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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

TX works to address wildfire survivors' mental health

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Thursday, March 28, 2024   

Residents in the Texas Panhandle are starting to put their lives back together after surviving the largest wildfire in the state's history.

The fires burned for three weeks, destroying homes, barns and livestock. The State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund is accepting donations for survivors.

Sid Miller, Texas agriculture commissioner, said it is not always enough to help with the physical needs of farmers and ranchers. For mental health concerns, there's the AgriStress Helpline.

"These people have lost everything," Miller pointed out. "We've lost over 500 homes and barns up there. A lot of those ranches have been there over 100 years. They've lost their cattle, their fences, their livelihood, so it's a very stressful time."

Miller noted the Helpline is answered 24 hours a day by professionals who've received more than 300 hours of training. It is part of the University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center. The Helpline number is 833-897-2474.

Miller explained the mental health of people in the ag industry can be affected by geographic isolation, weather conditions and the fluctuating prices of commodities. He added the helpline professionals are trained to deal with issues related specifically to rural communities.

"We answer that phone within 30 seconds, and we'll call you back the next day, and the next day and the next day," Miller emphasized. "As long as you want us to keep checking on you, until you tell us to not check on you, we're going to keep checking on you."

Farmers and ranchers from across the country have taken feed, hay and fencing materials to the Panhandle to help people rebuild. The fires scorched more than 1 million acres and killed three people, and Miller acknowledged it will be at least two years before the full effects are calculated.


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