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Posts tagged: Rural

Red Cloud Indian School Uses Recovery Act Funds to Spark Advancement

The Red Cloud Indian School is located about five miles north of Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Shannon County are often listed as being among the poorest areas in this Nation.  Within this Third World environment the school provides a safe learning environment for Native American students.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that President Obama signed into law in February will help provide a much-needed economic boost to this rural area.  Recently, I joined Area Director Tim Potts to present the School with federal funds totaling $941,000. The money will be used to provide teacher housing, a new heating and cooling system and a sewer lift station at the school. The money is a combination of Recovery Act funds and dollars from USDA Rural Development’s standard allocation to South Dakota. Read more »

Missouri Utilizing Recovery Act Funding for Water Improvements

I found it very rewarding to see the rural town of Gideon, Missouri utilizing the Recovery Act funds to make their water system safe.  The water project is one of the first in the nation to benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that President Obama signed into law in February.

I presented Mayor Ron Wakefield of Gideon a Certificate of Appreciation on Friday, November 13, 2009 for his vision of tapping into the ARRA funds for essential improvements for the safety of his residents.  Senator Claire McCaskill and Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson were represented at the ceremony along with the Engineer, Contractor and City officials.

The City was awarded $2.4 million in USDA Rural Development dollars with a combination loan and grant to correct serious deficiencies in the 1930’s existing water distribution system that serves 454 residents and small businesses in the community.  Based on pay estimates, the staff advised me that they are over one third completed in making the necessary repairs.  I was proud to see the dollars at work with backhoes trenching and new water lines being installed.

Some of the folks I talked to made me aware that Gideon’s water distribution system has been plagued by problems for many years and has deteriorated to a point that monthly water outages are a common occurrence.  The City has been under intense scrutiny since the waterborne salmonella disease outbreak of 1993, which contaminated the City’s 100,000-gallon elevated tank.  Many upgrades were performed at that time, and again in 1997 when contamination was again confirmed, but serious concerns still existed regarding the more than nine miles of distribution lines.  Officials told me that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of bands on the old lines to stop leaks.

With the funding provided to the City of Gideon by Rural Development, the existing distribution system will be completely redesigned.  Approximately 80% of the water lines will be replaced with all new, metered service lines, providing the City with adequate pressure to service its customers.  Improvements will also be made to the well house, chlorine feed system and a backup generator will be installed for emergency power.

It would be an understatement to say that the impact of these funds on this community is really monumental!

While attending the ceremony I met Slayton Boone, a student reporter from the Gideon High School.  He had an interesting perspective on the water improvements.  In fact, he relayed the story to Rural Development that the water system improvements was one of the “top ten”  items that appeared on T-shirts regarding improvements needed in Gideon. The phrase “No boil order on Water” was a not a desirable item but unfortunately a reality.

It makes me feel good to know that the Recovery Act funds helped create construction jobs but even more important is that this investment will remove a serious health hazard for this rural town and make it a better place to live for the future.

- Jane Dunning, Missouri State Director, USDA Rural Development

In-patient Hospice Care Close to Home

Steve Richard of SUN Home Health and Hospice and Tom Williams, Pennsylvania State Director, USDA Rural Development at the SUN Home Hospice Care Center ribbon cuttingI recently had the pleasure of participating in a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Steve Richard, President/CEO, SUN Home Health and Hospice and otherstakeholders, for a new hospice center located within the Sunbury Hospital. USDA Rural Development awarded Sun Home Health Services, Inc. $99,500 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Rural Business Enterprise Grant funding to create a six-bed inpatient hospice unit within the hospital.  Terminally ill cancer patients in Central Pennsylvania now have an alternative to travelling 30–150 miles to an urban area for short-term in-patient hospice care. Read more »

USDA: A Farm Team Worth Playing For

My first three weeks interning for USDA have been extremely interesting and enjoyable.  A native of Austin, Texas, I grew up spending most weekends on my grandparents’ farm, the same farm where we currently raise Texas Longhorn cattle. Instead of returning to Austin after the baseball season, I came to Washington, DC to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn about both agriculture and the government while also making a difference.

I knew USDA played a significant role in the lives of farmers and ranchers, but I continue to be amazed by the breadth of programs and agencies here.  Rural Development, for example, does amazing work in rural communities, from building hospitals to improving water supplies to increasing the availability of broadband internet.  I also have a greater appreciation for USDA’s role in disease and pest control and its significant impact on the success of our country’s agricultural output and economy over the years.

In addition to learning about USDA, I have been afforded some great opportunities through my internship.  This week I went to a Tribal Leaders Reception for the National Congress of American Indians.  I met several interesting people, both tribal leaders and people who work in other departments of the government.

The reception was held in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  It was my first time visiting the museum and reminded me of all the great museums and government buildings in Washington, DC.  I have been to a few of them now, with my favorite two being the Library of Congress and the National Archives.  I’m looking forward to more great experiences in the weeks to come.

Ross Ohlendorf, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is spending part of his off-season at the United States Department of Agriculture. A graduate of Princeton University, he is spending eight weeks as an intern with USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

Photo of Ross Ohlendorf

Ross Ohlendorf

Donativo del Programa de Energia Para USDA Asegura la Continuacion de la Cosecha del Café en Puerto Rico

Cuando la mayoría de los americanos piensan en café, piensan en Sur America o Hawaii. Lo que no saben es que Puerto Rico tiene una larga tradición en la producción de café de alta calidad. Un donativo otorgado al dueño de una hacienda de café  por USDA Rural Development bajo el programa de Energía Rural para America (REAP) está ayudando a conservar la tradición.

El café llego a nuestra isla en el año 1700 y fue por mucho tiempo, nuestro principal producto de exportación. Algunos de los mejores café del mundo son producidos en la zona montañosa central en el pueblo de Adjuntas. La combinación de la altura, ambiente fresco, lluvia y suelo volcánico contribuyen a que crezca una variedad de café con un sabor exquisito.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, coffee plantation owner Jimmy Román, and workers at the plantationJosé Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, holds freshly roasted coffee at the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation.

Un problema grande que tenemos en Puerto Rico es el alto costo del gas propano combustible que se usa para secar y tostar el grano del café. Recientemente, el Sr. Jimmy Román dueño de la Hacienda Monte Alto, hacienda productora de café vino a USDA Rural Development buscando fondos para comprar un horno especial para tostar café. El horno en vez de usar gas propano usa la cáscara del café como combustible. Pudimos otorgarles un donativo de $14,000 al Sr. Román y a su familia para la compra de los hornos.

Debido a este nuevo sistema de tostar el café, esta pequeña plantación familiar no va a tener que subir los precios del café por la fluctuación del precio del combustible. El Sr. Román me indicó que este sistema de tostado del café, va a estabilizar los costos de producción, preservando 15 empleos permanentes y 40 de temporada en la cosecha del café. Es un placer trabajar con el dueño de esta plantación de café, el Sr. Román y su familia  y asegurarnos en continuar esta larga tradición de la cosecha del café puertorriqueño, y que esta familia pueda continuar trabajando su tierra en Puerto Rico.

Por José Otero-García, Director Estatal en Puerto Rico de USDA Rural Development.

USDA Rural Energy for America Grant Helps Ensure the Continuation of Puerto Rico’s Coffee Harvest

When most Americans think of coffee, they think of South America or Hawaii.  What they may not know is that Puerto Rico has a long and significant relationship with coffee.  Funds provided to a coffee plantation owner by USDA Rural Development through the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program are helping to preserve that heritage.

Coffee first came to our island in the 1700s, and was for a long time, a primary export.  Some of the finest coffee in the world is produced in the central mountain range in the town of Adjuntas. A combination of high altitude, cool weather, precipitation and volcanic soil allows the growing of a coffee variety with very flavorful beans.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, holds freshly roasted coffee at the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, holds freshly roasted coffee at the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, coffee plantation owner Jimmy Román, and workers at the plantation

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, coffee plantation owner Jimmy Román, and workers at the plantation

The one significant drawback to coffee production here in Puerto Rico is the expense of purchasing propane gas for roasters to dry and roast the beans.  Recently, the owner of the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation, Jimmy Roman, came to USDA Rural Development seeking funds to buy special toaster ovens.  Instead of propane, these ovens use coffee bean shells for fuel.  We were able to provide a $14,000 grant to Mr. Roman and his family.

Because of this new drying system, this small family-owned plantation won’t be forced by rising fuel costs to raise the price it charges for its beans.  Mr. Roman tells me that the drying system will stabilize production costs, preserving the 15 permanent and 40 seasonal jobs that the plantation supports.  It is a pleasure to work with this plantation owner, Mr. Roman and his family to help ensure that a long-established custom, that of harvesting locally grown coffee, will continue and that a hard working family will continue to work the land here in Puerto Rico.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico