A scene from Sean Dunne's documentary film "Oxyana," shot in Oceana, West Virginia. Some people are concerned with the way the movie portrays their small community.

[imgcontainer] [img:oxyana.jpg] A scene from Sean Dunne’s documentary film “Oxyana,” shot in Oceana, West Virginia. Some people are concerned with the way the movie portrays their small community. [/imgcontainer]

It’s a sad day in Knox County Ohio, as the small town of Bladensburg is losing a school that some town residents consider a vital part of their community. Last Wednesday the Board of Education in the East Knox school district reluctantly voted to close the school. That came only one day after the citizens of the districts rejected a tax increase that the school officials believed would keep them from closing its doors. The 400 students who attend the school will be relocated to the districts middle school next year.

As one women who chose to remain unnamed said, “I think the whole community is going to miss this place.”

Western Week in Washington. Members of Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition are in Washington, D.C., this week advocating on behalf of rural issues, especially policies affecting their members in the Western United States. You can follow their progress around Capitol Hill and other parts of Washington via their blog. Today, they report, they have meetings with the Senate Ag committee to discuss the Farm Bill. There will also be contact with House and Senate Appropriations committees, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and USDA Rural Development.

Jennifer Tucker of Elk City, Nevada, writes about her experience in this post on the RVCC blog.

Power Struggles. The battle over a renewable-energy bill that will affect rural Colorado continues to rage even as the bill reaches Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk. Some say the bill will do nothing but force a burden onto the backs of the states rural citizens, while others say it’s simply a nudge towards what Colorado needs: more renewable energy.

Though the governor seems undecided as of now on if the bill will be vetoed or not, and continues to meet with many officials effected by the matter, he does see a need to improve the state’s renewable energy goals. In that regard, compared to other states, he says Colorado’s goal rank near the bottom of the list. “Right now, we are about the lowest.”

Hickenlooper said the bill is not a war on rural Colorado.  “They are trying to paint it that way, but there are two sides to the story, “ he said.

Rural Health Abroad. A bit of medical news is coming out of Bangladesh that may change the focus of public health efforts in rural areas of both Bangladesh and India. A study that dealt with the causes of female deaths in rural Bangladesh concluded that most fatalities among the women surveyed were caused by noncontiguous diseases and were not pregnancy related. In fact, the numbers are not even close. Forty-eight percent of the women’s deaths were related to communicable diseases; only 22% were classified as pregnancy related. The women surveyed were all married, and their ages ranged from 14 to 45.

“While reducing mortality from pregnancy remains a high priority, these findings highlight the need to address and reduce the risk of death unrelated to pregnancy among women of reproductive age,” Lead author Dr. Alain Labrique said in a news release

A Community Conflicted. In the small town of Oceana, West Virginia, residents are still coming to terms with the town’s portrayal in the independent film “Oxyana.” The documentary, directed by filmmaker Sean Dunne, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and amassed positive reviews, even earning Dunne the festivals best new documentary director award. The film does little to praise Oceana though, as it primarily revolves around the substance abuse of some of the town’s citizens.

While much of the town sees the film as just the newest project in a long line of attempts to exploit West Virginia and rural life for the amusement of others, some see it as an opportunity to honestly evaluate the areas drug problem.  

A Tender Subject. And finally a story that might be a tad bit unpleasant to those readers who are easily made queasy, reading on a full stomach, or steak lovers, Consumer Reports is warning readers not to trust beef that is mechanically tenderized.  The magazine warns that the process can cause blades or needles to push E. coli O157:H7 deep into the muscle, making the bacteria much harder to destroy and a potential threat to consumers. 

The USDA is currently reviewing a draft rule on this practice.

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