It's the water -- and a lot more -- in rural concerns

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The good news is -- a lot of people love their rural way of life and are working to see that it is maintained. The bad news -- several factors are conspiring to threaten that way of life.

Monday afternoon's rainfall, and similar rain last week has put most of us in a better mood, but we're far from escaping the drought. And, drought was one of the main issues of concern raised during a recent statewide tour by the Center for Rural Affairs advocacy group.

There is only so much water to go around, whether it comes from streams and lakes or from under the ground, and, the drought, along with the Republican River Compact settlement, has only made things worse.

But, according to an Associated Press story, high property taxes and school funding were the two top concerns. "Wherever we started, we kept coming back to the same issues," Chuck Hayes, director of special initiatives for the Center for Rural Affairs told Scott Bauer of the Associated Press. "If someone started with the property tax or school funding, it might lead to corporate consolidation of agriculture, which would lead to low wages, which would lead to lack of health care, which would lead to putting payment caps on subsidies. It didn't matter where we started, the same issues were all tied up."

We might add that drought turns up the heat, so to speak, on all of the issues mentioned above.

But CRFA director Chuck Hassebrook was encouraged by the turnout for their meetings, and the number of "people who have sensed it's time to do something and take control of the future." More information on the group is available at http://www.cfra.org

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