rural issues

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Three rural Oklahoma communities are receiving $7 million in grants and loans to improve water infrastructure. The money is part of a $462 million investment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help modernize rural water and wastewater systems across 44 states.

Seth Bodine / KOSU

The U.S. Census efforts have been interrupted by COVID-19, forcing the Bureau to push back deadlines and adjust to the pandemic. That's left rural community leaders struggling to adapt.

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Eight rural hospitals in Oklahoma have closed in the last decade, the third highest rate of rural hospital closures in the country. But, the recent vote to expand Medicaid could provide rural hospitals with a much needed financial boost.

The United States Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on changes that it says will make getting loans for major projects easier for rural communities.

Four loan guarantee programs reassure banks that they’ll be repaid when towns borrow for infrastructure improvements such as water and wastewater treatment systems and energy projects. But each program has its own application and specific requirements.

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With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt addressed the media Thursday afternoon to talk about how the state was dealing with record increases. But, his administration isn't overly concerned with the levels.

In the Idaho mountain town of Grangeville, population 3,200, signs in windows on Main Street advertise that Border Days "is on."

The annual Fourth of July celebration boasts street dances, Idaho's longest-running rodeo and even the world's largest egg toss. Like in a lot of small towns, Grangeville's economy has been struggling throughout this pandemic.

Border Days planners decided to go ahead with an altered, if slightly scaled back version of the festival this year amid worries about a possible spike in coronavirus cases.

Voters in Oklahoma narrowly approved a ballot measure Tuesday night to expand Medicaid to eligible adults who need health insurance. Oklahoma is now the 37th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; coverage will begin a year from now, on July 1, 2021.

Based on the final unofficial count, the measure passed with just over a 6,000-vote margin — less than one full percentage point.

The Economic Benefits And Perils Of Adopting Medicaid Expansion

Jun 30, 2020
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

The campaigns on both sides of State Question 802 have made numerous claims about the potential benefits and perils of Medicaid expansion, which is being voted on today.

Allison Herrera

When I visited Quapaw Nation's beef processing plant in 2018, it was less than a year old. The building was still pretty shiny and cattle and bison grazed on a vast field. They had a dozen or so employees and were in the process of getting one of the first Native Americans ⁠— a young Quapaw man ⁠— to be trained as a USDA meat inspector. Today, a lot has changed.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

KOSU, the public radio station licensed to Oklahoma State University, welcomes a new reporter to cover agriculture and rural issues. At a time when local journalism is reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, KOSU is expanding its newsroom to be of better service to the Oklahoma community.

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