Wednesday Roundup: Hospital Closes in Weimar

A Republican talks coal to convention • Rural French unemployment addressed • Farm Bill Now coalition wants action in September

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The hospital in Weimar, Texas, has closed. We read about it in the latest issue of the Fayette County Record.

The hospital opened in 1949 as the Youens Hospital. After 63 years of caring for the people of Central Texas, the Colorado-Fayette Medical Center closed last Friday, according to a report by Larry Jackson. 

There may not be anything unique about what happened in Weimar — and maybe that’s the point. The hospital filed for bankruptcy in mid July, saying it was attempting to “readdress the issues from the last 10 years that have brought the hospital to this point of financial crisis.”

The hospital had clinics in several nearby cities. It was unclear, Jackson wrote, if those facilities would be closed, too. “We’re open right now. That’s all I can tell you,” one clinic employee told the Fayette County Record.

A number of hospitals in the area have either closed or been absorbed by larger hospital chains in cities. “Stand-alone hospitals face a unique and nearly insurmountable challenge,” said the head of the hospital chain that took over the hospital in nearby Smithville.

Weimar wasn’t lucky enough to be taken over. It just shut the doors.

Republicans Talk Coal — We didn’t really expect too many references to rural America in party convention speeches. (If you all hear anything, please let us know.) But one Republican yesterday did talk about coal.

It was brief. Andy Barr, a congressional candidate in Kentucky, took his two minutes before the convention to lambast the Obama administration about coal.

Barr claimed that 2,000 coal miners have lost their jobs this year because of “over-regulations and Obama’s war on coal….”Rarely in history has one industry been so ruthlessly attacked with so little regard for the people it hurts,” Barr said. 

“Beyond the rolling hills of the Bluegrass, within the depths of steep mountainsides, Kentuckians built a coal industry that powers America,” Barr said at the beginning of his speech. “But Barack Obama doesn’t care.”

Barr did not mention that cheap natural gas was the primary reason demand for coal was slackening.

Rural Unemployed…in France — The French government is offering to pay salaries of tens of thousands of young people who are unemployed, giving preference to those in urban or rural areas where joblessness is most pervasive. 

The unemployment rate in France is 10 percent overall, but it is 22.8 percent for those under 25.

“The government will give preference to young people hired from poor urban or rural areas that have been hit hardest by rising unemployment,” the AP reports. “Certain sectors will also be favored, such as medicine and digital or green technology.”

Isaac and Crops — We just heard former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on CNBC. Barbour said he expected much of the damage from Hurricane Isaac would come in the fields in his state, particularly to cotton and soybeans.

Farm Bill NowChris Clayton reports on 46 farm groups that are pushing for passage of a Farm Bill next month. 

The Farm Bill Now coalition spoke out at the Farm Progress Show, “trying to push leaders of the House of Representatives to bring the House Agriculture Committee’s bill to the floor for a debate and vote,” Clayton reported. Congress returns September 10 and has scheduled 13 legislative days before the whole show shuts down ahead of the November election.

“Very rarely do you hear of so many groups getting together under one joint message,” said Pam Johnson with the National Corn Growers. “And when you do hear that, you should listen.”

No kidding. This coalition has folks from the left, right and middle of the political universe. Chris Peterson, president of the Iowa Farmers Union, said everyone needs stability for loans to be made and crops to be planned. “Well, financial security is the first thing that comes to mind, getting along with the banker,” Petersen said, adding bankers want to know the rules of the farm programs and how they affect operating income. “If these guys don’t get this passed now, it’s going to create a whole bunch of issues for farmers.”

Congress and Western Firefighting — The Idaho Statesman editorial page writes that the U.S. Forest Service is paying the price for the country’s fiscal crisis. The Boise paper writes:

Congress raided $200 million from a Forest Service’s firefighting fund in 2011, and grabbed another $240 million this year.

That leaves the Forest Service looking for ways to reduce firefighting costs — before they eat into the rest of the agency’s budget. So the Forest Service decided, with little fanfare, to aggressively fight fires from the outset this year. The belief, or the hope, is that the Forest Service can save some money by knocking down fires early.

James Hubbard, the agency’s chief for state and private forestry, conceded the plan’s weaknesses. “I acknowledge this is not a desirable approach in the long run,” Hubbard wrote in a May 25 memo. 

Wage Theft — The Pump Handle has a story on “wage theft” by employers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. 

A few employers simply don’t pay immigrant workers.

Monsanto and SchoolsMonsanto is giving a total of $2.3 million in grants to 176 rural school districts in 35 states. 

Republican Party and Broadband — The Republican Party platform says that the Obama administration “inherited from the previous Republican administration 95 percent coverage of the nation with broadband” and will “leave office with no progress toward the goal of universal coverage.”

“That hurts rural America, where farmers, ranchers, and small business manufacturers need connectivity to expand their customer base and operate in real time with the world’s producers,” the platform said. “We encourage public-private partnerships to provide predictable support for connecting rural areas so that every American can fully participate in the global economy.”

(A recent survey conducted by the Federal Communications Commission found that 20 percent of the population was without broadband access.)

 

 

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