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: 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: 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.

Small town snippets: Possible changes for rural Kansas

A program offering incentives to attract new residents to Kansas could soon expand to include more counties. The Rural Opportunity Zone program currently includes 73 counties but would grow to 77 counties if House Bill 2417 continues to advance. The House voted to advance the bill on Thursday.

Rural hospitals could see a restriction change through the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act of 2014. If passed, the bill would eliminate the Medicare rule that patients be present at a rural hospital no longer than 96 hours in order for it to receive reimbursement.

New research suggests that small businesses in rural communities are facing financial difficulties. With banks relocating to urban areas, rural business owners can no longer rely on banks to issue credit based on the owner’s reputation.

Small town snippets: Rural communities garner attention

Rural healthcare has not been a priority in past years and a recent study has shown that those residing in rural areas have shorter life expectancies than those living in large cities. However, a program in Arizona is working to funnel more medical professionals to rural communities.

Experts from around the country converged at the University of Kansas on Friday to discuss the future of rural communities. The preservation of natural resources was a primary topic of discussion at the symposium.

Funding from the USDA helped in the creation and completion of a variety of projects in rural Kansas in 2013. The state received more than $413 million which was used to improve water quality and help small businesses, among other projects.

[Bonus] A recent article from the Kansas City Star put the spotlight on the quality of service provided by small town businesses. Author Cindy Hoedel shared her appreciation for small town businesses that go the extra mile for their customers.

Small town snippets: Rural housing, healthcare changes; agriculture education

Populations in western Kansas have been declining. However, a revised definition of “rural” in the new Farm Bill may help to revive the housing market in these areas due to the availability of USDA home loans.

A rural Kansas school faced impending closure until it decided to take a new approach to its curriculum. The Walton Rural Life Center adopted an agriculture-based curriculum and has seen an increase in enrollment since the curriculum’s inception in 2007.

A bill which would allow increased flexibility for outpatient services in small hospitals passed the Senate on Feb. 10. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, prevents enforcement of the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.