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January/February 2001

Inside This Issue:

 

Kicking Off A New Grant Year
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has officially kicked off its 2001 grant projects and is looking forward to another year of garnering important research and technical information.

In November of 2000, the Center’s Board of Directors awarded more than $300,000 in grant monies to six faculty from State System of Higher Education universities and three faculty from the Pennsylvania State University’s main and Commonwealth campuses. February 1 is the official kick-off date for most projects.

This year’s projects focus on topics ranging from alternative education to long-term care services. Representative Sheila Miller, chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors, says that this year’s grant projects, like past projects, will continue to reflect the needs and issues of our times.

"Our Board of Directors, independent reviewers and Center staff are constantly mindful of the issues that need more focused attention," Miller says. "During the grants process, we try to choose the projects that will build on the Center’s base of information and rural Pennsylvania’s need for answers to important issues."

2001 Grant Projects
This year’s grant projects are summarized below.

Assessment and Strategies for Enhancing E-Commerce in Rural Pennsylvania

The "new economy" is driven by entrepreneurs and innovative companies using technology and the Internet to effectively and efficiently reach out to the global marketplace.

Rural Pennsylvania is facing a relatively large unemployment rate due to the virtual extinction of "old economy" industries such as steel and coal, and is struggling to transition to the "new economy." This study, conducted by Dr. Prashanth Nagendra of Indiana University, will focus on assessing the use of e-commerce in rural Pennsylvania and on developing strategies to enhance the use of e-commerce.

Availability of Long Term Care Services in Rural Pennsylvania

With Pennsylvania’s growing senior population and those under 65 who need long-term care services, the issue of long-term care services will become increasingly important. This research, headed by Dr. Sara A. Grove of Shippensburg University, will focus on home health care agencies and family caregivers. The project will examine the sources of payment for both public and private long-term care services; future demand for long-term care services; and barriers to providing long-term care services in rural Pennsylvania.

Supply and Demand of Long-Term Care In Rural Pennsylvania

This comprehensive analysis of long-term care services in Pennsylvania will focus on rural populations and will provide a service guide on the continuum of long-term care services available in rural areas and a separate guide to long-term care and its future in Pennsylvania, with information on service demands and supply in different areas, costs, barriers to service delivery, and policy recommendations. Dr. Dennis Shea of Penn State University will conduct the project.

Survey and Analysis of Alternative Education Practices

Nathaniel Hosley of Lock Haven University will survey rural schools to ascertain and describe the status of alternative education in the Commonwealth. The survey will provide useful data to policymakers on alternative education models, practices, goals, philosophical approaches, costs, student selection methods, and other data. Rural and urban practices will be evaluated to determine similarities and differences.

Income Gap Between Rural and Urban Residents

Dr. Constantinos Christofides of East Stroudsburg University will conduct this study to measure and compare income gaps within and among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, and to identify what factors are causing widening income gaps between rural and urban counties. Specifically, the study will estimate the effects of state taxes and other economic policies on income inequality and will propose policy recommendations to bridge the gap.

Effects of New Medicare Reimbursement Methodologies on Rural Home Health Agencies and Their Beneficiaries

Headed by Lisa Davis of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health at Penn State University, this project will analyze the effects of the Interim Payment and Prospective Payment Systems (instituted by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997) on the Commonwealth’s rural health care providers and beneficiaries. These systems change home health agencies’ reimbursement for Medicare services. The study will examine the financial status of rural home health agencies before and after the systems have been implemented; identify the most vulnerable agencies and communities and any patterns to their vulnerability; describe how agencies are coping with these changes; and determine how these changes are affecting beneficiaries.

Establishing a Rural TeleCounty

Now in its third year, this project is a community driven undertaking that has used technology to provide, economic, educational, and social service opportunities for Fayette County residents. Mr. Joseph Segilia of Penn State University - Fayette, who directs the telecounty project, stresses that the project will continue to provide computer access, education and economic development training opportunities and technology awareness through community outreach efforts at numerous Rural Online Computer Centers (ROCC) located throughout the county.

Mini Grant Program
Analysis of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Rural PA

This project, conducted by Dr. Marie E. Twal of Indiana University, will analyze three major areas of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as follows: outreach, barriers to care, and rates of participation in healthcare services by rural children in four geographically diverse counties of Pennsylvania. Quantitative data generated by CHIP will be analyzed and qualitative data will be collected to provide insights, which may add some richness to the quantitative data. Differences between the use of health care services of children in the free program and those in the reduced premium program will be identified. Specific attention will be given to understand the impact of CHIP on each of the five stages of childhood.

Report on Rural Schools

Dr. Wenfan Yan of Indiana University will use existing data files provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop a measure of rural school effectiveness. The project will use a process-product model to identify factors that influence students’ academic performance by taking both community input and school process factors into account. To give a more accurate report of rural school effectiveness, urban schools will also be included as comparison groups. The results of this study will provide the critical information necessary to help policy makers, institutions, parents, teachers, counselors, and students understand what makes rural schools effective and how to improve the quality of rural school education in Pennsylvania.

Prepping for next year
As this year’s grantees begin their projects, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is also getting ready to begin the yearly grant process again.

The Center’s Board of Directors is identifying additional research topics that address relevant issues impacting Pennsylvania’s 3.7 million rural residents. After topics have been identified, the Center will issue the Request for Proposals (RFP).

The 2001/2002 RFP will be issued in February and may include such targeted topics as affordable housing, rural transportation, telecommunications competition, adult literacy, and access to dental care.

While the Center’s grant program is only available to faculty at SSHE and Penn State universities, the Center encourages cooperation and collaboration between these faculty and other public or private organizations on grant projects.

The grant program offers a maximum funding level of $50,000 per project per year. Grant projects may be renewed for up to three years if further research is necessary but each grantee must meet the current year grant requirements and continue to submit yearly competitive proposals.

Call the Center at (717) 787-9555 or visit our website at www.ruralpa.org for more information about the 2001/2002 RFP or to receive a copy of the RFP.

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Chairman’s Message
The New Year always brings great expectations of things we hope to accomplish. And, with this edition of Rural Perspectives, you will see we have incorporated changes in response to the constructive feedback we received from the survey that was included in the September/October 2000 issue of the newsletter. We are continuing to strive to keep our positive rating with our readership, which was the message we received from 99 percent of respondents who told us they were moderately to very satisfied with the overall content and look of the newsletter. We will continue to bring you information in a format that is clear and easy to read, which a majority of respondents told us they appreciated. We will be adding more graphics, photos and data as requested by respondents, and will be following up on some great suggestions for articles, ranging from human services to elderly transportation and housing, to emergency services.

Please save the dates of November 13 and 14, 2001 to join the Center for Rural Pennsylvania for our Rural Summit. We will be building on the success of a previous conference that was held in 1997, and will be offering you the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with a diverse group of individuals. Over the next several months, the Center will provide more information about the conference in upcoming issues of Rural Perspectives, on the Center’s website at www.ruralpa.org, and in special mailings.

Gathering and researching important issues impacting rural Pennsylvania is a continual goal for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. As you read the articles in this edition of Rural Perspectives on rural crime and driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, it is obvious rural Pennsylvania has many challenges facing it in the months and years ahead. But positive programs, like Elizabethtown Borough’s citizen college can help residents of rural communities understand how they can be involved as concerned citizens in helping to solve problems facing local governments.

Along with analyzing data, the Center is excited to be able to fund research projects through our grant program. We are supporting rural research that covers issues such as long-term care, managed care, rural education, e-commerce and more, and are looking ahead to next year’s topics that will be outlined in our 2002 Request for Proposals in February. Please contact us in February if you would like to receive a copy of the RFP.

Finally, on behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, I would like to acknowledge the contributions made by Senator Patrick J. Stapleton to the success of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Senator Stapleton, who retired from the Senate and the Board of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in December 2000, was an incorporating member of the Center and served as its founding treasurer. Throughout his 30 years of service to the General Assembly, Senator Stapleton demonstrated exceptional commitment to his community and constituents. He was a well-known advocate of rural Pennsylvania. We wish him all the best and extend to him our sincere thanks and gratitude for his dedication.

Representative Sheila Miller

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Rural Crime Rate at a 10-Year Low
Good news in the fight against serious crime in rural Pennsylvania; it’s at a 10-year low, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania State Police’s Uniform Crime Report. In the Commonwealth’s rural counties, the number of Part 1 offenses, which include both violent and property crimes such as murder, robbery, burglary and arson, decreased more than 9 percent from almost 48,900 in 1998 to just under 44,450 in 1999.

On a per capita basis, Part 1 offenses were reported in rural Pennsylvania at a rate of 1,741 for every 100,000 residents; significantly lower than the urban rate of 3,188 for every 100,000 residents. When examining Part 1 offenses separately, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania found that both violent and property crimes were also significantly lower than the urban rates. For example, in 1999, the rural rate for violent crimes was 175 for every 100,000, compared to the urban rate of 460. For property crimes, the rural and urban rates were 1,566 and 2,729, respectively.

For two specific types of Part 1 offenses, namely arson and rape, the rural rates were very low and were similar to the urban rates. The rural rates for these specific crimes were 25 for every 100,000 residents.

From 1990 to 1999, an average of 62 murders per year took place in rural Pennsylvania. In1999, only 55 murders were reported in rural areas. In urban areas, the number of murders reported from 1990 to 1999 was more than 10 times the rural average at 678. Also, the 1999 rate of 5.4 murders for every 100,000 people in urban areas was twice as high as the rural rate of 2.2.

From 1998 to 1999, the number of Part 2 offenses, which include less serious crimes such as fraud, drug abuse, and gambling, fell more than 6 percent in rural Pennsylvania from 114,566 to 107,439. Statewide, Part 2 offenses increased by nearly 2.5 percent.

Since 1990, there has been a trend toward an overall decrease in serious crimes and an increase in less serious crimes in rural and urban areas, and throughout the state. For these less serious offenses, the 1999 rate in rural areas was 4,209 for every 100,000 while the rate in urban areas was 5,271.

There were certain offenses, however, for which the rural rate was higher. The rural rate for fraud in 1999 was 241 for every 100,000 people, while the urban rate was 185 for every 100,000. Driving under the influence (DUI) and liquor offenses in rural areas were also reported at rates of 355 and 201, respectively, for every 100,000 people. In urban areas, the rates for DUI and liquor offenses were 325 and 176, respectively.

Other offenses, however, such as prostitution and vice, gambling, embezzlement, weapons, and drug abuse, occurred at much lower rates in rural areas, each at less than 50 percent of the urban rate.

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Citizens’ College Helps Residents Learn How Local Government Works
A new college in Elizabethtown Borough isn’t offering any degrees but it is serving the community by providing residents with a better understanding of how local government works.

Elizabethtown Borough, located in Lancaster County, began a new program called Citizens’ College of Elizabethtown to give residents the opportunity to learn what is it truly like to govern a small town and participate in the borough’s day-to-day operations.

The program was started in 2000 by the Elizabethtown Borough Council, with assistance of borough Manager Pete Whipple and Director of Community Services Amy Farkas. In the program, adult residents of Eliza-bethtown attended a free class once a month for one year to learn more about topics such as planning/zoning, economic development, recycling, the budget process, water, regionalization, and the police department.

While this municipal class may be the first of its kind in Lancaster County, the concept behind citizen education to encourage participation in local government activities is not new. Local governments have used newspapers, websites, and workshops to educate and inform citizens about how large and small, urban and rural government works. In Arizona and Kansas, similar programs have been implemented with success.

In Pennsylvania and other states, citizen education has also extended to many police departments, and has helped residents to better understand the responsibilities of their police force and the role citizens play in enhancing the safety in their communities.

In Elizabethtown, the college serves a two-fold purpose. Borough Council President Meade Bierly says the college was started to help the borough and its residents work together.

"A better-educated citizenry will foster a climate of greater understanding of the issues facing our community," Bierly says. "Also, a new group of community leaders may emerge from these informal, yet challenging sessions."

In the first session of Citizens’ College, 20 residents were enrolled, and courses were taught by borough employees and outside speakers. The classes were intended to be informative, yet informal, and some classes included tours of borough facilities. The class visited a water plant, a wastewater treatment plant, and the police department. While the participants were not asked to take any tests or quizzes, they were asked to attend at least nine of the 11 sessions and to present a 15-minute speech during the last class detailing some aspect of a municipality’s function. Graduating participants received a certificate of completion.

According to Farkas, the class helped to educate the borough staff as well at the participants. "The class allowed both the staff and students to take a look at local government from a different vantage point."

She says that the borough, as a whole, is also benefiting since a new group of community leaders may emerge from the sessions: one student, for example, has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the zoning hearing board.

In late fall of 2000, the borough was accepting applications for the 2001 program.

For more information about the Citizens’ College, call Amy Farkas, Director of Community Services, at the Elizabethtown Borough Office at (717) 367-1700, ext. 228 or email boro@etownonline.com.

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Did You Know . . .
- Between 1998 and 1999, the number of rural births dropped more than 6 percent.

- Pennsylvania consumers drink 2.4 billion pounds of milk annually.

- Rural Pennsylvania is home to 26 public and private colleges and universities. In total, Pennsylvania houses 171 institutions of higher learning.

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Drinking and Driving on Rural Roads
Every 13 minutes, on average, someone was arrested in Pennsylvania for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 1999. According to data from the Pennsylvania State Police, nearly 23 percent of those arrests were in rural areas.

In 1999, more than 9,000 rural drivers were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). In urban areas, more than 30,760 drivers were arrested. While these numbers are significantly different, they translate into much higher DUI arrests for rural drivers on a per capita basis. For example, the rural arrest rate was 355 people for every 100,000 residents; the urban rate was 326 for every 100,000 residents.

From 1995 to 1999, both rural and urban DUI rates have slowly crept upwards; rural areas saw a 12 percent increase in DUI arrests, and urban areas saw a 9 percent increase.

Regionally, in 1999, northwest Pennsylvania had the highest number of DUI arrests at 384 for every 100,000 people, while the southeast had the lowest number of 299 for every 100,000. At the county level, Cameron and Clinton had DUI arrest rates almost twice as high as the statewide rate, which was 332 arrests for every 100,000 residents. Juniata, Somerset, and Union counties, on the other hand, had arrest rates twice as low as the statewide rate.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data shows that across the United States, there were more than 931,200 DUI arrests in 1999, or 551 for every 100,000 residents. Rural counties nationwide had a DUI arrest rate that was 2.5 times higher than the rate of Pennsylvania’s rural counties.

In addition to having a higher DUI arrest rate statewide, rural areas also have a higher rate of alcohol related vehicle accidents and fatalities than urban areas. In 1999, rural areas had nearly 150 alcohol related vehicle accidents for every 100,000 residents, while urban areas had less than 110 for every 100,000 residents. Also in 1999, rural areas had 8.4 alcohol-related driving fatalities for every 100,000 residents. In urban areas, the rate was 5 fatalities for every 100,000 residents.

Statewide, there is a statistically significant correlation between the per capita number of DUI arrests and alcohol-related crashes. However, there is only a weak correlation between the number of State Liquor Store sales per capita and the number of DUI arrests.

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Just the Facts: Pass It On
On average, who earns more through inheritances, rural or urban beneficiaries? According to estimates from 1999 data received from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, beneficiaries in rural areas received more than $1.4 billion in inheritances while beneficiaries in urban areas received nearly $7.5 billion, or five times more in inheritances than their rural counterparts.

The data from the Department of Revenue included the amount of inheritance taxes collected across the state. This tax is levied on beneficiaries according to the amount of property and monies received through inheritances and the beneficiaries’ relationship to the deceased.

On average, rural beneficiaries inherited about $52,000 per rural death in 1999. Urban beneficiaries received more than $75,000 per urban death. Who, specifically were these beneficiaries? Statewide, about 75 percent of all beneficiaries are spouses, parents, children, grandparents or grandchildren. The remaining 25 percent are other relatives or non-relatives.

Between 1991 and 1999, the average inheritance in rural areas increased about 25 percent. In urban areas, there was an 18 percent increase in the average inheritance. During this same period, the number of rural deaths increased 8 percent, while the number of urban deaths increased only 4 percent.

The inheritance differences between rural and urban beneficiaries can be partially explained by differences in wealth in these areas. A 1998 study by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania found that the total wealth per capita in rural areas was nearly $44,000, while in urban areas the total was almost $57,000. Total wealth was the sum of property values and personal income.

Regionally, beneficiaries in southeastern Pennsylvania had the highest average inheritance per death of more than $92,000, while those in the northwestern corner of the state had the lowest average inheritance per death of about $50,900. In 1999, the average inheritance per death in Montgomery, Chester, Snyder, Delaware, and Warren counties was more than $100,000. The average inheritance in Forest and Greene counties was less than $25,000.

The transfer of wealth from one generation to the next may become more pronounced over the next 25 years as the state’s baby boomers begin to reach the median mortality age of 76. At that time, rural beneficiaries may see their average inheritance increase to $125,000 and urban beneficiaries may receive an average of $140,000.

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Save these dates for the Rural Summit in the City!
November 13 - 14, 2001
Hilton Harrisburg & Towers, Harrisburg, PA

The Rural Summit, sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, will offer rural advocates and those interested in rural issues the opportunity to join legislators, educators, local government officials, and other diverse leaders to discuss and learn more about a variety of contemporary rural issues. More information will be included in upcoming issues of Rural Perspectives, on the Center's website at www.ruralpa.org, and in special mailings over the next several months.

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