Rural

Idaho and Utah voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid at the ballot this November. Those voters might want to look at a report out this week that assessed how the expansion of the federal health care program played out. 

Melodie Edwards

A Tour Of Rawlins

Longtime Rawlins city councilor and former mayor DeBari Martinez gives me a tour around town in his truck. He points out all the Latino-owned businesses we pass: a flower shop, a photographer's studio, a steakhouse.

Today’s jobs report that puts unemployment at a low of 3.9%  is not necessarily good news for companies competing for potential workers, especially in rural areas, where it’s already challenging to attract labor. Businesses and governments are coming up with creative solutions.

Cooper McKim/Wyoming Public Radio

Winds were gusting over 45 miles per hour on an overcast day at the Dunmire Ranch in southeastern Wyoming. Black cows grazed in the distance with wind turbines lined up on the horizon. At the center of ranch, young colts milled around the corral. Gator, a 14-year-old blind and deaf dog, barked, guarding the home of rancher Les Dunmire. 

 

Inside the house, Dunmire put on his dirt-caked cowboy hat and boots, as he told me how he’s owned this ranch for just over 30 years and that this lifestyle goes back generations.

 

Cally Carswell

  

In the 1930s, rural electric cooperatives brought electricity to the country’s most far-flung communities, transforming rural economies. In Western Colorado, one of these co-ops is again trying to spur economic development, partly by generating more of their electricity locally from renewable resources, like water in irrigation ditches and the sun.

Emily Guerin

  

Steve Fischer finished law school in Ohio in 2010 — one of the worst years to graduate in recent memory. Less than 70 percent of law school grads who passed the bar in Ohio that year landed a job as an attorney. He finally called an old friend and asked if he was hiring.

He was — in fact he was desperate for help. Soon, Fischer, “was making better money than most of my law school classmates.”

Several remote communities in the state will be able to receive better internet service in the near future.  Visionary Communications has announced a plan to expand its fiber optic line to connect the towns of Chugwater, Guernsey, Pinedale and Torrington to the rest of the state. 

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health is trying to improve healthcare in rural communities by providing grant money for rural health centers.

The agency’s Keri Wagner says the money can be used to open new clinics, or to allow existing facilities to expand.

“Priority will be given to … applicants for new clinics in areas where access does not already exist,” Wagner said.

She added that while many areas in Wyoming don’t have access to good healthcare, money is not the only problem; it’s also hard to find doctors who are willing to live in rural areas.

A new study from the group Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development says that rural communities depend on adjacent land for their economic health.  That can either be land for energy development or the outdoors.  The report finds that ten percent of the jobs in Cody are connected to spending on fishing, hunting and wildlife.  But impact from nearby energy development land can also help the local economy.  But Trout Unlimited’ s Brad Powell says there should be a balance between the two.