Rural Reads: On post offices, Common Core and county health

Mar 22, 2013

Every week, KBIA's Health & Wealth Desk curates the week's most interesting (or so we think) articles and reports on rural health, wealth and society issues. 

Rural post offices in crisis

Harvest Public Media’s Bill Wheelhouse takes us to Nilwood, Ill., where picking up snail mail at the post office is still part of the daily rush hour... for now. The U.S. Postal Service plans to cut the town’s post office’s hours and do away with its full-time postmaster.

Nilwood’s post office is only one of 13,000 post offices in the U.S. slated for these cuts. Wheelhouse reports postal officials hope to have the changes made nationwide by the end of 2014.  

Rural schools and Common Core standards

NPR StateImpact’s Ida Lieszkovszky reports some rural schools in Ohio are technologically unprepared for the standardized testing required by the new national Common Core curriculum. Those standardized tests are online, and schools in rural Appalachia don’t even have computers younger than 10 years old — let alone have access to high-speed Internet.

The 2013 County Health Rankings

Every year since 2009, the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks every county within every U.S. state by measuring its health. Researchers looked at existing data for health outcomes, such as every county's rate of deaths before 75 and number of days where residents report feeling unhealthy. Researchers also looked at health factors, such as smoking, obesity, rates of children in poverty and access to recreational facilities, among others.

This year, the researchers went interactive with their findings. Go here to click around a map and see how your county ranks within Missouri. 

For example, you might learn that Boone County leads the state for ‘health behaviors,’ which means its residents have low rates of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and excessive drinking. The county’s sexually transmitted disease rate, however, is the fifth highest in the state (we think maybe having the largest college campus in the state has something to do with that). 

Go here to see how mid-Missouri counties adjacent to Boone County compare to one another.