Across the Nation

Alabama- Dr. Regina Benjamin, who has twice rebuilt the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, has been awarded one of the 25 “Genius Grants” from the MacArthur Foundation. Dr. Benjamin’s clinic serves rural patients regardless of their ability to pay. DailyYonder.com reports her commenting that, “People who were insured all their lives are losing their insurance, losing their jobs, or they just can’t afford it anymore.” The grant awards $500,000 over five years and can be used any way the recipient chooses. Among her ideas for the money is a scholarship for local student pursuing math, science and health care. She notes, “We don’t have enough kids from rural communities, and particularly minority kids, going into health careers.”

Kansas- Rural Telephone Service Co. is preparing to offer broadband Internet service for small cities without DSL and fiber optics by using Nex-Tech units. Justin McClung, Nex-Tech’s Internet solutions manager, said in a statement that, “Deploying Redline’s high-capacity 3.65-GHz WiMax base stations eliminated the issues we encountered using other wireless solutions, including mitigating interference, ensuring high levels of throughput, and delivering the quality of services support we needed.” The technology met the need for quick deployment – towers were erected in just six to eight weeks, and the need for transmission capability without a direct line-of-sight.

Nationwide- The Federal Communications Commission chairman lent his support to the use of vacant portions of the television broadcasting spectrum for Internet use. The spectrum will be left open after all broadcasts become digital in 2009. This is an opportunity to provide broadband Internet to under-served communities, improve emergency response communications, and boost Internet capabilities and offerings in rural areas.

Vermont- Central Valley Public Service has begun selling electricity produced from cow manure from four dairy farms to about 4,000 utility customers that agreed to a pay a 4 cents per kilowatt premium for power. Most of the premium fee goes to farmers to defray the cost of equipment each farm must purchase, which can cost a single farm up $2 million. This equipment scrapes the waste into a drain. It is then pumped into a sealed concrete tank and is kept at a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Anaerobic bacteria break the organic matter down to create a mixture of methane and other gases to be burnt in an engine running an electric generator.

Contact: Casey Francis, caseyf@cfra.org with questions or to suggest items for Across the Nation.

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