Another heavenly day for these kids hanging out at the ring toss game at the St. Michael's Spring Festival in Weimar, Texas. The event was held at a park near downtown. There was music, bingo and, of course, a big meal. (Nearly 3,000 dinners sold.) The money goes to support St. Michael's school, which was founded in 1889.

[imgcontainer] [img:weimer.jpg] [source]Bill Bishop/Daily Yonder[/source] Another heavenly day for these kids hanging out at the ring toss game at the St. Michael’s Spring Festival in Weimar, Texas. The event was held at a park near downtown. There was music, bingo and, of course, a big meal. (Nearly 3,000 dinners sold.) The money goes to support St. Michael’s school, which was founded in 1889. [/imgcontainer]

A study done on the effect of closing nine post offices in Northwest Iowa has found that the money saved by the Postal Service “will be far less than the additional costs that will be placed on the businesses and residents in those communities, and these communities will likely decline in the number of businesses and residents.”

The study was don by Smart Solutions Group, an economic consulting firm. Smart Solutions was hired by six counties in Northwest Iowa. A full copy of the report can be found here

The report is a good primer on what post office closings will mean. There is an excellent comparison of the services provided by a full post office and a “village post office,” the scaled down alternative promoted by the Postal Service. The village post office doesn’t do much besides sell stamps and accept change of address forms.

The study is good because it counts the shift in costs that will come with a post office closing. For instance, if post offices in the towns are closed, the consulting group estimated that the 337 businesses in the region would be required to drive once a week to a full post office in a nearby town. That would cost a total of $136,161 in mileage per year for businesses in these nine towns. There would be lost productivity, also. And individuals would incur similar costs when they make the drive .

“Without a post office, these nine communities will decline over time because they cannot grow existing businesses or attract new businesses,” the report finds. “In addition, it will be a challenge for these communities to attract new residents.”

The net impact of a post office closure on the nine towns (total population, 1,607 people) would be just under half a million dollars.

• New Mexico state Auditor Hector Balderas is running his first ad in his race for the U.S. Senate seat there. Balderas is talking about the importance of his upbringing in rural New Mexico. 

“Most senators don’t come from places like this, don’t grow up on food stamps, or become the first person from their village to earn a law degree,” the narrator says over shots of Wagon Mound, Balderas’ small hometown. “But because Hector Balderas did, he understands the power of education in a way most senators never will.”

Balderas is running in the Democratic primary against Rep. Martin Heinrich. The winner of that race will likely face former Rep. Heather Wilson for the open seat.

• There are only 23 Democratic Blue Dogs left in Congress. Two of the conservative Democratic House members lost primaries in Pennsylvania recently to more liberal opponents. 

The Blue Dogs have fallen a long way. Just before the 2010 midterm elections, there were 54 Blue Dogs in the House.

The Blue Dog PAC, which backs conservative Democrats, has endorsed three new candidates: Former Michigan state Rep Gary McDowell, former Indiana state Sen. Dave Crooks, and former North Dakota state Rep Pam Gulleson. All are running in rural House districts. 

• An effort to toughen Idaho’s animal cruelty law appears to have failed.

The Idaho legislature passed the state’s first felony animal cruelty law this year, but activists wanted a tougher statute. They attempted to collect signatures from 47,000 registered voters to put an initiative on a state ballot, but they were coming up short, according to the Idaho Statesman

The Idaho Cattlemen’s Association had supported the law in the legislature, hoping it would head off stiffer requirements pushed by the animal rights backers.

• Amarillo Slim has died. The poker-playing native of Johnson, Arkansas (where he was born as Thomas Preston) and grew up in Turkey, Texas. He was 83. 

The New York times obituary tells the story of a unique character. For example:

Amarillo Slim’s gift for colorful patois was legendary. When asked if he could bluff his way to victory with a bad hand, he said, “Is fat meat greasy?” He then offered the thought that most people who play poker “don’t have the guts of an earthworm.”

He was just as uncharitable to individual opponents. One “couldn’t track an elephant through four feet of snow”; another “had as good a chance of beating me as getting a French kiss out of the Statue of Liberty.”

He liked to say that he had been so skinny as a child, he had to get out of the bathtub before he pulled the plug. As an adult, he was 6 feet 4 inches and 170 pounds.

• Former Kentucky Ag Commissioner Richie Farmer created a “toxic culture of entitlement” during his time in office, according to a state audit released Monday

Farmer is a former Kentucky basketball icon. Once elected Ag Commissioner, he was found to have abused his office. For instance, he used state employees to chauffeur his dog and mow his yard. At one time he had a state worker field dress a doe that Farmer had shot illegally while in a state vehicle.

Farmer ran on the Republican ticket for Lt. Governor last year and lost.

• One in five Iowa high school graduates who try to join the U.S. Army flunk the military’s basic test of math, literacy and problem solving, according to two retired generals. 

The Department of Defense says that 75 percent of young Americans can’t qualify for the military, among other things because of low test scores, obesity or having a criminal record.

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