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News from all over on a Friday:

• Des Moines Regiser’s Kyle Munson celebrates his 10,000th mile traveling across Iowa with a vist to Em & Jerri’s Coffee Co. (above) on First Street in Independence (the “great doorstep to northeast Iowa”).

 What a cool place Em and Jerri’s is. Jerri Reisner had worked as a counselor at Goodwill and she opened the coffee shop with his Emilea Hillman in part to give jobs to special needs adults. The model is working. The mother of one of the workers at the shop said, “She about cries when she can’t come to work.” Independence is our hero of the day. 

• Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) have introduced legislation that would allow more tax deductions for veterinarians who go into areas where there is a shortage of docs. h

• The planning director for Pennsylvania’s largest county is urging local officials to consider zoning as a way to regulate drilling in Marcellus Shale areas. 

“Zoning is really the only way you can enact any local control over the oil and gas industry,” said Hausammann, an employee of Lycoming County in northeast Pennsylvania. 

• Pressured by the state, small towns in Massachusetts are discussing mergers, “defying the state’s staunch tradition of local schools and hometown identity in a quest for greater financial stability,” according to a story in the Boston Globe. 

The story goes through the old arguments. Do bigger school districts save money? Will mergers ruin a sense of community? “We have this business mindset that bigger is better, but it costs far less to build small schools,’’ said one small town superintendent. “There’s not a stitch of evidence you save money through consolidation. It sounds good politically, but it has been proven not to work.’’ 

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