[imgcontainer right] [img:Plato%2C+MO+locator+map.gif] [source]EPodunk[/source] Plato, Missouri, is now at the population center of the United States — what one Plato student calls now the “middle of everywhere.” [/imgcontainer]

The U.S. Postal Service is cutting back service to save money and those cuts seem to be affecting rural communities more than the cities.

Surprise, right?

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the Postal Service is closing two sorting centers in Eastern Kentucky and more than 20 small post offices. As a result, by January, sending a letter from rural Eastern Kentucky to the state capitol of Frankfort will take two days instead of the one day it takes now.

The same thing is happening in Western Kentucky, as the Postal Service has closed smaller sorting centers there. There has been talk of opening post offices in existing business, but the Lexington paper reports that “nearly all the new ‘contract unit’ offices — full-service post offices inside other businesses, mainly retail stores — are opening in more urban areas such as Lexington, Louisville and Elizabethtown.” 

• The population center of the country is 2.9 miles east of Plato, Missouri, an Ozarks town of 109, the Census Bureau announced. In 2000, the population center of the country was near Edgar Springs, about 23 miles northeast of Plato.

After the nation’s first Census, in 1790, the population center was in Kent County, Maryland, 873 miles away from Plato.

There was a celebration in Plato. Village chairman Bob Biram told the gathering, “We’re proud of our village. As one of our students said, ‘we’re in the middle of nowhere; now we are in the middle of everywhere.’” 

• First, 130,000 acres were flooded to save Cairo, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew up levees on the Mississippi. Now Morgan City, Louisiana, is getting ready for the flood waters as officials prepare to open the Morganza Floodway, spilling the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya River and into Morgan City. 

“Baton Rouge and New Orleans should be sending us help because we’re saving their butts,” said Merinda Leger of nearby Stephensville. “Y’all pray for us. You can at least do that.”

• Good profile here of Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski. A summary:

Genachowski prefers to focus on the issue that could define his tenure: extending high-speed Internet service to every corner of the country. To that end, he wants broadcasters to volunteer to give up some of their airwaves and auction them off to the highest bidder in the wireless industry. He also wants to reform a nearly $9 billion-a-year subsidy program to help build broadband networks in rural and low-income areas.

Both parties in Congress support those broader goals.

“It’s hard to get anything done in Washington, so that’s life,” he said. “But the bipartisan draw around this has been strong.”

• People in ranching country are mourning the death of Johnny Smith, who died over the weekend in Fort Pierre, South Dakota.

Smith was president of the South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association and was one of the founders of R-CALF, a cattleman’s group. On Saturday mornings, he reported the livestock news on the radio in central South Dakota. Every July 4th, he was the announcer of the rodeo in Fort Pierre.

His funeral services Thursday will be held at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center in Fort Pierre. 

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