Wal-Mart's employment and other practices,"
writes Jim Hopkins of USA Today.
"The movie is part of a broader campaign by a disparate
group of critics who now include ministers asserting Wal-Mart's
tactics are a moral as well as economic issue," Hopkins
writes, adding that the film comes on the heels of Wal-Mart's
public relations effort "to polish its battered image."
The Wal-Mart film features interviews with company employees,
small-business owners, teachers and others who sharply criticize
it with charges of low wages, skimpy health benefits and a
poor environmental record. The film's producer Robert Greenwald
told Hopkins, "Those are moral questions."
Wilma's aftermath: Florida's farmers
hurt when sugar cane tangled, twisted
Sugar cane stalks normally rise upward toward the sun's rays,
but hurricane winds have left Florida's rich crop bent downward
and even flattened in some areas.
"Sugar cane is one of the most important crops in the
state, and agriculture vies with tourism as the main engine
in Florida's economy, which is valued at $50 billion annually.
The losses in the region are going to run into the tens of
millions if not billions of dollars, government officials
and business people said," write Joseph B. Treaster and
Abby Goodnough of The New York Times.
The damaged Everglades region, densely populated with migrant
workers, is already economically challenged. Now, most field
workers are out a week's pay. Rick Henderson, who runs a company
that provide portable toilets for field workers, said, "The
farmers lost probably 80 percent of their crop." Henderson
told the Times, "I imagine this is going to kill our
business. When the farmers get hit, it has a domino effect
on the whole area." (Read
Colorado governor changes mind on
spending tobacco settlement funds
States around the nation are still managing a multi-million
dollar windfall blowing into their coffers from the 1998 national
tobacco settlement. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has changed directions.
Owens "shifted his stance on how the state should use
tobacco settlement money, saying that he would opt for deeper
budget cuts over one-time funds to fill the gaps in next year's
state budget if voters reject" ballot proposals to suspend
spending limits for five years, writes Mark Couch of the Denver
Post. "Owens said he would be reluctant to use
money the state could raise by selling bonds backed by money
the state expects to collect from tobacco companies,"
as many states have done. (Read
"I'm not sure we'll securitize, because the cliff you
walk off in the future is a lot steeper," Owens said
recently about proposals to sell bonds. "Tobacco securitization"
is one of the governor's top priorities, which he sees as
a way to put money into a rainy-day fund to cope with future
emergencies. As debate over the referenda heats up, it is
being touted by many Republicans as a solution to budget woes.
Massachusetts Senate president proposes
statute to shield reporters' sources
In the ongoing debate over reporters using confidential sources,
Massachusetts state Senate President Robert E. Travaglini
added his input by filing a bill Thursday to create a shield
law for his state.
"The law proposed by Travaglini would bar any branch
of government from using subpoenas or other methods to force
reporters to name sources, except in extreme cases of overriding
public interest, such as when the information is deemed necessary
to prevent a terrorist attack," according to The
"For the most part, I believe that journalists use these
resources in a responsible way. Unless there are some extraordinary
circumstances, they shouldn't be forced to reveal their sources,"
he said. (Read
The Missouri Photojournalism Hall
of Fame announces first inductees
The Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame,
which opened Oct. 20, has announced the names of its first
eight photojournalists inductees. The University of
Missouri opened the hall of fame to promote photography
in journalism, as noted in The Rural Blog Oct. 14.
The initial inductees are: Cliff and Vi Edom, who worked
as a team at the university to promote photography in journalism;
Angus "Mac" McDougall, who directed the school's
photojournalism sequence from 1972-1982; Arthur Witman, a
St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer; Jack
Zehrt, a St. Louis Globe-Democrat and freelance
photographer; Bob Briggs of the Globe-Democrat, who
also worked for Life and Time
magazines; Charles Stacey, whose 28-year career at The
Salem News documented the lives of rural people;
and Betty Love, who pioneered the use of color photography
at the Springfield Daily News and
Three Kentucky college students charged
with destroying newspapers
Three Morehead State University students
have pleaded not guilty to third-degree criminal mischief,
after allegedly confessing to burning 7,000-plus copies of
the student-ran Trail Blazer newspaper.
Danielle Brown, Andrea Sharp and Jennie Williams pleaded
not guilty in Rowan County, Kentucky, and the case will go
to a pretrial hearing Dec. 14. MSU police said the three students
signed a written confession to confiscating and burning the
Sept. 23 newspapers because of a rape story included in that
edition, writes Tonia Sexton of The Morehead News.
Her story is not online; here
is an earlier story.
Keeping trick or treaters safe: Harvard
offers tips on treats, costumes
Halloween has become not only an annual feast for youngsters
but a major concern for their parents, with reports each year
of injuries and deaths caused by tainted treats to fire-prone
Health Publications, the publishing group at
Harvard Medical School, has some tips on
holiday candy, costumes, Jack-o'-lanterns, and home safety.
For candy, the publication advises, "Kids will be less
likely to overload on candy if they eat something before they
go out," reports Newswise.com "Costumes
are an essential part of Halloween fun, but hazardous situations
can arise if a costume is made from the wrong materials or
does not fit properly," advises the health publication.
As for carving Jack-o’-lanterns, it advises, "Under
parents' supervision, children ages 5 to 10 can carve with
pumpkin cutters that have safety bars." And, for home
safety, the medical publication writes, "Keep your own
home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters by removing anything
that a child could trip over and by replacing any burned-out
outdoor light bulbs," Newswise reports. (Read
Nov. 5 Louisville SPJ workshop to
feature Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter
The Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional
Journalists will present reporting tips from Tom
Hallman Jr., a Pulitzer Prize winner and
long-time writer for The Oregonian, from
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 in the WFPL-FM
studio at 619 S. Fourth St.
For directions, go to this
site. Registration and continental breakfast will begin
at 8:30. The cost is $15 for students, $20 for SPJ members
and $25 for non-members. Reservations are due Nov. 2. Checks,
made payable to Louisville SPJ, may be sent to Kathy Francis,
3313 Broeck Pointe Circle, Louisville KY 40241. You may also
pay at the door. To register or for more information, call
(502) 379-7918 or e-mail Mklfrancis0457@aol.com.
Thursday, Oct. 27,
Iowa, Kentucky join to study air quality
at livestock production facilities
Engineers at Iowa State University and the
University of Kentucky have teamed up in
a new $1 million monitoring program to collect air emissions
data from poultry and other livestock production facilities
in Kentucky, a project that could help the industry reduce
"A new air compliance agreement between the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and industry groups led to
the development of a monitoring project that will gather emissions
data from swine farms and manure storage facilities, poultry
houses and free-stall dairy facilities across the country,
write Susan Thompson and Laura Skillman of the UK
College of Agriculture.
Robert Burns, the project leader and associate professor
of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State,
told Thompson and Skillman, “We’re setting the
stage for future poultry and other livestock production facility
air emissions monitoring under this program.”
The project, funded by Tyson Foods, monitors
ammonia, carbon dioxide, three types of particulate matter,
hydrogen sulfide and non-methane hydrocarbons. Data will be
collected for one year, analyzed and reported to the EPA.
The idea is to evaluate differences in emissions due to geographical
region, season of the year, time of day, building design,
growth cycle of the animals and building management for new
air emissions guidelines, note Thompson and Skillman. (Read
Newspapers should not degrade editorial
content, ad-buyer tells publishers
In the midst of growing competition, diminishing circulation
and increased shame from industry screw-ups, newspaper publishers
should not back down on their role as community watchdogs
and advocates, says an executive with a major media-planning
"Bottom-line-oriented publishers who chop away at their
paper's news content are undermining their business,"
said the executive with Newspaper Services of America
at a recent meeting of the Inland Press Association.
Dave Gusse told the group, "Don't let your CFOs run your
companies. Don't cheap out on editorial."
Gusse directs the Safeway and Mervyn's
Department Stores accounts for NSA. He had advice
for newspapers on how to land more advertising including allowing
clients to buy into total market coverage, but he repeated
his admonition on editorial content and quality as a driver
of advertising business, writes Mark Fitzgerald, editor-at-large
for Editor & Publisher.
Gusse told the Chicago meeting he was speaking as a reader,
as well as a media planner and buyer. "For many of our
advertisers, what separates you from the shared-mail products
is your editorial content," and added newspapers must
offer a quality news product that makes people want to subscribe.
"I hate seeing editorial be run down," he said.
'Ice' has a price: Meth's human, economic
toll enormous, reports Ga. paper
The methamphetamine epidemic has prompted a Columbus, Ga.,
newspaper to take an in-depth look at the toll in human suffering
caused by the powerful drug, and it reports growing devastation.
The city's Metro Narcotics Task Force recently arrested two
residents and confiscated 10 ounces of "ice," a
form of meth. It was the second-largest seizure in Columbus.
The largest was more than a pound earlier this year with a
street value of $27,000, report Melanie Bennett and Chuck
Williams of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
"Methamphetamine, once a rural problem, has spread to
cities like Columbus. And the costs are enormous for environmental
cleanup, for medical bills, for legal and rehabilitative services,
for the law enforcement officials needed to combat the drug.
And that doesn't include the human costs; children with meth-addicted
parents, parents with meth-addicted children, and lots of
broken homes," write Bennett and Williams.
Dr. Drew Williams, at the local medical center, told Bennett
and Williams he sees chronic users daily with heart problems,
infected sores, rotten teeth and blistered feet. The drug
stimulates the brain and users do not sleep for several days
at a time. Williams told them, " If you stayed up for
two, three, four days, you'd get real paranoid, start doing
things you wouldn't normally do. It becomes rational to steal
and fight or do sexual favors for drugs."
Jesse Hambrick, an investigator in the Douglas County Sheriff's
Office, told Bennett and Williams the drug is next to impossible
to quit because, "When you are using meth it is like
having the best sex, a fantastic meal and winning the lottery
all rolled up in one package. Why quit if it makes you feel
that good? Because eventually it is going to kill you."
Windmills, new generator help TVA
meet growing demand for 'green power'
The Southeast's largest homegrown green-power program is
operating with a surplus for the first time since 2003 with
additional an additional generator and new wind turbines on-line
and growing demand.
Until last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency had rated the Tennessee Valley Authority's
renewable energy program "one of the top 10 renewable
energy programs in the country. But delays in adding 15 wind
turbines to the three already on TVA's Buffalo Mountain wind
farm near Oliver Springs, about 30 miles west of Knoxville,
stalled the program and demand outstripped capacity,"
writes Duncan Mansfield of The Associated Press.
Jerry Cargile, manager of TVA's Green Power Switch program,
told Mansfield, "It is the best year so far. That has
made us optimistic that we can get back on track." The
new windmills came on line earlier this year and as of 45
days ago the company's new 33 megawatt capacity erased its
deficit. In August, TVA sold 77 percent of its generation.
TVA officials say the company is now in a position to renew
its efforts to expand the program, which reaches about 8,300
households. Eighty-nine of TVA's 158 distributors currently
offer Green Power Switch, sold in 150-kilowatt-hour blocks
for an extra $4 a month, writes Mansfield.
Key senator calls for Indian gaming
review; cites possible corruption concerns
U. S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told at a meeting at Portland
State University that Congress needs to review gambling
regulations for American Indian casinos, saying that a $20
billion industry based on mostly cash transactions is vulnerable
The meeting at the Native American Student and Community
Center at Portland State was a bipartisan effort to address
issues facing the tribes, U. S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told
William McCall of The Associated Press. Several
tribal leaders told McCain, who is chairman of the Senate
Indian Affairs Committee, that they have concerns over changing
any of the gambling regulations, which they feel are adequate.
"We have a difference of opinion," McCain said.
"This is an industry with a long history of corruption,
so we'll just have to respectfully disagree." (Read
Rural landfill turns waste gas into
fuel; rising energy prices spur development
Does decay pay? A growing interest and industry where rot
is really hot says it pays and it pays big.
"Landfill gas, a combination of methane and carbon dioxide
generated by tons of rotting garbage, is the hot darling in
the world of alternative energy. The Chester County [Pennsylvania]
Solid Waste Authority officially [has] joined the trend. Working
in partnership with Michigan-based Granger Energy,
the pair [have] unveiled a state-of-the-art gas processing
plant at the Lanchester Landfill. Estimated project costs
are $12 million," writes Nancy Petersen of the Philadelphia
Authority Chairman Robert J. Schoenberger, an expert in solid
waste management and former Drexel University professor told
Petersen, "The project is a win for everybody."
The landfill, spread over 160 acres on the border of Chester
and Lancaster Counties, produces enough gas to save about
122,800 barrels of oil a year or heat 33,900 homes.
Previously, the gas was burned off in flares, but skyrocketing
costs for natural gas, coal, and other more traditional fuels
are ending that practice. Granger Energy president Joel Zylstra
told Petersen, "We set it up so it's always a better
deal for them." Since the authority and Granger shared
the construction costs of the wells, the processing facility
and the pipeline, Schoenberger said that he expects the authority
to break even on its investment in about six years, Petersen
Rural Texas community
goes wet despite minister's protestations
The Decatur, Tex., City Council approved the
limited sale of alcohol in its zoning district, despite the
protests of a local Baptist minister, reports the Wise
County Messenger in Decatur.
The council voted to allow private clubs with a special-use
permit in the Decatur Square zoning district to sell alcohol.
Rev. David Isbell of Eagle Drive Baptist Church told the council
that alcohol is harmful to society and that “leaders
of our community are elected to reduce the harmful effects
(of alcohol) rather than assist its increase," reports
Don Munsch of the Messenger.
Isbell also cited statistics that showed increased city costs
associated with alcohol sales, and said any increase in revenue
would "not really increase the bottom line." Rev.
Isbell added, “social problems growing out of alcohol
are very expensive. The revenues generated by the sale of
alcohol do not cover the cost of the trouble created by the
use and abuse of alcohol.” Isbell used an array of studies
to support his opinion, Munsch noted. (Read
Rains in N.H. bring a deluge of road
and waterway barriers, beaver-built
New Hampshire has a problem, and it's not solely the monsoon-like
rains this past month, but road and waterway constrictions
created by an inspired critter that thrives in ponds, lakes
and marshy wetlands that wreak havoc on forests, block culverts,
and flood country roads.
"Days and days of rain, streams overflowing, meadows
flooded -- bad stuff for farmers, but great for New Hampshire's
most industrious wildlife species, the beaver," writes
New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food
Stephen H. Taylor in his Weekly Market Bulletin on his
Taylor says landowners and road agents statewide are having
to deal with flooded roads and blocked waterways compliments
of the toothy, wood-chomping rodent with the beefy, paddle-like
tail. Taylor reports an increasing number of dams, ponding
highways and plugged culverts produced by the prodigious,
pudgy cousin of the groundhog.
Biologist Marsha Barden of the animal damage control unit
of the state's Fish and Game Department tells
Taylor that landowners suffering damages from the over-zealous
rodent engineers, are allowed to "trap or shoot the animals
regardless of whether it's the legal season for taking the
critters," Taylor writes.
Barden's agency has a list of trappers for hire, who have
had to resort to pest control in recent years, since beaver
pelts no longer fetch a fancy price. But, Taylor warns, inspired
by the beaver's industrious reputation, "Take a backhoe
and breach a beaver dam or unclog a culvert ... [and it will
likely be] restored in just a day or two." Click
here to read more, in .pdf.
Nov. 1-18, on line: Ecotourism
Emerging Industry Forum
and EplerWood International invite you to
take part in the Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum Nov. 1-18,
The Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum will be conducted
on-line bringing together key business, finance, and market
players worldwide to discuss the needs of their industry,
say organizers. Moderators are being selected with experience
and understanding of business goals and objectives.
Forum officials say nearly 100 people have registered for
the online forum, which is "designed to provide professionally
moderated, up-to-date results on small and medium enterprise
(SME) priorities for funding and investment decisions for
sustainable tourism in developing countries," they write.
Planeta.com and EplerWood International will prepare final
results with a small editorial board to be announced later.
The results will be delivered to all of the development agencies
via personal correspondence and meetings with the key individuals
involved in donor policy development, they report.
Nov. 7-8: Home-based business workshop
on heritage skills
A two-day home-based business seminar is planned at Natural
Bridge State Park in Slade for those wishing to start
or to expand their business. The event will focus on home-based
craft, basketry, tourism and heritage skills businesses.
The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
Service and the Southern and Eastern Kentucky
Tourism Development Association along with the Barnhart
Fund for Excellence will present a "Home-Based
Business Workshop." Registration begins at 9 a.m. on
Nov. 7, and the workshop
will conclude at 12:30 p.m.
For more information or to register by Oct. 24, contact your
local Extension Service office. The cost is $15 per person.
Discounted room rates are available by contacting Natural
Bridge State Resort Park at (800) 325-1710. Organizers say
to be sure to mention you are attending the workshop.
Nov. 11: Kentucky Conservation
Committee's 'Kentucky Voices'
The Kentucky Conservation Committee invites
you to "Kentucky Voices," its annual evening of
poetry and prose. This year's event features Kentucky authors
Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Ron Ellis and Steven Cope, with music by
This year the event will be on November 11, at 7 p.m. in
the Parish Hall of the Church
of the Ascension at 311 Washington St. in Frankfort.
The suggested donation is $10 for adults, $5 for students.
Wednesday, Oct. 26,
PTAs try to shed image
as moms-only group; 'not just about baking cookies'
National and local Parent-Teacher Associations are making
a big push for men this month.
PTA officials say men are a minority and women involved in
the group want to "dispel the image of the PTA as a middle-class
women’s organization," writes Marita Dempsey Lowman
of The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa. "The
PTA is not just about baking cookies any more," said
Christine Munchak, president of the Pennsylvania Parent-Teacher
About 500,000 men are among the nation's 6 million PTA members
nationally, writes Chris Reinolds of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
PTA leaders say research shows that students perform better
academically when their fathers get involved. "We found
out the No. 1 reason we didn't have more men involved is they
were never asked," said Rick Mendiondo, a national PTA
board member. Lack of time was the second reason they cited.
PTAs lobby for education issues, support arts and character
education curriculum and keep parents informed. (Read
The Natchez Democrat reports
that PTAs in Mississippi and Louisiana could use both more
moms and dads. "The teachers at every school in the Miss-Lou
are only second string. They are great backups in the educational
ballgame, but they are really only just that, backups. It’s
the first string, moms and dads, that can win or lose the
game, principals and teachers say," writes Julie Finley.
States growing more concerned with
security threat posed by bird flu
Although a viral mutation is needed before avian or bird
flu can affect humans, fear is prompting states to draft contingency
plans for an outbreak, or for the use of the flu as a terrorist
"Health officials in California and New Mexico are pressing
their states to stockpile anti-viral medication. Massachusetts
Gov. Mitt Romney is urging residents to fill their pantries
in case everyone is forced inside for an extended period.
And Los Angeles airport officials are drawing up plans to
quarantine passengers," writes Mark K Matthews of Stateline.org.
Patrick McConnon, executive director of the Council
of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, told Matthews,
“I think that people are uncomfortable that they don’t
have the right answers to all these things.” McConnon
suggests building on research compiled during past health
scares involving anthrax and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
New Mexico state epidemiologist C. Mack Sewell said efforts
are aimed at bolstering the state’s response in case
federal defenses fail. New Mexicomay buy its own supply of
Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication. The federal government
has dosages for a few million Americans.
California is stockpiling Tamiflu after testing for avian
flue in 25 potential human cases in the past 18 months. All
came back negative. For another report on similar concerns
and efforts in Orange County, Calif., from NBC4 -
N.M. residents concerned over lack of high-speed Internet
A major communications company has, as promised, deployed
high-speed Internet access to parts of New Mexico, but there
is some concern that not enough people in the state's rural
areas have access.
"Qwest and the state's Public
Regulation Commission agreed in 2001 the company
would invest $788 million in New Mexico over five years. The
agreement also stated that Qwest would make DSL, broadband
high-speed access, available in areas of Alamogordo, Farmington,
Gallup, Roswell and Taos," reports The Associated
But, PRC Commissioner David King told reporters that rural
residents are concerned about the current state of Internet
access. "In today's world, we have the responsibility
to do a better job and not hide behind the bureaucracy,''
Qwest officials base their decisions about where to deploy
DSL based on what makes sense for the business, said Nita
Taylor, public policy director for Qwest New Mexico. New Mexico
is part of a 14-state region, and DSL is available in 73 percent
of that area, said Qwest spokesman Vince Hancock. DSL figures
are not released on a state-by-state basis. (Read
Once mainly rural, Michigan law agencies
say 'no place safe from meth'
A meth epidemic that originated on the West Coast now exists
throughout the nation, from small towns to big cities, according
to Michigan law enforcement agencies.
"In counties including Kalamazoo and Macomb, police
have busted 207 labs as of September. The trend has caused
law enforcement to ratchet up efforts to combat the highly
addictive, potentially deadly stimulant and the people who
cook it," writes Christy Abboscello of the Detroit
Raids this year are just two shy of the 2004 figure and more
than five times the number from five years ago, notes Abboscello.
One of those labs was near the home of 64-year-old Janet Redmond.
"No matter where you live, it's not safe because of these
drugs," Redmond said.
Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Tony Saucedo heads a
statewide meth team. He told Abboscello, "I could probably
be safe to say meth has touched about every community in the
state of Michigan. Even though the labs tend to be in the
rural areas, we know the use is pretty much everywhere."
Communities consider moss harvesting
restrictions to protect ecosystems
Moss is the all-purpose sponge of the forest, storing water,
releasing nutrients and housing tiny critters. Now, there
are concerns about what might happen to the ecosystem if it
is harvested to extinction.
Across Appalachia and in the Pacific Northwest, moss helps
make ends meet when jobs are scarce. Moss is not commercially
grown, so buyers depend on the wilderness. Some state and
national forests have already banned harvesting, reports Vicki
Smith of The Associated Press.
"Biologists, businessmen and pickers themselves say
the good stuff is getting harder to find -- and the money
harder to make. Moss is not commercially grown, so buyers
depend on the wilderness. Some state and national forests,
though, have already banned harvesting, worried about what
they are losing when moss leaves the ecosystem," writes
North Carolina's Pisgah and Nantahala national forests expect
to ban moss collection Jan. 1 after studies there indicated
a growback cycle "on the order of 15 to 20 years,"
says botanical specialist Gary Kauffman of the U.S.
Forest Service. That's twice as long as some veteran
pickers and moss buyers speculated. Though Kauffman agrees
the science is still lacking, Pisgah and Nantahala will likely
err on the side of caution. Between 100 and 200 pickers a
year typically get permits for collecting moss, notes Smith.
Nationwide, it's hard to tell how many people make a living
from moss. Most search out private land, where they go unnoticed
and untracked, reports AP. (Read
Rural for the sake of rural: Native
inhabitants request official designation
Residents in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the city council are
backing an official government-sanctioned rural subsistence
designation requested by natives.
"Ketchikan officials are in favor of efforts to change
the city's subsistence status to rural. The Ketchikan City
Council also is urging the Federal Subsistence Board
to hold a public hearing on the issue," reports
KTVA-TV in Anchorage, in a combined staff
and Associated Press story.
The council unanimously approved a resolution that said the
city has "significant characteristics of a rural nature"
and should be officially recognized as such. The resolution
was requested by the Ketchikan Indian Community
and the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Local groups would like to see the entire island be designated
as rural. (Read
Iowa to get $144 million tobacco settlement
windfall, use for infrastructure
State officials have announced that Iowa will receive $144
million next month when officials refinance bonds being paid
off with tobacco settlement money.
Matt Paul, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Vilsack, told reporters,
"At this time of the year, when we’re putting the
budget together, it gives us some really strong options."
Top state managers have been working on refinancing the settlement,
and a profit was expected, reports The Associated
Press. States got settlement money as part of a lawsuit
seeking to collect damages for the cost of treating smoking-related
illnesses. Some sold bonds to get their money up front and
are now refinancing in a stronger market.
Department of Management head Michael Tramontina
said $50 million is free of any restrictions, while $94 million
will have restrictions. "Those proceeds will have to
be spent on infrastructure, on capital projects," he
said. Gov. Vilsack has proposed splitting the windfall between
water quality improvement programs, economic development and
capital construction, reports AP. (Read
California judge awards $3 million
in libel suit against weekly group
A San Bernadino, Calif., judge has awarded $3 million to
a sheriff's department counselor who claimed a weekly newspaper
group libeled her in articles about her relationship with
The judge ruled in favor of independent contractor Nancy
Bohl in her case against Ray Pryke, publisher of Victorville-based
Valley Wide Newspapers. Warner found that
testimony from an Oct. 6 default hearing showed published
stories caused Bohl "severe emotional distress, mortification
and humiliation." Pryke said he intends to appeal the
verdict, reports The Associated Press.
Valley Wide printed a series of stories in 2000 about Bohl's
business, The Counseling Team, and her relationship with Sheriff
Gary Penrod, who was dating Bohl at the time. They have since
married. One article alleged that Bohl got her counseling
contract because of the relationship. Another story said confidential
information given to Bohl by deputies made its way to members
of the department's command staff. Bohl denied the allegations
The articles in question ran in the Hesperia Resorter,
Apple Valley News and Adelanto Bulletin,
all published by Valley Wide. The weekly papers have a combined
circulation of 20,000. (Read
Ohio newspaper wins release of 911
call logs, tapes from a triple homicide
A court has ruled 911 call logs and tapes related to a Jan.
21 triple homicide in a small Ohio town are public record
and must be given to the Akron Beacon Journal.
"The newspaper requested information shortly after the
murder of two women and a boy in Brimfield Township, about
10 miles east of Akron. The murders were big news in the small
town and the newspaper wanted to thoroughly cover them,"
said Stephen Dyer, the Beacon Journal reporter who covered
the story. The newspaper received some records immediately,
but others were withheld, writes Corinna Zarek of The
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
After police and prosecutors refused to release requested
records, the newspaper filed the case with the 11th District
Court of Appeals in Warren, Ohio. Karen Lefton, the in-house
counsel for the Beacon Journal said, "[the defendant]
was trying to carve out a new exception saying if records
are used in an investigation, they are confidential and should
be private. We said the records documented the events and
were pre-investigation. The court agreed with us." (Read
Industry News, from AP
Mahan named managing
editor in Hilton Head, S.C.
Sally Mahan, former assistant metro editor of the Detroit
Free Press, has been named managing editor of The
Island Packet in Hilton Head, S.C.
Mahan, 47, replaces Janet Smith, who has been named editorial
page editor. Smith, 49, replaces David Lauderdale, 51. Before
joining the Free Press, Mahan was an editor at the Savannah
(Ga.) Morning News, where she supervised
coverage of crime, courts, education, health and social services.
A graduate of Eastern Michigan University,
Mahan also was executive editor of The Key West
Smith will be in charge of producing the newspaper's daily
opinion page and will continue serving on the editorial board.
She previously worked at the Packet as business writer and
Overton to retire as publisher in
After 25 years in journalism, Times-Georgian
Publisher Tom Overton will retire at the end of the year.
Overton, publisher since 1998, spent the past 10 years with
Paxton Media Group newspapers, which is headquartered
in Paducah, Ky. He came to the Times-Georgian from the Griffin
Daily News, where he was publisher and Georgia Group
president for Paxton Media Group. The search for Overton's
replacement is ongoing.
Smith named editor in Steamboat Springs,
Michael Smith, associate editor of The Galveston
County (Texas) Daily News, has been
named editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Smith will succeed Scott Stanford, who has taken a job as
assistant news editor of the Victoria (Texas)
Advocate. Smith will oversee a 14-member
staff in Steamboat Springs, a mountain community about 150
miles northwest of Denver. Smith's wife, Laura Elder, a veteran
reporter, has accepted the position as editor of the Craig
Daily Press. The Daily Press and Pilot & Today
are sister newspapers owned by WorldWest Limited Liability
Co. of Lawrence, Kan.
Tuesday, Oct. 25,
Journalism society, fired
journalist cry shame on Sinclair for lawsuit
of Professional Journalists has chastised Sinclair
Broadcasting Co., charging the major broadcasting
group has "hit a new low when it filed a $17,000 lawsuit
against Jon Leiberman, a journalist it fired last year."
SPJ President David Carlson said, "It would appear to
be an effort to punish someone who exposed the company's plan
to air a biased documentary and call it news." Carlson
opined that the motive cannot be financial because the company
will likely spend much more than $17,000 on the lawsuit.
The suit alleges Leiberman, who was Sinclair's Washington
bureau chief, broke company rules by commenting on his bosses
after Sinclair ordered its stations "to pass off as news
a documentary critical of presidential candidate Sen. John
Kerry," the Baltimore Sun reported, SPJ writes.
Sinclair fired Leiberman after he told The Sun, "Stolen
Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," was "biased political
propaganda." Sinclair's plan to air the document on its
60 stations, which reach some 24 percent of the U.S. television
audience in predominantly rural markets, two weeks before
the 2004 election caused a furor. The company eventually aired
only excerpts of the film, writes SPJ.
The lawsuit alleges Leiberman "divulged confidential
and proprietary information ... to individuals outside of
the organization," and claims he owes Sinclair $17,000
as "liquidated damages." Leiberman said, "This
lawsuit is ludicrous. Sinclair should be ashamed of itself."
D.C. area developers beef-up campaign
bucks to growth-favorable candidates
Virginia's developers, home builders and real estate agents
have more than doubled their campaign contributions from four
years ago, backing candidates more favorable to their interests.
"The real estate and construction industries have become
the most generous group of campaign donors for Republican
gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore, Democrat Timothy
M. Kaine and independent H. Russell Potts Jr," writes
Michael D. Shear of The Washington Post.
The Virginia Public Access Project reports
real estate developers had given this year's statewide candidates
$3.4 million. Home builders have donated more than $573,000
to the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney
general. Real estate agents have given about $848,000.
Home Builders Association of Virginia Executive
Director Michael L. Toalson told Shear his member companies
are "ever vigilant" against legislation or regulations
"that would hamper the construction of new homes in such
rapidly growing areas as Northern Virginia," and he told
Shear, "We work hard to keep a favorable housing climate."
The industry has successfully resisted efforts to grant localities
more power to regulate development. Development interests
encourage state spending on services, such as roads and transit,
that support new communities, Shear explains.
Kilgore, the former attorney general, promises to oppose
slow-growth measures and has proposed regional tax referenda
to raise money for roads. Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh told
Shear, "He understands that government should not be
in the business of telling people where to live." Kaine
said he would push for a law giving local governments the
authority to stop construction if nearby roads are not sufficient.
Prince William County land-use lawyer John Foote called it
a "death knell for economic development in Northern Virginia,"
writes Shear. (Read
Missouri finds penalties tougher for
rural criminals; seeking more consistency
In rural Clay County, Missouri judges sentence criminals
to prison 42 percent of the time — the second-highest
rate in the state. In more urban Jackson County, judges imprison
criminals just 18 percent of the time.
"Such disparities are common among Missouri’s
45 court circuits, with rural judges often issuing harsher
penalties than big-city judges. Legal experts have long discussed
this inconsistency, and a recent state study confirms it,
writes Joe Lambe of the Kansas City Star.
more) Sentences are more predictable in Kansas, where
judges use mandatory guidelines, notes Lambe.
The study is part of an effort to bring uniformity to sentencing
across Missouri and to fight prison crowding, writes Lambe.
The Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission
hopes the study will persuade judges not to lock away nonviolent
offenders, especially for first offenders. Beginning Nov.
1, a new routine probation and parole report on criminals
will go to judges before sentencing. It will include a sentencing
recommendation, possible alternatives to prison and other
information. Lambe writes that some suggest a system of mandatory
guidelines would be the best way to end disparities.
Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, who is vice
chairman of the Kansas Sentencing Commission
told Lambe that due to changes nonviolent property offenders
made up 24 percent of the prison population in 1993, while
currently they make up less than 7 percent. The Missouri commission
reported nonviolent offenders represented 46 percent of the
15,409 prison population in 1993 while currently they make
up 55 percent of a population of more than 30,000 inmates.
Missouri’s incarceration rate, 18th nationwide in 1994,
is now up to eighth, Lambe writes.
'Cranktown, U.S.A.' - newspaper finds
eight out of ten meth-affected
A seemingly tranquil rural Alabama community has garnered
a not-so-pastoral name. Beulah, Ala. has been dubbed by some,
"Cranktown U.S.A." - referring to a nickname for
the powerfully addictive and destructive narcotic methamphetamine
and the community's high incidence of use and arrests.
"You wouldn't know that nearly 50,000 people live within
10 miles of the high school. The average working person makes
slightly less than $20,000. The average household income is
slightly less than $40,000. Nearly 29 percent of the people
25 years old and older do not have a high school diploma.
But beneath the placid surface of this rural community lies
a dark secret," writes Chuck Williams of the Columbus
Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus, Ga.
For the past seven years, a growing drug problem has made
Beulah the unofficial methamphetamine capital of the Chattahoochee
Valley. The drug has been the target of numerous investigation
by a number of law enforcement agencies, including the Lee
County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration, writes Williams. Williams reports
that nearly 60 residents from the area have gone to prison
on methamphetamine charges. There have been arrests in 104
methamphetamine cases. About 40 percent of those cases were
The Ledger-Enquirer interviewed more than a dozen people
and found meth has touched eight out of 10 people living here.
It has destroyed users, wrecked families and sapped the spirit
of this community, Williams writes. Bridge Assembly of God
pastor Bill Bryan told Williams that meth is "a weapon
in the enemy's hand." (Read
Analysis shows poverty ridden, low
education Kentucky losing millions to casinos
With one of the nation's highest poverty levels and lowest
education achievement, Kentucky residents are gambled in southern
Indiana to the tune of $600 million dollars last year, according
to an analysis by a New York research firm.
"Kentuckians lost [the] estimated $600 million at five
of Indiana's riverboat casinos - including three near the
Northern Kentucky market - between July 2004 and June, according
to a new analysis by Christiansen Capital Advisors,"
writes Patrick Crowley of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The analysis also found that Kentucky residents generated
nearly $200 million in state taxes for Indiana. Casino gambling
is also legal in Illinois and West Virginia. And, according
to the analysis, "Kentucky personal income ... funds
gaming in Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia."
Gaming advocates Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Pence told the newspaper
the tax money generated by Kentucky residents pay for vital
services in other states. "I would like to see it ...
help pay for [Kentucky] schools, roads, health care and other
things." he told the Enquirer. Pence and others point
to the state's need to generate millions of dollars in the
face of a billion-dollar deficit in the state budget.
State Sen. David Boswell, D-Owensboro, has filed legislation
to allow nine casinos, five of which would be at horse tracks
and four free-standing locations. The horse industry is also
backing a bill to permit casinos at just the state's eight
race tracks. Both bills will be considered when the Legislature
begins in January for the 2006, notes Crowley. The analysis
estimates Kentucky casinos could generate nearly $1.5 billion
a year and more than $500 million annually in new tax dollars.
Gambling opponents say the social costs of gambling would
outweigh benefits and they doubt Kentucky lawmakers will approve
gambling in 2006, Crowley writes. (Read
Japanese mad cow disease panel delays
decision on lifting U.S. beef ban
A Japanese panel on mad cow disease has delayed a decision
on whether to ease a two-year-old ban on U.S. beef imports,
according to a panel member, reports The Canadian
The ruling body was expected to recommend easing the ban
to the Food Safety Commission, but postponed
a decision until the next meeting, stated a Dow Jones
Newswires report, quoting a panel member.
Japan imposed a ban on North American beef in 2003, after
the first case of Mad-cow disease, known scientifically as
bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, was discovered in
the United States, in Washington state. The United States
has been pushing Japan to lift the ban, reports The Canadian
That's no gas: methane
digesters new energy source in rural areas
Journalist Peter Millard probably never thought
he'd be writing about cow manure as part of an innovation
in alternative energy. Just like Dan Eastman, who helped create
Microgy Cogeneration Systems Inc., never
thought he'd be the one at the forefront of such a smelly
"Microgy sells and operates anaerobic methane digesters
and electricity generation equipment that an increasing number
of farmers and rural electric cooperatives are finding to
be good investments," Millards writes. The digesters
operate on manure, and the methane produced fires generators.
"The high cost of natural gas and electricity is making
our alternative energy option economically feasible,"
Eastman told Millard. Eastman's company is banking on its
digesters becoming more common than wind-power farms, which
have been becoming more popular in rural areas. In addition
to reducing high energy costs, environmental regulators are
pushing for the digesters as the demand for dairy farmers
to increase herd sizes continues to grow.
"State departments of natural resources and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency are mandating that
large farms with hundreds or thousands of cattle or hogs take
steps to prevent animal waste from seeping into groundwater,"
Millard writes. The digester is a good way to treat manure
while producing low-cost energy and protecting the environment.
The U.S. Department of Energy and Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture are providing financial
incentives to invest in the digesters and generators, Millard
writes. Eastman told Millard that Microgy's methane gas plants
could produce between 350 and 400 megawatts of electricity.
"Potentially, we could replace one coal plant,"
he said. (Read
For a press release from Pennsylvania Governor
Edward G. Rendell's office on proposed regulations
for large-scale farming operations and new manure management
requirements to protect waterways, click
here. For a complete copy of the regulations, click
here - Keyword "CAFOs"
After accepting, Goody‘s says
better buyout deal offered; stocks jump with news
The bidding war for Goody‘s Family Clothing
Inc. has escalated with its directors saying the
buyout proposal of two New York investment firms looks better
than one the company has tentatively accepted.
"The bid would exceed an $8-a-share offer made by Boca
Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners that
Goody‘s tentatively accepted Oct. 7, and it would match
a competing proposal received a week ago from an unnamed third
party," , writes Duncan Mansfield of The Associated Press.
Shares of Goody‘s, operates 371 stores mostly in the
South and Midwest. Reacting to the latest news, shares of
the company's stock rose 14 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $8.96
in midday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market yesterday.
Prentice Capital and GMM Capital
have raised their bid three times for Goody‘s. Goody‘s
said Prentice Capital and GMM Capital agreed to hold open
their offer until midnight Thursday or until the Sun Capital
deal is terminated, Mansfield writes. (Read
more) For a more detailed report by Cynthia Yeldell of
the Knoxville News Sentinel , click
Oct. 29-30: Wool, Walnut,
and Weeds Field Days
Kentucky Wool Society is having the Wool,
Walnut, and Weeds Field Days Saturday and Sunday, Oct.
29 - 30, from 10:00 a.m. to – 5:00 p.m., at the Lan
Mark Farm located at 121 Sharpsburg Road (state highway #
1198) Bourbon County.
For more information or to learn more about the Kentucky
Wool Society call 859 383-4560 or visit the Kentucky Wool
Nov. 2-4: Kentucky Women in Agriculture
Conference in Owensboro
The sixth statewide Kentucky
Women in Agriculture conference will take place in
Owensboro November 2 through 4 at the Executive Inn Rivermont.
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to empowering women
in agriculture through education, involvement and action.
The main conference begins November 3 at 9 a.m. with a KWIA
business session, followed by an opening session with keynote
speaker Hilda Legg. Legg is a former administrator with Rural
Utilities Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She
also served as the executive director and CEO for The Center
for Rural Development in Somerset for seven years.
Conference registration is limited and costs $60 for KWIA
members and $70 for nonmembers. Included meals are lunch and
dinner on November 3 and breakfast and lunch on November 4.
Send registration and checks payable to Kentucky Women in
Agriculture Inc., to Kim Henken, University of Kentucky, 206
Scovell Hall, Lexington, Ky., 40546-0064. For a conference
program, registration forms or further information, visit
the KWIA Web
Papers due Nov. 3 for Mountain
Tourism - Diversity, Complexity and Change
A special session on Mountain Tourism will be held at an
annual meeting in Chicago next year co-sponsored by the Recreation
and Tourism Specialty Group (RTSG) and the Mountain
Geography Specialty Group in (MGSG), but interested
speakers need to send outlines of their presentations by next
Thursday. The groups are inviting papers on this years' topic
on "Mountain Tourism - Diversity, Complexity and Change"
at the Annual Meeting of the AAG in Chicago, Il (March 7-11,
The session is to cover geographic applications of tourism
in the exploration of issues of diversity, complexity, and
change in mountainous environments. Speakers should send abstracts
by noon of Nov. 3, 2005 by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Registration: Directions are on the AAG Web
site . Inquiries should be mailed to Sanjay K. Nepal,
PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Recreation, Park and
Tourism Sciences Texas A&M University
College Station, TX-77845-2261, or by telephone: 979-862-4080.
Fax: send to 979 845 0446 or visit the Texas A&M Recreation,
Park & Tourism Web
Monday, Oct. 24, 2005
Poverty doesn't always
mean low school performance, study finds
An new study by an educational watchdog group
connects poverty with poor performance in public schools,
but it also says low-income students do not have to be destined
for making bad grades.
"With the exception of a few schools,
high poverty public schools are also the lowest performing
schools in America. A new publication highlights best practices
in eight Kentucky schools overcoming the barriers of poverty
with high performance," reports the Prichard
Committee for Academic Excellence.
Researchers Patricia J. Kannapel and Stephen
K. Clements discovered several characteristics among the eight
schools studied, states the committee in a preface to the
report on its Web site. "The study found that high expectations
for all students with a strong emphasis on quality instruction,
routine internal student assessment tools to supplement state
exams and a collaborative decision making process that engages
all teachers," can boost performance at poorer schools.
(For a pdf copy of the report, click
"Nearly all the worst-performing schools
in Kentucky and across the nation are high-poverty schools.
But there are also striking exceptions to the pattern of low
income - low performance. There are enough schools that defy
the trend to prove that the background of the student body
does not have to determine achievement results," write
Kannapel and Clements.
Virginia county finds rural location,
housing hinders attracting new teachers
Rural communities in Virginia's Hampton Roads area, like
many others around the nation, are finding it difficult to
attract new teacher for its growing schools because of location
and inadequate housing.
Isle of Wight County, "doesn’t have many apartments
or rental homes, which may contribute to the lack of teachers.
And school enrollment is growing every year," writes
Michelle Shaw of The Virginian-Pilot.
Human Resources Director Judy Lee said the division had 13
vacancies and is screening and interviewing potential teachers
daily. She also said that while Web sites and school recruitment
literature "talk about that county’s proximity
to Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton, that does not always
help prospective teachers place the county," Shaw writes.
Lee added, "They just don’t know where we are sometimes,
so they go with places that are known to them.”
Division Superintendent Michael W. McPherson told Shaw the
lack of available housing also hurts teacher recruitment.
"We find that some of our teachers are driving from areas
that are farther away. And, with gas prices the way they are,
that’s not too appealing right now, either," McPherson
said. Area Chamber of Commerce President Constance Rhodes
said they may start using incentives such as gift certificates
from local retailers, discounts and help with closing costs
on a home. Isle of Wight County has more than 37,700 residents,
according to 2004 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Michigan's broadband agency called
failure by market-oriented Republicans
"A theee-year-old state agency created with the promise
of opening Michigan to high-speed Internet and economic opportunity
has been labeled a failure by business groups and Republican
leaders, who say they will move soon to eliminate it,"
write Mark Hornbeck and Charlie Cain of The Detroit
Critics say the Broadband Development Authority
has exorbitant staff salaries and a lack of a plan to become
self-sufficient. The authority -- a brainchild of former Gov.
John Engler, a Republican -- is mainly being targeted by GOP
legislators, who say broadband expansion should be driven
by the market instead of government, report Hornbeck and Cain.
Robert Filka, chief operating officer of the authority, said
the agency has brought high-speed Internet access to some
areas, and it has created competition and reduced costs in
areas already covered. "One of the charges to us was
to encourage and promote competition and affordability,"
Filka told the Michigan newspaper. "We have had an impact
in those areas where we have made loans."
The authority has loaned about $20 million to a dozen mostly
small start-up companies. The Michigan State Housing
Development Authority has given the broadband agency
a $50 million line of credit. "The projects have benefited
more than 300 cities, villages and townships across Michigan,
or about 2.4 million people and over 900,000 households,"
Filka told reporters. (Read
For a story by WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids, Mich.),
Michigan Broadband Development Authority comes under scrutiny,
Lost treasures: Poachers
are looting national parks, selling artifacts
Poachers are stealing ginseng plants, black bears and other
natural treasures from America's national parks, where officials
say they just don't have enough guards to catch the looters.
The National Park Service does not keep
comprehensive statistics on how much poaching occurs in its
nearly 400 parks, but its 2006 budget request said thefts
have reduced at least 29 wildlife species. "The poaching
of wildlife from national parks has been steadily increasing
each year for the past several years," the document said,
reports Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post.
Hunting is prohibited, and activities such as mining and
logging are restricted, which means these parks house rare
plants and animals. In Virginia's Shenandoah National
Park, poachers are mostly attracted to the ginseng
and the black bears that live near the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Wild ginseng nets $400 a pound on the open market, 10 times
what the cultivated version would fetch. "A black bear's
dried gallbladder sells for $1,000 in Asia, making it worth
more per ounce than cocaine," writes Eilperin.
Park officials worry that poaching hurts nonrenewable resources,
including ancient-civilization artifacts and very rare species.
Thieves steal at least one artifact from a park every day,
and a 1988 survey reported poachers had taken 105 wildlife
species from 153 parks in 1987. "The national parks are
the best sanctuaries for these plants and animals," Peter
Dratch, who runs the park service's endangered species program,
told Eilperin. "That's why we get concerned when these
genetic resources get hammered."
Park officials cited a lack of money for enforcement. The
Interior Department has 51 special agents
for 388 national parks, with each agent patrolling 1.5 million-plus
acres, writes Eilperin. (Read
A Canadian first: Woman
survives meth overdose, then sues drug dealer
A methamphetamine overdose almost killed Sandy Bergen, and
now the 21-year-old Canadian and her parents have filed a
negligence lawsuit against her alleged dealer.
"It's not so much for the monetary gains,'' Bergen says
from her home in Biggar, Sask. "It's just to kind of
take control. I think it's a good way to get the victim to
have a voice in all of this." Although several states
in the U.S. have passed laws making drug dealers financially
liable, this could be a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in Canada,
writes Tim Cook of the Canadian Press.
Bergen started doing meth at age 18 and was hooked instantly.
She quit using it for a while until a relapse in May 2004.
She alleges that it was her dealer who forced that relapse
because he did the drug in front of her just days before Bergen
had to testify in a sexual-assault trial. Bergen says stress
made it impossible to resist. "It felt like someone stuck
a pencil in my brain," she told Cook.
Bergen ended up having a heart attack, her heart, liver,
kidneys and lungs all failed and she became comatose. Bergen
recovered after only 14 days in the hospital, but there is
permanent damage to her heart and she has trouble holding
down regular jobs, reports Cook. (Read
North Carolina groups want young folks
waiting in the wings for aging farmers
As farms and their owners age, concerns grow that younger
generations might not flock to agriculture, but several North
Carolina groups are working to make sure young farmers emerge.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports
the average age of farmers is increasing, while the number
of young farmers is decreasing. "As older farmers approach
retirement and have no one to pass their farms to, officials
worry that farming could become a dying occupation,"
writes Amanda Lingerfelt of the Rocky Mount Telegram.
Andrew Branan, executive director of the North Carolina
Farm Transition Network, told Lingerfelt, "There's
a need for a stable number of farm operators to produce our
nation's food and fiber. Rural, state and national economies
depend on farmers. If you don't have enough people producing,
we will go more and more toward depending on offshore resources
for food, which I'm sure scares a lot of people."
Branan said the network is a state organization dedicated
to helping older farmers transition their land to younger
farmers in order to keep valuable land from becoming residential
property. "Farmland that passes out of operator ownership
is more likely to be converted, usually for residential use,
The more farms we lose, the more jobs we lose in rural North
Carolina. All of these things lead to a long-term reduction
in our state's agricultural economy," said Branan.
Lingerfelt reports that 3 percent of farmers in the newspaper's
home county of Nash are under the age of 35 and that more
than one-fourth are 65 or older. That latter group constitutes
3 percent of U.S. laborers.
Farmers turning to 'high cotton' in
West Ky. as soybean prices decline
Cotton appears to be coming back in West Kentucky, where
it hasn't been grown in three decades. "The crop, associated
with the Deep South, recently blanketed the area," reports
The Associated Press from a story originating
in the Paducah
While the Hickman area in Western Kentucky has had little
or no cotton for many years, nearby Lake County in Tennessee
has about 14,000 acres of the crop. Cotton farmer John Lindamood
told the Sun, "Cotton is a significant crop in Tennessee,
with about 500,000 acres [statewide]. The crop is more plentiful
in the South because cotton needs heat to thrive."
Cotton farmer David Weatherly told the newspaper that in
the area, "Soybeans became more profitable to grow than
cotton." Weatherly is hoping the 315 acres of cotton
harvested off his farm area are a sign of things to come.
"I wish I had twice as many acres of cotton," he
told the Sun."Now that we've had a good cotton year,
we have other farmers interested."
Cotton once was a big cash crop for Hickman, but several
gins there shut down, requiring farmers to haul loads to Tennessee.
They opted for grain farming because it was more cost-efficient.
Now, with soybean prices tumbling, some farmers have sought
alternatives. Weatherly told the Sun he expects his cotton
crop to gross about $1,000 an acre, compared with $275 for
Wal-Mart to offer health insurance
with low premiums, high deductibles
"Wal-Mart, long criticized for the
benefits it offers to its workers, is introducing a cheaper
health insurance plan, with monthly premiums as low as $11,"
reports The Wall Street Journal, citing a
story in today's New York Times.
Health-insurance gurus said the premiums were likely to attract
more of Wal-Mart's 1.2 million employees. "They also
noted, however, that the plan's $1,000 deductible would be
high for Wal-Mart workers, particularly older employees who
are likely to visit doctors more often, and might not cover
expensive treatments, particularly in its first year,"
writes the Times' Michael Barbaro.
Currently, fewer than half of Wal-Mart's workers are covered
by company health insurance, compared with more than 80 percent
at Costco, its leading competitor. Analysts
said the new plan would prove a better fit for workers who
are young and healthy than those who are older and more vulnerable
to illness. A 60-year-old Wal-Mart employee, they noted, might
visit a doctor three times in a one month and then need to
pay $1,000 before the company would share the cost of care.
Many Wal-Mart employees are paid less than $19,000 a year,
Tracy Sefl, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Watch,
a coalition of community groups, said health savings accounts,
which allow workers to make tax-deductible payments to a fund,
was impractical for many Wal-Mart workers. "The majority
of their work force will not be well positioned to contribute,"
she told Barbaro. (Read
Home-based business workshop
Nov. 7-8; pre-register today
A two-day workshop on home-based business is
planned at Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, Ky., Nov. 7
and 8. The event will focus on home-based craft, basketry,
tourism and heritage skills businesses.
The University of Kentucky Cooperative
Extension Service and the Southern and Eastern
Kentucky Tourism Development Association along with
the Barnhart Fund for Excellence will present
a "Home-Based Business Workshop." Registration begins
at 9 a.m. on Nov. 7, and the workshop will conclude at 12:30
p.m. Nov. 8. (Read
For more information or to meet today's pre-registration
deadline, contact your local extension office. The cost is
$15 per person. Discounted room rates are available by contacting
Natural Bridge State Resort Park at (800) 325-1710. Be sure
to mention that you are attending the workshop.
Pennsylvania Rural Summit set for
tomorrow and Wednesday
Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff has announced
the commonwealth's inaugural Rural Summit Oct. 25-26, at the
Seven Springs Conference Center in Champion.
The summit is a joint effort by Gov. Edward G. Rendell, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania
Rural Development Council. Speakers include:
Wolff; Mark Drabenstott, vice president of the Federal
Reserve Bank in Kansas City and director of the bank's
Center for the Study of Rural America; state
Secretary of Legislative Affairs Steve Crawford; and Deputy
Secretary of Community and Economic Development Mickey Rowley.
To register, call 717-705-0431. The fee is $95. For more
information, contact Bill Sturges, executive director, Pennsylvania
Rural Development Council, at 717-772-9028 or contact Kristina
L. Watson, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, at 1-717-787-5085.
The fee to register for the workshop is $30 and includes lunch.
Walk-ins are welcome, but participants should call ahead.
Anyone interested should contact Michelle Hall, N.C. Rural
Center, at (919) 250-4314, or e-mail here at email@example.com
Rural entrepreneurship workshop Friday,
Oct. 28 near Raleigh
The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center
and its partners have announced the first in a series of regional
entrepreneurship workshops to be held on Oct. 28 at the Stecoah
Valley Center on Schoolhouse Road in Robbinsville,
"The workshop will help Graham and surrounding southwestern,
North Carolina counties learn to build a system for growing,
nurturing and sustaining entrepreneurs who create jobs in
the region. The half-day event is also an opportunity for
participants to hear from successful entrepreneurs in the
region," according to a CarolinaNewsWire press
Friday, Oct. 21, 2005
Expert challenges rural communities
to engage local entrepreneurs
A senior associate of the Rural Policy Institute
Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Nebraska says
the entrepreneurial spirit is catching on, again, in rural
America, where its roots remain.
Craig Schroeder, a keynote speaker at a recent entrepreneurship
workshop in Grand Rapids, Minn., told a gathering, "There
are people all over rural America who are breaking out and
doing things in a very creative way," writes Willow Loney
of the Grand Rapids, Neb., Herald-Review.
The workshop was one of four held statewide and co-hosted
by the Minnesota Rural Partners, the Independent
Community Bankers and the Federal Home Loan
Bank of Des Moines as a way to promote strategies
and tools useful for community economic development, writes
Schroeder grew up on a farm in Nebraska and returned to his
small town of 200 people in 1989. “So I have experienced
what it is like to be from a small town and come back to a
rural community,” Schroeder said, adding, "What
we are talking about today is not new. Creating entrepreneurial
communities goes back to the founding of our country.”
Schroeder told the workshop that small entrepreneurial businesses
create two-thirds of all jobs, account for two-thirds of business
growth and half of the business innovation in the United States.
The challenge Schroeder noted, is to engage and encourage
entrepreneurs within rural communities, to engage young people
to become entrepreneurs and create a pathway for them to return
to their rural roots, Loney writes
Broadband on ballot in 31 Iowa cities;
supporters say progress too slow
Voters in 31 Iowa cities will consider proposals next month
to allow local governments to provide broadband Internet access.
"The measures allow the creation of utilities that could
add high speed service to local networks," reports WHO-TV
in Des Moines.
The station reports that supporters point to Iowa cities
that don't get broadband service from traditional providers,
which they say is holding those cities back across an economic
spectrum. "Critics of the proposals, including New York-based
Mediacom, say local governments shouldn't
dive into an expensive, high-risk project." they report.
For a recent article on the slow progress of broadband in
Iowa suburbs from the Des Moines Register,
Smaller providers fill a void left by Mediacom, Qwest
by business writer Frank Vinluan, click
Broadband vital for rural
areas' economies, health, schools, congressman says
A Colorado congressman, from a storied political
lineage, is calling for broadband expansion in the nation's
rural areas, hailing it as a vital link to overcoming economic,
healthcare and educational disadvantages.
Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), writes in The
Hill, "the newspaper for and about the U.S.
Congress," "As Congress begins the process of overhauling
the 1996 telecommunications law, we must address the need
for the United States to embark on a similarly large-scale
effort to bring new technologies to rural America. Today,
with high-speed Internet readily available in urban areas,
many rural communities still lack service or must pay extremely
His father, Morris “Mo” Udall, served
in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years and ran
for the Democratic nomination for President in 1976. His uncle,
Stewart, served as Secretary of the Interior under Presidents
Kennedy and Johnson.
"Broadband services play a key role in rural businesses,
hospitals and schools. Many rurally based industries depend
on rapid access to information. Being able to utilize broadband
technologies would increase their productivity, efficiency
and, in turn, profits," Mark Udall emphasizes in his
Udall notes, "Students leave these schools to study
at universities or to compete in the work force, they start
at a disadvantage as compared to other students who have been
educated from kindergarten with constant access to online
information." And, he concludes, "High-speed broadband
Internet can bring rural America into the 21st century by
allowing rural businesses to connect with the rest of the
world, allowing schools to utilize information and resources,
and hospitals to simply serve patients better. (Read
Rural exchange: Writer trades city
transit for higher gas prices, finds drawbacks
Rural Policy Research Institute fellow Thomas
D. Rowley has found that living the rural life can have its
painful drawbacks when you trade the convenience of city provided
transportation for wide open spaces and higher gasoline prices.
"Living in the city all those years-taking the subway,
walking, and biking -- I'd forgotten just how much time is
spent in the car in rural America. Moving back home has reconnected
me not only to my roots but also to the steering wheel. And
the miles add up in a hurry," writes Rowley. (Read
more of this and previous columns.)
"For the many who must drive long distances to jobs,
health care, childcare or college, the rising price of gas
isn't merely a pain; it's a serious malady," writes Rowley.
He notes a recent Consumer Federation of America
report indicating rural households will spend on average some
$2,100 on gas this year, compared to $1,700 for an urban household.
And, he writes, "Because rural income is about 25 percent
lower than urban, that difference is magnified: Rural households
will spend nearly 5 percent of their income on gasoline, compared
to about 3 percent for urban households."
Rowley notes that "rural folks see gas prices as a
greater concern than urban folks, by a margin of 82 percent
to 71 percent." Rowley writes, "[Princeton economics
professor Alan Krueger] pointed out in The New York
Times that when inflation-adjusted gasoline prices
rose 53 percent from 1998 to 2004, consumption actually rose
10 percent." Rowley cites Krueger's opinion, "In
the short run, some people drive less when gas prices rise
or they buy a more fuel-efficient car, but most do not change
Federal spending bill seeks to blunt
Supreme Court's property-seizure ruling
Reacting to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the U. S. Senate
has moved to bar some federal funds from projects where people's
homes are seized for private development.
A transportation, treasury and housing spending bill amendment
"would prevent any money in the bill from being spent
on projects that seek to use the power of eminent domain to
build shopping malls or other commercial developments,"
writes Sam Hananel of The Associated Press.
Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who offered the amendment, said, "People
should not be forced out their homes at the will of any private
development." Separately, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,
is pushing to ban the use of any federal funds in construction
projects that rely on the Supreme Court decision to seize
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that local governments
could take homes for private development projects that generate
jobs and tax revenue. Eminent domain is typically used for
public works projects that benefit entire communities. The
senate measure would continue to allow federal funds to be
used for such projects. Bond's amendment also requires the
Government Accountability Office to study the use of eminent
'Wellness' embraced by some in West
Virginia, a state with poor health
A three-part series by Juliet Terry of The State
Journal has shown that West Virginia's health care
system needs serious work. But, things aren't all bad, Terry
writes in her final installment.
"The Mountain State does a lot of things right,"
Terry reports. "Hospitals are improving their technological
applications to improve care; clinics are adding healthy living
programs for rural residents; health insurance companies are
providing wellness education and incentives; state government
is helping more West Virginians get health insurance; and
many West Virginians are taking advantage of these opportunities
and trying to lead healthier lives." The State Journal
is a weekly based in Charleston.
The Wellness Council of West Virginia, with
about 150 companies participating, is one example of how the
state is trying to change. Executive Director Sharon Covert
said the "well workplace" initiative is improving
overall health status and expenses. A lot of the state's wellness
education is aimed at children, hoping to produce a healthier
generation. That education includes improving school nutrition
and encouraging more activity, along with operating clinics
in some schools. (Read
"Many hospitals and clinics are converting to electronic
medical records, an expensive change but one that should improve
communication between facilities and lead to better patient
care," Terry adds. "Technology also is being phased
in at the pharmaceutical and laboratory level to reduce the
likelihood of human errors."
"The final installment of The State Journal's health
care series looks at the good things happening in health care,"
the series concludes. "Government, business and health
care communities indeed are working to improve the health
of West Virginians and the kind of care they are getting while
living within the state's challenging economic environment.
This investigation has shown that health care is one area
in West Virginia where the status quo is not acceptable, and
the state is making a concerted effort to change it."
Warrantless search of meth lab ruled
necessary by Indiana appeals court
The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled police
had just cause to search an apartment without a warrant because
it smelled like a meth lab and posed a potential danger to
a child inside.
A lower court had thrown out evidence seized in a search
of a man's apartment, saying it violated Fourth Amendment
protections against unreasonable search and seizure. However,
"state attorneys successfully argued on appeal that police
had too little time to obtain a search warrant because the
presence of ether - a volatile chemical used in making - posed
an immediate threat to those inside (Michael) Crabb's apartment,"
writes Charles Wilson of The Associated Press.
The higher court also recognized meth labs "poses new
challenges to police and new threats to public safety,"
writes Wilson. More than 1,500 meth labs were raided by law
officers in Indiana last year. The chemicals used to make
meth pose dangers including poisoning, chemical burns, fires
Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart, who prosecuted the
case, told Wilson, "The volatility causes a serious danger
to everyone in proximity, including the neighbors. In this
case, it was an apartment complex." (Read
group backs cigarette tax; critics cry conflict, say self-serving
The Missouri Hospital Association is supporting
a proposed tax increase on cigarettes that, if passed, would
benefit the hospital industry.
"Campaign finance reports released this week show the
Committee for a Healthy Future took in about
$200,000 from July 1 through Sept. 30, all from the hospital
group. The money is expected to help with typical campaign
expenses," writes Kelly Wiese of The Associated
The proposal would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes
to 97 cents from the current 17 cents, and increase taxes
on other tobacco products. More than half the revenue would
go to paying doctors, hospitals and clinics to treat Medicaid
and uninsured patients. Hospitals could gain $43 million to
$61 million a year, writes Wiese. The hospital group said
it supports the proposal because it should get people to quit
smoking and is a way to generate money from the product responsible
for many health problems.
Mary Becker, the hospital association's senior vice president,
said, "The revenue from this tax would go to support
the very things the product causes." Critics note that
17.5 percent of the money generated would go to stop-smoking
programs. Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri
Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association,
told Wiese, "It shows that their ultimate motivation
As mating and hunting seasons collide,
so do deer and cars -- and donations
If you want a deceased deer removed quickly and mercifully
from a highway area in Pennsylvania, call for burial donations,
reports Al Tompkins, in one of his latest Al's Morning Meeting
"I got this priceless e-mail from Jeff Domenick, Editor,
Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum, Pa. (20
miles northeast of Pittsburgh)," writes Tompkins. Domenick
wrote, "We had a deer hit just outside of town here a
few months back. Someone dragged it into the wide median.
A month or so later, someone placed a tarp over it. A week
or so ago, some wag placed a box next to the deer with a sign
that said 'Burial Donations.' Monday, there was actually change
inside. We called PennDOT for comment Tuesday afternoon and
the deer ... was gone Wednesday a.m." (Read
more the Dispatch's story)
"It's ... mating season for Pennsylvania's white-tail
deer population, which numbers in the millions. That means
these animals -- some weighing 200 pounds or more -- are on
the move. A lot of deer are going to meet their fate, not
their mate," Tompkins notes in his column. "This
is especially true in a lot of Pittsburgh's suburbs, where
... the population per square mile is 40 deer. A lot of these
deer end up as hood ornaments ... and the vehicles wind up
with thousands in damage."
"How efficiently does the state remove dead deer?"
asks Tompkins. In Pennsylvania, he reports, "The state
Department of Transportation contracts out carcass disposal....
[and] ... removal depends on how much these folks want to
work or how many calls the state gets on its toll-free dead
deer hotline." (Read
more of Tompkins' column.)
Suburb's council approves
first D.C.-area Wal-Mart, says big grocery needed
The Prince George's County Council in Mryland has approved
legislation that allows Wal-Mart to build
its first store inside the Capital Beltway.
The bill was designed to restrict big-box retailers, meaning
stores that are 125,000 square feet and over, to from selling
groceries in their Prince George's County, Maryland locations
but excludes two of Wal-Mart's already planned stores; one
already under construction and another where plans have already
been submitted, writes Melissa J. Brachfield of Montgomery
County's The Sentinel in Rockville.
The bill was initially proposed to help protect unionized
local grocers, such as Giant Food and
Safeway, from Wal-Mart, whose workers are not unionized.
But, Wal-Mart featured full-page advertisements in local newspapers
urging residents to denounce the proposed legislation because,
it said, the bill "prevents large retailers from providing
the best possible services and products to community shoppers."
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Rhoda Washington, said the early legislation
sought "to limit what's needed most in this area, which
is grocery services." Council member Thomas R. Hendershot
(D-New Carrollton) said, "Wal-Mart has a way of coming
in and running roughshod over communities." (Read
For a story by The Associated Press on Wal-Mart
heiress Elizabeth Paige Laurie, who is returning her University
of Southern California degree after being accused
of paying a fellow college student $20,000 to do her homework,
Three states' quilts-clothesline effort
to draw tourists to Appalachian culture
A joint Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee effort is seeking to
draw tourists off the interstates and into rural Appalachia
to experience the region's unique culture; the art of quilting.
"Called 'Clothesline of Quilts,' the project based in
Sandy Hook involves painting quilt squares and murals of rural
life on barns and other structures along roadways throughout
the Appalachian region in each state,
including in nine eastern Kentucky counties," writes
Aimee Nielson of the University of Kentucky College
of Agriculture News and Information.
The project began in Ohio when Ohio Arts Council member Donna
Sue Groves painted a quilt square on a barn in honor of her
mother, a lifelong quilter. She wrote grants and raised funds
to paint 20 squares in her home county of Monroe, Ohio.
Kentucky and Tennessee joined the project to create a "Clothesline
of Quilts" driving trail. Gwenda Adkins, a U.K. Cooperative
Extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Elliott
County, told Nielson, "Groves says that people come from
all over the country to see their quilt squares because it's
tying together the home and the farm life. This [the clothesline
project] is kind of tying that together and saying look at
us and look at our culture."
The Extension has partnered with Gateway Resource
Conservation and Development and several other agencies
to make sure the project is successful in eastern Kentucky,
Nielson writes. (Read
more on this and other stories) Also, The Associated
Press has picked up a Paducah Sun
report, Handmade quilts donated to hurricane evacuees.
For more on that, click
Wait and see: Oregon grape growers
find right balance of quantity, quality
After watching a mixture of sunshine and overcast clouds
the last couple weeks, winegrowers in Yamhill Valley, Ore.,
have almost transferred all their grapes from the vines into
"Although unpredictable weather was a concern throughout,
rainy periods weren't severe and temperatures remained mild.
Those who took their chances and waited to pick were rewarded
with well-balanced grapes. Quantity is down for the second
year in a row, which could lead to an upcoming shortage in
the marketplace. But from a quality standpoint, 2005 has all
the earmarks of a true winemaker's vintage," writes Karl
Klooster of the weekly News-Register (McMinnville,
Amity Vineyards has brought in only two-thirds
of the pinot noir grapes from its land, with a well below
normal yield of less than a ton an acre. "I've been at
this for 31 years, and 95 percent of the time, it's paid off
to wait for full ripening, even through rainy periods right
in the midst of the harvest. That proved out again this year,"
Amity owner Myron Redford told Klooster. (Read
Viva Las Vegas: Rural areas OK'ed;
3,500 properties protected from developers
Las Vegas Valley homeowners have been fighting for three
years to protect their rural lifestyles from developers, and
now the residents are emerging from battle victorious.
"On Wednesday, Clark County commissioners put an end
to the feud between those defending their Old West life and
those whose idea of a new frontier is a hotel-casino, strip
casino or master-planned community. Commissioners rezoned
nearly 3,500 pieces of property to a Rural Neighborhood Preservation
designation, which allows a maximum of one home per half-acre,"
writes Adrienne Packer of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, a rural homeowner in Boulder
City, said he enjoys the rural lifestyle that co-exists alongside
the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. "I believe in trying
to preserve rural areas as long as that's what the residents
want," Woodbury told Packer. "This zoning is to
try to provide additional protection against incompatible
developments that are destroying the rural lifestyle."
UNLV professor garners lifetime journalism
history achievement award
A professor emeritus in The University of Nevada-Las
Vegas Hank Greenspun School of Journalism
and Media Studies, Barbara Cloud, has received the
"prestigious" Sidney Kobre Award from the American
Journalism Historians Association (AJHA).
The award in the field of journalism history was presented
to Cloud at the association’s annual meeting in San
Antonio. Cloud has been active in the AJHA for more than 20
years, during which she served as the association’s
first woman president. She has also edited the publication
“Journalism History,” which is considered to be
the preeminent journal in the field, reports UNLV.
David Sloan, AJHA Founder and professor of journalism at
the University of Alabama, said, “Barbara
has had a major impact on the field of media history. Her
service as one of the early presidents of the AJHA ... contributed
greatly to its long term vitality,” UNLV reports. (Read
Thursday, Oct. 20,
Congress considers food
stamp cuts; rural poor depend on assistance
A rural policy center study found that rural Americans are
more dependent on food stamps than urbanites.
The study by the Carsey
Institute at the University of New Hampshire
said 31 percent of food stamp recipients live in rural areas,
and 22 percent of the country's population lives in those
rural areas. The figures are based on 2001 data. The analysis,
"Rural America Depends on the Food Stamp Program to Make
Ends Meet," comes right before Congress will consider
cuts in the federal food stamp program.
The analysis discovered that in 2001, 4.6 million rural residents
received food stamps, comprising 7.5 percent of rural residents,
while only 4.8 percent of urban residents received food stamps.
The figures also show that fewer than half of the 10.6 million
Americans living in poverty in 2001 received food stamps.
"Many of America’s rural families struggle to
make a living," said Cynthia Mildred "Mil"
Duncan, director of the Carsey Institute. "In these rural
communities, as in many of our cities and suburbs, food stamps
provide crucial supplements to low income families’
The old and young in rural America are especially dependent
on food stamps. Ninety-one percent of the rural elderly population
on food stamps had a household income less than 150 percent
of the federal poverty level. Recipients under the age of
18 make up 43 percent of rural food stamp recipients, and
approximately three-fifths of rural residents on food stamps
live in the South. (Read
more - pdf)
FCC 'poorly managed' Internet connect
program; schools, libraries suffer
A congressional investigation charges
that federal regulators have wasted millions of dollars because
of lax oversight of a government program designed to connect
schools and libraries to the Internet.
program, which is overseen by the Federal Communications
Commission, provides discounted Internet access and
connection equipment to help expand Internet availability,
especially in rural and low-income areas," writes Jennifer
C. Kerr of The Associated Press.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight subcommittee
said the $2.25 billion program "is extremely vulnerable
to waste, fraud, and abuse, is poorly managed by the FCC,
and completely lacks tangible measures of either effectiveness
or impact." The report said the agency failed to conduct
a comprehensive assessment of the E-Rate program.
The commission is working on developing performance standards,
writes Kerr. FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield told Kerr that Chairman
Kevin Martin "was aware of concerns with the program
and one of his first initiatives was to open a proceeding
considering fundamental, structural reform to try to address
those issues." Subcommittee chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield,
R-Ky., told Kerr, "Many E-Rate program weaknesses must
be addressed legislatively to avoid waste and misuse."
The subcommittee's two-year investigation cited problems
with the E-Rate program in Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Chicago
and Atlanta. The E-Rate program is financed by charges paid
by telephone companies and typically passed along to consumers
in the form of a universal service charge on consumers' phone
bills, Kerr writes. (Read
Farm programs targeted; Senate panel
cuts $3 billion, restores dairy subsidy
A Senate committee has voted to strip $3 billion from farm
payments and conservation programs but has revived a disputed
$1 billion dairy subsidy program.
"Lawmakers from Western states with huge dairy operations
tried to kill the subsidy program, arguing it hurts big producers
by flooding the market with milk. Senators from the Northeast,
where dairy herds are smaller, said the program keeps small
family farms afloat," writes Libby Quaid of The
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., told Quaid, "This is a simple
program to help the little guy." Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.,
noted that President Bush has pledged to renew the program.
Congress ordered $3 billion in agriculture cuts earlier this
year. Cutting farmers payments by 2.5 percent across the board
would save nearly $1.3 billion while spending on conservation
would fall by more than $1 billion.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, chairman of the Senate Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry Committee, told Quaid lawmakers will
vote separately on farmers' aid for recovery from hurricanes,
drought, flooding and other disasters. The cuts are part of
a Senate effort to shave $35 billion from federal spending
over the next five years, and the House Agriculture Committee
is expected to seek more severe cuts. (Read
North Carolina judge rules tobacco
companies must make '04 farmers' payments
A North Carolina judge has ruled tobacco companies must
pay farmers and quota holders $106 million in payments and
interest that were due for the fourth quarter of 2004.
The ruling affects people in North Carolina, Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
"The companies - including Winston-Salem-based Reynolds
Tobacco Co. and Richmond, Va.-based Philip
Morris USA Inc. - had sought further court proceedings
and legal costs related to the payment," writes Steve
Hartsoe of The Associated Press.
The tobacco companies had argued that compensation due to
farmers was overridden by last year's passage of a $10 billion
federal buyout of tobacco quotas. The North Carolina Supreme
Court ruled the companies must make payments of $318 million
for 2004 because during that time they had not started paying
for the quota buyout. The companies argued that the ruling
North Carolina Business Court Judge Ben Tennille issued the
ruling yesterday denying the companies' request for more hearings
and legal costs. A spokesman for Reynolds Tobacco Co. said
the company was considering its options regarding any appeals.
Michigan Senate approves selling tobacco
settlement to improve economy
The Michigan Senate has approved selling part of the state's
tobacco settlement to gain $1 billion to invest in up-and-coming
industries that could provide much needed jobs for the state.
"The Senate voted to sell about one-third of the state's
future tobacco settlement, money that tobacco companies are
paying to end a string of lawsuits involving health care costs
for sick smokers," reports The Associated Press.
The $1 billion would help broaden Michigan's economy beyond
traditional manufacturing. A portion would be invested in
life sciences, advanced automotive manufacturing, homeland
security, defense technology and alternative energy. At least
$240 million over five years would go to grants and loans
for life sciences.
The legislation now heads back to the House for consideration
on changes made. The House proposed the plan and approved
it last month. Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming,
told reporters, "We're taking a major step forward in
recognizing that Michigan's economic and jobs future is going
to look very different from our economic past." Sen.
Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, said, "Michigan's recent
economic struggles demonstrate the danger of putting all our
eggs in one basket."
The state could get about 56 cents for every $1 sold from
the tobacco settlement. The legislative package would create
a jobs trust fund. Two boards would award grants and loans
to so-called "competitive-edge" businesses and make
venture capital and private equity investments, AP reports.
Charlotte area sees drastic rise in
meth labs; 5 found in 3 months
Meth labs, long prevalent in rural areas, are moving into
urban areas in greater numbers, with Charlotte, N.C., law
enforcement reporting more busts in recent months than in
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, North Carolina Bureau
of Investigation (NCBI) agents, hazmat crews and
health department experts have busted five meth labs in three
months. This comes despite legislative efforts to restrict
needed ingredients, reports Kytja Weir of The Charlotte
Methamphetamine, a stimulant commonly called crank, glass
or ice, used to be a problem relegated to the West Coast.
It spread east into rural nooks of the Appalachian mountains
over the past few years. In 1999, North Carolina officials
recorded nine busts of clandestine meth labs. By the beginning
of this month, the NCBI had recorded 270, notes Weir.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Capt. Bruce Bellamy told Weir
the five recent lab busts surpasses the previous four years
combined. The statewide boom prompted lawmakers this year
to crack down on the sale of cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine,
a key meth ingredient. (Read
Delta to stop Hickory, N.C. trips
7 months after liftoff; leaves city high and dry
Delta Air Lines is leaving a regional airport
in Hickory, N.C., ending daily flights to and from Atlanta
on Nov. 30 just seven months after starting them. Hickory
will again be without commercial air service.
“The customer demand between Hickory and Atlanta did
not meet expectations for that market," Delta spokeswoman
Benet Wilson told Andrew Mackie of the Hickory Daily
Record. The decision came as a slight surprise to
some city officials. An airline executive said in August that
Hickory needed to significantly increase passengers on its
Passenger rates had been 40 percent through the summer, but
had risen to around 60 percent, giving some reason for optimism,
writes Mackie. City Manager Mick Berry told him, “As
the numbers were coming up, we felt that would bode well for
us, but obviously, it wasn’t to the point that Delta
wanted.” The city spent about $330, 000 to attract and
market the service, Mackie reports.
Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic
Development Corp., told Mackie, “Obviously,
we want air service in Hickory for many reasons. We need to
see what our business fliers need and go after who can provide
more) For the Charlotte Observer version,
'ATV Safety Camp' aimed at young riders;
Kentucky one of ten deadliest states
Kentucky is listed among the top 10 states in all-terrain
vehicle-related deaths, according to the Consumer
Product Safety Commission. But, the Muhlenberg County
4-H wants to change that.
A committee of youths and adults received a $7,000 national
4-H grant for an "ATV safety program for fourth- through
seventh-grade 4-Hers. They also hope to interest other 4-H
programs across the state in pursuing the grant and teaching
young people how to safely ride these vehicles," writes
Laura Skillman of the University of Kentucky College
of Agriculture News and Information Service.
Linda Travis, who along with her husband Roger volunteered
to partner with the youth and traveled to Washington, D.C.,
to undergo the necessary training, told Skillman that a number
of youngsters in the community have been killed and injured
and, she added, "If we can just save one life it will
be worth it all."
Roger Travis told Skillman originally he and his wife wanted
to help their grandchildren but decided to help the entire
county and state as well. "We also want to tell other
county agents how we got the grant, and maybe they will want
to work with us to help get the death rate down in the state
of Kentucky," he said.
The 2004 CPSC annual report on ATV-related deaths and injuries,
released in September, reported Kentucky had 106 deaths from
2002 through 2004. Data from 1982 through 2001 ranks Kentucky
ninth with 182 ATV-related deaths. (Read
more, and other stories)
Worsty Award created for
open meetings, freedom of information offenders
Illinois Press Association has created an annual
“award” to identify the 10 worst violators of
both the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information
IPA Board member Larry Green, who is chairman of IPA’s
government relations committee, said the award was created
to underscore the importance of compliance with the two laws,
said an IPA news release. “Despite increased vigilance
by our organization, the Attorney General’s office,
and other watchdog groups, the abuses of these two access
laws continue to escalate. These new 'awards' will identify
the worst offenders each year. We hope that this will help
to curtail future abuses,” said Green.
Nicknamed the “Worsty,” the awards will be divided
into two categories, starting with the top 10 worst OMA violators
"that represent the most egregious examples of 'closed
door' behavior; and 2) the top 10 worst FOIA violators representing
flagrant practices of denying the public access to public
records," described the release. Chris Doyle, an IPA
board member, has coordinated the project. Doyle announced
the initial award recipients Oct. 14, at IPA’s annual
convention in Springfield.
Doyle said, “We will announce only the top 10 violators
in each category, but there are hundreds of examples from
which to choose throughout the state that could be considered.
The fact is that despite all of the work this organization
(IPA) does to combat abuses of both OMA and FOIA, the problem
continues to spiral out of control,” reports the IPA.
Coshocton and Zanesville, Ohio newspapers
get new managing editor
Len LaCara, most recently managing editor for West
Virginia Media in Huntington, W.Va., has been named
managing editor of the Times Recorder and
the Coshocton Tribune in Ohio.
He succeeds Jason Maddux, who led the Zanesville paper for
nearly two years, reports The Associated Press.
In West Virginia, LaCara, 45, coordinated statewide story
coverage and special projects for four TV stations, five Web
sites and a weekly newspaper.
The Times Recorder has a daily circulation of about 21,300
and the Tribune has a circulation of about 6,300. Gannett
Co. owns both newspapers.
Rural Calendar: Ky. Ag Women
meet Nov. 2-4; pre-registration deadline today
The sixth statewide Kentucky Women in Agriculture
(KWIA) conference will take place Nov. 2-4 at the Executive
Inn Rivermont in Owensboro. The nonprofit organization is
dedicated to empowering women in agriculture through education,
involvement and action.
The main conference begins at 9 a.m. Nov. 3 with a KWIA business
session, followed by an opening session with keynote speaker
Hilda Legg. Legg is a former administrator with Rural
Utilities Service in the U.S. Department
of Agriculture. She also served as the executive
director and CEO for The Center for Rural Development
in Somerset for seven years.
Contact Kim Henken at (859) 257-7775. Conference registration
is limited and costs $60 for KWIA members and $70 for nonmembers.
Pre-conference registration is an additional $10 for the agri-tourism
workshop. Included meals are lunch and dinner on Nov. 3 and
breakfast and lunch on Nov. 4. Send registration and checks
payable to Kentucky Women in Agriculture Inc., attn: Kim Henken,
University of Kentucky, 206 Scovell Hall,
Lexington, Ky., 40546-0064.
Pre-registration is required and must be received
by Oct. 20. No registrations will be accepted at
the door. For a conference program, registration forms or
further information, visit the KWIA
Wednesday, Oct. 19,
Natural gas prices taking toll on
U.S. agriculture, shaping future production
High natural gas prices are shaping farming decisions across
America's heartland, from what farmers will plant in the spring
to how corn and soybeans processing plants operate.
Consumers are not yet feeling higher costs because producers
are instead taking it out of their profit margins, reports
Lisa Haarlander of Reuters. Jeff Adkisson,
executive vice president of the Grain and Feed Association
of Illinois, told her, "There's that constant
fear of raising their rates to recoup those costs because
they are so competitive. The first guy who raises his rates
won't have grain to merchandise."
Elevators use large amounts of natural gas to dry freshly
harvested grain for storage. High fees for drying could cause
farmers to take crops to another elevator, writes Haarlander.
Natural-gas prices have more than doubled in the last year,
rising to $11.92 per million BTU from $5.85. Roger Fray, vice
president of grain at West Central Cooperative,
said, "If you don't have an efficient, modern dryer,
at current commercial rates you're losing money." Many
plants were built to use natural gas. (Read
Gas, heating, medication rate hikes
force seniors to cut back expenses
Medication costs, rising home-heating rates and increasing
gas prices are forcing our country's seniors to alter their
A recent American Association of Retired Persons
survey reported that 62 percent of Americans older
than 50 are driving less because of gas prices. The survey
also said 41 percent of seniors reported that they have tried
to combat the gas prices by reducing other expenses; "40
percent said they were saving less, 13 percent said they were
eating less and 6 percent said they had reduced medical treatment,"
writes Dean Abbott of the weekly Georgetown News-Graphic
Marilyn Grove, director of a senior center in Georgetown,
said rising costs, including gasoline prices, have forced
the center to reduce the number of days per week hot lunch
are offered from four days down to three. Another change came
in reducing the number of people who are delivered hot meals
each week from about 15 to five. “When we have to reduce
that, it's hard because they are more isolated. Many times,
they become more frail," Grove told Abbott. (Read
FCC wants opinions on ‘broadband
era’ regulations, consumer protections
The Federal Communications Commission is
seeking public and industry comment on its proposed rulemaking
on "non-economic industry factors and consumer-protection
measures the agency could consider to prepare for what it
calls the emerging 'broadband era.'"
The FCC said it will seek “to ensure that consumer
protection needs are met by all providers of broadband Internet
access service, regardless of the underlying technology,”
The commission wants to formulate and apply guidelines to
all provisioning rivals in the broadband era. That action
would be part of a broader action to give wire-line carriers
the same light-touch regulatory status as cable companies
for providing bundled and broadband services, including DSL,
reports Telecomweb.com. (Read
Hurricane aftermath: Agriculture damage
still being tallied; relief continues
Several weeks after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the impact
on agriculture is still being measured. Initially, the USDA
reported a $30 million loss in livestock for Alabama, Mississippi
and Louisiana combined, and the damage to agriculture, forestry
and fisheries industries could surpass $1 billion.
Over the next months, the Rural
Advancement Foundation International-U.S.A. (RAFI-USA)
will be partnering with the Farmers' Legal Action
Group (FLAG) to help recovery efforts. RAFI-USA and
FLAG are conducting a public awareness campaign about disaster
assistance. Farmers need to be aware of the steps they should
take to maximize their eligibility for assistance, writes
RAFI-USA plans to work with regional partners to train personnel
on disaster assistance programs. The first training session
is scheduled for Oct. 20 and 21 in Epes, Ala.
Number of U.S. manufacturing jobs
continues decreasing; extinction next?
"Is (manufacturing) sliding toward extinction? Viewed
historically, the question is misleading. It's true that manufacturing
employment now accounts for only one in nine jobs, down from
one in three in 1950. But the decline mostly reflects higher
efficiency. Americans make more things with fewer people.
From 1990 to 2000, for example, manufacturing output rose
61 percent while employment fell 2 percent, reports economist
David Huether of the National Association of Manufacturers,"
writes economist Robert J. Samuelson in a column for The
"Of late, however, the news about manufacturing has
seemed particularly dismal. Since mid-2000, 3 million jobs
have vanished. . . . The fate of American manufacturing lies
largely in American hands. Of course, some labor-intensive
production will go abroad. But in many industries, job losses
and cost-cutting -- though devastating to individuals -- can
sustain production and restore profitability. The U.S. steel
industry now produces more than in the 1980s, though it has
lost two-thirds of its jobs. Elsewhere, innovation and high-value
manufacturing should create jobs," opines Samuelson.
"But one giant unknown clouds everything: China. Until
now, its booming U.S. exports have mostly displaced exports
from other countries. As China modernizes -- moves into more
advanced industries -- this could change dramatically. The
combination of low wages, a huge market and an artificially
low currency confers staggering competitive advantages. They
constitute a powerful magnet for foreign investment in many
sectors, whose output could subsequently be exported. Unless
the currency rises substantially, the United States could
lose many industries that, by all other economic logic, it
shouldn't. Therein lies the real threat of extinction or something
close to it," concludes Samuelson. (Read
Energy prices put Montana coal in
the spotlight; governor holds summit
With skyrocketing oil and natural-gas prices, Montana Gov.
Brian Schweitzer began a two-day regional energy conference
in Bozeman yesterday to highlight the state's cheap and largely
forgotten natural resource -- coal, and plenty of it.
"Panel discussions on Montana's currently stagnant coal
industry and new clean coal technology were packed. Schweitzer
touted plans for a new coal-to-liquid fuels plant in Montana
during his opening remarks, and industry officials sang the
praises of coal in highlighting ways to ease the country's
energy crisis," writes Sarah Cooke of The Associated
Chuck Kerr, president of Great Northern Properties
in Houston, told Cooke, "Coal has the unique ability
to provide abundant energy cheaply. I think the sun, moon
and stars have aligned. I think we have a tremendous opportunity,
and I think that opportunity is now."
Montana has the nation's largest coal supply - estimated
at 119 billion tons. But national use is limited by the state's
relatively remote location, limited infrastructure, low coal
prices and competition from neighboring states. Also, Montana
coal barely meets federal sulfur levels, restricting the number
of plants that can consume it. Shipping it is difficult because
of its crumbly consistency and higher risk of combustion.
Schweitzer and others contend coal-to-liquids fuel technology
may be a solution. (Read
Digging deep: Southern Iowa event
recalls mining history, salutes heritage
The "Salute to Southern Iowa Coal Mining" event
this past weekend in Oskaloosa gave area history buffs an
old-time opportunity to gather and talk about their passion
"It's as if the descendants of Iowa's coal miners are
digging for their history," writes Mark Newman of the
Ottumwa Courier. About 30
people attended a "Memories of a Coal Digger's Son."
workshop. Presenter Carl Blomgren talked of growing up around
mining towns in the 20s and 30s, notes Newman.
Kevin Ballalatak, of Lovilia, said, "Dad used to be
a coal miner. I grew up listening to all them old stories."
Even with the demise of many coal mines, history buffs have
not lost interest, Newman writes. The State Historical
Museum in Des Moines is hosting a small mining exhibit
with a video presentation, part of which highlights the famous
coal palace that had been built in Ottumwa. (Read
Witness for intelligent design in
Pennsylvania trial lumps theory with astrology
"A leading architect of the intelligent-design movement
defended his ideas in a federal courtroom on Tuesday in Harrisburg,
Pa., and acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific
theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design,"
writes Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times.
Professor Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh
University, testified for the Dover, Pa., school
board, which is requiring that intelligent design be taught
in biology class. Parents have sued the school district, and
"at issue in the lawsuit is whether the concept's introduction
into biology class is an abridgment of the separation between
church and state," reports Goodstein. The school board
voted that the lesson should say problems exist with the theory
of evolution and intelligent design is an alternatives worth
Behe insisted that intelligent design is not the same as
creationism, the Biblical view that God created earth and
its creatures fully formed. The U.S. Supreme Court
ruled that creationism is a religious belief and not allowed
in public schools, notes Goodstein. (Read
Kentucky lieutenant governor campaigns
among newspapers for casinos
Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher has declined to endorse the
idea of casinos in the state, but is not working to defeat
it. His justice secretary, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, is going
to the front lines as an advocate and he recently talked to
the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board.
"Pence [said] Kentucky gambling dollars are paying for
Indiana roads and Indiana teachers. Medicaid costs are 'eating
up every dollar of Kentucky growth,' [and he] believes [casinos]
can play a ... part [in the state's economy]. Pence thinks
each Kentucky county should get to vote on it," write
the Enquirer's editors.
The Enquirer noted that Pence and legislators have taken
the pragmatic approach. "Kentucky already is a big gambling
state. If Ohio legalizes casino gambling, 'that would mean
more Kentucky gambling dollars going out of state,' [Pence
said]." If Ohio and Kentucky add casinos, the editors
opine that "both states would need to make sure their
venues could compete."
Pence told the Enquirer editors he "favors earmarking
new taxes from casinos for schools or health care," and,
they write, Pence, "doesn't deny offsetting costs from
gambling such as addiction, bankruptcies and other ills, but
argues Kentucky already must deal with the ills, without any
of the gains." The editors conclude that casino advocates
need to show strong net gain ... if they expect to boost the
odds for legalizing casino," in Kentucky. (Read
University of Kentucky and drug company
to develop radiation treatments
The University of Kentucky and a pharmaceutical
company will use a $1.2 million grant to develop treatments
for radiation emergencies, such as after exposure to a dirty
University officials said Tuesday, "The grant, awarded
by the National Institutes of Health, will
be for research by the UK College of Pharmacy's Center
for Pharmaceutical Science and ChemPharma
International," reports The Associated Press.
Michael Jay, the center's director and the study's principal
investigator, told AP the hope is to develop alternative ways
of clearing the body of radioactive elements. The new treatments
could be used in a mass exposure, such as a terrorist attack.
Currently drugs are administered intravenously. Jay said oral
treatments would be easier to distribute and administer. (Read
Tuesday, Oct. 18,
Children of meth addicts
endure abuse, neglect; 'people treat their dogs better'
"In one picture, she was a beautiful, blonde teenager
with a face dotted with freckles and a future full of potential.
In the next, her skeletal frame cowered in a corner and peered
out at the world through hollow, sunken eyes and a body dotted
with self-inflicted bruises," writes Tammie Toler of
the weekly Princeton Times in West Virginia.
Once the teen started using meth, her newfound addiction
triggered a downward spiral into the drug's dark culture.
Many American children have become meth victims, whether they
or a parent uses the drug, said J. Centeno, coordinator of
the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task
Force. Some kids have OD'ed on meth because their
addicted parents left the substance in baby bottles, or they
have died because of explosions caused by meth cooking sessions
gone wrong, added Centeno.
Some meth heads were once hard-working parents who tried
the drug simply for an energy boost, reports Toler. ”Methamphetamine
gives them that high, and they stay that way for days,“
Centeno said. ”It makes you feel like you want to go
outside and build a barn in the back yard, right now.“
Children of meth users suffer through the stages of addiction
and withdrawal, because the drug completely consumes their
parents' lives, Centeno said. Kids endure abuse and neglect,
and they develop rashes from the toxic chemical combinations
in their houses, notes Toler. ”A lot of people treat
their dogs better than methamphetamine addicts treat their
kids,“ Centeno said. (Read
fight meth plague; drug poses 'huge danger,' deep addiction
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, top law enforcement
officials and legislators are seeking any solutions they can
find to the pervasive, destructive and stubbornly consuming
methamphetamine plague ravaging their state and much of the
U.S. with poor rural areas disproportionately affected.
Madigan, law officers and lawmakers attended a methamphetamine
summit last week as part of their continuing quest: "They
sense the huge danger the drug poses," writes Sanford
J. Schmidt of the Alton [Ill.] Telegraph.
State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, told Schmidt, "The users
don’t care about anything else."
Madigan and Haine are getting bipartisan support in their
effort to combat the meth scourge, which seizes its users
at a deeper level than previously seen. Dr. John Hoelscher,
medical director for Flexcare, a drug and
alcohol treatment program based at Alton Memorial
Hospital, told Schmidt, "It’s just a very
powerful stimulant of a brain chemical. It’s very specific
and potent. It comes on very rapidly."
"Laboratory rats will literally commit suicide to get
the drug," Hoelscher said. Robert Jenkins, a certified
drug counselor with New Visions, a drug detoxification
center based at Touchette Regional Hospital
in Centreville, told Schmidt, "The drug is a very violent
drug. It is probably the most addictive drug I’ve ever
known." Hoelscher added, "It’s not easy to
treat. The success rate is very poor." (Read
English rural areas link
up to broadband; speed, breadth contrasts U.S.
In stark contrast to the slow pace and commercial
foot-dragging in the U.S., some of the last rural parts of
England have been connected to broadband with the help of
the government-run East of England Development Agency
"Eight communities have been connected. The Broadband
Gap project aimed to upgrade some of the last few telephone
exchanges in the region, which would not otherwise have been
upgraded.Work began this summer and finished in September
ahead of schedule," reports the British Broadcasting
For the eight exchanges now connected, high-speed service
means that small and medium business businesses in these areas
now have the capacity to run a number of larger business applications,
such as video conferencing. (Read
Yahoo, Bell South join forces in effort
to provide high-speed Internet access
Nine rural states will be getting a high-speed Internet boost
from Yahoo Inc. and BellSouth Corp.
"The move is the latest step in a mating dance that
has now united the owner of the Web's most popular destination
with the three largest U.S. regional phone companies,"
reports The Associated Press. The service
will debut next year and provide subscribers with customized
material from BellSouth's Web site, which had an Internet-leading
99.3 million U.S. visitors last month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
BellSouth wants to use Yahoo to prevent its Internet service
from becoming faceless. Yahoo will get an unspecified amount
of the subscription revenue and a steady stream of traffic.
Yahoo sells advertising on the service that generates most
of its profit. The service will be available in Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina and Tennessee. (Read
Tobacco RICO charges barred; U.S.
can't pursue damages, says high court
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to allow
the Bush administration to pursue a $280 billion penalty against
tobacco companies on claims the companies misled the public
about the dangers of smoking.
"The decision ... was not unexpected because the government's
case is still pending and the federal judge who presided over
the nine-month trial has not yet decided whether tobacco companies
are guilty of wrongdoing. The Supreme Court declined, without
comment, to intervene now, and the case could return to justices
next year," writes Gina Holland of The Associated
Shares of Altria Group Inc., parent of the
biggest U.S. cigarette company Philip Morris USA,
climbed $4.34, or 6.1 percent, to $75 in morning trading on
the New York Stock Exchange. William Ohlemeyer,
Altria vice president, said the decision was appropriate,
writes Holland. (Click
here) for more details on the financial reactions
to the ruling.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told Holland, "We
continue to believe very strongly in this case." Campaign
for Tobacco-Free Kids Executive Director William
Corr said the Justice Department "should not use the
Supreme Court's decision as an excuse to let the tobacco companies
off the hook with a weak settlement." For a more detailed
story on the ruling by Paul Kapan of Reuters,
Wal-Mart gets OK for
store despite objections in small Charlotte area county
A Wal-Mart Supercenter is coming to suburban-Charlotte
area Lincoln County in the midst of concerns over the increased
traffic caused by such developments and the monopoly-like
presence of the giant.
County commissioners voted to allow the retail giant to build
a 203,819-square-foot store in one of the Charlotte region's
fastest-growing areas. There was only one dissenting vote
and that came from a council person who lives two miles from
the roughly 28-acre Supercenter site, writes Jefferson George
of the Charlotte Observer. The store would
be the county's largest retail space, notes George.
Five conditions were set, including turn lanes to handle
the expected traffic increase. "The board worried the
turn lanes wouldn't be installed by the N.C. Department
of Transportation before the store opened, possibly
in late 2006," writes George. Commissioners considered
having the company pay for the road work or wait until the
work was finished, but instead asked Wal-Mart to pressure
state officials to make the improvements. Another condition
barred "slogan-type signs" on the facade of the
store, notes George.
The approval was a blow to residents who voiced concerns.
One group had worked with Wal-Mart to get the road improvements
but still had some concerns last night. Another group opposed
Wal-Mart because of concerns about its impact on local businesses.
more) For more background on the controversy, from the
here, and from The Lincoln County Times,
Western rural sprawl raises issues;
scenic mountains drawing development
Rapidly growing rural development throughout the country,
especially in the West around scenic mountain communities,
is raising some concerns, reports Brodie Farquhar of the Casper
[Wyo.] Star Tribune.
Farquhar writes of rural development or "sprawl"
around resorts such as Jackson and Lander. "Tucked against
the foothills of the Wind River Mountains, Lander’s
growth is most easily seen not in town, but in a 10-mile swath
around the city," he writes.
Ron Cunningham, a University of Wyoming extension
educator, called the growth "dramatic." Farquhar
writes that "ranches used to come right up to the edge
of town [and] now there’s a sprawling array of small-acreage
'ranchettes' and 'farmettes,' sprouting everything from run-down
trailers to McMansions."
Many of the people who are buying or building homes in the
country have little background or experience for country living,
notes Farquhar. Cunningham said some people assume that if
they have water running through their property, that they
can use it. But that isn’t necessarily so, writes Farquhar.
South Florida 'niche' farming provides
major boost to area economies
In the face of free-trade competition, development, unpredictable
weather and pestilence, farmers in south Florida are turning
from the traditional crops of The Sunshine State to so-called
niche farming to gain strength and economic muscle.
"The consolidation of farming into big operations ...
is one of the modern aspects of Homestead agriculture as farmers
dig in against woes ranging from global competition and imported
pests to hurricanes and soaring land prices. To stay competitive,
the industry is making investments to upgrade technology and
machinery to cut costs," writes Jane Bussey of the Miami
Miami-Dade County generates an estimated $1.1 billion a year
from agriculture and still has about 90,000 acres of farmland,
according to the 2002 U.S. Census. It is also seeing a proliferation
of small farms and nurseries, as farmers try niche strategies
to survive, writes Bussey.
Some farms have assembly-line production of orchids and bromeliads;
others are exploring fruit wines, or conducting plant research
as a sideline. Row crops and citrus groves are giving way
to tropical fruit orchards and tree nurseries, Bussey writes.
Instead of fresh vegetables bound for Publix
supermarkets, more growers are raising ornamental plants bound
for Home Depot. (Read
Dade County Farm Bureau Executive Director Katie Edwards
told Bussey, "There are two trends. We are seeing an
increase in the number of [small] farms. We are seeing an
increase in very large farms and cooperatives." Edwards
adds that middle-size farms are closing up shop or consolidating.
Rural community gets
grant to rid water supply of waste; five counties affected
A southeastern Kentucky town has received some financial
help in its effort to stop the flow of human waste into a
small lake that supplies drinking water for residents in five
The $750,000 federal grant comes from the government-sponsored
environmental organization PRIDE. "The
money will pay for construction of a municipal sewer line
along the edge of the 440-acre reservoir," writes Roger
Alford of The Associated Press.
Mount Vernon Mayor Clarice Kirby told Alford about 35 homes
along the northeast shoreline of Lake Linville have septic
tanks that spew raw sewage into the lake, which serves portions
of Garrard, Lincoln, Madison, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties.
Dennis McClure, superintendent of the Mount Vernon water and
sewer departments, said the lake has elevated levels of fecal
bacteria from human and animal waste.
PRIDE, formed by U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, R-5th District,
has invested $111 million to upgrade sewage service for some
26,000 homes in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency told AP eliminating
straight pipes in Eastern Kentucky would cost $300 million.
Failing septic systems boost the cost to $1 billion. (Read
Rural Arizona communities harder hit
by new EPA arsenic requirement
Some metropolitan Phoenix area water plants are finding it
difficult to comply with a new federal requirement to cut
arsenic.The requirement, which begins early next year, will
affect rural Arizona harder.
Tucson's KVOA-TV in a combined Associated
Press and staff story reports, "That's because
hundreds of small private water companies in rural areas pump
only groundwater, which tends to have more arsenic."
more). For the more detailed story of origin from Jahna
Berry of The Arizona Republic, click
here. Regulators and industry experts say those firms
have less cash to treat water than a big city operation and
will be more likely to pass the costs to others.
The Environmental Protection Agency changed
the standard for arsenic in water in 2001 from 50 parts per
billion to 10 parts per billion to protect the public against
the cancer-causing substance.
Appalachian Power makes progress on
a transmission line linking two states
Appalachian Power says it expects to have
all towers up by the end of the month for a 90-mile transmission
line that will run from Wyoming County, West Virginia, to
Jackson's Ferry, Va.
The company reports more than 300 towers are needed for the
construction project. A helicopter will deliver eight partially-assembled
towers this week to remote areas in Bland and Wythe counties,
Virginia, while a crane will be used to build the remaining
five towers by the end of October, reports WAVY-TV
of Norfolk, in a combined Associated Press
and staff report.
Appalachian Power says the project addresses the states'
growing customer demand. (Read
Time Inc. editor-in-chief
to step down; editorial director to take position
Time Inc.'s editor-in-chief for eleven
years, Norman Pearlstine, will step down at the end of this
year, succeeded by editorial director John Huey.
Pearlstine, 63, will remain with Time Inc. parent Time
Warner Inc. as a senior adviser and will continue
work on a book scheduled to be published in 2007, reports
Bloomberg News. (Read
Pearlstine had also managed the business side of Time
Inc. International, as well as the company's online
and television operations from 1996 through 1998. Prior to
Time, Pearlstine spent 23 years at Dow Jones & Co., including
nine years as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
Huey, 57, has been editorial director since 2001, overseeing
the weekly magazines Time, Sports
Illustrated, People, Entertainment
Weekly and Life, Fortune,
Money and Business 2.0.
In 1992, Huey co-authored "Sam Walton: Made in America,"
the autobiography of the late founder of Wal-Mart.
Monday, Oct. 17, 2005
Farm subsidies dispute stalls global
trade talks; delay discourages trade rep
Reaching a worldwide trade agreement that cuts barriers and
reduces government funds has hit a hitch over farm subsidies,
proving to be tougher than expected for U.S. Trade Representative
"This past week ... Portman got a sobering glimpse of
exactly how tough it will be to succeed in global trade negotiations.
The ongoing talks ... are intended to take a major leap forward
in economic globalization by lowering tariffs and liberalizing
rules governing international commerce," writes Paul
Blustein of The Washington Post.
"Portman sought to jump-start the talks last Monday
with a series of proposals on agriculture, the centerpiece
of which he described as an offer to cut Washington's 'trade-distorting'
farm subsidies by 60 percent. Curbing such payments to farmers
by rich nations is the top demand of developing nations, because
subsidies often lead to overproduction of crops, which in
turn can depress world prices and hurt farmers in poor countries,"
Portman criticized the European Union and a group of developing
countries led by Brazil and India. He accused them of not
offering counter proposals "even close to comparable"
in scope to what the United States offered. Portman told Blustein,
"There's a lot at stake. The clock is ticking."
Wal-Mart bank: A 'dangerous and unprecedented
concentration of power'?
"Wal-Mart's proposal to open a bank
has sent a wave of concern through community bankers, who
view the move as the first of several maneuvers that will
turn the company into a financial services behemoth and drive
them out of business," writes Michael Barbaro of The
New York Times.
"The chief executive of a bank in North Dakota predicted
a 'dangerous and unprecedented concentration of economic power.'
The president of a bank in Colorado foresaw 'unacceptable
risk to the banking system.' The head of a California bank
anticipated 'long-term community disinvestment,'" writes
Wal-Mart filed an application with the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation in July for an industrial bank
in Utah to process credit and debit card transactions for
its 3,500 stores nationwide. This marks the company's fourth
effort to enter the banking industry. A public comment period
for the application drew a record-breaking 1,100-plus responses.
Wal-Mart Financial Services President Jane
Thompson defended the company's proposal, telling Barbaro,
"This will not be a bank that a consumer ever sees. It's
only customer is Wal-Mart." (Read
A coalition, including the Independent Community
Bankers of America, the National Grocers
Association, the National Association of
Convenience Stores and the United Food and
Commercial Workers union, which is trying unionize
Wal-Mart workers, has formed to block Wal-Mart's effort.
A coalition of community groups called Wal-Mart
Watch opposes the application and has sent a petition
with 11,000 signatures to the FDIC, which is expected to issue
a ruling in July.
Broadband access to play
integral role in rural America's future, says paper
Another major newspaper has singled out broadband Internet
access as a key to success for rural areas, especially in
the areas of education and economic development.
"Access to fast Internet service is as fundamental to
today's economic infrastructure as roads and electric power
were to the past's. Broadband service is now essential to
many ordinary functions of basic business, even for the smallest
firms, farms and home offices, and certainly for the high-tech
operations Kentucky must attract and keep. As the rest of
America hurries to get ahead by using it, rural and small-town
Kentucky must not be left behind," writes The
Courier-Journal in a Sunday editorial.
The Louisville newspaper cites ConnectKentucky,
the state's nationally recognized
business-university-government alliance, which is working
to achieve that goal, educate people about the potential,
and help them figure out how to get service.
ConnectKentucky Chief Executive Brian Mefford preaches that
state subsidies are needed to expedite broadband service "to
every area of the state." "He's right. If the normal
private providers can't see a short-term business case for
expanding their services to more remote areas, then government
must step in. It's that urgent," opines the C-J.
Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, head of the legislature's
broadband task force, "welcomes tax cuts for private
Internet providers, but wants to think about spending state
money to ensure access in areas providers are not interested
in serving. [That's] ... the surest way to fall further behind
in the information age. He doesn't seem to understand the
potential good that state government could do," concludes
The Courier-Journal. (Read
Carpe diem: Man builds wireless cloud
in Oregon, after companies shun area
"Parked alongside his onion fields, Bob Hale can prop
open a laptop and read his e-mail or, with just a keystroke,
check the moisture of his crops. As the jack rabbits run by,
he can watch CNN online, play a video game
or turn his irrigation sprinklers on and off, all from the
air conditioned comfort of his truck," writes Rukmini
Callimachi of The Associated Press.
In the midst of a national battle between municipalities
wanting to provide free or cheap Internet service and telecommunication
companies fearing a loss of revenue, Hermiston, Ore., is smack
dab in the middle of a 700-square mile wireless cloud. Companies
saw little chance for profit in the desolate region, which
freed up businessman Fred Ziari to build the $5 million system,
Ziari's network is used by the public for free, but he is
recouping some of the expense via contracts with 30-plus city
and county agencies. He also has a contract with Hale's farm,
which supplies two-thirds of the red onions used by Subway
restaurants, notes Callimachi. (Read
Montana energy summit boasts industry
sponsorship, comes under fire
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer's energy conference is being
backed largely by the state's biggest utilities and energy
companies, and he makes no apology for it.
"NorthWestern Energy has pledged $25,000
to help sponsor the two-day symposium, which starts [tomorrow]
at Montana State University, and PPL
Montana and MDU Resources Group
have promised $15,000 each," writes Mike Dennison of
the Billings Gazette.
NorthWestern is the state's largest gas and electric utility.
PPL Montana is the state's dominant power company. MDU provides
electricity and gas to much of Eastern Montana. In all, Dennison
writes, "energy firms are footing about 80 percent of
the cost of the $75,000 conference."
Environmental groups and others are criticizing the summit
because of the industry sponsorship. They say the summit's
goal is to find an energy strategy that benefits the public,
not the energy industry. Pat Judge, energy program director
for the Montana Environmental Information Center,
told Dennison, "It's wholly inappropriate for that to
be funded by industry dollars."
Judge admits the conference is "pretty diverse,"
but adds, "The most glaring oversight is to not have
a panel on global climate change." Schweitzer said he
thinks the conference lineup speaks for itself. (Read
Agriculture prevails in 'quiet corner'
of Connecticut, Miami Herald reports
The concept of farming, either massive and
impersonal, or relegated to the misty realm of bucolic nostalgia,
is usually assigned to the Midwest, but a Miami newspaper
cites a special corner of a New England state where old fashion
farming is alive and beautified.
"Though a full three-quarters of the state is rural,
Connecticut is not the first place that springs to mind when
one thinks of off-the-beaten-track New England; well-trod
Mystic and the Foxwoods casino lure most visitors to the Nutmeg
State. But less-frequented treasures abound in Northeast Connecticut,
otherwise known as the Quiet Corner -- a place of verdant
farmland, rolling meadows, reasonably priced antiques and,
most significantly, an air of timelessness," writes Alex
Hershey of the Miami Herald.
"Perhaps nowhere else in New England will you find such
a charming valley -- rife with herbaries and greenhouses,
pick-your-own orchards and old-fashioned ice-cream parlors,
dusty antiques shops and agreeable B&Bs -- so close to
major urban areas (an hour's drive from Hartford or Boston
will land you in the thick of things)," writes Hershey,
who profiles "some of the area's prime draws." (Read
Florida clamming community feeling
development heat; people selling, moving
A Florida community renowned for its clamming is finding
it difficult to maintain its edge in the face of rising property
taxes, driven higher by rapid area development.
"The chairman of the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association
isn't giving up clam farming, but he expects to make some
serious money selling his home and workplace while escaping
$275 in monthly real estate taxes. He plans to move to a place
off the island ... but leave his boat docked in town to provide
easy access to his off-shore clam sites," writes Nathan
Crabbe of the Gainesville [Fla.] Sun.
"It's getting too expensive for us blue collar folks
to live out here," he said. "In just a dozen years
Cedar Key has cemented its place as the national leader in
farm-raised clams, but some farmers feel like they're victims
of their own success. As the clam industry has allowed the
town to remain a place often described as one of the last
vestiges of 'Old Florida,' newcomers flocking there for the
experience sometimes contribute to altering it," writes
Crabbe. Ann Marie Boutwell of Baynard Realty told Crabbe,
"You can have a $400,000 house and be right next door
to a single wide that has a clamming operation."
Realtor Doris Hellerman, owner of Pelican Realty,
lists three-bedroom homes on the Gulf for up to $1.2 million.
She told Crabbe, "We don't have anything below $200,000
now that's improved." Hellerman has more listings than
any time in memory, but worries about high prices altering
the community's character. The realtor criticizes investors
who buy homes and "flip" them three months later
at a higher sale price. "I don't see where they do anything
for anybody but themselves," she told Crabbe. (Read
Florida burg blocks roads to keep
out city folk: 'They'd like to be in W. Va.'
A Florida community wants to live in a rural atmosphere right
in the middle of a metropolitan area. That desire has spurred
a series of measures to cut the community off from other cities.
Southwest Ranches, Fla., is a cluster of spacious, suburban
homes in metropolitan west Broward County that is barricading
roads to deny access from neighboring cities. The town council,
after getting complaints over the road blocked streets, has
decided to increase the practice. Residents in nearby cities
now travel miles out of their way to reach schools and hospitals,
writes Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald.
''They'd like to be in West Virginia,'' Weston Mayor Eric
Hersh told Grimm. "But they're in South Florida and they've
benefited tremendously from the growth and all the amenities
of the cities around them.'' Hersh said that on Monday the
Weston City Commission will reverse its support of proposed
$3.2 million county grant to fund a park and a new town hall
in Southwest Ranches.
More backlash from nearby communities may follow, notes Grimm.
''We're going to be looking at the many ways we subsidize
them -- at recreation, police, fire support,'' Hersh said.
"They're in for a big shock. They're going to find out
that it's not always so pleasant to be an island.'' (Read
Rural Calendar I: Southeast
Watershed Roundtable; pre-reg. deadline Oct. 19
The Kentucky Waterways Alliance and the
Southeast Watershed Forum invite you to network
and share at the Forum's 8th Annual Southeast Watershed Roundtable,
in Bowling Green, Ky., on Nov. 2-4.
Geoffrey Anderson, who directs EPA's Smart Growth office,
will keynote the forum, which will feature successful strategies
to protect the environment and the "bottom line."
Five workshops and two field trips will be offered on Nov.
2, prior to the two-day roundtable.
To learn more and to register online, go to http://www.southeastwaterforum.org.
Early registration deadline is October 19 - (This
Wednesday) - after that, the cost increases from
$85 to $100.
Rural Calendar II:
Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy Oct. 21-23
The Second Annual Fall Conference will be held Oct. 21-23
at the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center on Pilot Knob
Cemetery Road in Berea, Ky.
For more information, call Brook Elliot at (859) 623-2765
or email KentuckySeeds@hotmail.com,
or call Roger Postley at (859) 278-4846 or email him at RPostley@aol.com.
Registration and charges: Member can pre-register for $5,
or pay $8 at the door; and non-member can pay $15 for everything
or $10 per day (fees apply toward membership). Speakers pay
Friday, Oct. 14, 2005
Decline in pay phones hurts rural
poor; it's a matter of 'dollars and cents'
As portable information and communications technology proliferate,
old-line analog methods are falling to the wayside, to the
detriment of many, but especially the rural poor.
"With the proliferation of cell phones, BlackBerrys
and other devices that operate on digital technology rather
than dimes, pay phones are a disappearing breed in the United
States. There were about two million nationwide in 1997; about
1.3 million were operating last year, according to the Federal
Communications Commission," writes Katie Zezima
of The New York Times.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission began
a public-interest pay-phone program last year, but spokesman
Andrew Melnykovych told Zezima the agency had the phone in
its building removed because of a lack of use. Melnykovych
said, "It's not particularly missed. Where they're not
profitable, they're disappearing." But, Zezima notes,
they are sometimes a necessity.
Sue Berkowitz of the Appleseed Legal Justice Center
in Columbia, S.C., told Zezima, "There are some
folks who just can't afford a cell phone. Low-income people
don't even have land lines. It's a problem in rural areas,
where you can't get cell coverage. It's really a health and
safety issue." Her group filed a petition with the state
to enact a public interest pay phone law.
Verizon spokesman Earle Pierce told Zezima
the decision to keep a pay phone running came down to dollars
and cents. "If we can't even recover the cost of a dial
tone, why would we leave the phone there?" He would not
say how much it cost to run a pay phone, she writes. (Read
Appalachian leaders endorse high-speed
Internet as key to competitiveness
High-speed Internet service is a basic service
essential for rural communities to compete economically, Appalachian
Regional Commission Chairman Anne Pope and U.S. Rep.
Harold "Hal" Rogers of Kentucky's 5th Congressional
District told attendees his week at the annual meeting of
the Rural Telecommunications Conference in
Pope, introducing Rogers, quoted him as saying
of broadband, "It gives you the ability to talk above
the mountains . . . If we can talk above the mountains, we
can do business anywhere."
"Telecom has now become part of infrastructure,"
one of the four things ARC invests in, Pope said. "It
is as important as water and sewer for a community to be competitive."
She said the agency has "a special commitment" to
broadband and has spent more than $10 million on its telecom
plan in the last year. She said the program is "allowing
rural communities to stay rural but being able to compete
Rogers said several companies and government
agencies in his southeastern Kentucky district, one of the
nation's poorest, have proven the viability of basing their
information-intensive services in the region. "Now my
district, my area, is known as Silicon Holler," Rogers
joked. "So we've come a long way, baby, but we've got
a long way to go." He said it all depends on "getting
Meth War: States hold summit, enact
new laws; Oregon police seek legislator
Governors and other officials from 13 Midwestern states
are to gather in December for a three-day summit to work on
plans for combating the spread of methamphetamine production
"Agency heads and policy leaders are among those invited
to Indianapolis for the Dec. 13-15 meeting sponsored by the
Midwestern Governors Association and the
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,"
writes Charles Wilson of The Associated Press.
more) The association’s Washington director, Jesse
Heier, told Wilson “This summit is a great opportunity
[for them] to share experiences and learn new approaches to
fighting meth abuse.”
A 2004 Drug Enforcement Agency study found
more than half of all U.S. meth lab incidents occurred in
the Midwest. The MGA includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,
Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota,
Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In North Carolina, Jerry Sena of The Mountain Times
in Boone reports Gov. Mike Easley has signed a law restricting
purchases of colds medicines containing pseudoephedrine to
curtail the manufacture of methamphetamine. (Read
more) The bill is modeled after a law passed by Oklahoma
legislators in April 2004. Sena's story also focuses on reactions
from pharmacists in the mountain community.
In Maine, Victoria Wallack of The Ellsworth American
writes about a new law making it tougher to buy products containing
pseudoephedrine, which goes into effect Nov. 1. The measure
is designed to prevent the meth epidemic from infiltrating
Maine, she writes. (Read
For an AP follow up to the story about Salem police finding
meth in an Oregon state representative's car following an
auto mishap, Salem police request Wirth turn herself in
on drug charge, click
'Eco-farming' could counter impact
of global warming, say scientists
Scientists say that keeping carbon in fields through no-till
farming can help reduce global warming.
"Researchers from the University of Illinois
and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
in Tennessee say, 'Our research focuses on the feasibility
of different sequestration schemes for reducing natural emissions
of carbon dioxide or enhancing the natural uptake of atmospheric
carbon dioxide,'" writes Ayinde O. Chase of All
Chase explains that plants take in carbon dioxide and store
it in their tissues and cells. Most carbon is returned to
the atmosphere as carbon dioxide when crops are harvested
and eaten. Some carbon can be permanently stored, or confined,
in the soil as organic matter with no-till farming. As the
land changes, harvesters and farmers could increase the amount
of organic carbon in soil, she writes.
Carbon levels in the ground depend on climate changes and
how much carbon dioxide there is in the air. Researchers say
converting from conventional plow tillage to a no-till practice
is among the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon dioxide
buildup, writes Chase. (Read
West Virginia, with great need, ranks
near bottom in indigent healthcare
Despite its great health needs, especially in rural areas,
West Virginia ranks fourth lowest in the nation in the percentage
of state funds it spends on the Medicaid program for the poor
and disabled, reports a health-care foundation and the weekly
State Journal, based in Charleston.
"The Kaiser Family Foundation reports
that West Virginia spends just 6.1percent of its general revenue
on the program," writes Juliet A. Terry. "The state
receives nearly $3 in federal Medicaid money for every $1
in state funding -- an enviable match -- and yet just three
states spend a smaller percentage of their budgets on the
program than West Virginia."
In West Virginia, the number of uninsured adults has increased
since from19.5 percent in 1993 to 23.5 percent in 2003, according
to Department of Health and Human Resources,
while 19.1 percent of the state's population had no coverage
in 2003. A large portion of West Virginia patients rely on
Medicaid, but the state has not fully funded the program,
and it's facing cuts, Terry reports. And, with most of the
state being rural, patients may need to travel to cities for
specialists' attention, creating a sizable barrier to
care for the poor and elderly. (Read
Group wanting to 'keep it rural' pledges
to work with county on development
Groups in eastern King County, Washington, are exerting political
influence on how their county is developed, one adamantly
opposed to new environmental regulations, another seeking
One "group of rural residents ... stood in front of
the Metropolitan King County Council, but instead of the usual
tension, the council members smiled and said they looked forward
to working together on common solutions," writes Ashley
Bach of the Seattle Times. The group formed
last spring to counter opposition to new environmental regulations
from some rural residents.
The new group turned in 12,000 signatures from rural residents
who it says support a moderate approach. Mike Tanksley, one
of the group's leaders, told Bach the signatures are from
residents who want to "bring our community and policy
makers together in a constructive manner."
Another group more strongly opposing the environmental regulations
gathered about 18,000 signatures to try to force the issue
to the ballot. A Superior Court judge ruled the referendum
could not go forward. Both groups call themselves "The
Rural Majority" and both claim the right to use that
name. Vocal opponent Ron Ewart said his group has registered
the name with the Secretary of State's Office.
State's 2006 cigarette tax hike proposal
nets little support after prior increase
In an example of localizing a state Capitol story, James
Mayse of the Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro,
Ky., reports Gov. Ernie Fletcher's suggestion
to further raise the state's cigarette tax in 2006 "did
not generate much enthusiasm among local legislators."
"Some said the General Assembly does not have the political
will to raise the tax again when they return to Frankfort
in January," writes Mayse. Fletcher suggested raising
the tax on cigarettes to more than 40 cents per pack. "During
the 2005 session, legislators adopted Fletcher's proposal
to raise cigarette taxes, finally arriving at a compromise
that raised the tax from three cents to 30 cents," he
Mayse sought reaction not just from Rep. Brent Yonts, a Greenville
Democrat, but form legislators outside the paper's circulation
areaa -- Sen. Charlie Borders, a Grayson Republican and chairman
of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, and Richmond
Sen. Ed Worley, leader of the Senate Democrats. Yonts told
Mayse, "We did tax modernization last session. We took
a bunch of people off the tax rolls. I'm not in favor of increasing
their taxes again." Borders told him, "I don't see
any desire by the legislators to raise taxes." But Worley
told Mayse, "I think we would be more than willing to
look at the governor's proposal objectively, and if it is
justified, to consider another increase."
Kentucky Tobacco and Candy Association Executive
Director Marvin Gray told Mayse another increase in cigarette
taxes "would cause more pain for our retailers and wholesalers."
Gray also said he didn't think the governor's suggestion would
generate much momentum. (Read
more) Mayse was one of a number of journalists at
a recent Institute for Rural Journalism & Community
Issues conference on covering state and federal politics
and governments from places other that the capitals..
Immortalized: Missouri preps the country's
first photojournalism hall of fame
Eight photographers will comprise the first induction class
at the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame
in Washington, Mo., when it opens Oct. 20.
Missouri is believed to be the first state with a hall of
fame dedicated solely to photojournalism, reports the weekly
Washington Missourian, one of the hall's
Other sponsors include the Missouri Press Foundation,
Missouri Press Association, University
of Missouri School of Journalism, The Associated
Press, the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce
and its tourism department, Downtown Washington, Inc.,
Core Restructuring Committee and the City
of Washington. The Hall's hours are noon to 4 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays.
Wool, Walnut, and Weeds Field Days
The Kentucky Wool Society is having the
Wool, Walnut, and Weeds Field Days Saturday and
Sunday, October 29 and 30, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.,
at the historic and picturesque Lan Mark Farm located at 121
Sharpsburg Road (State Highway 1198) in Bourbon County.
The society will demonstrate the use of their needle-felting
machine. The event will also have fiber art demonstrations
using wet and dry felt methods. There will be a dye pot brewing
on display and members will make natural dye from walnuts
and other native plants. Refreshments will be made from native
Nancy Ogg will lead a plant walk, and discuss native plants
and their uses. Kristy Sturgill will display her award-winning
needle felted articles, which utilize felted wool supplies
purchased from Kentucky Wool. She won “Best of Show”
in Rugs and “First Premium” in Textiles at the
2005 Kentucky State Fair. For more information, call 859 383-4560
or visit the Kentucky Wool Society Web site at www.kywool.com.
Thursday, Oct. 13,
New satellite technology
speeds up Internet service in rural areas, but at cost
"For much of the Internet age, living in the rural West
has meant traveling the information superhighway at speeds
akin to a tractor chugging along a dirt road," writes
Ruffin Prevost of the Billings Gazette's
Wyoming Bureau. But, he adds, that scenario is slowly changing
for the better as new technologies and services make getting
online easier, cheaper and faster.
In Cody, Wyo., "Rod Smith uses a satellite dish to connect
to the Internet, with each click of the mouse beamed 22,300
miles into space, and each Web page being sent back down the
same distance. He finds it much faster than connecting over
the telephone," writes Prevost.
Advanced Communication Technology of Sheridan,
along with sister company RT Communications
in Worland, offers satellite Internet coverage to all of northwestern
Wyoming. ACT's Jesus Rios told Prevost that today's satellite
systems are cheaper and faster than those of just a year or
two ago, and a new nationwide service called WildBlue
offers the best speeds yet for such connections. Rios also
told the newspaper, "The difference is WildBlue uses
spot-beam technology, so that enables them to target certain
areas of the country with narrower beams. That's why they've
accomplished the faster speeds compared with their competitors."
DirecWay and WildBlue offer download speeds
comparable to cable modem or high-speed phone line, but they
typically lag in upload speeds and cost more -- between $300
and $800 for satellite equipment and installation, and $50
to $80 for monthly service, depending on speed. (Read
States aim to protect
poor from heat bills expected higher in energy crisis
Fuel bills are expected to rise sharply this
winter, and states are setting aside extra money to help Americans
keep the heat on when the weather turns cold. "Ohio freed
up an additional $75 million for heating assistance for the
needy, and Wisconsin added $16 million. Iowa officials set
up a Web site to give people advice on how to save energy
and get aid, but they acknowledged that may not be enough,"
writes Connie Mabin of The Associated Press.
Jerry McKim, chief of the Iowa Bureau
of Energy Assistance, told Mabin that People "can
only turn the thermostat so low before it affects your health
and well-being. This is a life-or-death matter. I have serious
anxiety about what folks will face this winter." Sounds
like plenty of local stories to us.
Winter heating bills could be 50 percent higher than last
year — an average of $350 more for natural gas users
and $378 more for fuel oil users. The rising prices are blamed
largely on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. More than half of
all U.S. households heat with natural gas. Nearly a third
of the country relies on electric heat, but those homeowners
may see their bills go up too, because many power plants use
natural gas, especially for generation during high-demand
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is
expecting many more applicants this winter. Congress
provided $2.2 billion for the program last year. President
Bush has proposed cutting it to about $2 billion this year.
Twenty-nine governors have asked Washington for $1.3 billion
more for emergency energy assistance. There has been no immediate
action from Congress on the request.
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack told AP, "This program is critical
to the elderly, disabled and children of this state."
Wisconsin has more than doubled its funding to $16 million.
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has ordered $75 million added to the state's
$100 million heating aid program and the income limits will
be raised so that more families can receive money to pay their
heating bills. (Read
National dilemma: Urban-rural split
of state revenue debated at forum
A forum involving an economist and state representative from
Louisville and a former Eastern Kentucky legislator yesterday
provided an example of the national debate between urban and
rural areas over how to fairly divide tax dollars to best
University of Louisville economist Paul
Coomes squared off with former state Rep. Herbie Deskins of
Pikeville at the Louisville Forum, which debated whether Louisville
gets its fair share of state tax dollars, a topic expected
to arise at next year's General Assembly, reports Joe Gerth
of The Courier-Journal.
Deskins, a rural Democrat, said changing the state's funding
scheme would be counterproductive and divisive. Rep. Scott
Brinkman, a Louisville Republican, backs a measured effort,
with getting more as tax revenue increases. The General Assembly
meets in January and a hot topic will be an expected $75 million
in bonds for a downtown arena in Louisville, writes Gerth.
The governor and legislators will have to decide how to balance
the Louisville project against the needs of their own districts
and a $675 million gap in the state's Medicaid program, notes
Gerth. Deskins said more affluent parts of the state have
a moral responsibility to help poorer areas. Brinkman argued
the entire state can prosper only if Louisville and other
urban areas can bring high-paying jobs to the state. Coomes
said Jefferson County loses about $940 million a year because
of the funding formulas. (Read
Wisconsin town squares
off against developers in court to keep rural flavor
The Wisconsin town of Randall, with 3,300 people,
is in a heap of legal trouble. It has a 3-year-old development
moratorium that some of the state's largest developers want
"The rural Kenosha County community is the target of
an Aug. 4 lawsuit by ... the Wisconsin Builders Association
and [the] Wisconsin Realtors Association,
over its growth curbs. The parties are due in Kenosha County
Circuit Court on Dec. 8. Their case may determine for all
state municipalities the legal parameters of this increasingly
common land-use tool, including who may use it," writes
Michele Derus of the Milwaukee Journal
Tom Larson, regulatory and legislative affairs director
for the Wisconsin Realtors Association, told
Derus, "Towns have no specific authority, like villages
and cities do, to enact a moratorium. Yet we're seeing more
and more towns enacting them." Randall enacted its moratorium
in August 2002. It applies to new tracts larger than 100 acres
or 20 housing units and was designed to give the community
time to enact a comprehensive growth plan, which is taking
longer than expected, so town officials have extended the
moratorium, writes Derus.
Jerry Deschane, deputy executive vice president for the Wisconsin
Builders Association, told Derus, "Their moratorium
is a Draconian measure which takes away people's ability to
conduct business, and it has already been extended twice.
Any good planner will tell you this is not the way to manage
Town Board Chairman Matt Ostrander countered, "There
are a number of large-tract landowners out here, and the equation
in their mind is, 'The more houses I can put on this land,
the more money I can make.' " Ostrander added that the
townspeople are determined not to allow unfettered growth,
Derus writes. (Read
Raising tobacco becomes
a thing of the past, or less of a thing, for many
The Grant County (Ky.) News
has provided another chapter in the continuing saga of tobacco
farmers in the once burley bastion state of Kentucky leaving
the business in the wake of settlements, buyouts and the end
of the federal price support program.
"Shirley Wright takes a lunch break from cutting her
tobacco crop. Shirley and her husband, Henry Wright, have
been married for 30 years and have raised tobacco each year
of their marriage," writes Sarah Adams of the Williamstown
newspaper. Wright told Adams, "I'm hoping our marriage
lasts longer than the tobacco because I think this is our
last year," Shirley said. "This year was just to
try it and see how it sells." Shirley told the newspaper
the cost of tobacco production, from fertilizer to labor,
was up dramatically this year. The Wrights' normal tobacco
crop of 22 acres was cut down to eight acres in the first
year after the federal tobacco buyout, which left growers
to deal with companies on their own.
Of the $10.1 billion appropriated for the buyout, $9.6 billion
will be paid to growers and owners over 10 years, notes Adams.
The remaining $500 million is to reimburse stockholders of
growers' associations and the Commodity Credit Corporation.
The Wrights decided to receive their buyout payments over
10 years instead of receiving one lump payment, Adams writes.
Southwest Virginian finds ginseng
gold; giant, record root raises hopes
An Inman, Va., man works to get to the root of his economic
needs, and a giant ginseng root he unearthed recently has
raised his hopes for greater financial security, even in the
face of tighter harvesting regulations.
Steve Adams found the biggest American ginseng root he'd
seen in 40 years of digging, measuring about 16 and one-half
inches long and about four inches around. "Adams knew
...he'd struck gold. The top of the plant, with green leaves
and red seeds, measured about three feet high, he said. That's
big by any ginseng digger's -- or 'sanger's' -- standards,"
writes Jodi Deal of The Coalfield Progress
in Norton, Va. Until last week, the biggest root Adams said
he's ever seen was about 12 inches long.
The roots can bring about $250 per pound. At the beginning
of this year's ginseng season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service changed federal guidelines for wild ginseng
harvests. To export, ginseng diggers must now prove their
finds are at least 10 years old. That's double the old threshhold
of five years. The rule was tightened in hopes of protecting
the slow-growing plants from over-harvesting.
Ginseng is used in herbal medicines to purportedly provide
pep, stimulate blood circulation and aid in recovery from
illnesses. The roots can be chewed, eaten, pulverized into
powder for dietary supplement pills or, most often, brewed
in tea. (Read
FEMA jobless tally shortchanges
needy in southeastern Kentucky, say critics
The formula used by the Federal Emergency Management
Agency to distribute non-disaster aid is preventing
the most needy people in Central Appalachia from receiving
money, according to groups that serve the poor in southeastern
Bell County Emergency Shelter Director Richard
Witherite told Roger Alford of The Associated Press
that federal funding to provide emergency food and shelter
to the hungry and homeless is declining for some organizations
in impoverished communities. Witherite said the money is distributed
based on unemployment statistics that do not count for those
who have given up on seeking jobs.
The entire state of Kentucky received just under $2 million
to help pay for food, shelter, rent, mortgages and utility
bills for people with non-disaster related emergencies. Jefferson
County, home of the state's largest city, got the largest
appropriation, $409,115, while Bell County received $11,632.
Witherite told Alford that leaves local organizations scrambling
to find money to help cover emergency needs before the arrival
The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training
reported Bell County's unemployment rate at 6.1 percent for
August. The number of unemployed, according to the official
government count, was 583. Witherite told Alford, "In
reality, our unemployment rate is probably 40 percent because
we've got people who aren't even looking for work. They've
given up." The Kentucky Office of Employment
and Training said people who have received unemployment
benefits or who have actively sought work in a given month
are included in the unemployment statistics.
Pulitzer winner Jack White, dean of
Rhode Island journalism, dead at 63
The dean of Rhode Island journalism, Jack White, who won
a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of President Nixon's underpayment
of income taxes, along with two Emmy Awards, has died.
WPRI-TV, in Providence, where he was a reporter,
reported that White died unexpectedly early Wednesday morning
at his home on Cape Cod. The cause of death was unknown. He
was 63, writes Eric Tucker of The Associated Press.
White began his career in newspapers and then became a television
reporter for two decades. While working for The Providence
Journal and Evening Bulletin, he
won his Pulitzer for National Reporting in 1974 for his story
on Nixon's tax troubles. The article prompted Nixon to utter
his famous line, "I am not a crook." Providence
television station WJAR-TV reporter Jim Tarican
told AP, "Whatever he did was right. It was accurate.
It was fair." (Read
Rural Calendar I: Community
Survival Institute in Jackson Hole Oct. 19-22
Now in its 13th year, Helping Small Towns II
will offer the Tools for Community Survival Institute
for community development professionals and practitioners.
The Institute offers the basic skills to confront and control
the hard work of community building. It runs from October
19th through 22nd at the Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole,
Wyo. Daily sessions run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for
Saturday which ends at noon. Scholarships are still available
on a limited basis.
To find out more about the Institute and registration, go
and click on the Annual Institutes button, or phone 800-927-1115,
or call the institute at 402-474-7667. The institute's fax
number is (402) 474-7672 and you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rural Calendar II:
Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy Oct. 21-23
The Second Annual Fall Conference of the Appalachian
Heirloom Seed Conservancy will be held Oct. 21-23 at
the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center on Pilot Knob
Cemetery Road in Berea, Ky.
For more information, contact Brook Elliot, (859) 623-2765,
or Roger Postley, (859) 278-4846, RPostley@aol.com
Registration and charges: Member, pre-registered $5; member
at door, $8; non-member, $15 for all or $10 per day (fees
will apply toward membership). For speakers, there is no registration
Wednesday, Oct. 12,
Task force urges state
involvement in covering tab for broadband setup
"Kentucky should help cover the setup cost of satellite-based
Internet service for residents in areas where that's the only
option for high-speed connections, a proponent of computer
technology told a state task force yesterday," writes
Bill Wolfe of The Courier-Journal.
The state will need to provide incentives to increase broadband
use, said Brian Mefford, president and chief executive of
ConnectKentucky, a nonprofit group promoting broadband. Mefford
told a broadband task force that the state should pay half
of the typical $400 setup cost for people who sign up for
satellite services, with Internet service providers likely
paying the rest, reports the Louisville newspaper.
The task force, made up of legislators and industry representatives,
will address the recommendation in a report to the General
Assembly next month, said the group's chairman, State Sen.
Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood. Broadband is available in about
75 percent of the state, but about 22 percent of homes have
a high-speed connection, Harris told. "Broadband allows
us to grow our economy in the smallest communities in the
state," he said, notes Wolfe.
The meeting occurred yesterday during Rural
TeleCon '05, a conference being held by ConnectKentucky
and the Rural Telecommunications Congress (Read
more). A speech by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who has
made universal broadband access a priority, is available here.
Coming: Reports on speeches by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.),
chairman of Homeland Security appropriations panel, and Anne
Pope, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Region Commission.
Studies suggest U. S.
two-years behind Canada in broadband race
In the contest for broadband use, it appears the United State
is losing out to one of its neighbors.
"Canadian households are continuing to lead Americans
in the use of broadband, two new studies say. Almost (half)
of all Canadian households connect to the Internet by broadband,
says Toronto-based Solutions Research Group,
a high-tech survey company. In contrast, only 34 percent of
American households use a broadband connection to the Internet,"
writes Jack Kapica of Globetechnology.com.
Canadian homes with the high-speed connections increased
to 49 percent this year, up from 40 percent in 2004 and 31
percent in 2003. "While Canada is somewhat behind the
U.S. in areas such as wireless or HDTV, on this very important
score Canada is at least two years ahead of the curve,"
said study director Kaan Yigit. The study also reports that
broadband-enabled homes in Canada exceed the number of homes
with digital television. The reverse is true in the United
States, notes Kapica. (Read
Rural living easier on
the lungs, indicates Scottish university study
A country breeze has always been seen as good
for a person's health. Now, there's scientific proof.
A Scottish study says country living may be
good for your respiratory health, and rural living is associated
with a lower prevalence of asthma. "Moreover, while the
prevalence of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
and emphysema, which are caused primarily by smoking, is similar
among country and city dwellers, living in the country appears
to be associated with better health status among subjects
with these two lung ailments, the study hints," reports
The University of Aberdeen in the United
Kingdom analyzed responses from more than 1,000 adults living
in rural areas of Scotland and nearly 1,500 living in urban
areas of Scotland. The investigators discovered that the prevalence
of any lung illness was 28 percent lower among those living
in the country compared with those living in cities, reports
the wire service.
There may be differences, however, between rural and urban
areas not measured in the study including air pollution, body
mass index, diet, and exposure to farming and other occupational
exposures. Many of these factors are known to be important
to long-term lung health, notes Reuters. (Read
Bird flu terror alert: Australia adds
disease to terrorists' possible weapons list
Australian counter-terrorism authorities have plans to combat
terrorists spreading avian influenza.
"The National Counter Terrorism Committee
has included the use of bird flu ... as a weapon in possible
terrorism attack scenarios, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock's
office confirmed," write Mark Dunn, Kate Jones and Shaun
Phillips of the Melbourne Herald
Ruddock's spokeswoman told the newspaper, "It certainly
is factored into the counter-terrorism plan." Australia
joins the U.S. and Canada in treating bird flu as a possible
"agri-terrorism" weapon against the West. "The
H5N1 strain -- the most virulent type of bird flu -- has so
far claimed more than 60 lives in Asia. If the strain mutates
into a human-to-human virus, the World Health Organization
has warned millions could die," write Dunn, Jones and
One official told the newspaper that flights from countries
that detected H5N1 are closely monitored. Australian airports
have thermal scanners for detecting passengers with a fever
in the event of a pandemic. Scientists fear the disease has
spread from Asia to poultry in Europe and South America. (Read
Border restrictions cost Canadian
farmers millions; mad-cow concerns linger
Industry experts say Canadian cattle producers will have
to continue to wait for the U.S. border to fully reopen to
normal trade, in light of several years of mad-cow concerns
and trade restrictions.
"There was hope the U.S. Department of Agriculture
would publish a new rule this fall that would pave
the way for renewed shipments of older cattle and breeding
stock starting next year. Now the Canadian Cattlemen's
Association and other groups are warning producers
not to expect the border to fully reopen until some time in
2007 -- four years after mad-cow disease was discovered in
an Alberta cow," writes John Cotter of Canadian
Dairy cattle breeder Jon Walker Sr. told Cotter, "A
lot of us won't be here by then. We always fed between 1,500
and 2,000 head. I think we have 300 now . . . I wish I didn't
The Canadian Livestock Genetics Association
estimates the continued shutdown is costing the breeding industries
about $300 million a year in lost sales. Industry experts
say the USDA wants to ensure it can withstand lawsuits from
protectionist groups such as R-CALF USA,
which represents about 18,000 U.S. ranchers. The group went
to court and temporarily derailed the USDA rule that eventually
led to the border reopening in July to Canadian cattle under
30 months of age, writes Cotter. (Read
Farmers coalition wants Congress to
oppose all agriculture budget cuts
The National Farmers Union, along with nearly
200 agriculture, conservation, rural development, food and
nutrition, and religious organizations, has sent a letter
to Congress urging opposition of all budget cuts to vital
The NFU letter stated, in part, “Americans across our
nation who rely on this legislation are facing tremendous
challenges. Cutting essential agricultural, rural, conservation
and nutrition programs at this time would be counterproductive,”
reports the Southwest Nebraska News Network.
NFU President Dave Frederickson told reporters, “Congress
should be looking to help farmers and ranchers cope with low
prices and skyrocketing input costs, not reducing the safety
net contained in the Farm Bill.” (Read
North Dakota farmers file suit against
state; producers oppose wheat check-off
Four individuals and two groups have filed suit against the
state of North Dakota to stop the mandatory funneling of a
wheat check-off increase to the North Dakota Grain Growers
and the U.S. Durum Growers.
The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Sarah Vogel of Bismarck,
charge the state legislature improperly directed funds to
two "private trade associations." The plaintiffs
say the arrangement is unconstitutional. The suit was filed
Oct. 7 in South Central District Court in Bismarck, writes
Mikkel Pates of the Grand Forks Herald.
If the arrangement is not declared unconstitutional, the
plaintiffs are asking the court to declare both growers groups
and their national affiliates "public entities."
That would make them subject to the state's open meetings
and open records laws. The plaintiffs charge the arrangement
may have funneled about $1 million to the two groups over
the two years, writes Pates.
Lawmakers mandated that the Wheat Commission contracts with
the two groups "require" the two state groups use
state funds to pay "all dues required" in their
national affiliates, Pates notes. (Read
Endangered forests: New list spurs
debate over logging practices, reasons
Daniel Boone National Forest harbors 24
endangered species and now finds itself endangered.
It joins 10 other endangered national forests, according
to a report from the National Forest Protection Alliance,
a coalition that fights commercial logging on federal public
lands. Daniel Boone National Forest survived "near-complete
deforestation roughly 100 years ago and is now threatened
by an all-time high logging boom," the report says, writes
Andy Mead of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The report's author, Jake Kreilick, said timber is no longer
needed from national forests. Red Mann, who oversees timber
for the 192-million-acre national forest, countered that modern
logging focuses on removing storm-damaged trees. "(U.S.
Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth) says the timber
wars are over, and some of the environmental groups are not
willing to accept that," Mann told Mead. "They're
still out on the battlefield, bayoneting the wounded."
Mann acknowledged that Daniel Boone National Forest is threatened
by insects and disease, though, reports Mead. Some other sites
on the endangered list include Tongass National Forest
in Alaska, Bitterroot National Forest in
Montana and Idaho, and George Washington and Jefferson
national forests in Virginia. (Read
Oldest rodeo bans free chewing tobacco;
snuff seen as top rural health threat
The nation's oldest rodeo has taken a health
stance against free samples of snuff given as part of the
prize package when cowboys successful stay on thousands of
pounds of jumping and jolting livestock. The purpose of the
ban is to discourage young people, who idolize rodeo cowboys,
"Chewing and riding bulls have long been partners on
the professional rodeo circuit. But in late September, one
of the nation's oldest rodeos took its best shot at that marriage.
Tobacco companies were prevented from giving out free samples
of snuff at the Pendleton Round-Up, where for 95 years cowboys
have come to test their mettle," writes Rukmini Callimachi
of The Associated Press.
Health officials have singled out chew as one of the top
health threats in rural counties. Nationwide, an estimated
3 percent of adults chew tobacco, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Pendleton
city officials said they took the stance against the free
snuff after hearing stories of children getting their hands
on the tobacco. The National Cancer Institute
has tied stuff to oral cancer, as well as mouth lesions and
Cowboy Bryan Richardson first straddled a bull at age 13.
He'd been chewing tobacco for four years, writes Callimachi.
Richardson told him, "Maybe some will consider slowing
down on it, or no longer using, ... start thinking about not
only the health risks, but the economic cost of their habit."
New, cheaper, deadlier
meth-like drug with chlorine base discovered in Iowa
The theft of a chlorine tank in Iowa has lead authorities
to discover what appears to be a deadly alteration of the
already dangerous, highly addictive and illegal narcotic methamphetamine.
O'Brien County, Iowa authorities say a rural water employee
noticed a 150-pound chlorine cylinder missing from this well
pump house. But when officials found it in a ditch about five
miles from the pump house, it was nearly empty, just two pounds
of the concentrated chemical was left, reports KELO-TV's
Lou Raguse. KELO-TV is in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Deputies fear chlorine is the latest ingredient in the ever-changing
recipe for meth in a new version known as C-C2 or C2-C. The
recipe "calls for an unhealthy dose of liquid or gas
chlorine," writes Raguse. Darcy Jensen, executive director
of Prairie View Prevention Services in Sioux
Falls, told KELO-TV she fears now that anhydrous ammonia is
harder to get a hold of, meth cooks are using substitutes
such as chlorine.
The new drug looks similar to crystal meth. The effects are
similar but not as long-lasting, and authorities believe it
is being sold as meth. Jensen told Raguse, ”It's a marketing
issue. (Drug dealers) are not going to want to put a new name
or new drug out there is that's been the drug of choice in
the area." (Read
Industry news 1: Rust
Publishing acquires two Tennessee newspapers
The owner of the Shelbyville (Tenn.) Times-Gazette
has purchased two newspapers in adjoining Marshall County.
The Lewisburg Printing Co. announced Oct.
4 the sale of the Lewisburg Tribune and the
Marshall Gazette, which publish as the combined
Tribune-Gazette, to Rust Publishing Central TN LLC.
Times-Gazette Publisher Hugh Jones also will be publisher
and part-owner of the Tribune-Gazette, a twice-weekly 5,000
circulation paper. Rust Publishing's parent company, Cape
Girardeau, Mo.-based Rust Communications
owns 50 newspapers in eight states. Its only other Tennessee
paper is the State Gazette in Dyersburg,
near the state’s northwestern corner.
Former Tribune-Gazette publisher Thomas Hawkins said the
focus of the Lewisburg Printing Co. has shifted away from
newspaper publishing, spurring the sale. "It was a difficult
decision to sell these newspapers, but the focus of our company
has moved toward commercial printing, and we did not feel
we could give the hometown newspapers the attention they deserve,"
Hawkins said. "We wanted to choose a company that we
knew would take care of our employees while growing the newspapers."
Industry news 2: Former publisher
purchases Titusville (Pa.) Herald
The Titusville (Pa.) Herald
has been sold to its former publisher, Michael Sample.
The 4,065-circulation daily was owned for six years by Community
Newspaper Holdings Inc., of Birmingham, Ala. CNHI
also owns The Meadville Tribune, a 14,000-circulation
daily, also in Crawford County. The sale was completed on
Sample, a Titusville resident, was the Herald's publisher
from 1994 to 2000 and is the son of George Sample, publisher
of The Journal, in Corry, in eastern Erie
County. That county borders Crawford on the north. Michael
Sample recently left the Corry paper, where he was president
and ad manager.
Wildfires: New guide offers suggestions
for protecting communities
A new disaster prevention guide provides easy-to-implement
suggestions for protecting communities from the kind of out-of-control
wildfires currently ravaging California homes.
The tips are compiled in A Guide for Protecting Communities
From Wildfire, which was released this week to coincide with
the ongoing National Fire Prevention Week. Areas covered in
the publication include "firewise" landscaping,
water availability, vehicular access, housing designs and
The guide was released by the Kentucky Environmental
and Public Protection Cabinet and is a joint publication
of three of the cabinet's agencies -- the Office of
Housing, Buildings, and Construction, Kentucky
Division of Forestry and the Kentucky Office
of Insurance. The guide can be downloaded for free
at this site.
November workshop to help rural communities
fight meth epidemic
Methamphetamine production and abuse are growing problems,
with roots firmly planted in rural areas and families and
communities being ravaged nationwide. The University
of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service plans a
two-day workshop Nov. 14-15 to help communities combat the
"The program, entitled 'Methamphetamine - Too Close
to Home,' will be at the UK Research and Education Center
in Princeton," writes Laura Skillman of the UK extension
service communications office. Torey Earle, chair of the Cooperative
Extension Service's West District quick response team on drug
abuse awareness, told Skillman the purpose of the event is
to provide assistance and resources to community partners
that will enable people to work together locally to address
The first day of the workshop will focus on family and community
alliances, and feature a discussion with legislators on anti-meth
legislation. Environmental impacts on farm and family, including
the standards for cleanup and remediation, will be the topic
of the second day. Workshop sponsors include the UK Cooperative
Extension Service, UK Health Education Extension Leadership
Program, Eastern Kentucky University Training Consortium,
Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and Butler
County Extension Homemaker Association, writes Skillman.
Participants may attend the program for one or two days. The
cost is $15 for one day or $25 for both. Lunch, beverage breaks
and an informational CD are included in the fee. Registration
forms and more information about the workshop are available
at county offices of the UK Cooperative Extension Service.
Tuesday, Oct. 11,
Failure of bid to block
government-provided broadband in Illinois leads to creation
of council to craft solutions to rural and small-town Internet
Broadband advocates in Illinois defeated an effort to keep
municipalities out of ownership this year, and now community
interests are coming to the forefront.
“There are consumer and community interests in this
whole matrix of federal and state policy that are often times
not paid attention to really well,” said Dr. Dave Lamie
of Western Illinois University during a morning
session today at Rural
TeleCon '05 in Lexington, Ky. The ninth annual
conference of the Rural Telecommunications Congress has the
theme "States as Broadband Laboratories."
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an order to establish
the Broadband Deployment Council on Sept.
6. The council will get both public and private input concerning
broadband, then make recommendations to the state’s
General Assembly, said Carolyn Brown Hodge, the director of
rural affairs in Illinois.
Prior to the council, cities seeking municipal broadband
or partnerships with telecommunication companies didn’t
know where to start, Hodge said. “Who you gonna call?
What’s the answer? Ghostbusters? Who you gonna
call? Well, that’s the problem in Illinois. Nobody knows
who to call,” she said.
“Being able to communicate what’s important about
digital literacy and digital access to people in your state
is critically important. We want to have hearings in Illinois
on these issues. It’s been an uphill march to this point,”
said Michael Maranda, president of the Association
for Community Networking.
Coming: Reports on speeches by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.),
chairman of Homeland Security appropriations panel, and Anne
Pope, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Region Commission.
'Grow your own' rural health care
and health-care leaders, says scholar
Rural areas have historically lagged behind in health care
where some of the greatest needs occur. But, a scholar who
studies such matters says its best not to wait for health
care to be imported. Instead he says the best way to get and
keep it, is by growing and staffing it locally.
"When rural health professionals speak of 'growing their
own,' ... they’re referring to the tried-and-true strategy
of raising up a crop of doctors, nurses, dentists and other
providers from within the community who will stay and practice
in the community. And for places that find it difficult if
not impossible to attract such folks from outside, it’s
the best (and often the only) way to make sure care is available
locally," writes Thomas D. Rowley, a fellow with the
Policy Research Institute (RUPRI).
Rowley cites Uvalde, Tex., with a history of limited health-care
options. "There were a few doctors in town, but not many
accepting new patients or patients on Medicaid. The hospital
emergency room [was] overflowing with non-emergency cases."
Those who could afford it, would travel to Mexico —
75 miles away. Others "simply went without care or sought
it much too late." Now the area is served by a Community
Health Center. Rowley details the saga of Rachel Gonzales-Hanson,
who "went from client to board member to CEO in a few
short years," he writes.
The "Uvalde native runs an operation with a $6.7 million
budget, 100 staff and clinics in three towns. It provides
services from dental to radiology to obstetrics. It also offers
language translation and public health services like immunization,
diabetes management and sexually transmitted disease prevention
and treatment," he writes. (Read
Open-records exemption allowing unintended
exceptions in court tomorrow
The author of an amendment to the Kentucky Open Records Act
says it is being used in ways he never intended, and hiding
from the public things that should not be. Now The
Associated Press is challenging its use in court.
"When Rep. Mike Weaver [D-Elizabethtown] was crafting
a new exception ... he envisioned protecting documents that
might show a weakness in public infrastructure ... He did
not imagine state government would be using the exception
to try to keep secret a whole host of items that have traditionally
been open to public scrutiny," writes AP's Mark Chellgren.
Weaver meant for the exception to the state's Open Records
Law to cover items that might expose a "vulnerability
in preventing, protecting against, mitigating, or responding
to a terrorist act," writes Chellgren. Gov. Ernie Fletcher
and the Kentucky State Police first used the exemption to
deny access to records of the cost of providing security to
Vice President Dick Cheney, after he flew in and out of Louisville
for a fundraising appearance in Indiana. He did not set foot
in Kentucky, notes Chellgren.
The AP appealed the initial denial. The state attorney general's
office upheld the denial. The AP then took the case to court,
and Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden has a hearing
Jon Fleischaker, a Louisville lawyer who represents the AP
in the lawsuit, told Chellgren, "What they're trying
to use it for is to close access to, frankly, anything they
want to close." Weaver told Chellgren if state government
continues to apply the exception too broadly the legislature
may revisit the matter. "If I think it has been abused,
I would be inclined to do something about it," said Weaver.
Ethanol boosts farmers' income, fuels
debate; environmental effects uncertain
Ethanol is a growing business for Midwestern corn farmers,
who can make more money growing an additive for gasoline than
"But even as corn-laden trucks rumble into the Adkins
Energy LLC plant [near Lena, Ill] and tanker trucks
bearing the colorless liquid roll out toward gas stations,
scientists have never fully settled the question of whether
ethanol is a good business for the nation. Some wonder if
cars powered by a mix of gasoline and ethanol really spew
fewer pollutants, as backers claim," writes Robert Manor
of Knight Ridder News Service.
One Cornell University researcher told Manor
it takes more energy to make ethanol than it gives off as
fuel. The number of ethanol plants continues to rise, because
of the benefit to farmers and politics. . There are 88 ethanol
plants around the United States and 16 more under construction.
Industry observers expect 50 to 70 new plants to open by 2012.
President Bush signed a comprehensive energy bill in August
requiring refiners to increase use of ethanol from 4 billion
gallons a day to 7.5 billion by 2012. The cost will be at
least $3 billion a year in government subsidies to the ethanol
industry, needed to make the price of ethanol competitive
with gasoline. David Sykuta, executive director of the Illinois
Petroleum Council, told Manor "Nobody could
buy ethanol without the subsidy." Advocates say Ethanol
cuts vehicle pollution emissions. Today ethanol makes up about
3.5 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States, Manor
Freshwater shrimp big
business following Gulf Coast storm devastation
There's something new in the water in Wise County,
Texas, something that's starting to spread in the Eastern
It's a crustacean - freshwater shrimp, to be exact. And Wise
County, Texas' first shrimp farm had its first freshwater
shrimp harvest this Saturday. Farm owner Doug Bryan hopes
the new agricultural endeavor will attract local consumers
seeking fresh shrimp, writes Brian Knox of the Wise
County Messenger, consistently one of the nation's
best weekly newspapers.
“You put them in clean water, then put them in ice
water,” Bryan told Knox. “They can’t survive
in cold water. And it’s no trouble to fix them.”
Shrimp cannot survive in water temperatures below 57 degrees,
so the approaching fall is the perfect time to harvest them,
Knox writes. The farm has a simple harvesting process. The
two ponds with freshwater shrimp, or prawns are drained, the
prawns are pulled out and consumers put the shrimp in coolers.
The president of Aquaculture of Texas Inc., Craig Upstrom,
told Knox that prawn farming has become popular in the eastern
United States within the last 15 years, although it has still
not really caught on in the area surrounding Bryan's farm.
Upstrom estimated that the state only has about six shrimp
farms. He expects prawn farming to increase as more people
learn about farm-raised freshwater shrimp.
“It’s a very good product,” he said. “Some
compare it to lobster. It doesn’t have iodine and has
half the cholesterol of marine shrimp.” Upstrom added
that customers are truly getting a fresh, healthy product
when they buy local farm-raised prawns. Niche marketing will
be key for prawn farmers, he told Knox, and some areas in
southern Illinois and Kentucky have shrimp festivals. (Read
Supply and demand driving
up coal prices to record levels in Wyoming
Wyoming coal prices are at an all-time high driven by a supply
shortage and unrelenting demand among electric utilities as
they try to avoid even steeper natural gas prices.
"While frustrated by railroad troubles to meet increasing
demand, Powder River Basin coal producers aren't complaining
about contracts being struck for 2006 delivery at $15.45 per
ton -- up from around $10 per ton in July and $7 per ton a
year ago," writes Dustin Bleizeffer of the Casper
A series of train derailments is partially behind the supply
shortage, notes Bleizeffer. A joint effort between Union
Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe
could increase overall traffic by 2006, but other market forces
are expected to hold coal prices at the current high-water
mark, he writes. Richard Price, a coal industry analyst, told
Bleizeffer, "Right now it's a demand-driven market, and
as long as that demand is there, and I would expect it for
the next several years, you're going to see a reasonable stability
in coal prices -- a lack of volatility in prices."
Price said he expects coal will hold its 52 percent of the
electrical generation market. Demand for clean-burning natural
gas, which fuels about 17 percent of the nation's electrical
generation, is expected to increase. It is currently at $10
per thousand cubic feet of gas -- double what prices were
about a year ago. While Wyoming has plenty of both commodities,
Bleizeffer writes, "Coal producers ... said this summer's
railroad woes fought against their efforts to boost production
beyond the basin's record 381.7 million tons set last year.
Virgunia county's 'rural character'
is endangered species; proposals are divisive
A Virginia county's comprehensive plan, a blueprint for growth
and land use, has proved to be divisive as forces for and
against development square off, and mirroring a national dilemma.
"The folks [in Orange County] who are devoted to preserving
the "rural character" of the county ... are led
by staff and members of the Piedmont Environmental
Council. Large landowners with conservation easements
have been joined by those interested in historic preservation
and tourism," writes Robin Knepper of The Free
Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va. (Read
PEC Field Officer Dan Holmes told Knepper the Orange
Planning Commission is pushing forward "an inferior
document" with a vision statement and land-use map that
"are not compatible." Planning Commissioner Steve
Satterfield, a PEC supporter, told her, "The plan looks
foolish right now. I don't want to be associated with this
piece of work."
Some residents, along with the Orange County Chamber
of Commerce, support economic development. One of
those, local car dealer Kevin Reynolds, applauds efforts to
preserve the county's rural character, But, he told Knepper,
"I love and want to keep the rural nature of the county,
but I'd like to see the plan changed to address far more economic
growth that will bring more jobs to our citizens." The
Planning Commission has scheduled an Oct. 13 work session
"to make their final 'tweaks, '" writes Knepper.
A public hearing on the comprehensive plan will be held Nov.
For another development-versus-preservation story, this one
from the Detroit Free Press, about "a
new state program that will let local governments purchase
the farmers' land-development rights,"
Lawsuits pending over monumental coal-sludge
spill, five years later
Five years after one of the South's worst
ecological disasters deluged an Eastern Kentucky community
residents charge in a lawsuit that sludge remains in the soil
despite a $46 million cleanup and they are asking for unspecified
actual and punitive damages.
Attorney John Kirk filed suit yesterday on behalf of 20 people
against Martin County Coal, a subsdiary of
Massey Energy Co. of Richmond, Va. The statute
of limitations runs out today. Kirk told Roger Alford of The
Associated Press, "The vegetation is back ...[but]
... there's a facade of normalcy." Kirk has two lawsuits
pending against the company on behalf of 45 people.
The spill affected much of the Big Sandy River, the Tug Fork
and some tributaries in rural Martin County. The Kentucky
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources estimated
that 1.6 million fish were killed from the sludge that escaped
a mountaintop impoundment outside of Inez. Sludge in some
places was 7 feet deep. Massey Energy's Martin County Coal
paid $3.25 million in penalties and damages to the state of
Kentucky and agreed to pay $225,000 to the department to restock
Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater told Alford, "We put
a lot of effort into the cleanup. It's looking good. I think
every year we're seeing better and better results." After
the slurry spill, state and federal regulatory agencies did
a review of all sludge ponds, trying to determine the risk
of similar spills by checking the proximity of underground
mines. Kentucky has 88 sludge ponds, including two that have
been approved by state and federal regulators since the Martin
Connecticut forum targets methamphetamine;
Tennessee prosecutor on panel
The state-by-state war against methamphetamine continues
with Connecticut, a more recent ally in the fight, conducting
a forum today to find some answers. A Tennessee prosecutor
and a recovering addict will take part in the discussions.
"The chief state's attorney and other state leaders
will ... discuss the potential societal, financial and environmental
threats from methamphetamine in Connecticut. They will be
joined by a state prosecutor and a recovering meth addict
from Tennessee, both of whom will spotlight the travails Connecticut
faces if it allows the highly addictive drug to become entrenched,"
writes Gregory Seay of The Hartford Courant.
The symposium is open to the public.
Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, moderator for
the symposium, told Seay, "We have an opportunity to
address a problem before it gets across our borders."
Gov. M. Jodi Rell has challenged the state's health, social
services, environmental and law enforcement agencies to stamp
out meth abuse in Connecticut. The panel's goal is to present
the governor with legislation for the next regular session
of the Connecticut General Assembly, writes Seay. (Read
Beetles bring death to
forests; Colorado, Wyoming battling infestation
Forests in Wyoming are facing an epidemic beetle
infestation this year, bringing serious threats for catastrophic
"Hidden inside galleries and tunnels just
under the bark of pines, spruce and fir, tiny brown bark beetles
and their larvae are feasting and spreading a blue-staining
fungus that saps the nutrient transport tissues trees need
to survive and fend off further attacks," writes Jennifer
Frazer of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.
A silviculturist and project planner with the Forest Service,
Terry DeLay, told Frazer that every tree species has a beetle
problem. "What we're seeing in this year's infestation
is trees unable to produce sap and pitch to defend themselves,"
he said. Though the bark beetles are native to the forest,
the insects usually kill just a few trees at a time, while
creating habitats for woodpeckers and other birds that live
in the cavities.
"Cold winter temperatures can kill the beetles, but
thanks to a series of warm winters, dense forest stands from
years of forest fire suppression, drought and a massive tree
blow-down in the Routt National Forest - the Colorado counterpart
of Medicine Bow that begins at the state line - the scale
has been tipped in favor of the beetles in Colorado and Wyoming,"
In a thick forest stand, individual trees don't get as much
water and air. The Forest Service is thinning the stands so
that remaining trees get more air and water, and to increase
the air circulation. They hope this will help pitch out beetles.
The service is also spraying insecticides and focusing timber
sales in infested areas to remove the dead or dying trees
that attract more beetles. (Read
Ohio University adds 10 scholarships
to draw diversity from Appalachia
Ohio University is expanding its diversity initiatives next
year with the Appalachian Scholars Program,
designed to aid students from Ohio's Appalachian region.
"The program will provide about 10 students at OU's
six campuses with a 4-year renewable scholarship, an annual
book stipend and an opportunity to participate in an annual
leadership seminar, writes Laura Yates for The Post,
which bills itself as an " independent student-run daily
newspaper serving Ohio University, Athens and the surrounding
O.U. President Roderick McDavis said the Appalachian Scholars
Program is expected to eventually accommodate 40 incoming
freshman, writes Yates. McDavis said at a recent news conference,
"By creating greater access to education opportunities,
Ohio University can make a profound difference in the quality
of life and economic future for children of Appalachia."
The university has designated more than $920,000 this initial
year for Appalachian students. The program is to benefit students
from 29 Ohio counties identified as Appalachian, in eastern
and southeastern Ohio. Leslie Lilly, president and CEO of
the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio told
Yates, that low high school graduation rates and low student
achievement expectations in Appalachia need to be overcome.
The rate of students from Appalachian Ohio who attend college
is 30 percent, 11 percent lower than the state average and
32 percent lower than national average, according to www.appalachianohio.org
Central Kentucky shooting of Elizabethtown
makes area 'almost famous'
The Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown, shot in-part
in Versailles, Ky., and featured in an advanced screening
last Wednesday in Lexington, has its general release this
The movie, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, is the
subject of a critical review by Ryan Ebelhar of the University
of Kentucky student newspaper The
Kentucky Kernel. Citing another Cameron Crowe
film, Ebelhar says the film brings fame to the area.
"As a Kentucky native, when I heard that Crowe was directing
a movie that took place in Elizabethtown, Ky., my first thought
was, "What on Earth is there to make a movie about?"
No offense to Elizabethtown, mind you. If a Hollywood director
made a movie about my hometown of Owensboro, Ky., I would
have had a similar response. But seeing as how Crowe also
directed "Almost Famous," I had faith that this
would be a great movie as well," Ebelhar writes.
"The dialogue is the most important part of the film.
Crowe bases his dialogue on what he claims are 'conversations
I wish I had.' As he says, it is impossible for movies to
replicate what happens in real life. In fact, Crowe says he
often carries a notebook around and writes down things he
hears people say to use in movies, as in 'life is more poetic
then what's in the movies,'" Ebelhar writes. (Read
Monday, Oct. 10, 2005
Delta authority chief:
Technology is the key to the future of rural America
"Technology is going to lead the way with everything
we do in rural America," but some local leaders still
haven't embraced that idea, Pete Johnson, federal co-chairman
of the Delta Regional Authority, told attendees
in a speech to the Rural
TeleCon '05 conference in Lexington, Ky.
Johnson said distance learning and tele-health are keys to
having the educated, healthy workforce needed to grow local,
state and regional economies, and geographic-information-systems
mapping is needed to help jurisdictions adjust to population
losses. "We've got to turn to the most innovative technologies
that are available," he said. "One of the greatest
problems we have is helping local leadership understand the
benefits of these technologies and embrace them."
In some cases, Johnson said, "we have to go over"
officials who are behind that curve. For example, he said
he approved rural-broadband grants for each of the three Western
Kentucky area-development districts served by the Delta authority
though they did not fit the criteria established by states
in the region. "I felt so strongly about doing something
with broadband that I funded them," he said.
Johnson, a presidential appointee who served as state auditor
in Mississippi, said the nation still needs to lend a hand
to rural areas. "Rural America is often forgotten America,"
he said. "For those of us who live off the main roads,
people often can't see the challenges that we face."
Tech firms, rural towns can collaborate
to provide broadband Internet
To extend broadband Internet access, some rural communities
are striking deals with private firms.
Cable and telecommunication companies may not be prone to
extending high-speed access to rural areas, and communities
may lack the funding to set up systems, said Kate McMahon,
operator of Montana-based Applied
Communications, during a morning session today
at Rural Telecon '05 in Lexington, Ky. "So, some communities
and ISPs have partnerships with revenue sharing," she
Some communities in the state of Washington have recently
acquired broadband access on a large scale and city buildings
have posters praising the service, McMahon said. She showed
a slide of one such poster that read, "Drink the coffee,
eat the bread, feel the love, surf the Internet."
The ninth annual conference of the Rural Telecommunications
Congress has the theme "States as Broadband Laboratories."
The Minnesota-based Blandin
Foundation started a Get Broadband program in
2004, which offers communities grants up to $15,000 on a matching
basis. Fifteen Minnesota communities are part of the program,
which received $250,000 from the state government this year,
said Gary Fields of Blandin during another session.
Some state and national lawmakers are pushing for municipal
broadband, but telecoms have criticized the idea, for fear
of losing potential revenue. Six rural Minnesota communities
have set up municipal wireless systems, said Fields: "The
middle ground may be looking at mutual ownership of the infrastructure."
Meth-ingredient laws turn states without
them into sites for stockpiles
Indiana restricted the sale of over-the counter cold medicines
to gain a strategic stranglehold on meth production. However;
meth producers are now stockpiling supplies in states that
don't limit sales of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient
in the highly addictive stimulant.
"They're going to the places with the least resistance,"
pharmacist Dan Beyer told Ryan Lenz of The Associated
Press. Beyer owns a pharmacy about 90 miles southeast
of Indianapolis and just 15 miles from Ohio, which does not
restrict pseudoephedrine sales.
"If we're going to do all this work and all they have
to do is cross a river, we've accomplished absolutely nothing,"
Beyer told Lenz. Such a dilemma is common because of the patchwork
of laws on meth. Thirty-seven states restrict pseudoephedrine
sales, but the laws vary from requiring a prescription to
simply limiting the number of packages purchased at the same
The National Conference of State Legislatures
reports 13 states, including New York and South Carolina,
have no pseudoephedrine laws. At least two, Massachusetts
and Ohio, have legislation pending. Law-enforcement officers
say meth producers exploit these differences by crossing state
lines or by "pharmacy shopping" in states that require
a log of purchases but can't cross-reference entries. "What
we're beginning to see is people traveling great distances
to get pseudoephedrine," Jack Riley, an assistant special
agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,
told Lenz. Some lawmakers say a national solution is needed.
The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan bill that would
provide federal controls to fight meth. (Read
Hollywood not hip: For a Charlotte
Observer pop-culture column on Hollywood "missing
chance to educate us about meth," by Tonya Jameson, click
Anti-crime programs train school-bus
drivers to look for drugs, terrorism
School bus drivers passing through neighborhoods watch out
for students and their assigned stops. Now some are also watching
for suspicious activities that may be linked to drugs or terrorism.
"The Neighborhood Watch program ... enlist[s] bus drivers
as the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Jefferson County,
[Ky.] Ohio and Connecticut have trained drivers to recognize
and report suspicious activity as part of an anti-terrorism
effort. Eastern Kentucky school districts are considering
asking drivers to look for crime on their routes," writes
Alan Maimon of The Courier-Journal
A Whitley County, Ky., program has led to several arrests
and investigations, Maimon writes. Several drivers said they
support the program, but worry about retaliation in cases
where drivers are asked to testify in court. Bus drivers are
paid about $12-an-hour to participate in the program.
Paul Hays of Operation UNITE, the regional
anti-drug task force that conducted Whitley County's bus-driver
training, told Maimon the police hope that a driver who provides
a tip may not be required to testify. "The objective
is to make sure our neighborhoods are safe and our kids are
safe," Hays said. Superintendent Lonnie Anderson said
one tip in February led to the seizure of more than 200 Xanax
pills, three pounds of marijuana and a half-gram of methamphetamine.
The driver alerted police who came and made the arrest, sparing
the driver from having to appear in court as a witness. (Read
Church commuters in N.C. keep faith
in face of gas prices; less so in Del.?
Many churchgoers faced with the dilemma of faith versus higher
fuel prices, choosing whether to drive to church or stay at
home and save money, say they are finding their faith too
precious to forsake.
"Loyalists logging 15, 20, even 30 miles or more one
way do so because they feel like part of a community at their
chosen churches," Sean McCloud, assistant professor of
religious studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte,
told Celeste Smith of the Charlotte Observer.
One woman told Smith she recently tried out different churches
closer to where she lives and works to cut driving costs.
But, Tracy Truchon said she and her family returned to their
regular church "because it's where she and her mother
prayed on Christmas a few years ago after her father died
unexpectedly the day before." Truchon said the church
is "where I seem to find strength when I need it the
In another example, Smith writes that "Kevin Ramsey,
who lives near York, S.C., worships weekly with family 15
miles away at Salem Presbyterian in Gaffney ... where his
congregation rallied around him five years ago when his then-newborn
daughter was sick." Genea Morfeld Swan and her family
told Smith it's all about warmth and acceptance, not gas prices:
"You can give up going to Target three times a week,
[but church] is like your family," Swan said.(Read
However, in Delaware, gas prices seem to be hurting church
attendance. "The Rev. Anna Cottom looked around at the
empty spaces in the pews last Sunday morning and urged parishioners
to find ways to help fill them . . . at Ezion Mount Carmel
United Methodist Church, Kristin Harty wrote for the The
News Journal of Wilmington, in a story cited by the
Observer. To read the story (for a fee), click
Gas Vol. 2: School chief cautions
Kentucky districts considering four-day week
Kentucky's education commissioner, Gene Wilhoit, has cautioned
school systems thinking about going to a four-day week that
instruction and student achievement should come first.
"Wilhoit sent e-mail messages alerting [school systems]
that he and the state Board of Education will be monitoring
the test scores of schools that switch to a four-day school
week. Schools generally lengthen the remaining school days
to make up for the lost day," writes Nancy Rodriguez
of The Courier-Journal.
Four Kentucky school districts have adopted a four-day schedule.
"This shouldn't be a very quick response to some short-term
financial problems," Wilhoit said.
Webster County schools changed in 2003, writes the Louisville
newspaper. "If it's going to be done, it needs to be
done for the right purposes. Can you save some money? Well,
yes. But it's not just a matter of saving money," said
Webster County Superintendent James Kemp. The district made
the change for financial reasons, and saved more than $300,000
in its first year of four-day weeks and used part of the savings
to pay for full-day kindergarten.
Mainly small, rural school districts in states such as Colorado,
Oregon and New Mexico have used four-day school weeks for
years. Kentucky state law requires at least 175 six-hour days
of instruction, or 1,050 hours a year, but does not specify
the length of the school week. Kentucky's school year is among
the shortest in the nation, tied with Louisiana, Maine, Vermont
and Wyoming. (Read
Health literacy campaign targets women
with exercise, nutrition advice
The Society for Women’s Health Research
is partnering with a major telecommunications firm in a new
health literacy public education campaign to help women improve
The “Her Healthy Life” campaign is focused on
exercise, nutrition and smoking cessation. The campaign’s
messages are designed for women who may have low health literacy,
which refers to the ability to understand and use health information,
Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the Washington,
D.C.-based non-profit Society for Women’s Health
Research, said “Health literacy problems affect
millions of Americans from all backgrounds. Women make the
majority of health care decisions for their family, so it
is important to give them information they can use to make
good choices ... We are providing simple tips for improving
health that women can initiate on their own without visiting
doctors or undergoing tests, which are often too expensive
and inaccessible for poor and underinsured Americans.”
Public-service announcements promoting the event will air
nationally in October on the “Dr. Laura” radio
show in English and on the “Doctora Isabel” show
in Spanish. Brochures will be distributed by the National
Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), based in Louisville.
NCFL will distribute the brochures at its national conference
and make them available to more than 6,000 literacy programs
Fiddle, guitar and wind harp: Appalachian
Kentucky's Mount Rushmore?
A 75-foot high sculpture of a guitar, fiddle and wind-harp
that produces tues from the air may someday stand above the
Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway at Campton, Ky.
"Some people might laugh at it, but people probably
also made fun of Mount Rushmore, too," Wolfe County Judge-Executive
Raymond Hurst told Lee Mueller of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
One feasibility study has projected the monument could attract
700,000 visitors a year, produce 1,300 jobs and eventually
have an economic impact of $63 million on the region.
The proposed Eastern Kentucky Heritage Monument would be
the world's largest wind harp, says mastermind David Musser.
"We were trying to do something to put Campton on the
map, but then we realized this was for all of Eastern Kentucky,"
he told Mueller. The project would cost $10 million and could
take up to 10 years to finish.
The 30-acre project would also include an interactive museum,
a theater and amphitheater, a walking trail and other attractions.
The steel centerpiece will consist of a fiddle, guitar and
banjo, located where the four-lane parkway splits into two-lane
roads on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The wind-harp
sculpture would become "the international logo for Eastern
Kentucky," Musser told Mueller. (Read
Trailblazers extend walking route
across long Appalachian mountain ridge
An army of volunteers is working to build a 120-mile route
along one of the highest and most isolated mountaintops in
central Appalachia, Pine Mountain.
"The project has captured the imaginations of people
from across the nation who have scheduled vacations to come
to Kentucky to help. So far, some 500 people have come. They
work by day clearing trails to lofty crests that look down
on lesser mountains in every direction. At night, they camp
beneath the stars," writes Roger Alford of The
Associated Press. Shad Baker, president of the Pine
Mountain Trail Conference, the organization in charge
of building the path atop the Eastern Kentucky mountain, said,
"The views are spectacular. It's the closest thing to
wilderness that Kentucky has."
Pine Mountain Trail is part of a broader initiative to
build a series of connected trails from the Florida Keys to
Lake Champlain in upstate New York, notes Alford. Former Kentucky
Gov. Paul Patton pushed for legislation to set aside a narrow
strip from the Breaks Interstate Park to
Cumberland Gap National Park as Pine
Mountain Trail State Park.
Kentucky Parks Commissioner George Ward told Alford it may
be another five to 10 years before the trail is completed.
The state has set aside $3 million to buy easements, and officials
are hoping that money can be stretched with people willing
to donate such rights without charge. When complete, the park
would connect with the Cumberland Trail State Park
being developed in Tennessee. Park supporters say this effort
will protect a national treasure and attract tourism dollars.(Read
Fall festivals carry a high price
tag, may produce little revenue for rural towns
Court Day this weekend in Mount Sterling,
Ky., requires 64 portable toilets, rows of vendor booths,
and loads of food at an unknown cost, but local officials
say the festival will continue no matter the price.
"It's a 200-year tradition, so it's going to happen
regardless. The objective is not to make money but to provide
services," event coordinator Laura Tipton told Scott
Sloan of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Many
fall festivals are occurring across the Kentucky landscape,
and the hosts just want to put their city on the map and maybe
break even financially.
Although Mount Sterling gets some revenue from vendor fees,
Tipton told Sloan the festival requires overtime pay for police
and other city workers. Tipton said she hopes the festival
produces increased tourism, motel tax revenue and restaurant
London, Ky., hosts the World Chicken Festival
in honor of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder
Harland Sanders, whose first restaurant was actually in nearby
Corbin. The festival was incorporated as a non-profit, and
Mayor Ken Smith said the city spends about $20,000 to $30,000
a year to support the event. Food booths are ran by 20-plus
local non-profit groups, which raise an estimated total of
$10,000. Smith told Sloan he knows the city will never profit
from the festival. (Read
Another annual event in Kentucky this weekend is the Foothills
Festival in Albany, completing a run of 25 years
with its 26th festival. Click
here for the story from the Clinton County News.
Vanderbilt to present The Great
Tennessee Monkey Trial at Belmont
With the nation debating whether to teach "intelligent
design" in schools, one Tennessee university is remembering
the state's Scopes Monkey Trial. The trial involved Darwin's
theory of evolution being challenged outright in 1925, after
the Tennessee legislature banned it from being taught.
"What would it have been like to ... witness William
Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow argue Tennessee vs.
John Thomas Scopes? Theatergoers will have the opportunity
to experience it for themselves when Great Performances at
Vanderbilt University presents The Great
Tennessee Monkey Trial on Oct. 19 and 20" at Belmont
University in Nashville, writes Newswise.com.
“The trial of the century” was held in Dayton,
Tenn., and "80 years later it is still the subject of
intense debate as school systems across the country argue
what can be taught about the origins of life," reports
Newswise. The event is free and open to the public. An hour-long
pre-performance forum, “The Scopes Trial: A Continuing
Controversy,” is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 19,
at the Curb Event Center at Belmont. (Read
The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial will follow the
panel discussion and be presented again the following night
at the Curb Center. Curtain time for both shows is 8 p.m.
Tickets, which are $26, $30 and $34, are available at the
Sarratt Student Center box office and all Ticketmaster
outlets or by calling (615) 255-9600. Group discounts, as
well as special prices for seniors, students and children,
are available. Free parking for the Curb Center is available
in Belmont’s Bernard Avenue garage.
Missouri J-school gets $1.7 million
grant to house National FOI Coalition
The Freedom of Information Center at the University
of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism is receiving
a $1.7 million grant from the John S. and James L.
Knight Foundation to make room at the school for
the The National Freedom of Information Coalition.
The Dallas-based professional advocacy group will use some
of the grant to upgrade its Web
site, which lists state groups. The coalition supports
First Amendment issues, accessible government organizations
and and protects public access to information through the
education of media professionals, attorneys, academics and
Knight is the major funder of the Institute for Rural
Journalism and Community Issues.
Rural Calendar: Sustainable
Development Conference in Minn. Oct. 24-25
of Minnesota is conducting a conference on sustainable
development at its Crookston campus to take a global look
at the interdependence of our ecological, economic, and social
The conferences will feature overview presentations and case
studies of how various college campuses have implemented principles
Registration is $100 for all meals and refreshment breaks
and $50 for students. For a registration form, click
here. The public is welcome to attend. Sponsors include
the University of Minnesota, Crookston, Northwest
Research and Outreach Center, Northwest Regional
Sustainable Development Partnership, Northwest
Minnesota Foundation, Minnesota Extension Service
Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere
Conference in Cherokee Nov. 1-3
The 16th annual Southern Appalachian Man and the
Biosphere (SAMAB) Landscapes - Preserving Our
Heritage Conference will be held at Harrah's in Cherokee,
The conference features: Preserving historical and natural
landscapes; learning about Cherokee tradition and current
Cherokee stewardship activities; field learning experiences
addressing the cultural and natural environments significant
Cherokee communities; an opening address by the Principal
Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; a keynote address
by Charles Birnbaum, director of the National Park
Service's Historic Landscapes Initiative; a presentation
and poster sessions on the origins of southern Appalachian
landscapes with activities to protect and restore them; and
tools to help shape the future of mountain communities and
improve our resource management activities.
Room rates at Harrah's are above government approved per
diem. A block of rooms is reserved at the Ramada Cherokee.
Call 1-800-849-5263 or (828) 497-4231 and mention SAMAB (reservation
code SAMB). For more conference information, accommodations,
the agenda and access to a registration form, click
here. Fees are $85 for the full conference; or $60 for
Friday, Oct. 7, 2005
Record ATV death toll, mainly in the
hills, may bring federal rules
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is
considering federal rules for all-terrain vehicles, which
were involved in accidents that killed 740 people last year,
many of them in hilly and mountainous areas where ATVs have
long provided recreation for locals and more recently for
tourists on trails..
A patchwork of state regulations applies to ATVs, but there
are no federal laws governing the vehicles, The Associated
Press reports. Last year's toll was a record, and
20 percent above the 617 recorded in 2003. Another record:
At least 136,100 people were in accidents involving injuries
while riding the four-wheel motorcycles, and a third of those
hurt were younger than 16. (Read
Appalachian states led the list of fatalities during 2002-04,
according to data that federal officials say is incomplete.
Kentucky was first with 106, followed by West Virginia with
93; Pennsylvania, 86; and North Carolina, 77. Florida, Tennessee,
Georgia, Ohio, Michigan and California rounded out the Top
10. For details on the report, click
heres. For a CPSC press release and statement from CPSC
Commissioner Thomas Moore, click
here. For information from the ATV Safety Institute, click
here. West Virginia University had been a leader in research
on ATV safety. For one of its sites, click
Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety at the Consumer
Federation of America, told reporters, "We have
a serious national epidemic in this country of people getting
killed and injured in very large numbers when they ride ATVs.
The group is pushing for ATV regulation, especially for child
use of the adult-sized vehicles." For more information,
report from The Poynter Institute.
Rural towns bear greatest brunt of
high fuel prices, and their poor feel it worst
The most economically vulnerable in the rural
areas of America are most affected by high gas prices, says
a think-tank senior fellow, writing in The Nation.
"While much ink has been spilled over the
potential problems suburban and exurban commuters would face
if the era of cheap oil really sputtered to a close, the most
immediate victims are likely to be the long-distance commuters
... [in places] too remote even to be considered exurbs,"
writes Sasha Abramsky, a senior fellow at Demos,
a New York think tank. For more on the author,
"That urban and suburban communities can
absorb higher energy prices is not hard to believe. That residents
of low-income areas can continue to do so indefinitely, is
harder to believe," Abramsky says. "As long as they
need gas simply to continue working, they are going to do
whatever it takes. After all, entire communities and lifestyles
and job choices and consumption patterns have been crafted
over the better part of a century on the basis of cheap and
Judi Greenwald at the Pew Center on
Global Climate Change told Abramsky, "You could
draw an analogy with the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance
Program," which helps poor people pay heating or energy
bills, do upgrades and get assistance for insulating their
homes. Greenwald suggested to Abramsky, "At least theoretically,
one could have a federal program that gives out grants to
states to help people pay gas bills and possibly buy more
fuel-efficient vehicles." (Read
Bird flu threat makes
'biosecurity' a watchword at poultry farms
For American poultry farmers, the fear of a flu pandemic
spread from birds is "more than just some vague fear
about what's happening half a world away," The
Washington Post reports.
The fear "is why Jenny Rhodes won't let you on her farm,"
Joshua Partlow writes from the Delmarva Peninsula of Delaware,
Maryland and Virginia, a hotbed of poultry production. Rhodes,
who posts a "No admittance" sign on her property,
told Partlow, "Nobody goes down to the chicken houses
unless it's ourselves or our serviceman. For us, biosecurity
is something we deal with every day."
Partlow writes, " Farmers change clothes before moving
from their homes to their chicken houses. Their employees
walk through disinfectant baths to kill germs on boots heading
in and out. Farm supply stores spray the tires of feed trucks
with bleach. Agriculture officials are fitting poultry workers
with protective suits and masks in case of an outbreak, and
they are running simulations of how to respond if the virus
spreads beyond state boundaries and -- the worst fear -- starts
Maryland state medical epidemiologist David Blythe, told
Partlow, "The situation that we're all concerned about
is the possibility of a pandemic. There are reasons to be
cautious about this and not ignore it," but added he
he thinks the risk is remote. (Read
Newspaper exposes city-hall
family hirings in its election lead-up coverage
The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat
has exposed candidates' family members being placed on the
city payroll after patronage charges were leveled by a political
opponent in the heat of campaigning -- an example of the sort
of pre-election coverage a 9,000-circulation daily can do.
"The two main combatants in the Lebanon mayoral race
– incumbent Mayor Don Fox and Ward 3 City Councilor
William Farmer – have had family working for city government
while each man was serving Lebanon’s residents, writes
Managing Editor Clint Brewer. "A survey of personnel
and payroll records by The Lebanon Democrat show Fox and Farmer
have had relatives on the payroll while they too served the
city – Fox as the elected mayor and Farmer as the city’s
contracted legal counsel."
In the kind of clarifying journalism that can help readers
sort through campaign rhetoric, Brewer writes, "The story
of the Fox and Farmer families in city government differ greatly.
According to city records, Fox has had at least three family
members on the city government payroll throughout his term,"
he notes, and continues, " City staff also could not
produce any record of Farmer’s stepdaughter working
for city government, a public claim Fox made that touched
off a furor in the mayor’s race over allegations of
Brewer underscores, "The controversy highlights yet
another difference between two candidates who at one time
were political allies. Fox is unapologetic for having family
on the city payroll, saying excluding any public servant’s
family from the helping hand city government often provides
is unfair. Farmer maintains the practice is a symptom of a
city government needing reform. (Read
Cumulus set to buy Susquehanna, largest
privately owned broadcast group
"Susquehanna Media, the nation's largest
privately owned radio broadcaster, is near a deal to sell
its group of radio stations to investors including Cumulus
Media, the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital for more than
$1 billion," reports the New York Times, citing executives
involved in the negotiations.
Susquehanna Media's owners Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff
of York, Pa., put up the group for sale about five
months ago, along with a separate auction for its cable-TV
"Executives involved in the deals cautioned that neither
transaction had been completed and that there was a chance
either deal could collapse or other suitors could emerge,"
Andrew Ross Sorkin reported for the Times. "Susquehanna
operates more than 30 radio stations in some of the 40 largest
markets in the country. ... Cumulus, based in Atlanta, is
the second-largest radio broadcasting company in the nation
based on the number of stations owned or operated; it owns
310 stations in 61 markets."
Sorkin adds that ABC Radio "is also
up for auction, and many of the suitors that pursued Susquehanna
are also pursuing ABC Radio."
facilities improve rural health care on many levels, says
Rural communities that build new hospitals with the special
"critical access" designation see more use of services,
and report enhanced clinical performance and workforce recruitment,
according to research findings presented this week at the
National Rural Health Association’s
(NRHA) annual Critical Access Hospital Conference in Kansas
The study reports rural communities that replaced their aging
facilities with a new hospital saw a positive impact on patient
admissions and outpatient visits. Stroudwater Associates
conducted the study with assistance from researchers
at the University of Minnesota and the University
of Rochester. (Read
more) Complimentary copies of the study may be ordered
New center to study,
conserve Appalachian plants for medicinal use
The University of Maryland
Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) and Frostburg State
University, in collaboration with West Virginia
University, have established the Appalachian
Center for Ethnobotanical Studies (ACES) to explore
health uses of Appalachia's rich plant life.
ACES has been established "to conserve
wild native plants, to scientifically explore and understand
their true medical efficacy, and to generate economic benefit
for the people of the Appalachian region. The Appalachian
Mountains in Western Maryland and West Virginia support a
unique and exceptionally diverse flora, including many plants
that have a long history of medicinal use," reports Newswise,
a research-reporting service. (Read
On Oct. 13 and 14, ACES will host a symposium to discuss
the collaborative efforts on ethnobotanical studies that integrate
bioscience with indigenous herbal medicine practices, wildlife
habitats, conservation efforts, cottage industries, and economic
development for Central Appalachia. The meeting will be held
at Rocky Gap Lodge and Resort near Cumberland, Md., and will
include well known speakers and expert guests. To view the
agenda or register for this program, click
Frostburg State University President Dr. Catherine Gira said
in the Newswise report, “Within five years, we envision
the evolution of the Institute from a 'virtual center' to
a physical facility located in Western Maryland, which we
believe will attract more information technology and virtual
learning businesses to the region, as well as bring federal
and industry research support dollars to the Appalachia region.”
For more information on the center and the upcoming conference
Virginians battle mountains, economics, isolation for health
"A health care crisis has been brewing in West Virginia
for decades. It is not limited to doctors and patients who
need insurance. It is not limited to reduced reimbursements
for providers and nursing shortages. And it is not limited
to West Virginians' increasingly poor health. It's all of
it -- and more," writes Juliet A. Terry of the weekly
State Journal, based in Charleston.
West Virginia's major cities may boast comprehensive hospitals,
but reaching those centers is nearly impossible for many in
the Mountain State. "Their chosen rural life keeps those
advanced facilities largely out of reach. They rely on local
clinics and country doctors," reports Terry.
"There is a fair segment of the population in West Virginia
that doesn't have any insurance. That's a big challenge. A
lot of folks don't have access to proper care," Chris
Curtis, acting commissioner of the state Bureau for Public
Health, told Terry.
In addition to its mountainous terrain and economic conditions,
there are demographic challenges, writes Terry. "We're
older, poorer, less well insured and more rural than much
of the rest of the country," said Dr. Robert Walker,
director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health at
the Marshall University School of Medicine.
"But our heritage is rural. We shouldn't have to give
that up to have quality care."
One of the State Journal's sister outlets, WVNS-TV
in Beckley, had its own version of the report. To read it,
here. For the newspaper report, click
Mine-safety head calls for safer coal
mines; operators say safer now than ever
The acting director of the U.S. Mine Safety and
Health Administration said in a speech prepared for
a group of coal operators yesterday that the coal industry
has eliminated many of the dangers faced by miners, but more
improvements are needed.
Speaking in Pikeville, Ky., David G. Dye said in the speech
released to The Associated Press, "We
can all take a moment to congratulate ourselves here today,
but only a moment," . "One mining fatality, one
mining injury, one occupational illness is one too many, and
you know we still have work to do," writes Roger Alford
of AP's bureau in Pikeville (smallest town with one, we hear).
So far this year, 15 coal miners have been killed on the
job in the United States, including six in Kentucky, which
leads the nation. There have been three fatalities in Alabama;
Pennsylvania and West Virginia have had two each; and Ohio
and Oklahoma have had one each. Last year, 28 people died
in coal mine accidents nationwide, so the fatality trend is
Dye said, "MSHA and the industry have worked long and
hard together to take care of many of the obvious physical
hazards, the ones that could be fixed with better engineering,
better equipment, and better technology. We're now down to
the hardest thing of all to fix, the human aspect of safety."
Dye was the scheduled speaker at the annual meeting of Coal
Operators and Associates, an industry group based
in Pikeville. The meeting was closed to the public. Bill Caylor,
president of the Kentucky Coal Association,
told Alford technology has made coal mining safer. (Read
Farm aid: Alabama cattlemen
to care for four-legged hurricane 'evacuees'
"More than 100 hurricane 'evacuees' arrived in the Brewton
area last seek, and a good many more are expected in the coming
days. They are very much like the evacuees who already have
found respite in Brewton - hungry and in need of a home. The
only difference is that the latest evacuees are of the four-legged
variety and they're being 'housed' in pastures rather than
shelters," writes Lydia Grimes of the weekly Brewton
Standard in Alabama.
Southern Louisiana's cattle business took a major hit from
hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caught the attention of
area cattlemen ready to help. The hurricane survivors are
being transported to a farm in Alabama where they will reside
until the Louisiana farms recover, reports Grimes.
"Southern Louisiana is a large cattle-producing area
and the cows that survived were the ones who found high ground
during the storm. The salt water has killed the grass and
80 percent of the cattle are gone. Those that are left are
being rounded up and taken to holding pens in Baton Rouge
to be sorted to try to find the owners," writes Grimes.
The cows coming to Alabama will not go home until their calves
arrive. As trucks start arriving, the refugees are being isolated
from local herds to make sure they do not spread any contagious
diseases, notes Grimes. The calves will not actually go to
Louisiana, but will instead be sent to feeder lots in the
Tobacco farmers should temper sense
of entitlement, Ky. newspaper says
The death of the tobacco price support program has been an
often-read theme over the past year, most recently with the
lawsuit by burley growers saying that they have been shortchanged
by the company-financed buyout of their federal quotas. But
the largest newspaper in Kentucky, the state with the most
tobacco farmers, says the end of an era has been kinder to
them than they seem to realize.
"They're getting a cut of the multi-state tobacco settlement,
and they're getting paid for the end of the federal quota
system that had propped them up. But it never seems to be
enough. They seem unable to accept that they lingered way
too long in a dying industry -- an industry that they had
been repeatedly warned was on its way out," opines The
Courier-Journal of Louisville. (Read
Of the recent lawsuit, The C-J writes, "The case and
the calculations are complicated; the battle is over whether
the Bush administration's approach diverges from what Congress
passed. ... But pretty soon, now, tobacco farmers need to
face the fact that they are not more deserving than everybody
Groups form alliance to protect billions
of dollars in fund; power in numbers
The Independent Telephone & Telecommunications
Alliance , the National Telecommunications
Cooperative Association , the Organization
for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications
Companies and the Western Telecommunications
Alliance have formed a new coalition to protect the
security of $6.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF).
The Coalition to Keep America Connected will
lobby Congress as it considers telecommunications reform for
the second time in a decade, writes Kelly Teal of Phone+
magazine. At the press conference
where the associations announced the new coalition, people
from various cooperatives shared stories of rural life, where
access to health care and educational services often requires
Thelma McClosky Armstrong, of the Montana chapter of American
Telemedicine Association, said if it weren't for
the USF Rural Health Care program, one Montana hospital serving
one person per square mile would have to pay $3,000 per-month
for its T1 connection. In one year, that would add up to three
times the hospital's budget. “Rural America considers
[the USF] a lifeline,” she added. (Read
"The town of Oregon does not have a hospital; doctors
are 30-50 miles away, so having a T1 connection saves residents
from traveling to receive test results, for example,"
writes Teal. Students also are able to take advantage of the
bandwidth, using videoconferencing to take classes they do
not have locally."
Rural Calendar: Tennessee's
oldest town hosts storytelling festival this weekend
"A pumpkin here … a vase full of flowers there.
Jonesborough’s bed-and-breakfast innkeepers are preparing
for guests who are attending the 33rd Annual National Storytelling
Festival," writes Sheleatha Carr of the weekly Herald
and Tribune in Tennessee's oldest town.
The three-day festival starts today in Jonesborough, which
is also home to the International Storytelling Center.
An estimated six bed and breakfasts in the downtown
area will host many of the storytelling enthusiasts. The oldest
B&B has been accommodating festival visitors for 15 years.
Thursday, Oct. 6,
California weekly torched;
publisher says editorial policies not to blame
Fire officials say arson caused the fire that
gutted the offices of a weekly newspaper that routinely challenges
officials in Riverside County, Calif., saying they allow runaway
growth. However, the publisher says he does not think the
fire was linked to his editorial stance.
The office of the Riverside County Record
in Pedley burned early Sunday. Patrick Chandler, a spokesman
for the county fire department, told The Associated
Press that the motive for the arson was unclear.
He said investigators are seeking links between the fire and
two others on the same weekend.
"Dave Barnes, owner and publisher of the Record, dismissed
suggestions that he may have been targeted because of his
paper's aggressive reporting style," AP reported. "I
don't think it was anyone angry at me," Barnes said.
"Ninety-nine percent of the people I've fought with have
been pretty friendly over the years." Barnes said he
will operate out of a temporary office at his home, with computers
salvaged from the fire.
"The staff of about 10 full-timers and contributors
scrambled to put out Wednesday's paper on time for its 7,500
readers," wrote Susannah Rosenblatt of the Los
Angeles Times. "The publication, which typically
focuses on local politics in the unincorporated communities
of western Riverside County, was four pages shy of the broadsheet's
usual 20-page run." (Click
here to read more) "Pedley is about 50 miles southeast
of Los Angeles in an area that has seen explosive growth in
recent years," AP reports.
Virginia town may be first with citywide
broadband over power lines
The city of Manassas, Va., population 12,500, may be the
first in which broadband Internet connections are commercially
available citywide over power lines, a technology with promise
for rural areas.
"This is an achievement of a major national milestone,"
Joseph E. Fergus, founder and chief executive of Communication
Technologies Inc., or Comtek, which installed the
system, told Yuki Noguchi of The Washington Post.
Fergus said the technology "will be deployed within two
years to scores of communities across the U.S." Comtek
and Current say they have an advantage over
competitors because they tap into already existing infrastructure,
Broadband-over-power-line technology allows access to the
Internet through any electrical socket in the home or office.
For years, it has been touted as a potential alternative to
service from cable and phone companies. Scott Cleland, chief
executive of the Precursor Group, a research
firm, told Noguchi, "The technology works, but the business
model is still up in the air." (Read
Jay Birnbaum, president of Current, told
the Post the technology is far less expensive than deploying
fiber-optic cable or digital subscriber line (DSL) service.
In July, Current got backing from Google Inc.
and the investment firm of Goldman Sachs & Co.
is conducting six trials, including in Los Angeles and Honolulu,
writes Noguchi. For a more technical story, from TechWeb
Agriculture Department to test healthy
cattle as safeguard against mad-cow
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
has announced that over the next few weeks it will
begin testing 20,000 healthy cattle in its enhanced surveillance
program for mad-cow disease.
The owners have volunteered to have their cattle tested.
Jim Rogers, spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service, told Christopher Doering of Reuters,
"We haven't set a date yet" to start the testing,
and added, "We're still making final arrangements."
The enhanced testing program is scheduled to expire by the
end of December. The USDA has been under pressure from Congress
to start testing healthy cattle. Some in the administration
argue it is a waste of time and money. However, "Sen.
Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, both
Democrats, sent USDA Secretary Mike Johanns a letter in July
asking why the agency had not started testing 20,000 healthy
cattle as it had promised," writes Doering.
A spokesman for Harkin said, "These cattle have been
found to have mad cow disease in other countries and it's
critical they test them. [The Sen.) believes that USDA's testing
needs to be expanded further to include more numbers."
The healthy animals will come from the 40 slaughter plants
that handle 86 percent of the aged cattle for human consumption
each year in the United States, Doering writes. (Read
Mine safety agency to study drug,
alcohol use to determine extent of problem
Mine Safety and Health Administration
(MSHA) will try to determine the prevalence of miners
showing up for work high on alcohol and drugs.
The agency is reacting to complaints from mine operators.
Agency director David G. Dye told Roger Alford, Eastern Kentucky
reporter for The Associated Press. "Alcohol
and drug abuse by miners threatens the safety of their colleagues
and that cannot be tolerated." Dyer said MSHA plans to
study the extent of abuse in mines, the potential cost and
possible strategies for dealing with it.
Two years ago, state and federal inspectors began investigating
the death of a coal miner killed by an explosion in Eastern
Kentucky. The inspectors found a bag of marijuana in the mine,
and a co-worker of the victim told them he saw two miners
snorting crushed painkillers, writes Alford. MSHA will be
gathering information for all types of mining, not just coal.
Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky Coal Association,
told Alford, "It's important that we monitor these miners
with problems. The intent is good. It needs to be thought
through very carefully." Caylor said MSHA would have
to consider peripheral issues, such as what happens to miners
who have legitimate prescriptions for medications. (Read
more) A series of public meetings has been scheduled,
including one in Lexington on Oct. 31. For more on the scheduled
meetings from the MSHA Web site, click
Also on the Appalachian coal beat: AP reports
a Kentucky couple won a $968,000 verdict against a coal company
that mined their land without permission. For details, click
Iowa may refinance tobacco bonds to
generate more money for rural efforts
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack says his state is moving toward re-investing
its national tobacco-settlement money, hoping to generate
more funds to aid the state's rural communities.
Vilsack said the action could bring tens of millions of dollars
to the state, which he'd like to spend on the environment,
economic development and rebuilding the state's decaying infrastructure,
reports Charlotte Eby of the Quad City Times
in Davenport. Lawmakers would have to approve Vilsack’s
spending plan. The governor said he was excited about the
idea of using additional dollars for water quality. He told
Eby, “It should send a strong message to the rural communities
and to those concerned about the environment."
The state was among several that sold bonds based on expected
income from the 1998 settlement over 25 years. Now, Vilsack
wants to pay off those bonds and sell new one with higher
earnings, writes Eby. The governor told reporters he can't
say exactly how much the state will make, but it could be
in the tens of millions of dollars. The head of the Department
of Management, Michael Tramontina, said it could be as much
as $100 million, though nothing is certain, Eby writes. (Read
Iowa land-purchase program stops potential
development on scenic lake
Natural Heritage Foundation (INHR) has reached
an agreement to purchase an area of land along Big Spirit
Lake in northern Iowa to stop the construction of a housing
INHR spokesperson Cathy Engstrom said "they were concerned
about the potential environmental impact of the housing development.
She says the site has the last large remaining bulrush bed
in the entire lake [which are] also are a habitat and food
supply for many types of birds and help improve water quality,"
reports Darwin Danielson of Radio Iowa in
Engstrom told Danielson the owners have agreed to sell the
area to the foundation on a contract. The goal is to work
with the Department of Natural Resources to raise six-and-a-half
million dollars so they can put all or most of the land into
public ownership, he reports.
Engstrom also told Radio Iowa the final plans for the area
depend on how much money they can raise. If they raise all
of the money, she said, then all 93 acres will become public
land. If the group were to sell part of the land, she said
they would then be able to dictate any development be done
in a way that would be environmentally friendly.
Engstrom says lakeside development is something that is a
delicate balance.The original proposal for the site included
a row of 35 houses along the shoreline. The non-profit Iowa
Natural Heritage Foundation was formed , it says, to protect
the state's land, water and wildlife, claiming 6,000+ members
and protecting more than 85,000 acres in the past 25 years.
Meth epidemic continues: One day,
one grand jury, one small town
Fighting in Iraq, devastation from two major hurricanes,
Supreme Court deaths and nominations have pushed news of the
methamphetamine epidemic to the back page, but the fight against
the addictive and destructive drug continues in rural America,
as a newspaper in Tennessee reports.
"Meth cases dominate criminal court docket" reads
the headline over a story by Bill Grubb of The Rogersville
Review, reporting on five indictments --
all related to meth. One day, one grand jury, one small town;
something law enforcement officials say is being repeated
more and more often in courtrooms across the country. (Read
error prompts lawsuit over 'mother of all mistakes'
In today's pared-down, streamlined, digitized
age of newsgathering and production, are more mistakes being
published or broadcast? The jury is out on that question,
but a mistake in a Wisconsin newspaper is being called "the
mother of all newspaper errors."
The Fond du Lac (Wis.) Reporter,
quoting a federal agent, said in July that a local gas station
owner may have been a 9/11 "plotter." Actually,
the agent said the man was only "a (sic) applauder
of 9/11." The recording is somewhat garbled; listen to
clicking here. "A photo of the station -- with its
address -- accompanied the story. A suit against the paper
says: 'AAP Petroleum has received threats and suffered derogatory
comments from people who read the article and believe that
Citgo is connected to terrorism, the 9/11 terrorist attacks
and/or Osama Bin Laden,'” writes Jim Romenesko of The
Poynter Institute, under the "mother of all"
The company filed a defamation lawsuit against
Gannett Co., the owner of the Reporter, last
week, claiming the article damaged its business, writes Jim
Collar of The Northwestern. (Read
more) The Oshkosh, Wis. newspaper, from which Romenesko
got the story, is also a Gannett paper. Lani Dorlack, publisher
of The Reporter, circulation 18,116, told Collar, “We
intend to vigorously defend ourselves”
Alabama colleges, schools receive
ARC grant to help hurricane evacuees
A $400,000 grant was awarded to area community colleges
and school systems by the Appalachian Regional Commission
to help assist evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.
"Anne Pope, ARC federal co-chair, said Wallace
State and Gadsden State Community College
would use their portion of the grant for short-term job training
programs. Public schools in Cullman and 36 other north Alabama
counties can apply for grant funds to recover costs of educating
evacuee children," reports David Mackey of the
Pope told the newspaper, "What we saw when we came here
was that the physical damage (from Hurricane Katrina) may
have been on the coast, but the evacuees moved north,"
An estimated 600 to 700 evacuees came to the Cullman area
from the Gulf Coast in the weeks after the hurricane; many
are expected to stay for months before they can return home.
Almost 40 displaced children have enrolled in Cullman City
and County schools, Mackey writes.
Wallace State President Vicki Hawsey told reporters about
$260,000, or 65 percent of the grant will be allotted to job
training at the community colleges, and $140,000, or 35 percent
to K-12 schools. An official told Mackey public schools in
37 north Alabama counties could be allotted $400 to $500 per
evacuee student to defray expenses like textbooks and transportation
for the unexpected students. Officials also said hurricane
evacuees would be targeted, but said job training programs
will be open to local residents as well. (Read
Indians buy New York land for third
casino; opponents want tight compact
The Seneca Indian Nation has announced
the purchase of nine acres near Buffalo's waterfront for its
third and final casino in western New York.
"The Tribal Council bought the land late Monday but
waited to reveal the location until a Tuesday press conference
with Mayor Anthony Masiello, whose city will share in the
casino profits, writes Carolyn Thompson of The Associated
more) Masiello, who has long championed a casino as an
economic development tool, told Thompson private developers
would be "drooling" to build nearby. He told her,
"This is absolutely the right thing to do."
A 2002 compact permits the Senecas to operate three casinos
if they share up to 25 percent of slot machine profits with
the state and host cities. Seneca President Barry Snyder said
the tribe hopes to break ground on the Buffalo site by December.
He said negotiations were continuing for additional land,
including a former rail terminal near the newly purchased
Joel Rose, spokesman for Citizens Against Casino
Gambling, told Thompson, "They should have started
this a long time ago, but they haven't. Presumably, they hope
to rush it through without dotting all the I's and crossing
all the T's." Rose also told AP the group's opposed gambling's
because social costs, predicting increases in bankruptcies,
divorces and child abuse should a casino be built, writes
Rural Calendar: Southern water-quality
conference in Kentucky Oct. 23-26
The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
and Kentucky State University will host natural
resource professionals for the 10th biennial Southern Region
Water Quality Conference Oct. 23-26 at Lexington's Holiday
"The conference aims to strengthen the capacity for
all natural resource professionals to develop and deliver
successful water quality and water resource programs,"
writes Aimee Nelson of the University of Kentucky College
of Agriculture Communications Department.
The conference is sponsored by the Extension water quality
programs of 13 land grant universities. Professionals from
these universities will host workshops, lectures and poster
sessions about water quality issues such as quality drinking
water, animal waste lagoon management, volunteer monitoring,
storm water phase II runoff, community involvement, and watershed
Full conference registration is $290, which includes program
materials and several meals. Single day registration is available
for Monday, Oct. 24, or Tuesday, Oct. 25, and is $150 per
day. For more information about the conference, contact Thom
at (859) 257-4633 or visit the conference Web site at http://www.ca.uky.edu/water
to view the program in its entirety. (Read
more on this and other stories)
Wednesday, Oct. 5,
Lack of community coverage
spurs Web sites; newspaper aims to fill void
Reports on school field trips and pictures from father-son
hunting expeditions might comprise the very meaning of community
news, but such items are not being found in many if not most
community newspapers. Instead, they are being posted on "I-town"
Kathryn Casa of the Vermont Guardian writes
in the first installment of a two-part series, "As high
printing costs and corporate consolidation pare news department
budgets, the day-to-day coverage of low-profile local news
often falls by the wayside. Windham County’s only major
daily, the Brattleboro Reformer, once had
correspondents in each of the county’s 24 towns and
hamlets. But since the paper was purchased a decade ago by
MediaNews, one of the largest media corporations
in the country, town coverage is divided among just five reporting
“More and more, readers of papers and residents of
communities are seeing themselves, and being seen, as a media
market — consumers of a product instead of people who
interact with their news media,” Brattleboro resident
Ellen Kaye told Casa. Many residents are choosing alternatives
such as ibrattleboro.com,
a nationally-spotlighted community journalism Web site.
At the same time, about a dozen diverse residents have been
meeting for more than a year to plan a new print newspaper,
the Brattleboro Commons. "At the heart of the Commons
is a Media Mentoring Project, a series of monthly journalism
classes that will aim to teach local residents how to write
a news story, and how to read a newspaper. Participants will
be eligible to contribute stories to the “Community
Works” pages of the Commons," writes Casa. (Read
Part two of the series explores how the St. Albans
Messenger in Franklin County, Vermont, is using the
Internet to complement its hard-copy newspaper. It has created
I-town sites for communities in the county and a few outside
it, returning local news to what Publisher Emerson Lynn calls
a “hyper-local” level “while at the same
time creating a symbiotic relationship with the Messenger
as the flagship,” Casa writes.
"Anyone in a community can post comments, news or photographs
to the I-town Web sites, channeled through a central administrator
who screens for unacceptable material. (So far, nothing has
been denied.) Conversely, the websites help Messenger editors
keep their fingers on the pulse of the communities they cover,
watching for trends and keeping a weather eye out for stories
to toss to a reporter." (Read
Colorado plans for possible avian
flu pandemic; could it be a national model?
Following concerns about the nation's readiness in the event
of natural or terrorist-caused disaster, Colorado has devised
a plan to combat a possible avian flu pandemic. The state
is ready to quarantine the sick, vaccinate the public and,
if necessary, bury people quickly without the normal funeral
"Avian flu has sickened or killed 120 people in southeast
Asia, but hasn't yet had the sustained human-to-human transmission
that would qualify it as a pandemic," says Dr. Ned Calonge,
Colorado's chief medical officer, writes Bill Scanlon of the
Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's
29-page Pandemic Influenza Plan orders physician assistants
and EMTs to practice outside their normal areas of expertise.
So far, there is one possible case of human-to-human transmission,
and that happened after several months of close contact between
a parent and child. "There's a chance that the current
avian flu will never mutate to sustained human-to-human transmission,"
Calonge told Scanlon.
The World Health Organization recently concluded
chances are good the strain can be controlled before it leaves
southeast Asia. As experts worry about avian flu, an even
bigger threat could be new, novel strains of flu virus spreading
with lightning speed between countries. Infectious-disease
experts say the threat of a pandemic influenza is not a question
of if, but rather of when. The Centers for Disease
Control in Atlanta estimates that up to 100 million
Americans could be infected during a pandemic, and 89,000
to 207,000 could die. (Read
Storm-soaked lemons may be coming
to an auto lot near you, warns columnist
Consumer-protection and insurance agencies are warning car
shoppers to beware and not get soaked by the flood of lemons
expected on car lots nationwide from the Gulf Coast hurricanes.
A columnist provides information and multiple links to help
and warns even the slightest water damage can render a car
useless. The warning, especially for vulnerable shoppers,
poor and desperate, comes from Al Tompkins in his latest "Al's
Morning Meeting" column for the Poynter
"Carfax has a free flood-check service
now for prospective car-shoppers. This will be especially
helpful in the case of cars registered in the Gulf Coast areas
hit by Katrina. Carfax will tell you if the car was registered
in a flood-prone or hurricane zone or if it has been issued
a 'flood title,' which would indicate it has been water-damaged,"
Tompkins' column also provides a link to an Associated
Press story by business writer James Prichard - Agency
Warns Buyers on Katrina Car Sales - (Click
here). "Insurance companies usually purchase
such vehicles from policyholders, declare them 'totaled' and
then sell them at auction to be resold for parts, many of
which will still be suitable for use in other cars and trucks,"
writes Prichard. "After virtually every major U.S. flood,
the Better Business Bureau warns prospective
used car buyers to be on the lookout for flood-damaged vehicles."
"Some unscrupulous dealers and wholesalers buy flood-damaged
cars at scrap prices, clean them up, retitle them and resell
them. The vehicles may look good, but their electronics and
safety systems are likely damaged - and threaten the safety
of the new owners," warns Tompkins.
In some states, Tompkins explains, "a flood car might
get a 'salvage title' without mention of flood damage. Different
states have different kinds of titles for flood cars."
Tompkins has state-by-state information from Carfax
with a link
to their site to help motorists search for safe bargains.
Tompkins also cites NBC which says up to
a quarter of a million flood-damaged cars might hit the market.
MSN Money points out that even a little bit
of water can be big trouble for today's electronics-filled
Can ethanol fuel rural economy?
Cost, supply problems among chief negatives
Most Colorado gasoline would have to be a 20-percent ethanol
blend by the year 2013 under a proposed law being considered
for ways to spur rural economic development.
"Mandating the statewide use of the oxygenated gasoline
additive, generally made from corn, could reduce air pollution,
provide additional markets for Colorado farmers’ crops,
and promote the construction of more ethanol plants in the
state, members of the Interim Committee on Rural Economic
Development Issues said Monday," writes John Fryar of
the Daily Reporter-Herald in Loveland.
Sen. Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) told the newspaper, “This
is a national defense issue. We’re all looking at national
energy concerns.” Shaffer said that includes “alternatives
to foreign oil, even domestic oil.” The legislation
sets an ethanol-blend requirement of 5 percent ethanol in
gasoline by Jan. 1, 2007, and gradually increases that to
20 percent by January 2013. The committee should decide Oct.
27 whether to recommend sending the measure to the full legislature
Suncor General Manager of Supply and Marketing
Steve Douglas told The Associated Press that
Colorado presents special challenges for ethanol fuels. It
can cause performance problems at Colorado’s elevations,
he said. Douglas said the industry has supply problems from
increased demand and a single rail line serving the region.
Ethanol must be mixed with gasoline near the retail facilities,
and ethanol blends cannot be shipped by pipeline, writes Fryar.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor
reports in his Weekly Market Bulletin that 13 percent of the
nation's corn crop is going to ethanol..
FDA proposes feed rule to block mad-cow
disease; critics want stricter action
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
yesterday proposed banning some high-risk cattle parts from
all animal feed to fight the spread of mad-cow disease.
"Since 1997, cattle brains and spinal cords have been
banned from cattle feed. The FDA proposal would expand the
ban to poultry, pig and pet foods," writes Purva Patel
of the Houston Chronicle.
Consumer groups, however, wanted the regulation to ban other
materials from feed such as cow blood, poultry litter and
fats. Joe Mendelson, legal director for the Center
for Food Safety, told Patel, "It really amounts
to a less-than-adequate ban." Cattle brains and spinal
cords are considered high-risk because they can carry bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease.
The FDA's new rule would ban the use of feed with those tissues
from cows 30 months old or older and from all cattle not inspected
and passed for human consumption. The ban also includes tallow
with more than 0.15 percent insoluble impurities. An earlier
proposal would have banned use of tissue from all mammals
and poultry as sources of animal feed. Cow blood can still
be fed to calves as milk substitute.
FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine Director
Stephen Sundlof told Patel that because the proposed rule
bars the use of "high risk" cattle parts, banning
other parts and products such as blood and poultry litter
was unnecessary. The U.S. beef industry is pushing Japan to
lift a ban on imports implemented in December 2003. The comment
period for the proposed rule ends Dec. 16. (Read
Rural citizens organize to protect
their way of life from urban sprawl
A rural group in Northern Kentucky is working to preserve
its lifestyle in the face of urban sprawl, a struggle noted
in the latest column of a Kentucky journalist known for his
love of all things country.
"Members of the Camp Springs Initiative hope that thoughtful
planning and zoning, coupled with their idea for bringing
urban neighbors to Camp Springs -- to bicycle to historic
sites and to buy local produce and art -- will give landowners
an alternative to selling their property for development,"
writes Byron Crawford of The Courier-Journal.
The area in Campbell County was once a bastion of bucolic
and a respite for city-dwellers seeking to get away, driving
country roads on weekend trips. Now, the community wants to
strike a balance.
The group is seeking grant money to build a 30-mile paved
bike and walking trail looping "past many of the 29 original
stone homes of early German settlers. The homes -- once largely
occupied by vintners -- are now all on the National Historic
Register. Many of the historic properties are owned by area
farmers or artists," writes Crawford. Mike Enzweiler,
a descendant of one of the original families, told him, "We
don't need to create some kind of an attraction. We already
have the stone houses, and we want to build a covered bridge
Don Girton, formerly with the U.S. Forest Service,
told Crawford the community's half-dozen or more practicing
artists, along with several potters, vineyard owners, farmers
and owners of historic properties, form the nucleus of the
community's resources. Paul Schaefer, vice president of the
Camp Springs Initiative, and a former Cincinnati television
news anchor/reporter, told Crawford, "The idea is to
connect communities. Everyone agrees it would be a real attractive
feature for the community and would bring in the right kind
of tourism." (Read
Tone it down? Media using emotion
in disaster coverage raises questions
Praise and criticism is being heaped upon journalists who
have recently expressed emotion during their coverage of hurricanes
Katrina and Rita. Should these reporters behave as humans
"The issue cuts to the heart of what it means to be
a journalist at a time when the matter is more in doubt than
ever. In a profession that pledges itself to suppress self-interest
to ensure its credibility, are emotionalism and outrage ever
appropriate? And if so, when do they go too far?" ask
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence
in Journalism, and Bill Kovach, chairman of the Committee
of Concerned Journalists.
The two men write that while emotion can propel journalism
to a higher level of investigation, it can also lead to manipulation
of how they cover events. "One problem is that this kind
of emotional formulation of the news can distort coverage.
You search for stories that play that tune, and avoid those
that do not. The emotionalism becomes the news, the brand,
the gimmick. Information is deemed too cerebral and insufficiently
visual," write Kovach and Rosenstiel. (Read
"The first sensible rule here would seem to be that
emotion ought to come at those moments when any other reaction
would seem forced or out of place -- when it's the only organic
response. . . . The second rule should be that once journalists
have reacted in a human way to what they've seen, they must
compose themselves to sort out responsibility for how and
why things happened," conclude Kovach and Rosenstiel.
Rural Tennessee county
seeks answers to its abnormally high suicide rate
DeKalb County, Tennessee, a rural county best known for its
vacation locations around pristine Center Hill Lake, has a
suicide rate four times the national average, and the state
wants to know why.
The county has an average of about 43 suicides per 100,000
people, compared to the national average of about eleven.
DeKalb County has the fifth-highest rate among 3,000-plus
counties nationwide. The county ranks just under a desolate
desert county in New Mexico and barren wilderness counties
in Alaska, reports Claudia Pinto of The Tennessean.
Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Executive
Director Scott Ridgway told Pinto a task force was being formed
to determine the cause. Once that's understood, steps will
be taken to reverse the trend, including efforts to educate
people on the warning signs and reduce the stigma of seeking
counseling. There were 30 suicides in DeKalb County between
1999 and 2002. (Read
$16 million cash infusion from health
insurer to boost local, rural health agencies
The Blue Shield of California Foundation
has awarded $16 million total to nonprofit organizations across
the state, including hundreds of thousands to some rural health
"Foundation officials said the money is targeted at
nonprofits working to improve health care access, advance
medical technology and prevent domestic violence," writes
Todd Milburn of the Sacramento Bee. The money
will bolster the group's efforts to provide care for rural
and underserved communities through technology, said Barbara
Johnston, the group's executive director.
CommuniCare Health Centers Executive Director
Robin Affrime told Milburn the $50,000 earmarked for that
group will help cover the cost of providing care for the 22,000
low-income patients the clinics see every year. The group
operates seven clinics. California Primary Care Association
CEO Carmela Castellano-Garcia told Milburn the group plans
to use much of its $60,000 to research legal issues affecting
community clinics. Other grants included $100,000 to the Latino
Coalition for a Healthy California for health policy
FCC road tour: Commissioners to visit
cities, explain media ownership rules
Iowa City will serve as the kickoff site for a national tour
of town hall meetings when it hosts Federal Communications
Commission members today.
The forum will focus on the FCC's 2003 decision to ease media
ownership rules, specifically the number of newspaper, television
and radio station outlets companies can own in a market. The
changes since have been challenged in court and have not been
implemented, writes Gregg Hennigan of the Iowa City
Press-Citizen. The Rural Blog reported Tuesday that
Clear Channel Communications, the biggest
U.S. radio operator, is asking Congress to ease ownership
restrictions. So are other big group owners.
The FCC is expected to start revising rules this fall, said
Amanda Ballantyne, a field organizer for Free Press,
a national media advocacy group that is arranging the town
meetings and opposes the rule changes. The politically-diverse
state of Iowa was chosen for the first forum because of its
bellwether status, Ballantyne told Hennigan. (Read
E.W. Scripps Co. buys California weekly;
operation may be combined with daily
The E.W. Scripps Co. has purchased the 122-year-old
Valley Post (paid circ. 2,989), a weekly
newspaper in Anderson, Calif., from North Valley Newspapers
Inc. Scripps already owns Shasta County's daily newspaper,
the Record Searchlight (circ. 33,407).
The deal also gives Scripps "the Valley Times,
Happy Valley Times and Post-Adviser,
with a combined paid and unpaid circulation of 9,900, and
two monthly publications, Senior Scene Magazine
and the Buyers Guide," announced the
California Newspaper Publishers Association.
Deborah Smiddy, publisher and president of the Record Searchlight,
said the Valley Post will not undergo any immediate changes,
but some of the newspapers' operations may later be combined.
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005
Regional development chiefs coming
to Rural Telecom conference next week
Pete Johnson, federal co-chair of the Delta Regional
Authority, is the latest headline speaker secured
for RuralTeleCon '05, the ninth annual conference of the Rural
Telecommunications Congress, to be held in Lexington,
Ky., next week.
Appalachian Regional Commission Federal
Co-Chair Anne Pope was already on the program. Other top speakers
include Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, 5th District U.S. Rep.
Hal Rogers of Kentucky, and Hilda Legg, former administrator
of the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
The conference, which will include many concurrent sessions,
is expected to attract more than 500 small and rural business
owners, officials from all levels of government and professionals
from the fields of tele-health, distance learning, community
economic development, e-government and public policy.
The Rural Telecommunications Congress calls itself "a
national stakeholder organization dedicated to assuring rural
communities and rural residents in the United States have
access to the information and support they need to obtain
and use advanced telecommunications services, particularly
broadband digital communications, for community and economic
The conference begins with a reception Sunday night and will
end at noon Wednesday. For information on programming and
registration, go to http://www.ruraltelecon.org/conference/index.php.
History repeats itself: Pass national
shield law, says First Amendment lawyer
A Washington lawyer says the jailing of New
York Times reporter Judith Miller is an example of
a "crisis" that repeats itself about every four
decades, and a national shield law is needed to stop the cycle.
"Since the beginning of modern American
journalism this scenario has repeated itself in each generation
almost on cue, about every 35 years. Every time this crisis
has erupted, the jailing of journalists has been the catalyst
for changes in the law that protected a subsequent generation
of reporters," writes lawyer Nathan Siegel in a column
for The Washington Post
"Exactly 35 years after the first Nixon-era
subpoenas, six reporters from many of the country's most prominent
news organizations, including Judith Miller, have been jailed
or fined. Congress for the first time in a generation is seriously
considering a federal shield law similar to those some states
started passing over a century ago," he writes. That
effort failed but resulted in passage of more state laws;
now, statutes or case law in 49 states recognize some right
to source confidentiality. The exception is Wyoming.
The 35-year pattern "reflects a fundamental
conflict between the judiciary and the press that tends to
recur whenever a new generation of judges and prosecutors
uninfluenced by the memory and lessons of prior conflicts
emerges," Siegel says, adding that the public has consistently
backed source confidentiality. "That is why every time
a movement has started among a new generation of prosecutors
and judges to force disclosure of sources, other democratic
institutions have responded in kind. If the Supreme Court
will not intervene, as it did not in this case, Congress should
recognize that generations have already spoken on this issue
and pass a federal shield law," Siegel concludes. (Read
The Institute for Rural Journalism and
Community Issues urges journalists at all levels
-- and readers, listeners and viewers who support a federal
law -- to lobby senators and reprsentatives to pass it. To
help your readers understand the need for it, and journalism
in general, take a cue from this
column by Cindi Ross Scoppe, an editorial writer for The
State in Columbia, S.C.
Hurricane recovery: Winn-Dixie
aims high despite low funds, missing employees
Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. is in Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection and dozens of its 125 supermarkets in
the New Orleans region were looted, flooded or otherwise damaged
by Hurricane Katrina. Instead of closing up shop permanently,
though, the company is trying to reopen stores at a faster
rate than its rivals.
Winn-Dixie executives estimate it will cost $100 million
to complete such a task, writes Janet Adamy of The
Wall Street Journal. Insurance will cover the cost
of remodeling, but first the cash-strapped Winn-Dixie has
to front the money. The company is aiming to completely remodel
eight stores and partially remodel another eight. Remodeling
could cost $4 million a store.
The challenges may overwhelm Winn-Dixie, which will have
to recover sales at stores that could be idled for months.
Also, the company is still missing 1,100 of its 5,900 area
employees, reports Adamy.
"Winn-Dixie also will need to make drastic changes to
its stores to win over new shoppers, experts say. Years of
operating with dim lights and sparsely stocked shelves have
caused the company to lose its firm grip on the Southeast
market. Wal-Mart stole customers with its
lower prices, while Publix Super Markets Inc.
lured upscale shoppers with more appealing aisles," notes
Some Alabama farmers predict record
harvest, others hurt by hurricane
Despite two tropical storms and two hurricanes, most Alabama
farmers are optimistic about netting a near record harvest.
Still, higher production costs could diminish their bounty.
"The Alabama agriculture statistics service is predicting
the cotton growers will pick less cotton than last year but
far more than the 10-year average. The soybean crop should
also be above average although a little smaller than 2004,
and the same goes for corn," reports WTVY-TV
of Dothan, Ala.
The state's peanut farmers are expected to tie last year's
record-setting harvest. Farmer Rod Richardson told the television
station they need a good year. This year's crop has cost more
to produce because of high fertilizer prices as well as fuel
prices, Richardson told the station.
While many farmers are optimistic, in Mobile County, where
Katrina’s winds battered crops and showered them with
salt water, farmers don't expect to harvest anything this
Journalist in crisis:
Write stories or help victims? Katrina resurrects dilemma
Since the dawn of journalism, practitioners
and observers have debated whether news reporters and photographers
have a higher duty above covering crises. Should they intervene
where their actions could save lives? A veteran newsperson
did both in the midst of Katrina's aftermath.
"Journalism may be the only profession
where someone who helped save more than a dozen lives felt
compelled to reassure his bosses his time was well spent,"
writes David Bauder of The Associated Press.
The night after Hurricane Katrina struck, veteran CNN
photographer Mark Biello "brought back vivid images of
New Orleans residents rescued from floodwaters. Some he pulled
into a boat himself." Biello has covered famine, disaster
and Baghdad in the first Gulf War, but even he was shocked
by what he saw from a New Orleans highway overpass.
Biello joined a rescue boat struggling to save survivors
following the storm. "I was just recording and witnessing
[but] there were people submerged in the water and they asked
for my help ... They needed the physical strength to pull
people up," Biello told Bauder. "[Biello] could
hear screams in the dark from people he knew they couldn't
reach. He is still haunted by the memory of hands sticking
through the rafters of one house; when they floated by again,
the hands were gone," Bauder writes. (Read
Biello is "convinced he did the right thing, the human
thing," but still felt he had to explain to CNN management
why he wasn't spending all his time working. "Those conflicting
feelings are partly why he hasn't told his story publicly
until now. CNN management has fully supported him," Bauder
Radio giant wants a bigger slice of
the pie, asks Congress to ease restrictions
Clear Channel Communications, the biggest
U.S. radio station operator with 1,200 stations, is once again
asking that Congress ease restrictions on how many outlets
it can own in a market.
Citing competition from satellite radio, Clear Channel CEO
Mark Mays "proposed that broadcast radio operators be
able to own 10 stations instead of eight in markets where
there are at least 60 stations and up to 12 stations in markets
where at least 75 radio outlets operate," writes Jeremy
Pelofsky of Reuters.
The Federal Communications Commission in
2003 refused to adjust ownership restrictions. Mays is arguing
that satellite radio providers offer 150-plus channels per
market and there needs to be a level playing field, reports
Pelofsky. "How much bigger does one need to get?"
asked Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. (Read
NNE buys Daily Hampshire
Gazette, oldest continuously issued paper in Mass.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, the oldest
continually published newspaper in Massachusetts, is being
sold to Newspapers of New England, based
in Concord, N.H. Gazette publisher Peter DeRose, whose family
has owned the newspaper since 1929, did not reveal the purchase
price. DeRose will continue as publisher, and the editors,
managers and staffs of the Gazette and Bulletin also will
remain, he said.
The transaction, which is expected to be completed by January,
also includes the sale of the weekly Amherst Bulletin.
The Gazette, which has a weekday circulation of 18,243 and
19,778 on weekends, was first published on Sept. 6, 1786.
The Bulletin has a weekly circulation of 14,000.
NNE, which is privately owned, publishes the Concord
Monitor and owns the Recorder in
Greenfield, Mass., about 20 miles north of Northampton, home
base for the Gazette. NNE also publishes the Valley
News, serving Lebanon and Hanover, N.H., and White
River Junction, Vt., and the weekly Monadnock Ledger,
serving 16 towns in southern New Hampshire.
Stephens Media Group buys two weeklies
in central Arkansas from Chisms
Stephens Media Group has purchased two weeklies
in central Arkansas, the 107-year-old North
Little Rock Times and the Maumelle
"We are excited to have a publishing presence in the
part of Arkansas that our family has called home for almost
80 years," Warren Stephens, president of Little Rock-based
Stephens Group Inc., the parent company of
Las Vegas-based Stephens Media, told The Associated
Press. Stephens Media bought the papers from David
and Kitty Chism of KDC Communications for
an undisclosed price.
Stephens Media owns 11 dailies and more than 30 weeklies.
For a list, click
here. Its largest newspaper is the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
In Arkansas, the company owns the state's second-,
third- and fifth-largest dailies: The Morning News
in Springdale, circulation 37,669; the Southwest
Times Record of Fort Smith, circulation 37,462; and
the Pine Bluff Commercial, circulation 18,548.
Rural Kentucky city council chastises
newspapers for 'unfair reporting'
The Greenup (Ky.) City
Council has passed a resolution calling for "fair,
complete, and accurate reporting" from two commonly-owned
newspapers that cover it.
Kenneth Hart of The Daily Independent
of nearby Ashland wrote that the council "Tuesday passed
a resolution first proposed last month by Councilman Bud Quillen
chastising The Independent and the Greenup County
News-Times -- the only media outlets that cover the
council's meetings on a regular basis -- for what it claims
is biased and inaccurate reporting." Quillen said, "If
we don't do something, we're going to have the public against
us and coming here to complain about things they read."
The resolution calls upon the papers, owned by Community
Newspaper Holdings Inc., to "provide fair, complete
and accurate reporting on the activities of our city's government."
It alleges that "erroneous reports" by the two papers
have caused "unwarranted controversy that has damaged
the image of our city," and that the newspapers 'have
concentrated their reporting on contrived controversies rather
than the many accomplishes (sic) of this council."
The resolution also claims an editorial in The Independent
"falsely represented this council as never having read
the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or were not capable
of understanding it," Hart notes. Independent Editor
Mike Reliford said, "We are very satisfied with the work
of the reporters who cover the council, Cathie Shaffer and
Ken Hart. I have worked with both ... and have always found
both to be forthright and honest." Shaffer told The Rural
Blog that city officials have cited no specific errors.
Eddie Blakeley, publisher of The Independent and the News-Times,
called the resolution "meaningless" and said it
would have "no bearing on the way we cover the council
or otherwise conduct our business," writes Hart. Blakeley
has again asked to meet with council members, but, said Reliford,
"Thus far, they have not taken us up on that offer, but
have chosen instead to grandstand in their meetings."
A dream come true: Kentucky editor
to become Coal Valley News publisher
Timothy Kiger is replacting Janet Yeager as publisher of
The Coal Valley News (Madison, W.Va.). Yeager
retired Friday after working 43 years at the publication,
which is owned by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
Kiger has been managing editor of CNHI's Grayson Journal-Enquirer
and the Olive Hill Journal-Times in Carter
County, Ky., for the past five years. Kiger worked for The
Coal Valley News in the mid-1990s.
“Becoming a newspaper publisher has been a dream of
mine since I entered the industry 15 years ago,” Kiger
said. “Even though I am a Kentucky native, I have spent
most of my professional life working throughout the coalfields
of southern West Virginia as a reporter and newspaper editor."
task force to probe weaknesses in rural health care system
Rural health care, often the abandoned step-child of the
nation's vaunted health care system, is being reviewed by
an In Illinois legislative task force charged with make recommendations
"Action in the Illinois House last spring created a
legislative rural Health Task Force and a key downstate member
says their work is about to begin. The bipartisan task force
will consist of members from both the Illinois House and Senate,"
reports WJBD Radio of Salem,
Republican Senator Dale Righter told the radio station, the
group wants to define problems restricting access to quality,
affordable health care in less populated areas. The task force
will interview doctors, insurers, and patients for input on
how to improve rural healthcare, WJBD reports. Righter says
he's certain that less-dense population and the low medicaid
reimbursement rate are factors. (Read
Wrong order: Police bust California
bartender for selling meth on the job
Police have arrested a San Francisco bartender for allegedly
serving more than alcohol to customers. Bartender Mark McCreery,
a man previously arrested for selling methamphetamine, was
arrested again this past weekend at work for selling the drug
to undercover officers.
The bartender"was nabbed after a three-month investigation
by local police and the [California] Department of
Alcoholic Beverage Control into criminal activity
around the ... bar and a neighboring establishment, "
reports the San Mateo Daily Journal in a
staff and wire services report. (Read
McCreery was arrested for selling the officers two ounces
of meth in exchange for $1,350 and some stolen property. McCreery
was booked into San Mateo County jail along with a bar patron
whom police alleged was the bartender's drug supplier. After
his prior arrest, McCreery posted bail and returned to work.
Iowa program to help new rural businesses,
assist existing entrepreneurs
gives "rural communities planning assistance to support
entrepreneurship," writes Jerry Perkins, farm editor
for The Des Moines Register.
University of Northern Iowa's Regional Business
Center Director Maureen Collins-Williams told Perkins competitive
grants will be awarded to four regions in Iowa for 2006-2007.
The application deadline is Dec. 2. A region is defined as
an area of up to two counties with 55,000 or fewer people.
The network will use existing agencies and other entities
to avoid duplicating services, and each region selected will
receive two years of training, technical and networking assistance
from business development organizations. Selected regions
also will receive $2,500 each from the Community Vitality
Center. A pilot project in some rural communities
in northeast Iowa tested the concept. Two business owners
who benefited from the pilot project said the service helped
them make some critical decisions, notes Perkins.
Mary Lawyer, director of the Iowa Department of Economic
Development, told Perkins the $155,000 grant to run
the program comes from the Iowa Board of Regents'
$5 million allocation from the Values Fund, a $50 million-a-year
program to boost Iowa's economy. (Read
Appalachian museum preserves heritage,
honors its heroes, ambassadors
The Appalachian Hall of Fame in the Museum
of Appalachia near Norris, Tenn., honors well-known
figures and others not so well-known, including an unlikely
hero who shunned violence and yet displayed bravery above
and beyond on the muddy battlefields of World War I France.
"Sgt. Alvin York, a conscientious objector from Pall
Mall, Tenn., became the most decorated hero of World War I
and the subject of an Oscar-winning film with Gary Cooper,"
writes William Schemmel of The Huntsville (Ala.)
Times. "Born in an East Tennessee log
cabin, Cordell Hull became a U.S. congressman, senator, President
Franklin Roosevelt's secretary of state, winner of the Nobel
Peace Prize and 'Father of the United Nations.' The Carter
Family and Roy Acuff popularized country music," Schemmel
notes of just a few of the Hall of Fame's honored Appalachian
Among the lesser-known achievers, coal miner Alex Stewart
"was a master of 100 different crafts from well-digger
to moonshiner, house-builder and the world's best cooper.
He went up to Indiana one time, and I asked him how it was.
He said, 'Pshaw, the dogs in Tennessee are friendlier than
the people in Indiana,'" wrote the museum's primary patron
and organizer, John Rice Irwin, a former country schoolteacher
who is credited with saving a large chunk of endangered Appalachian
culture from extinction at the museum, notes Schemmel. (Read
Schemmel also did an extended article on the culture of the
region preserved and honored in The Appalachian Hall of Fame..
"Music is a part of everyday life at the museum, whose
250,000 Appalachian artifacts, two dozen buildings, livestock
and vegetable gardens have been lovingly assembled over the
past 45 years," he writes. (Read
Appalachian Trail license plate designed
to raise funds to help protect path
Appalachian Trail Conservancy wants to sell more
than 5,000 specialty license plates to generate $100,000 a
year to protect the popular footpath through North Carolina.
Other states may follow.
"Like similar plates that help raise funds for groups
supporting the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park, the tag provides fans of
the Appalachian Trail with a way to show their support,"
writes Julie Ball of The Asheville Citizen-Times.
Morgan Sommerville, regional director of the conservancy,
said proceeds will be used to protect and conserve the scenic
trail in North Carolina. The conservancy's campaign begins
Hot Springs, N.C., Mayor Deborah Ponder told Ball that hikers
on the trail provide a big boost to tourism. The trail passes
through the town and through sections of 14 states from Maine
to Georgia. Somerville told the newspaper that North Carolina
is the only state to offer the specialty tag for the trail.
Since May, the state has issued about 875 license plates featuring
the Appalachian Trail logo. (Read
The license plate costs $50, $20 of which goes to the Appalachian
Trail Conference. A personalized plate will cost more. To
order a license plate, go to http://www.ncdot.org/DMV/.
Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy, Oct. 21-23
The Second Annual Fall Conference will be held at the Sustainable
Mountain Agriculture Center on Pilot Knob Cemetery Road in
For more information, contact Brook Elliot at (859) 623-2765
or by emal at KentuckySeeds@hotmail.com,
or call Roger Postley at (859) 278-4846 or email RPostley@aol.com.
Registration and charges: Member, pre-registered $5; member,
at door $8; non-member $15 all or $10/day (fees will apply
Katrina forces rescheduling of forums
in Kentucky on use of tobacco
Seven Kentucky forums to discuss tobacco use
and ways to prevent or minimize it have been rescheduled.
The forums, sponsored by the state's Tobacco Prevention and
Cessation Program and Get Healthy Kentucky!, were postponed
because of travel restrictions on state employees following
The new schedule: Northern Kentucky, Oct. 27, 1-5 p.m.,
Marquise Banquet and Conference Center, Town Drive, Wilder;
Bowling Green, Nov. 1, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Holiday Inn, University
Plaza, 1021 Wilkinson Trace; Somerset, Nov. 3, 1-5 p.m., Center
for Rural Development, 2292 U.S. 27 South, Suite 300; Louisville,
Nov. 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Clarion Conference Center, 9700 Bluegrass
Parkway; Lexington, Nov. 10, 1-5 p.m., Holiday Inn North,
1950 Newtown Pike; Owensboro, Nov. 16, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Experimental
Theatre at River Park, 101 Daviess St.; and Paducah, Nov.
18, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Luther F. Carson Center for the Performing
Arts, 100 Kentucky Ave. Community leaders from each area have
been invited, but private citizens also are welcome at the
Monday, Oct. 3, 2005
Wal-Mart suffers from
image and its own success; more on NNA meeting
Mega-retailer Wal-Mart has become a victim
of its own success, and a negative image, and its bottom line
is lagging under the weight of both.
"The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer still tops the
globe in sales, but it has become much harder for the company
to continue achieving growth, writes Lara Mossa of the Oakland
Press of Pontiac, Mich.
Neil Stern, a partner with a retail consulting firm, told
Mossa, " It's the story of a growth company transitioning
to a moderate- growth company." Wal-Mart, she writes,
is facing a General Motors-like dilemma. Mossa asks, "How
do you grow when you're so big?" The company grew by
10 percent and had $256.3 billion in sales in 2004, but analysts
are beginning to wonder whether negative publicity and higher
gas prices will slow the chain's growth.
Scott Horsburgh, president of an investment management firm,
told Mossa, " It looked like they missed a beat last
year, but really it has persisted since then." Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. has pointed to gas prices
as the reason for small sales increases. In May, it blamed
gas prices for a sales gain of only 2.5 percent. Stern told
Mossa, "A Wal-Mart customer is typically on a budget;
as gas prices have gone up significantly, those dollars are
taking away from retail shopping." Wal-Mart's monthly
sales rebounded a bit this summer and September sales are
expected to grow by 2 percent to 4 percent, Mossa writes.
Wal-Mart has had to combats attacks on its image, ranging
from class-action lawsuits to gender discrimination in employee
pay and promotions. Nonprofit groups have formed to urge Wal-Mart
to implement better labor and community practices. Stern said,
"I think the consumer is still going to shop at the place
with the lowest prices and the best selection, but it certainly
doesn't help Wal-Mart," writes Mossa. (Read
Friday's Rural Blog reported on meetings between National
Newspaper Association conference attendees and the
company's vice president for coprorate communications. Click
here for an additional report on the meeting, with emphasis
on the question-and-answer session.
Country towns or micropolitan
centers, rural is a feeling, reporter writes
Get a group of statisticians,
demographers, government officials and bureaucrats in a room
and however many you have is how many possible definitions
of "rural" you would likely find. But a veteran
Tennessee reporter says rural isn't so much a place as it
is a feeling.
"The task is deceptively simple: Define
'rural' in the 21st Century. Go to Webster's,
and you'll get this: 'living in or characteristic of farming
or country life.' Go to the U.S. Census Bureau,
and you'll find this: 'A rural area is any area that is not
defined as urban.' Clear as the Cumberland River on the morning
after an evening deluge, isn't it," writes Leon Alligood
of The Tennessean.
Alligood says he asked 10 or so people to define "rural,"
and got answers ranging from - "It's more of a mindset
than anything," to "I live eight miles out on 11
acres. That's rural to me," to, "I tend to think
of it more as open space," and, "Rural is a lack
Then, Alligood turns poetic, and gives one of the best definitions
of rural we've seen: "As for me, rural is elbow room,
the faint smell of manure and silage, small town cafés
where sun-bronzed farmers gather in the morning for coffee
and scrambled eggs, water tanks spray-painted with 'Go Wildcats'
or 'John loves Suzy,' traffic jams caused when a corn combine
ambles down a state highway moving from one field to another
and, on a cloudless night, a universe of stars twinkling from
horizon to horizon."
Alligood attended a national rural journalism conference
sponsored by the Institute for Rural Journalism and
Community Issues at the University of Maryland
in June. At that conference the definition of "rural"
came up several times, and the answers were myriad. With that
in mind, he raises the conundrum of reporting on rural issues
when there are so many definitions of what it is. (Read
"In order to define our duties, we have to define what
is rural, right?" he asks. Dee Davis, president of the
Center for Rural Strategies, based in Whitesburg,
Ky., told Alligood, "Rural ... resides in the land of
perception. Rural is a Rorschach test. For some, it's all
cows and clover. For others, it's a sense of where you came
from and how that experience shaped you. There's not a one-size-fits-all
definition of rural, Davis contends." Blog Note:
To paraphrase a U. S. Supreme Court Justice who was opining
on a much different subject, - we may not be able to define
it, but we know it when we see (or feel) it.
Smaller towns bore brunt of Rita's
force; storm deceptive in its destruction
With the storm clouds gone, and relief agencies at work,
the devastation from Hurricane Rita along the Texas-Louisiana
Gulf Coast has become more apparent and more destructive than
previously thought, especially to the many small towns that
populate the predominantly rural area.
"Because the storm spared [major] Texas cities that
had expected to be pummeled by its wind and force, Hurricane
Rita was broadly perceived as the Chihuahua to Hurricane Katrina's
bulldog and something dodged rather than survived. But looking
at small towns ... it is clear that ... Hurricane Rita was
as strong as its predecessor, or stronger," writes Jennifer
Steinhauer of The New York Times.
Steinhauer notes the storm killed 100 people, many while
they were trying to evacuate; destroyed homes and businesses;
and upended more oil rigs than Hurricane Katrina. It knocked
out power for hundreds of miles. Charles Gibson, a national
guardsman from South Carolina, told her, "There may not
have been much incentive for people to get down to these little
towns, but for the people down here who are totally devastated,
they feel left out and ignored, as if their story hasn't been
The embarrassment of communications and response failures
following Katrina prompted government agencies to respond
more quickly and aggressively following Rita. But, Steinhauer
notes, the massive one-two punch in basically the same region
has burdened the nation's resources. Todd Hunter, the police
chief of Jasper, where 95 percent of the electric grid was
destroyed, said "I think FEMA is stretched, but the response
is good at this point. It was an unprecedented deal here."
Hurricane recovery: Several agencies
collaborating to provide rural relief
Agencies are continuing to join forces in the ongoing efforts
to help Louisiana's rural residents get back on their feet
in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The Southern Mutual Help Association has
formed a two-pronged Rural Recovery Response initiative. The
Rural Recovery Fund is handling financial needs, and the Rural
Recovery Task Force is addressing housing, health and finance
issues, writes Amanda McElfresh of The Daily Advertiser
in Lafayette, La.
SMHA is working with the Louisiana Environmental
Action Network, OxFam America and
state Rep. Sydnie Mae Maraist Durand, to meet the needs of
hard-hit communities. "The smaller communities have to
have access to the help they need," Miriam Aschkenasy,
a Boston University assistant professor working
with OxFam, told McElfresh. "We want to help activate
that help, get the residents access to it and help them develop
the capacity to get back on their feet." (Read
Vapor trails: Meth stays in the air
24 hours after being made; vacuums stir it up
"Children crawling through a house in which methamphetamine
was made can be exposed to deadly chemicals at least 24 hours
afterward, a study done in Colorado Springs found. Other household
activities such as vacuuming and walking also can stir up
meth and the chemicals used to make it from contaminated surfaces
such as carpets and sofas," writes Anslee Willett of
the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Headed by the National Jewish Medical and Research
Center in Denver, the study measured toxic fumes
produced by meth labs and how they linger for 24 hours after
the drug is made. “If you’re doing activities
in the home, that means this meth is put into the air and
is easily inhaled,” Shawn Arbuckle, a researcher with
National Jewish, told Willett.
The new study, conducted in an abandoned Colorado Springs
house, is one of the first to examine health hazards in an
area after production. The study found that airborne meth,
during manufacturing or up to 24 hours later, penetrates the
lungs and is absorbed quickly. "Exposure to meth labs
has been linked to kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes,
seizures and death," writes Willett. (Read
Montana governor offers answer for
nation's fuel 'substance abuse' -- coal
Post-Katrina, Rita and Iraq, America is a place
of rising tension, energy prices and apprehension about them.
The governor of Montana offers a cure for the nation's energy
woes -- coal.
"Before the hurricanes bumped up already
outrageous fuel prices, President Bush was forced to ask the
royals of Saudi Arabia - the country that gave us 15 of the
19 Sept. 11 hijackers - to lower the price of oil so Americans
could afford to drive. He was refused," writes Gov. Brian
Schweitzer in an op-ed piece for The New York Times.
Schweitzer is also viewed as a potential Democratic presidential
Schweitzer writes, "America is addicted to foreign oil,
and like any addict we are at the mercy of the pushers and
require an intervention. Montana, among other states, is trying
to help America get clean by promoting a range of modern domestic
energy strategies. Yet our biggest idea is actually a very
old recipe: gasoline made from coal instead of oil."
Schweitzer says the nation can produce gasoline, diesel,
jet fuel and other petroleum products out of coal, a process
that was used in America as early as 1928. "Montana thinks
synfuels make a lot of sense for America, especially since
our state has 120 billion tons of coal, more than a third
of America's reserves. That's the liquid fuel equivalent of
one-quarter of the oil underlying the Middle East. Responsible
development of even a small fraction of these reserves could
give America control over the price of gas, dissolve the oil
bonds that tie us to the Middle East, and create wealth and
jobs that would remain on American soil," he writes.
Burley tobacco farmers join Virginia
lawsuit's call for full buyout payment
Two Virginia tobacco farmers have sued the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, accusing it of drifting from Congress's
directives and slashing buyout payments, and they may be the
tip of the leaf, so to speak.
The farmers charge USDA "replaced a simple calculation
approved by Congress with a complex formula that cuts payments
to many farmers. Daniel H. Caldwell, one of the growers' attorneys,
claims the tobacco companies funding the buyout could save
hundreds of millions of dollars,"writes Stephanie Stoughton
of The Associated Press. Some flue-cured
tobacco growers have complained about smaller-than-expected
payments, but the USDA formula may impact burley farmers more.
Burley is mostly grown in Kentucky and Tennessee. Danny McKinney,
chief executive officer of the Burley Tobacco Growers
Cooperative Association in Lexington, Ky., told Stoughton
he thinks up to a quarter of the 75,000 burley growers may
have been shorted. "I didn't realize that if the House
passed it, the Senate passed it and the president signed it,
that the USDA had any power to change it," McKinney said.
A USDA spokesman declined comment and deferred to the Justice
Department, which said only that it planned to file
a response this month. (Read
Bluegrass State's tobacco money split
between two agencies, 'diluted,' paper says
Kentucky is spending $5 million a year to combat tobacco
use, but questions are cropping up about how much of that
money actually goes toward the intended goal.
"The $5 million spent per year is diluted because one
of the two agencies sharing it devotes much of its time and
money to battling illicit drugs and alcohol abuse. The Kentucky
Agency for Substance Abuse Policy receives $2.2 million
a year, but a state official could not say how much of that
goes to tobacco prevention and cessation programs," writes
R.G. Dunlop of The Courier-Journal.
Larry Carrico, who ran the agency known as KY-ASAP from 2000
until late 2003, said tobacco was never a primary focus. "Our
general charge was more about the substance-abuse issue,"
Carrico told the Louisville newspaper. "Probably not
even 25 percent of their money and effort went to tobacco
KY-ASAP and the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program
share money sets aside for tobacco control, which originates
in Kentucky's portion of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement.
As part of the 1998 deal, companies make annual payments to
states as reimbursement for past tobacco-related health costs.
Kentucky's cessation and prevention program receives $2.7
million a year, barely one-tenth of the $25 million that the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
says should be spent. (Read
Iowa beef plant remains on standby;
mad-cow scare, beef bans closed facility
A beef processing plant in Tama, Iowa, closed a more than
a year ago, but maintenance workers are keeping the facility
ready just in case cattle slaughters resume.
The 900-member Iowa Quality Beef Supply Cooperative
bought the Iowa Quality Beef Plant, fixed
it up and opened in July 2003. Cooperative officials hoped
the plant would reestablish the state as a supplier of high-quality
beef. Then came the mad-cow disease scare, the closing of
export markets, and eventually, the plant's closing, writes
Matthew Wilde of the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.
The key to the plant's future is the resumption of beef exports
to Japan and South Korea. Japan was the largest buyer of U.S.
beef at $1.4 billion a year. Japanese officials are still
studying whether U.S. beef is safe, reports Wilde.
Re-opening the Tama plant would provide a great profit boost
to Iowa's cattle farmers. Farmers lost money in July and August
for the first time in 2 1/2 years. John Lawrence, Iowa
State University livestock economist, told Wilde
the losses will most likely continue until next year. (Read
Cooperative fighting for power line;
groups fear harm to national forest
East Kentucky Power Cooperative wants to
again argue before the state a proposed 4.8-mile power line
crossing Daniel Boone National Forest.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission decided
Aug. 19 that while the 138-kilovolt line is needed to provide
reliable service, EKPC should look at installing it along
an existing right of way, writes Allen Blair of the Ashland
Daily Independent. EKPC countered that developing
another route would impose unnecessarily higher costs on users
and create a risk of cascading blackouts.
The commission's preferred route would require at least two
more years of review and affects 35 private property owners
rather than the 18 in the proposed path, EKPC argued. Environmental
groups are worried that EKPC's proposal would hurt the recreation
and wildlife area. The power company could be reheard sometime
this month, reports Blair. (Read
U.S. Senate bill would allow insertion
of synthetic ingredients into organic food
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA)
wants to preserve the organic standards that provide an alternative
to industrial agriculture. The U.S. Senate is scheduled to
vote this week on a "rider"to the 2006 Agriculture
Appropriations Bill that would permit the USDA
rather than the National Organic Standards Board
to designate synthetic ingredients as suitable for organic
The OCA is urging people to contact their senators to oppose
the rider, and let the standards board handle the debate over
synthetic ingredients. For more information about this issue,
visit this site.
At the Annual "Healthy Foods-Local Farms Conference"
held Oct. 1 in Louisville, the Kentucky Resources
Council provided suggestions for strengthening farms
and promoting healthy foods. Some of the suggestions included
learning more about food, teaching children and watching what
you purchase. To read more of the suggestions, click