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The Yonder Report: News from rural America - July 11, 2024

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News from rural America.

Audio file

A new wildfire map shows where folks are most at risk of losing a home nationwide, rural North Carolina groups promote supportive and affordable housing for those in substance-abuse recovery, and bookmobiles are rolling across rural California.


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For the Daily Yonder and Public News Service, this is the news from rural America.

Remote work prompted by COVID seems here to stay, and rural communities are enticing folks to relocate with everything from cash to potlucks and farm fresh eggs.

Daily Yonder reporter, Pat Rhea, says outside of cities, the pandemic had a silver lining.

That opened up a whole new economic development strategy for small towns, especially rural areas.

In 2020 and 2021, areas in West Virginia, Kansas and Illinois began to lure remote workers.

Rhea says some rural places offered gym memberships or vouchers to local restaurants, amenities most towns could use to boost growth.

And she says those who made the leap often give the same kinds of reasons for moving.

We wanna get away from the traffic.

We don't want our kids to be numbers in schools.

We want them to have individual attention.

One woman said, "I wanna be able to walk to the bank."

Little things.

In Eastern Kentucky, a preservation group wants to honor a forward-thinking coal miner who came to America more than a hundred years ago.

Alana Newman has more.

10 years after Martin Himmler immigrated from Hungary, he started the world's first and only employee-owned coal mine in what's now Beauty, Kentucky.

WVU history professor Brian Turley says the cooperative and its town was Himmler's answer to a ruthless industry that exploited miners.

He had experienced the worst environments of coal mining in Appalachia before unionization.

The co-op went bankrupt, and the mine was destroyed by a flood.

But Kathy Corbin wants to restore Himmler's home with an eye on National Park Service historic designation.

If the House does receive National Landmark designation, this is a tremendous asset for this area of Appalachia, which has been hit hard by lack of coal mining.

I'm Alana Newman.

From North Dakota to Texas, beef production is dominated by just four companies, and that makes it hard for ranchers who sell them their beef to also fight unfair practices.

But Aaron Shire with the National Farmers Union says a new USDA rule should help small meat and poultry producers stay in the black and bring down costs for consumers.

A proposed federal law would provide clarity regarding unfair market practices under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Independent ranchers hope the rule will give them more power to act if they feel they've been ripped off.

If a meat packer, someone in the market, fails to pay a producer, that is something USDA has consistently taken action on.

Some industry groups say the rule could encourage litigation, but Shire argues it'll foster fair competition.

For the Daily Yonder and Public News Service, I'm Roz Brown.

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