Thursday Roundup: Appalachian Depression

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Of the 11 metro areas where residents are most likely to say they have been diagnosed with depression, six are in Appalachia, according to the Gallup polling organization. Gallup says depression is linked to tough economic times and the sense among individuals that they are not being productive.

Huntington, West Virginia led the group, with 32.1% of its residents saying they had been told by a medical professional that they suffer from depression. It was followed by Redding (CA) 29.8%; Charleston (WV) 26.3%; Erie (PA) 26.2%; Chico (CA) 25.2%; Knoxville (TN) 24.9%; Kingsport (TN) 24.5%; Spartanburg (SC) 24.5%; Evansville (IN) 24.4%; Dayton (OH) 23.5%; and Roanoke (VA) 23.5%.

Gallup reports

Respondents who have been diagnosed with depression report a high number of days in the past month when poor health kept them from doing their usual activities. Depression is more strongly related to unhealthy days than any other specific health condition asked about, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. Thus, several of the communities on the list of metro areas where diagnosis of depression is most common — including those in the Appalachian region — are also among those with the highest average number of unhealthy days among the 188 U.S. cities surveyed last year….

The Appalachian region’s economic woes must be addressed with efforts to attract new industries to many communities where manufacturing, mining, and forestry jobs have dried up. However, the 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index findings imply that for many communities in the region, poor psychological health may be a significant barrier to growth. New organizations might hesitate to establish operations in a region where energetic, highly productive employees are hard to find.

•States are cutting grants to arts organizations and the New York Times finds that this  may hurt groups in rural areas the most. 

Financial aid to local arts groups has dropped 42 percent in the last decade, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed the entire budget for arts grants. Texas cut its aid to the arts by 50 percent. New Jersey cut its budget by 23 percent. Times writer Robin Pogrebin reports:

(M)uch of America’s artistic activity does not happen in major recital halls and theaters; instead it occurs in places like Lucas, population 407, where the cultural attractions include S. P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden historic folk art site and where smaller arts organizations are highly dependent on state grants.

“When any form of government funding is cut, the organizations that tend to get hit the most are rural, organizations of color, avant-garde institutions — those that have a harder time raising individual and corporate money,” said Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

•The (legal) marijuana-growing capital of the country is Williams, Oregon, according to the AP

The news agency analyzed the locations where people are registered to grow medical marijuana. Williams has the highest concentration. More than 400 of the town’s 2,000 residents are authorized by the state to grow up to six plants each.

Williams is in Josephine County in the southwest corner of the state, just west of Medford. Neighboring towns also have high rates of shall we say growership: O’Brien was at 15.2%; Selma 10.5%; and Cave Junction 9.9% One rural zip code showed 60 of 80 residents as legal pot growers.

• Walmart is buying more of its fruits and vegetables close to its stores, the Wall Street Journal reports

Large retailers are all trying to supply local foods for their customers who are looking for local labels. Walmart is urging store managers to buy produce grown within 450 miles of its distribution centers even if it costs more. The company says this costs less, but won’t quantify its savings. 

For instance, Walmart has arranged for farmers to grow jalapeno peppers in 30 states, twice the number as last year. A decade ago, Walmart bought almost all its peppers from farms in California and Florida. 

• The federal government will lose more than $1 billion in airline ticket taxes because Congress has left town for a month without reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration. 

One of the issues involved in the conflict over the FAA is subsidies given to maintain air service at 13 rural airports at a cost of $16.5 million.

Airlines have raised the price of tickets to match the decrease in federal fees.

• The Los Angeles Times goes to Emporia, Virginia, where women are dying at a very young age.

 

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