Roundup: Tuning in to Tribal Radio

Tribal radio • Advice for small towns • Blocking the new EPA emissions rules? • North Carolina experimenting with telepsychiatry • $3 million to help flooding in rural Arizona

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A story by Aljazeera America looks at the importance of local radio in tribal areas.

These small radio stations can be a lifeline when emergencies strike. They track wild fires, keep folks up-to-date on icy road conditions, even point to places where residents can use the bathroom and get fresh water in case of flooding. 

“Outside in the mainstream culture, a lot of folks think radio is dead, but tribal radio is very strong,” says Richard Davis, station manager of KUYI 88.1 FM in Keams Canyon, Arizona. “We really are the lifeblood of what’s going on.”

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A researcher from the University of Minnesota has three pieces of advice for small towns looking to prosper. They boil down to:

Attracting immigrants, hanging on to retiring baby boomers and appealing to millennials in need of affordable housing.

This advice came from University of Minnesota Extension research fellow Ben Winchester at the university’s annual symposium on small towns. 

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has introduced a bill to block proposed changes in rules regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the Huffington Post.

McConnell said the U.S. Labor Secretary would need to certify that the EPA rules will not lead to job losses, the Congressional Budget Office would need to prove they would not harm economic growth, and the Department of Energy's statistics arm would need to show they will not raise electricity prices.

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Also in Kentucky, a small political action committee called Bluegrass Rural is focusing on rural voters, looking for opportunities to "microtarget" voters with McConnell's rural record.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:

“The guy’s got a record that is 30 years long,” said Matt Barron, a Democratic operative from Williamsburg, Massachusetts., who formed the group. “That’s an awful lot of votes, an awful lot of actions … that have been bad for people in rural areas.” …

Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for McConnell’s campaign, said she hasn’t even heard of the group.

Jonathan Hurst, an adviser to [Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan] Grimes, said he hasn’t heard of it either.

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In North Carolina, 28 counties have no resident psychiatrist. To help cover these areas, the state is trying telepsychiatry, a secure, two-way video chat that allows emergency rooms in smaller counties to link patients with psychiatrists. Any fear of talking about intensely personal issues over a Skype-like technology is short-lived, according to the NPR report:

"When you ask patients about this experience, most of them will tell you that after a few minutes of some hesitation, they even forget that they are talking to the doctor via this monitor," Saeed, the chairman of the psychiatry department at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, says.

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Led by a bi-partisan effort of two U.S. representatives, Arizona will receive nearly $3 million dollars from the president’s budget to prevent flooding in its rural areas. The money will help prevent home damage, as well as damage to infrastructure like rail lines, from overflow.

"We've seen some devastating floods in our community," said Maricopa Vice Mayor Edward Farrell, whose family has lived in the area for four generations. "In 1983, my senior year of high school, (the Lower Santa Cruz River) came through and flooded our whole community four feet deep. … That night we were rescuing people off the roofs of their houses. … We were out of school for two weeks, cleaning all the silt out of the classrooms and the books."

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke about the importance of rural businesses exporting their products at the White House Rural Council’s “Made in Rural America Regional Forum” in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.  

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Barbara Kirkmeyer is taking the lessons she’s learned in rural Colorado and using them during her campaign for Congress. Here are some items in her playbook, reports the Denver Post's Anthony Cotton:

A disconnect between government and the common folk? Check. Big-city priorities vs. the agricultural lifestyle? Check. And that's before Kirkmeyer plays her biggest trump card: At a time when cities and states — and the U.S. government — seem to be wondering where their next dime will come from, the Weld County commissioner points to a system that literally has paid dividends to its citizens.

"I grew up on a dairy farm. I've owned a dairy farm. I'm the only candidate who has made a living from farming," Kirkmeyer said. "It's important to have someone who understands what our farmers and ranchers have to go through on a daily basis. When the EPA starts talking about nutrient levels or things that impact our farmers and our farming economy, I'm the only one with experience in those types of issues."

 

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