Thursday Roundup: Pulitzer Notice in Ferriday

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Stanley Nelson, editor of the weekly Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, Louisiana, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize Monday. Nelson was honored in the “local reporting” category for the stories he wrote about the unsolved murder of Frank Morris. 

On December 10, 1964, Morris’ shoe repair shop in Ferriday was burned. Morris was still in the building and injuries he received killed him four days later. It was widely believed that Morris was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. 

Nelson has written about 150 stories about the murder, including one that identified a suspect. Spurred by Nelson’s reporting, a grand jury is meeting now.

•Christie Vilsack is running for Congress in Iowa. That (last) name might be familiar. She is married to Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and currently the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ms. Vilsack will move to Ames, Iowa, where she will reside in the same district as Republican Rep. Steve King. 

• People are giving up their landlines — and that’s happening more in poorer states. The National Center for Health Statistics reported 40% of adults living in poverty use only cell phones, compared with 21% of adults with incomes that are higher. 

As a result, Arkansas and Mississippi have the highest concentration of people who have abandoned land lines (at 35.2% and 35.1%, respectively). They are followed by Texas, North Dakota, Idaho and Kentucky, all of which have more than 30% of their adult populations living without landlines. 

•Cassandra Heyne, at Rural Telecommentary, has a rundown on comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission on the Universal Service Fund and the Connect America Fund. Cassandra has done a lot of work here. 

• Retail meat prices in March were more than 10 percent higher than a year ago, the largest increase in nearly 7 years, according to Brownfield

• People have such a crazy notion of what rural means. Here is a story titled “Biotech’s Missed Opportunity: Small-Town and Rural America.” Sounds good. The author, Luke Timmerman, is pitching small towns and rural areas as places where bio-tech research can thrive. Sounds better. 

“(T)his industry needs to start thinking more about millions of people who are mostly an afterthought today,” Timmerman writes. “I’m talking about people who live in America’s small cities and rural areas.”

The thought came to the Seattle resident “after I traveled to a place just 270 miles from home, yet a world away—Spokane, WA (population 208,000).” Hmmmm, so rural equals Spokane, the 100th largest city in the U.S.

The Nation ticks off a list of super rich who use their “farms” as a tax deduction. 

For instance, Michael Dell (of the computer company) saves $1 million on his 1,757 acre ranch outside of Austin, Texas, because it is used at times for hunting. Steve Forbes collects an ag exemption for his estate in New Jersey.

The Nation’s point is that while schools are cutting budgets, it’s a little silly to give Michael Dell a tax break for the “agricultural” use of his land. 

• A BBC reporter visits rural Scotland to talk to voters and finds that the big issues there are familiar to those of us here — roads, jobs and the hours when the post office is open. 

• Fujitsu Ltd. says it will build a fiber-optic network to deliver fast broadband to five million households in rural Britain. 

The company will invest up to $3.2 billion; just over $800 million will come from the United Kingdom. U.K. Communication Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Creating this super-fast broadband network will help improve the economic and social prospects of the homes and businesses where high-speed Internet access remains just a dream.”

 

 

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