Small town snippets: Proposed rural solutions

Closures of post offices across the country have made headlines. In Dickinson County, 17 families have been without mail delivery since 2009. Geraldine Kohman, 75, has worked to make her voice heard but to little avail.

A primary topic of discussion at the recent Kansas Rural Opportunity Conference was the status of the state’s water supply. The drought has worsened the problem, which is now raising concerns in certain rural areas of the state.

The need for doctors in rural Kansas is becoming a key issue in the southern community of Arkansas City. Hospital officials are hoping to begin recruitment soon, but a lack of resources to draw potential doctors in could pose a problem.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to support rural business owners. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the creation of the Rural Business Investment Program on April 21.

An expansion of the Medicaid program in the state could help the economy, according to a Kansas Center for Economic Growth report. According to the report, rural hospitals and those looking for jobs could benefit if the expansion were approved.


Small town snippets: Business, medicine developments; veterans struggle with homelessness

The University of Kansas School of Business is working to make retirement easier for business owners. The RedTire program helps to match retiring business owners with buyers.

For parents and caregivers of children with autism in rural areas, a new technology could make it easier for these children to receive treatment. The care training is transmitted via interactive television to educate caregivers in the science of applied behavioral analysis.

While the problem of homelessness among veterans is improving in metropolitan areas, it is still an issue for veterans in more rural areas. With many veterans in rural communities living far from Veterans Affairs Department offices, these resources are often not being used to their full advantage.


Small town snippets: Budget cuts and program grants

The legislature’s allocation of school funds and elimination of teacher tenure left some school administrators in smaller districts feeling uncertain about the future. School officials in LaCrosse and Ellinwood said they think the decisions made by the legislature could potentially be more of a burden than a benefit.

Transportation in southeast Kansas will be undergoing changes due to redistribution of funds by the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. Those who rely on these services in Pittsburg will see changes in the near future. The Southeast Kansas Community Action Program is working to minimize the effects of the budget cuts.

A family farm in Atwood, Kan. will be able to develop new technology allowing for mobile slaughter and processing of poultry. Chris Sramek was awarded a grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program for the research and development of this new mobile unit.

Small town snippets: Outward migration, rural innovation

New census data indicated that more people are leaving the state rather than moving in. From April 2010 to July 2013, Kansas experienced an increase in overall population change, but a net loss of approximately 10,000 residents due to outward migration.

Innovative programs are being implemented in the educational system. Schools in Lyon County are taking learning outdoors to teach math and science and give students a more hands-on experience.

The central Kansas communities of Claflin and Ellinwood are coming together to help promote local events and attract more people to the area. Through the new joint venture, community leaders hope to bring more opportunities to the region.

Small town snippets: Changes in water, healthcare, Internet access

The USDA has taken on several programs dedicated to improving quality of life in rural areas. Now, the USDA Rural Utilities Service is working to improve water infrastructures in small communities across Kansas.

Rural health care may be harder to come by in the next five years, according to a group of primary care doctors in rural Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. The change is due in large part to recent and upcoming changes in health care regulations.

Sprint Nextel Corp. has joined the effort to expand internet access to rural areas. It is working with the Competitive Carriers Association and NetAmerica Alliance on a program which would allow carriers to use Sprint’s network in rural areas.

The Kansas PowerUp movement will be at the Capitol on Monday, April 1, to network with other PowerUps and meet with legislators. All Kansans who are ages 21-39 and rural by choice are able to attend.

Small town snippets: The rural divide

Add political affiliations to the list of differences between urban and rural America. Data has indicated that those in rural areas tend to favor a more Republican ideology while urban Americans lean toward the Democratic party.

Rural poverty continues to increase while rates in more urban areas decline. The reported rate for rural poverty was 17.8 percent in 2012 while the poverty rate among children in rural areas was higher.

The Neighbor to Neighbor Statewide Food Drive will continue next week as part of Kansas Agriculture Week. Donations collected will stay local to benefit struggling Kansans.

Small town snippets: Healthcare, education, and broadband for all

Low wages for primary care doctors in rural communities has been one factor in the shortage of medical experts in these areas. However, President Obama’s budget for 2015 aims to encourage more doctors to work in the primary care field.

A recent survey by National Farmers Union Mutual indicated that slow broadband speeds in rural communities could be impeding education among children. With the internet becoming an increasingly useful educational tool for children, internet accessibility is crucial.

As reliance on technology increases, the federal government is working to expand the availability of broadband. The USDA, FCC, and Department of Education are developing programs to bring broadband access to more rural areas of the country.