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    Category: Mobile Home Communities

    Could shipping containers be the answer to a lack of affordable housing in Bloomfield? – Farmington Daily Times - January 21, 2020 by admin

    Hannah Grover, Farmington Daily Times Published 6:00 a.m. MT Jan. 20, 2020

    Bloomfield City Councilor Ken Hare, right, discusses the city's recent economic development efforts, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, during the Northwest Regional Economic Outlook Forum at San Juan College in Farmington.(Photo: Hannah Grover/The Daily Times)

    FARMINGTON The City of Bloomfield really grew as a boom town in the 1950s and that meant a lot of single-wide trailers, according to City Councilor Ken Hare, who works as a real estate developer.

    Over time, these trailers have deteriorated, but Hare said Bloomfield still needs options for affordable housing.

    As he participated in discussions about economic development, Hare decided to try an experiment. He would, as a real estate developer, invest in building a house using shipping containers. He already had the land and he joined the Intermodal Steel Building Association, a group focused on shipping container homes and businesses.

    More: Two Farmington men arrested for DWI, one accused of his 10th drunk driving offense

    I do think its a viable way to create affordable housing in Bloomfield, Hare said.

    He said the economic development discussions in the city have included aesthetics. The lack of affordable housing and the deteriorating condition of some of the mobile homes can make it hard to attract new businesses, Hare said. He hopes these shipping container homes can provide an affordable housing option that will not deteriorate like the single-wide trailers have over the years.

    Some communities in the United States have had luck with shipping container buildings, but Hare said it is still a new concept for San Juan County. This could present some challenges and he hopes his efforts will identify those challenges. One of the challenges he anticipates is financing. When he completes the home, he plans on selling it. Hare said it may be hard for buyers to find a lender willing to finance a shipping container house. He also anticipates there will be challenges in the permitting process.

    Las Cruces-based Enchanted Sun Realty's building was created using shipping containers and serves as a showcase for Underbox Containers, a company providing containers for building homes or offices.(Photo: Josh Bachman/Sun-News)

    If he can prove that shipping containers are a viable option for housing, Hare said there are other applications that could also benefit the city. He said the shipping containers could be used for senior citizen housing in small, pocketbook communities. He explained these would be multiple houses for independent living located on shared land and the residents would help take care of each other.

    And, Hare said, commercial buildings can also be built using shipping containers.

    Hare is looking at getting a shipping container that has been used once before to transport goods, but people can also choose shipping containers that have had multiple trips.

    The soon-to-be home of Enchanted Sun Realty, and a showcase for Underbox Containers, a company building homes and commercial spaces from steel shipping containers.(Photo: Josh Bachman/Sun-News)

    He said the house will need to look attractive and the shipping container house couldbe covered with traditional siding.

    Hare hopes to complete the project this year and is doing it with his own money. He said no city funds will be spent on the project.

    Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at

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    Could shipping containers be the answer to a lack of affordable housing in Bloomfield? - Farmington Daily Times

    Hernandez: State of the City of Pharr is the best it’s ever been – Rio Grande Guardian - January 21, 2020 by admin

    Good afternoon, Buenas tardes!

    Welcome to the 2020 City of Pharr State of the City Address!

    First and foremost, thank you to Godfor another blessed year.Many thanks to my beautiful and devoted wife, Cristina, our son Joseph, for being my rock and source of strength, and for so graciously allowing me to share my life in public service to our community. Thank you also to our extended network of family and friends for your constant support.

    To my colleagues on the Pharr City Commission and our city employees. Thank you for your support. Without you, none of the great things we are doing in Pharr would be possible.

    Gracias, Valente, for leaving the bright lights of Hollywood to return to your South Texas home community and to our great city of Pharr where its really happening!

    What a year it has been!

    As I look across this room, each of you is here today because you have made such an impact, either directly or indirectly, on the success and prosperity that our great City of Pharr enjoys.

    It is because of you that we are here today. You took the time from your busy schedule a break away from your daily lives in your respective industries to spend time with us today and listen to what makesPharr truly a remarkable place to be. You are the educators, business professionals, community partners, mothers, fathers, students, members of the religious community, industry representatives, and more, that have a vested interest in seeing our great city thrive.

    So, thank you for being here and for your continued support of the great City of Pharr.

    I am humbled to stand before you today, as Mayor of my hometown leading the city that raised me into rapid and incredible growth, prosperity, and opportunity for our Pharr citizens.

    I have been entrusted by you to make a difference in the lives of our residents, families and our children, who are the future.

    Five years after first taking office, we are here to celebrate our 4th annual State of the City!

    And let me tell you no need to adjust your vision Pharr is a perfect 20/20 and this year we will have several milestones to celebrate, and we have much in store for 2020.

    Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Pharr, business leaders, and community partners, on behalf of the Pharr City Commission and as your Mayor, I am proud to report that the state of the City of Pharr is the best its ever been, and its only getting better!

    I want to start with our economy because as we all know, our economy will shape the future of the city as it is an indicator of our prosperity and growth.

    This year, for the first time in Pharrs history, I am excited to announce that our sales tax figures indicate that Pharr surpassed more than $1 billion dollarsin sales!

    This profound number represents an approximate $140.6 Million increase in total sales in the City of Pharr from the previous fiscal year.

    Pharr continues to expand our tax base by recruiting, attracting, and retaining businesses and companies to invest in Pharr.

    It makes us proud to know that we are significantly contributing to the success of our region, our state, and our nation so to our governor, our federal, state, and local leaders on behalf of the city of Pharr and its residents.youre welcome!

    We thank our business community partnerships, at the local, state, national and international levels, for continuing to expand opportunities in the various retail, food, entertainment, and other industries, that allow our Pharr residents and those from the surrounding communities to shop, eat, and stay in Pharr.

    Our economy would not be nearly as robust if we didnt have an educated and skilled workforce this is key, for not just us but for the state and the country.

    This past year, we welcomed many new businesses in Pharr, such as Carmax, which provided new, high-paying jobs, with a starting average salary of nearly $50,000.As part of our educational partnership commitment, we have a program where high school students in Pharr experience first-hand sales practices, body shop work, and mechanics through internships and practical education opportunities.

    And, we are excited to announce that we are bringing manufacturing jobs to Pharr!

    The City of Pharr and the Pharr Economic Development Corporation are proud to announce that a global manufacturing company that has been operating in South Texas for more than 20 years will be relocating their operations to the City of Pharr.

    The company, Bissell, will be using the facility to support its manufacturing, remanufacturing, and replacement parts operations.

    With a total investment in Pharr of $14.5 million dollars, the Bissell manufacturing facility will create jobs in advanced manufacturing.

    We continue to move Pharr forward and again, its only getting better!

    Our workforce is strengthened by our relationships and one of our strongest is the U.S.-Mexico-Canada partnership.

    With the new U. S.- Mexico-Canada Agreement, USMCA, we are certain to reap the benefits of this trade deal which continues making our Pharr International port of entry one of the busiest land ports of entry in the state and nation.

    In 2015, we devised a strategic bridge plan with our city commission, bridge board, and bridge employees and in Pharr, we dont just strategize, we execute, and we bring about real, tangible results!

    Our Pharr bridge recently celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, a notable milestone indeed, and we are delighted to announce that the Pharr International Bridge now ranks as the third-largest border crossing in Texas!

    In 2019, trade in Pharr exceeded $35 billion, growing six percent in imports and five percent in exports.

    We have grown by over $1 billion dollars in trade every yearthat is astonishing growth that has no end in sight.

    We continue to be the preferred and #1 border crossing for produce, crossing almost 70 percent of the nations produce.

    Our city leaders recognize the importance of our bridge and have made it a priority to invest in port infrastructure improvements to keep up with the demand for services and to expedite trade.

    This year, because of strong partnerships and collaboration with Texas Department of Transportation, General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol, we will be investing $35 Million in major construction, infrastructure, and technology improvements projects that will help to accommodate current and future growth, expedite the flow of trade, and reduce border wait times.

    Another major project we are working on at the bridge is through the first-of-its-kind collaborative partnership with our esteemed University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the U. S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) for a regional agriculture laboratory and training center.

    We are truly blessed.

    I would be remiss if I didnt stress the importance of education in our formula for success.

    Education, not just for our children, but for our entire community is vital.

    My administration has always been a big believer that we reward and promote those individuals doing better for themselves.

    I have always been an advocate for innovative programs that stand out from traditional methods because in Pharr we are different, we think outside the box, we dont see a problem but rather a solution that has yet to be thought of.

    We have in the audience our Partner RGV College who graduated its first cohort of nurses right here in Pharr.

    We also have representation from Region One who reported from the TEA that our region out-performed the entire state of Texas.

    Together with parent ambassadors, we are working on educating our community on the importance of the census, this is hard work but you know what? we are no stranger to being told that it cant be done we do it anyway.

    Education is key to being counted and we are very aware of the importance of OUR role in making sure it happens.

    Another proud educational endeavor is with the PSJA school district

    We are on the verge of opening the highly anticipated and much needed PSJA-City of Pharr Ag campus .. located on city property for the benefit of our students.

    We continue to cultivate a positive learning environment for all Pharr residents and are particularly committed to providing opportunities for higher education right here in Pharr.

    This past year, we broke ground on the PSJA-UTRGV-City of Pharr Natatorium, which will serve as an anchor for health and wellness facilities.

    Pharrs commitment to higher educational opportunities for our Pharr residents remains one of our highest priorities, and its only getting better!

    In order to move forward we need infrastructure. Transportation is a key element for the city to be able to deliver goods and services.

    As you all are aware, major moves of historic significance were made in the past year that will dramatically and forever change the landscape of the Rio Grande Valley.

    With the merging of the three regional MPOs, the Rio Grande Valley can now tap into billions of dollars of state and federal transportation funding to improve and expand roads and transportation infrastructure that we could never before access a staggering $2.2 billion dollars, and we will be fighting for more!

    It was an honor to be elected by the entireCameron and Hidalgo County delegation to serve as the inaugural chair of the new RGV MPO.

    This wouldnt have been possible without the support and vision of Cameron and Hidalgo County trailblazers; Mayors Trey Mendez, Jim Darling, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, and County Commissioner Eddie Cantu.

    I can assure you that both Pharr and the entire Rio Grande Valley will now definitely have a seat at the table when it comes to transportation planning and funding.

    We have numerous projects in the works that will improve our roads and transportation and infrastructure in Pharr.

    The city continues to invest millions in city road repaving and reconstruction projects more than 18 million in city funds have been invested throughout our citywide repaving projects, through street light improvements and median installations to improve transportation and safety in our city.

    An additional $44.7 million more in MPO funding has been allocated to projects in Pharr and there is much more on the horizon.

    One of our highest priorities has been the expansion of the Pharr Interchange, which for years has been inadequate.

    We will all soon enjoy a new interchange and rest assured, it willaccommodate future growth.

    In recent years, we have experienced unprecedented rain and flooding impacting our residents, amounting to millions of dollars in damages to homes, businesses, and properties.

    Pharr residents were not alone, we experienced this together and the city answered the call.

    It was clear to us that our citys drainage infrastructure and water supply capacity are in critical need of improvements.

    As city leaders, we are committed to making these investments now to take care of our current needs and prepare for our future.

    As you all are aware, we recently passed a countywide, multi-million dollar drainage bond.We have partnered with the Hidalgo County Drainage District to build and expand this infrastructure.

    To achieve this, I reached out to our very own Precinct 2 Commissioner, Eddie Cantu.Commissioner Cantu and I stood side by side to promote County drainage project because we knew it was needed and the right thing to do for our community.

    So I want to thank Commissioner Cantu and I also want to thank your staff for their steadfast approach and commitment to help the residents of the city of Pharr.

    Our $40 Million drainage plan will increase drainage capacity to accommodate a 500-year flood.

    Our plan is to save lives, homes, and our properties once and for all.We will no longer accept this type of devastation. My administration will fix it now.

    How?With great partners.

    We have the greatest minds working together not only to achieve our drainage and infrastructure goals but to also provide an educational, real-life experience with our PSJA Southwest Early College High School Architecture students.

    They are working with our city engineers, engineering consultants and are providing input, research, and ideas to address these issues with innovative solutions.

    We are upgrading the citys aging water service delivery system, to meet our current demand for safe, sanitary water, while at the same time, accommodating for future growth and development.

    We are also partnering with students from Thomas Jefferson T-Stem Early College High School on a project for a new raw water reservoir, and with students from PSJA North on the North-Central Wastewater Interceptor project.

    Not only are we engaging these young minds with civic responsibility, but we are also providing opportunities for them to actively participate in creative solutions for real issues that need addressing.

    We are proud to partner with PSJA ISD on these critical infrastructure projects, and Id like to ask them to please stand and be recognized.

    Speaking of partnerships, Pharr continues to strengthen and nurture its relationships on a wide range of issues.

    Among those, Pharr leads the efforts to plan and prepare for a successful 2020 Census.

    It is imperative that everyone gets counted.

    The population count held every ten years is what the federal government uses to allocate resources, representation, and funds.

    We cannot stress how important this years census will be for all of us, and here in Pharr, we are taking the necessary steps to educate and inform our residents to be counted in the 2020 Census.

    We have once again led the nation in creating a first of its kind the Pharr Parent Ambassador Program with our local school districts. This program engages parents to educate and promote the importance of being counted in the 2020 census.

    At this time Id like to ask all parent ambassadors to stand and be recognized. Lets give them a round of applause.

    Under our administration, we have sought to identify ways to ensure our government services are functioning efficiently to better serve our citizens.

    As part of our efforts to maximize productivity, we had all department heads go through UTRGVs Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center Lean Six Sigma training and certification program.

    The training was provided by TMAC, who statedthat Pharr is the first government entity that it has trained through this program, which is typically utilized by companies in the manufacturing industry.

    Here in Pharr, we welcome leaders who are poised to help move Pharr forward.

    This past year, we welcomed a new generation of leadership We joined forces with Texas Workforce Commission to further create opportunities and support employees that want to advance their education and training, that is representative of our values, culture, and goals, but also one that celebrates equity, diversity, dedication, and growth this led to the promotion of Anali Alanis and Hilda Pedraza the first female Assistant City Managers in the history of Pharr.

    Congratulations, and keep up the great work ladies!

    Complementing this change in leadership is the modernization of our first floor designed to be a state-of-the-art facility, to meet the needs of our citizens with efficiency and comfort.

    This new, modern, open-floor concept will include offices and conference rooms with glass windows, as a true representation of the transparency we all deserve from our government.

    Finally, last year, we launched Pharrs newest way to have citizens connect with their local government at the tip of their fingers.

    Pharrs new 311 app is an interactive mobile application that allows citizens to easily access critical information from the City of Pharr, including news, calendar of events, online payments, and more.

    One exciting feature of the app is the capability to have Pharr citizens be able to report issues of concern.

    We are improving access to government services for our Pharr residents and families, and will continue improving the quality of life for all.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, theres no doubt that there is power in numbers.

    It is because of you, because of us, and because of the great leadership and partnerships that Pharrs future is bright, and will only get better!

    At this time, as is our tradition that began at our inaugural State of the City address in 2017, we would like to present the Polo Palacios Award, awarded annually to an individual who carries the torch of service and pride for our Pharr community.

    Read more:
    Hernandez: State of the City of Pharr is the best it's ever been - Rio Grande Guardian

    The Bay Areas 10 poorest neighborhoods – The Mercury News - December 9, 2019 by admin

    CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile device

    Though the Bay Area has some of the nations wealthiest communities, its also home to dozens of high-poverty neighborhoods that have been hit hard by rising housing costs.

    With two exceptions, the regions 10 poorest neighborhoods all are in the East Bay. On average, nearly 52 percent of residents in these neighborhoods earned less than 200 percent of the poverty threshold, the measure we chose as the basis for our analysis to account for the regions high cost of living. For a family of four, that was $50,188 in 2017, the most recent data available by ZIP code.

    By comparison, just 21 percent of residents in the nine-county Bay Area and Santa Cruz fall below that mark.

    Oakland has the largest share of the Bay Areas 10 poorest neighborhoods, with six ZIP codes on the list. Richmond has one. The areas surrounding Watsonvilles Municipal Airport and San Joses 95110 ZIP code encompassing Guadalupe River Park and that citys airport are the only ones on the list that arent in the East Bay.

    At the top of the list is Berkeleys 94704, which surrounds U.C. Berkeley on its western and southern side. There, more than 67 percent of residents live below 200 percent of the poverty level, largely due to the high population of students.

    In these poorest 10 ZIP codes, housing costs increased more than they did in the rest of the Bay Area. Between 2012 and fall of 2019, median mortgage payments increased on average nearly 56 percent among all Bay Area ZIP codes. But among the 10 highest poverty ZIP codes, they rose 105 percent.

    The full Price We Pay series on the Bay Areas housing crisis is available to subscribers here. Not a subscriber? For a special offer that includes unlimited access to the series and our websites, click here for The Mercury News or here for the East Bay Times.

    Continue reading here:

    The Bay Areas 10 poorest neighborhoods - The Mercury News

    Launch of 5G connects and disconnects communities – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily - December 9, 2019 by admin

    Although the launch of fifth-generation technology by major networks has led to faster speeds for users and increases the efficiency of larger machines and platforms, this upgrade has only been rolled out in large cities. Many communities in America including Charlottesville do not have access to this feature, and may not gain access in the near future, further contributing to the digital divide. This divide refers to unequal access to forms of technology and communication among marginalized communities.

    Cong Shen, assistant electrical and computer engineering professor at the School of Engineering, along with his research group are working to optimize communication and energy efficiency of 5G and future generations. Additionally, Assoc. Media Studies Prof. Christopher Ali analyzes the implications of this technology for rural populations in the United States.

    The fifth-generation network, or 5G, is a wireless platform that increases connection speeds and uses a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Third parties and industry partners developed this technology around 2014-2015, and the first commercial rollout followed in 2019.

    We are talking about a wireless system that would be able to for instance bring high-speed wireless into your house at speeds that are probably ten to a hundred times more than what you are getting right now, said Ali. This uses a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which can transfer a greater amount of data, a greater amount of bandwidth.

    5G speeds are 10 to 100 times faster than their current rates. These advancements are due to the use of a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum which can transfer a greater bandwidth.

    The architecture of 5G distinguishes it from previous generations. Ali mentioned the use of massive towers to transfer strong signals across dozens of miles in 4G network. However, he stated that 5G replaces the use of towers with wireless small cells every 500 feet. Small cells or signal retransmission tools are close in size to picnic coolers and are mounted to buildings, street lights, and other structures. They improve transfer speeds and coverage especially in densely populated areas such as cities.

    According to Shen, 5G also reduces latency delays. Latency refers to the time between transmitting and receiving a signal. It was prominent in 4G and 3G but has been drastically reduced to a single digit millisecond in the 5G model.

    5G is distinguished from other generations of connectivity because of its design for home assistant devices and larger machines such as automated work in factories. Ali mentioned that replacing wired connection with 5G can be beneficial for gadgets that require constant data streaming, such as autonomous vehicles. Furthermore, Shen said that 5G could lead to major innovations in rescue missions following natural disasters.

    If you have an earthquake or natural disaster like a tsunami when the infrastructure of a 4G is down, 5G has a mode where if someone elses device is still working they can talk peer-to-peer and form an ad hoc network so that people can exchange information, Shen said.

    According to Engineering graduate student Chengshuai Shi, 5G is predicted to bring novel changes to other forms of technology including virtual reality and augmented reality. Ultimately, machinery requiring large data transmission will benefit the most from its design.

    Generally speaking, it may form a new way for us to interact with each other and the world, just like 4G and 3G have already changed the ways that we communicate and entertain, Shi wrote. However, it will also take a long way and [will require] developments in other fields for us to get there.

    According to Shen, the United States, China, South Korea and other Europen countries have adopted the use of 5G. The initial rollout of the new generation began among wealthy urban populations. The high population density of cities such as San Francisco and New York City makes the use and optimization of 5G economically favorable.

    One of the major challenges regarding the launch of 5G has been reaching rural communities in America. Alis research focuses on the promises of large companies to reach these populations. He mentioned that parties such as T-Mobile and Sprint have promised to bring 5G to these regions. Their model is designed to transmit signals further through the use of frequencies with low bandwidth. However, this results in speeds equivalent to 4G networks.

    Ali also stated that the population sizes of these communities make the addition of small cells every 500 feet for 5G connection very problematic. Ultimately, it contributes to the absence of 5G in rural areas.

    There is no way this is going to work in rural America, Ali said. There are just not enough people, and the communities are way too sparsely populated. 5G is a myth for rural America. It is decades away.

    Ali and Shen project that 5G will take some time before coming to Charlottesville. Ali believes that economic disadvantages decrease the likelihood of bringing 5G to the area. In fact, he anticipates that it will take 5 to 10 years before companies such as AT&T place signal repeaters around the city. On the other hand, Shen anticipates that 5G may come to Charlottesville by 2020. He mentioned that companies will have to overcome difficulties associated with the geographical terrain of Charlottesville.

    The Charlottesville area, in general, is very difficult to wire because of all the surrounding hills and environments, Shen said. It is a challenging situation for wireless and that requires a lot of effort from operators.

    Although 5G has increased speeds and connectivity of larger machines, there are many aspects of the technology that must be altered. Shen mentioned that the new model is not environmentally friendly. Each 5G base station consumes at least five times more energy than 4G. One of his primary research topics includes reducing power consumption associated with 5G. He also focuses on introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence into future generations.

    Ali also expressed 5Gs need for a fiber-optic backhaul. Furthermore, he believes rural areas can achieve better connection through wired technology. He fears that communities will solely focus on bringing 5G to their district instead of implementing fiber-optic technology to bring high-speed internet and connection. Additionally, he suggests that organizations search for other ways to reduce discrepancies in technology access.

    We have to remember that America is poorly connected even without 5G, so its not like 5G is going to magically solve the digital divide, Ali said. I would love to see more of our efforts being put into connecting rural America, tribal America, low-income America and minority America.

    Originally posted here:

    Launch of 5G connects and disconnects communities - University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

    Take me out to the (abandoned) ballpark: Whats next for languishing stadiums? – - December 9, 2019 by admin

    Long before Hank Aaron slammed 755 career home runs, he was a teenage Negro League shortstop earning $200 a month, playing at places like Bush Stadium in Indianapolis.

    And before he was a Milwaukee Brave, much less an Atlanta Brave, he was a Jacksonville Brave in Florida, starring at ball parks like the Capital City Stadium in Columbia, S.C.

    These days, 30s-era Bush Stadium is still around, serving as a thriving residential complex. The 92-year-old Capital Stadium faces the wrecking ball.

    Such are the varied fates of abandoned minor league stadiums. The latest such uncertainty is playing out in Aarons native Mobile, at a relatively young ballpark with Hammerin Hanks name attached to it.

    The Hank has a long life left, said Danny Corte, executive director of the Mobile Sports Authority. We have to rethink what were doing with it.

    Hank Aaron Stadium, which housed the Class AA-affiliated BayBears of the Southern League for 22 years, was abandoned at the end of the 2019 season. The BayBears have since been relocated to Madison where theyve been rebranded as the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

    The Mobile City Council will decide Tuesday whether to go ahead with a temporary two-year solution of allowing a Mobile-based group to proceed with operating the stadium for a mix of high school and collegiate baseball games as well as entertainment such as holiday light shows, cooking competitions and concerts.

    A competing proposal, pitched by a group in Mississippi headed up by Biloxi Shuckers co-owner Timothy Bennett, promises to lure a non-affiliated professional baseball team form the Atlantic League by 2021. That plan, however, is not on the councils agenda Tuesday.

    Regardless of which direction the council goes, questions swirl about the long-term prospects for The Hank. What comes next is as big of a mystery as guessing who might win the World Series in 2020.

    For starters, the city doesnt even own the land upon which the stadium sits. A complicated land-use agreement signed in 1996 requires that a Class AA or higher-affiliated team play at the stadium, or that it be given over to public entertainment.

    Huntsvilles approach

    Joe Davis Stadium, home to the Class AA-affiliated Huntsville Stars from 1985-2014, is an abandoned ballpark in 2019. Efforts are underway to repurpose the stadium into a mixed-use sports development. (file photo).

    Sports economists say that, for all practical purposes, empty baseball stadiums have very limited reuses. And the uses currently pitched for Hank Aaron Stadium typically are not long-term solutions, they say.

    The problem facing Mobile is that baseball stadiums are not really good for much except watching baseball, said Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass. They are a very odd shape, which means its not great for concerts. Its terrible for every other sporting event except for baseball.

    The conversations in Mobile are not dissimilar to what has occurred in Huntsville for the past five years as city officials grappled over what to do with deteriorating Joe Davis Stadium. The stadium once was the home to the Class AA-affiliated Huntsville Stars before they were relocated to Biloxi to become the Shuckers in 2014.

    Huntsville officials believe they finally have a plan that will prevent the city from having to fork out $800,000 to demolish the stadium. Under the plan, Huntsville is moving forward with repurposing Joe Davis Stadium into a multi-use football, soccer and lacrosse venue.

    Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton said idea of the project is to develop a stadium that can accommodate high school football games. Right now, five Huntsville city high schools utilize two stadiums Milton Frank Stadium and Louis Crews Stadium at Alabama A&M University.

    If all five teams have a home game during the same week, scheduling is really a challenge, said Hamilton.

    Renderings of Joe Davis Stadium improvements.

    The reconfigured stadium, Hamilton said, will allow the city to attract other sporting events that otherwise could not play inside a minor league ballpark. He said the renovated stadium could put the city in place to attract minor league soccer.

    The project is estimated to cost $8 million to $10 million, which would be paid with capital funds. The costs could go up, Hamilton said, if more extensive renovations are needed. An engineers estimate is expected within the next three months.

    The challenge with a baseball stadium, and particularly a baseball field, is that its a single-use facility, said Hamilton. Baseball is used for 70 home games a year. The rest of the year, it sits dark. With football, soccer and lacrosse, its used a lot more days out of the year. Our community will be using that facility and getting a quality of life value out of it.



    FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2019, file photo, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media at the owners meeting in Arlington, Texas. Major League Baseball is pushing a proposal to whack 42 teams _ and several entire leagues _ from its vast network of minor-league affiliates that bring the game to every corner of country. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    The list of abandoned sports parks is growing across the nation. The website Baseball Pilgrimages accounted for 92 abandoned ballparks between 1999-2015, with the overwhelming majority being minor league stadiums. Of those, only 70% were still standing in 2015; the rest had already been demolished.

    More stadiums could meet the same fate, and soon. The leagues owners are targeting 42 minor league teams for elimination in order to streamline player development, improve facilities and ease travel burdens and improve working conditions for prospects who are most likely to reach the big leagues.

    For every team lost, MLB vows to work with cities in providing college summer leagues, or last-chance independent pro teams.

    If they are looking at changing the structure of Minor League Baseball where these small market (stadiums) are used predominately by one team, this could become a bigger and bigger problem, said Amanda Ross, associate professor economics at the University of Alabama. This is something people have to start thinking about nationwide.

    The concern has captured the attention of Congress. Last month 104 members of Congress signed a bipartisan letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred urging him to reconsider the radical contraction proposal.

    Three Alabama lawmakers Republican Reps. Mike Rogers and Robert Aderholt and Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell all signed the letter. None of the teams slated for contraction are located in Alabama, but two are within the Southern League the Chattanooga Lookouts and Jackson (Tenn.) Generals. Alabama is home to three Class AA-affiliated Southern League Teams: Birmingham Barons, Montgomery Biscuits and the Trash Pandas.

    While there are no minor league teams in the 4th district, nearby teams like the Birmingham Barons, Chattanooga Lookouts and the upcoming Rocket City Trash Pandas, all have followings in the district, said Aderholt, in a statement to These teams also have an economic impact not only on the city where they are located, but also surrounding communities.

    Rogers, in a statement, said that MLBs proposal is concerning.

    With the Montgomery Biscuits and the Birmingham Barons both close to the Third District, I was happy to sign a letter supporting Minor League teams as each of these teams provides an economic impact for the area as well as providing entertainment for folks across East Alabama, he said.


    FILE - In this April 4, 2019, file photo, fans watch the Chattanooga Lookouts play the Montgomery Biscuits at AT&T Field in Chattanooga, Tenn. Major League Baseball is pushing a proposal to whack 42 teams _ and several entire leagues _ from its vast network of minor-league affiliates that bring the game to every corner of country. That includes Chattanooga, Tennessee, home of the Double-A Lookouts and a city where professional baseball was first played in 1885. (C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP, File)

    In Mobile, luring another Minor League Baseball team isnt part of any immediate plans either with a new stadium or major upgrades to Hank Aaron Stadium. In Chattanooga, for instance, the teams co-owner is pitching a plan for a new baseball stadium as a counteroffensive to MLBs contraction plan, according to media reports. The Lookouts currently play baseball inside the 19-year-old AT&T Stadium.

    Matheson said he can see existing minor league stadiums many which are far from being considered old -- becoming economically obsolete before they are physically obsolete.

    There is a real question whether minor league baseball teams can fill up the stands without (Major League) affiliation, Matheson said. There is a question on whether they can fill up the stands for the next 10 to 30 years even with affiliation. There simply are not many 12 or 13 year olds who say baseball is my favorite thing. If they arent football fans, they are likely to be basketball fans and if they are not basketball fans, they are more likely soccer fans. Somewhere down the line they are baseball fans. How much minor league baseball are we going to have in the future?

    Demolition avoidance

    Success stories with abandoned stadiums also are rare, said Matheson. Even rarer is the likelihood of an aging stadium luring another minor league team that is affiliated with Major League Baseball.

    Reuses have varied among the ballparks abandoned nationwide, according to the Baseball Pilgrimages website: 17 were used by collegiate teams, 14 were vacant, 11 were used by amateur/youth teams, 8 were used by other sports, etc.

    The normal, best-case scenario is to turn the stadium over to a local college or summer collegiate team for a nominal or nothing fee, with the tenant taking over the operations and day-to-day upkeep, so that theres still somebody using the stadium (so a community benefit is realized) and the city/state has their financial burden for it lessened, said Graham Knight, who operates the website, and who has visited over 200 ballparks.

    In Mobile, the Mobile Sports & Entertainment Group (MSEG) is proposing to pay for all the maintenance and utility costs associated with Hank Aaron Stadium for the next two years. That proposal appeals to Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpsons administration, which has endorsed MSEGs plan over the proposal pitched by Bennetts group.

    Ari Rosenbaum, president of Mobile Sports & Entertainment Group, speaks before Mobile city council members on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, at Government Plaza in downtown Mobile, Ala. (John Sharp/

    Ari Rosenbaum, president of MSEG, has said that Hank Aaron Stadium will be used for high school games starting in February. Hes also said that his group is committed to bringing professional baseball back to Mobile, but admits there is no timetable for that.

    Some council members, such as Councilwoman Bess Rich, believe MSEGs plan is more community focused. But sports economists like Matheson, said the reality of a minor league stadium is that its simply too big to be a community events center. Hank Aaron Stadium, for example, has a capacity to hold up to 6,000 people.

    These things do go back to the community, but the community generally doesnt find it useful and maybe sometime down the road, someone says, Lets reclaim this land for another purpose, said Matheson.

    Demolition projects are often avoided. Tearing down a stadium can be costly and emotional:

    In Mobile, demolishing Hank Aaron Stadium is considered a non-starter for some council members. As Councilman Fred Richardson said on Tuesday, If we destroy the stadium, we are destroying the legacy of Hank Aaron and I am not for that.

    Matheson said that emotional attachment and/or nostalgia, is a powerful force, and has led to some redevelopment projects in Dyersville, Iowa, for instance, Major League Baseball is developing an 8,000-seat stadium near the popular filming site for the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams.

    Historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. (Josh Bean |

    In Birmingham, the 109-year-old city-owned Rickwood Field has been upgraded and featured in movies such as Cobb in 1994, and 42 in 2013. A 40-member board Friends of Rickwood Field are in charge of maintaining the day-to-day operations of an ancient field billed as Americas Oldest Ballpark that is now used for high school and college games.

    Outside Hank Aaron Stadium is Aarons childhood home that has served as a museum since 2010. Both proposals for the stadium include continued use of the stadium, and the MSEG plan wants to host a 10-year anniversary celebration of the homes relocation to the ballpark site next spring.

    Stadium Lofts

    But nostalgia over a ballpark doesnt have to include baseball.

    Ross, the associate professor at the University of Alabama, said the historical elements of a stadium can be integrated into alternative designs.

    There are ways a happy medium can be met, said Ross, pointing out the example in Indianapolis where Bush Stadium was redeveloped into more than 138-loft apartments in 2013.

    There is a situation where you are holding onto the emotional attachment but are still making it profitable, said Ross. (Indianapolis) was one of the more successful remodels in the U.S. in how they take a stadium and repurpose it into apartments or something useable.

    The project in Indianapolis almost didnt happen, said Marsh Davis, the longtime president of Indiana Landmarks.

    The stadium had been vacant since 1996, and was in disrepair by 2010. Between 2008 to 2011, the stadium was a storage site for cars as part of the federal governments Cash for Clunkers program, in what Davis called a low chapter for the stadium.

    Bush was vacant, and there was no plan for it, said Davis, who assisted the developer John Watson of Core Construction -- in pitching the loft project to a committee. It was a last-ditch effort to save the stadium.

    Davis recalled, I asked the committee, Would you allow us to give a presentation? They allowed us. I talked about the history of the ballpark and John dusted off old plans to convert it into residential property. John looked at me and said, This is a waste of time. They have their minds made up. They hadnt. They liked the plan. And now its Stadium Lofts apartments.

    The city funded $5 million of a $13 million renovation project that incorporates ticket windows as closets and 1960s-era stadium seating is in the lobby. Much of the complex faces the stadiums infield.

    Ive had people criticize me for supporting the project, said Davis. The (baseball) purists are those who say that a ballpark needs to be a ballpark. But it aint a ballpark anymore. This has been a creative solution that has revitalized that part of the city and brought people living there. Its had a huge, positive impact.

    See the rest here:

    Take me out to the (abandoned) ballpark: Whats next for languishing stadiums? -

    Group helps Vietnam vet find new life on the Coast – The Edwardsville Intelligencer - December 7, 2019 by admin

    BILOXI, Miss. (AP) His mobile home was rotting around him and Johnny C. Owens had no money for repairs.

    The Vietnam veteran had been living alone for eight years in the woods of South Alabama. Although he was no longer drinking, his old enemy depression had beaten him down.

    Suicide seemed like the only way out. A couple of friends had killed themselves, but he didn't want to leave a mess in his bedroom like one of them did. So he practiced outdoors with his shotgun.

    Then one day, he picked up a card that had been laying around. It was for a veterans' crisis line. He called.

    The crisis line connected him with services offered through the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System, which stretches from Hancock County to Panama City, Fla.

    The VA determined Owens was essentially homeless. Before long, two men from the nonprofit group Soldier On showed up at his trailer, packed up his belongings and moved him to an apartment in Biloxi, where he has lived for five years.

    "I started on my way up," said Owens, 77. "I'm doing good now. I've got some good people around me."

    The safety net that caught Owens has for four years in a row housed every homeless veteran who wanted a home. The homeless rate for Coast veterans is "functional zero," a standard few communities in the United States have achieved.

    It means South Mississippi has enough beds available for homeless veterans who want them.

    This has been no small feat. In its first year of success, 2015, the veterans program housed 276 veterans. Success followed each year, with 147 veterans housed in 2018. With fewer veterans to house, the VA has more time to spend on prevention.

    "If somebody is a veteran who is homeless, it is his decision to be homeless," said Judy Hearn Cottrell, who has worked with the homeless for 10 years, most recently as pastoral director of Seashore Mission in Biloxi. "I don't see any veterans on the street who are homeless unless they elect to be."

    Further, the employment rate for veterans in supportive housing who can work was 90.83 percent for fiscal year 2018-19, the second highest in the nation.

    The VA has achieved its success by working with community partners through the Open Doors Homeless Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in Gulfport that has more than 50 member agencies focused on a variety of services.

    Under Executive Director Mary Simons, the ODHC is focused on ending homelessness not just for veterans but for all of South Mississippi.

    "What we have found was that there were lots and lots of people, veterans included, falling through the cracks because the assistance was siloed," Simons said. "What we noticed was, if we were going to end anything, we needed to know what we were ending.

    "We needed to know all the services being provided. We needed to break down those silos. Now, we couldn't imagine any other way of doing it or how we would manage without these partnerships."

    The ODHC works off a database of the homeless, built through surveys that member organizations began conducting in 2015 while counting the homeless population annually through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development's Point in Time count.

    The survey specifically asked about veteran status, health-related problems, services needed and other issues so that respondents could be linked to available community services.

    Veterans were a priority, but the ODHC and its members are applying lessons learned to the larger homeless population.

    Performance measures show 96 percent of Gulf Coast service area veterans stay in a home while enrolled in the supportive housing program. Two years after discharge, only 10 percent return to homelessness, Simons said.

    "We are one of the few communities that has sustained an end to veteran homelessness," she said, "and that is a result of the community partners doing this work."

    " . . . We certainly don't want to leave anyone behind. The lessons we're learning from an end to veteran homelessness we're applying to other things."

    Owens isn't flourishing only because he secured an apartment through the partnership between the VA and HUD, which supplies housing vouchers that help qualified applicants with rent. A support system surrounded him and continues to be there for him.

    The VA's supportive housing program provides case management based on an individual's needs, including licensed clinical social workers, registered nurses, budgeting classes, peer support specialists, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

    Community partners working with the VA include ODHC members Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, the Hancock County Resource Center and Oak Arbor based in Hattiesburg.

    Veterans in the HUD-Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing program go through phases of case management, said Jodie Picciano-Swanson, Homeless Program manager for the Gulf Coast VA.

    The veterans start with a two-week orientation that teaches them everything from getting along with neighbors to managing their money. Some veterans have no income when they enter the program.

    The VA works with them to find and enroll for any benefits to which they might be entitled, including Social Security and service-connected benefits such as health care.

    The assistance he received, and the friends he's met along the way, have made all the difference for Owens.

    He had previously cycled through drug and alcohol rehabilitation and psychiatric units.

    Owens said his problems seemed to start as soon as he stepped off the airplane in 1964 on his return from 14 months' service in the Air Force as a member of the First Communications Group during the Vietnam War.

    He doesn't think of himself as a hero, not at all. Instead, he said, he gives all the credit to those who were engaged directly in combat.

    "I just felt guilty," he said. "Why should I be back and not them?"

    During the war, he discovered alcohol and drugs, which were cheap and plentiful. He continued to drink when he returned home. He worked for less than two years at Keesler, where he taught math, electronics and communications.

    His family came with him, but the drinking eventually chased off his wife and two children. After an honorable discharge, he wound up homeless and without work. He said he rode freight trains all over the country.

    His family in Alabama didn't want him around and he didn't want to be around them, either. He eventually settled in that trailer in the woods.

    His depression became unmanageable after both his parents died, he said.

    "I just didn't care about life anymore," he said. "Depression got me good. That depression is fierce."

    His apartment and supportive services saved him. He has made friends through the VA and still attends a veterans support group weekly. He also has friends and neighbors in his Biloxi apartment complex off Pass Road.

    They share meals and good times. And he's back on speaking terms with his family, proudly displaying pictures of their get togethers in his apartment.

    He loves to cook and enjoys reading about astrophysics, theoretical physics, astronomy and philosophy.

    "I've got some special people around me," he said. Oh, man!

    See the original post:

    Group helps Vietnam vet find new life on the Coast - The Edwardsville Intelligencer

    Maryland Water Systems Found To Contain Worrying Levels Of Nitrate, Arsenic And Other Chemicals, Nonprofit Says – CBS Baltimore - December 7, 2019 by admin

    By Ally Tobler, Capital News Service

    Tap water at the majority of Maryland utilities, or public water systems, had levels of contaminants that exceeded health guidelines established by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit focused on environmental health issues.

    According to EWGs 2019 update, predominant chemicals included nitrates, arsenic, trihalomethanes which includes chloroform among other contaminants.

    The EWG published drinking water contamination data for nearly 50,00 community water systems nationwide, including 468 utilities located in Maryland.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesnt have a tap water contamination database and doesnt provide any information on specific contaminant levels at water systems. But according to EWG Senior Scientist David Andrews, they should.

    Instead, the EPA has a database listing which utilities are not following legal requirements when it comes to safe drinking water, but not the actual testing results showing chemical levels. For these compliance-based violations, the EPA assigns point values to noncompliant utilities based on the severity of the violation.

    There are 38 utilities in Maryland with the highest amount of tap water violation points from the EPA. These utilities serve over 2,189,000 residents and have collectively accrued nearly 573 violation points.

    Out of the 38 utilities with the highest violation points, 11 are listed as mobile home parks communities. Andrews explained that smaller water systems such as mobile home parks are more likely to have water quality violations compared to larger water systems.

    This is often due to resources in terms of source water choice, water treatment and testing, he wrote in an email. Big city water systems will often draw water from upstream, or a protected reservoir if available while smaller systems will get water from a nearby stream or from a well drilled directly down.

    Many large water systems, such as the city of Baltimore, draw their water from multiple sources, and people within different parts of the system may get different fractions of water from each source. Baltimore, for example, sources its water from Gunpowder Falls, North Branch Patapsco River and the Susquehanna River.

    Graphic: Capital News Service

    EWG tests both groundwater and surface water, and either at treatment plants after it is treated or at individual sources.

    Many contaminants do not have legal limits defined by the EPA and those that do often havent been updated in recent years. The EWG decided to fill that gap by creating health guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence and health advisories.

    High levels of total trihalomethanes (TTHMs for short), a group of contaminants that includes four different chemicals, were found in the majority of utilities in Maryland. The EWG guideline for TTHMs is 0.15 ppb (parts per billion) or less, but the highest amount found was 56.3 ppb, 375 times that guideline. TTHMs are cancer-causing contaminants that are produced during water treatment with chlorine, according to the EWG.

    Out of the large utilities that had the most tap water violation points from the EPA, all of them exceeded the EWGs TTHMs concentration guideline. Freedom District in Carroll County had the highest level of contamination at 49.3 ppb. The legal limit for TTHMs is 80 ppb.

    TTHMs arent the only carcinogenic contaminants found among tap water in these public water systems. Nitrate, radium, chromium, cadmium and arsenic are also listed as chemicals that can lead to cancer.

    Graphic: Capital News Service

    Eighty-seven percent of utilities with the most tap water violations had at least one of these cancer-causing contaminants that exceeded EWG health guidelines.

    Seventy-three percent of mobile park homes that had a significant amount of tap water violations had nitrate levels above the EWG health guideline. The highest was found at Bohnak Mobile Home Park in Fruitland, Maryland at 8.9 ppm. The legal limit is 10 ppm.

    The EPA has failed to update chemical guidelines in recent years, according to the EWG.

    [They have] not added a new contaminant to its list of regulated tap water contaminants in nearly 20 years, said Andrews. Yet science continuously advances, allowing us to understand more about how contaminants in drinking water can harm human health, even at low concentrations.

    For example, PFOA and PFOS, which are used in many consumer products such as nonstick pans and stain-repellent clothing, are a few of many contaminants that do not have a legal limit set by the EPA. According to the EWG, this contaminant group can cause cancer, hormone disruption, as well as harm to the liver, fetal growth and immune system.

    Everyone should be aware of the quality of the water they drink and how that water measures up to rigorous, health-based standards, said Andrews.

    An EPA spokesperson outlined the process for adding to the regulated contaminants list. Under the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act, the agency is required to issue contaminant candidate lists, collect information on the occurrence of unregulated contaminants in drinking water, and make determinations on whether or not to regulate contaminants. This occurs on a five-year cycle.

    EPA reviews existing national primary drinking water regulations and, as appropriate, revises them to improve public health protection, said the spokesperson.

    See the original post:

    Maryland Water Systems Found To Contain Worrying Levels Of Nitrate, Arsenic And Other Chemicals, Nonprofit Says - CBS Baltimore

    New York needs New T-Mobile to reach communities across the digital divide – Rochester Business Journal - December 7, 2019 by admin

    Broderick Johnson

    Nearly 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton said, Together we have the power to determine exactly what we want the Internet to become. And what we want it to do is to be an instrument of empowerment, education, enlightenment, and economic advance[ment] and community building all across America, regardless of the race, the income, the geography of our citizens.

    Sadly, the Internet has not lived up to these goals, and the digital divide is a reality for too many urban and rural communities across New Yorkincluding those in Rochester. In fact, more than a third of households in Monroe County with an annual income of less than $20,000 do not have access to the internet at home. These inequities exacerbate economic disparities because the Internet is an increasingly essential access point for job hunting, health care, and education. The result is a homework gap for students, persistent health care deserts for rural patients, and a digital divide that we havent been able to closeyet.

    But recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, helping to clear the path for a new competitor that will drive innovation and consumer benefitsparticularly for underserved consumers.

    The joint spectrum portfolios of T-Mobile and Sprint will enable New T-Mobile to significantly accelerate 5G deployment throughout New York, which will force Verizon, AT&T, and other providers to up their investments. It will also create a massive amount of network capacity that will put downward pressure on prices, helping to keep more money in the pockets of lower-income consumers who often depend on wireless service to stay connected. New T-Mobiles plans will drive industry prices down while improving service for everyone.

    Following the merger, the company will dedicate itself to putting this massive network capacity to work for good. The new company will work with civil rights leadersNational Urban League, National Action Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, League of United Latin American Citizens, and UNIDOSUS to ensure these benefits reach those most in need. In partnership with these organizations, New T-Mobile committed to significant philanthropic investments in institutions serving disadvantaged or underrepresented communities to support tech entrepreneurship and to bridge the gap in literacy, job training, and participation in the digital economy for communities of color.

    The new company also committed to expanding wireless offerings to low-income citizens, underserved populations, and insular and rural areas after the merger. Two such programs were just announced for New T-Mobile after the mergers closeProject 10Million and T-Mobile Connect. Project 10Million aims to end the homework gap by offering free service, hotspots, and low-cost devices to 10 million households and families over five years, and T-Mobile Connect will make wireless more accessible for underserved communities by slashing the price of T-Mobiles current lowest-cost wireless plan in half.

    The New T-Mobile will not only help improve New Yorks digital connectivity, it will also support the states economy through its new proposed Customer Experience Centers in the Rochester area and Nassau County, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself has praised. The new centers will bring nearly 1,000 new high-quality jobs with good benefits to each area.

    But New T-Mobile can only fulfill these commitments if the merger closes. With the next generation of wireless service5Gon the horizon, we can either embrace this major step forward or allow millions of lower-income and rural Americans to fall farther behind. We can and should do betterfor everyone.

    Were still a long way from the equity and access envisioned by President Clinton nearly 20 years ago. T-Mobile and Sprint have formally pledged to help close the digital divide in the United States following the merger, and the combined company will have the scale, resources, and culture to ensure that everyone has access to the tools to thrive in todays economy. I urge all of New Yorks leaders to support the merger and bring good jobs, lower prices, and increased broadband access for those who need it most across the state.

    Broderick Johnson served as Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary under President Barack Obama, Deputy Assistant for Legislative Affairs under President Bill Clinton, and is currently an advisor to Sprint and Senior of Counsel with the law firm Covington & Burling LLP.

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    New York needs New T-Mobile to reach communities across the digital divide - Rochester Business Journal

    Boost a new mobile resource for community health workers – Avert - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Launching end of January 2020.

    Are you working with community health workers? Are you looking for new ways to support and understand their ongoing learning? Then look no further than Boost.

    Boost is a mobile phone app and website designed and developed in collaboration with community health workers and peer educators in Southern Africa.

    Boost provides easy, up-to-date, visual and interactive materials on HIV and sexual health.

    Boost is:

    Register to be notified when Boost launches!

    Boost is here to give community health workers the resources and support they need to provide high quality care to their clients and communities.

    Its also a free tool for organisations working with community health workers to use to support their effectiveness, development and ongoing learning.

    By the way when we use the term communityhealthworker we use it to cover individuals in a variety of different roles including peer educators, behaviour change facilitators, community mobilisers,home-based care givers and many, many more.

    Here are just some of the features of Boost:

    A Facebook group is also available as a companion to Boost.

    Register your organisation to access support and extra features

    If you register with us, we can include your organisation in the apps drop down organisational menu. This means we can segment the data that is automatically collected by the app, providing your organisation with insights on how often the app is being used, by how many of your community health workers, and what content they find most helpful.

    Here are some other benefits that organisations have already identified:

    Communityhealth workers support millions of people living with, or at risk of HIV in Southern Africa. They are often peoples first point of contact with the health system.

    To play an effective role, communityhealth workers needaccess to up-to-date,clear, accurate and user-friendly information on HIV and AIDS. At the moment there are few ways for communityhealth workers to get this, and many still rely on word of mouth for new information. Boost will be a way of providing health workers with the up-to-date and accessible information and materials that they need.

    Boost ultimately aims to improve communityhealth workers ability and effectiveness.

    Boost will be free for anyone to use when it launches at the end of January 2020. If you are in Southern Africa and would like to use Boost as an organisational tool for your communityhealth workers then register below. Registering will enable data segmentation for your organisation, and give you access to anonymised data on how Boost is being used by your cohort of communityhealth workers.

    By registering you can also send any further questions you have on Boost.

    Register now!

    Sign up for regular email updates on Boost.

    Excerpt from:

    Boost a new mobile resource for community health workers - Avert

    Cave fire threatens thousands of homes in Santa Barbara County – GazetteNET - November 29, 2019 by admin

    SANTA BARBARA, Calif. Firefighters struggling with a wind-driven brush fire that has forced thousands from their homes in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday were hoping that a bout of rain from a cold front moving across the state will help bolster their efforts.

    The Cave fire broke out Monday afternoon near East Camino Cielo and Painted Cave Road in the Los Padres National Forest. The blaze ignited amid erratic sundowner winds that sent flames rushing downhill toward communities in Santa Barbara and Goleta, spurring evacuations.

    Steep, rocky terrain and critically dry grass and brush have stymied firefighters efforts. The fire behavior overnight was so erratic that when the winds gusting up to 50 mph would let up, the blaze would change direction and race back uphill toward firefighters, Los Padres National Forest Fire Chief Jim Harris said.

    The Cave fire is burning under some of the toughest firefighting conditions anywhere in the world, he said. Weve experienced several offshore wind events at this point, and that has just dried the fuel bed out to the point where were seeing the fire behavior we saw last night.

    The blaze had swelled to 4,262 acres with no containment late Tuesday morning. About 600 firefighters were on scene, defending homes from the advancing flames. Ten fixed-wing tankers and nine helicopters were expected to arrive by midday to aid in the effort, said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Daniel Bertucelli.

    As the fire grew late Monday, mutual aid started to arrive from neighboring counties to help the local and national forest firefighters. The Ventura County Fire Department sent two strike teams _ about 10 fire engines _ Monday evening, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department sent a Firehawk helicopter, which is capable of performing nighttime water drops.

    Engine teams were embedded in neighborhoods to defend homes in the fires path, and bulldozers and hand crews were at work throughout the night digging into the dirt to create containment lines around the perimeter of the blaze.

    The fire prompted Santa Barbara County officials to declare a local emergency and request that Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaim a state of emergency for the region. The fire is causing conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within Santa Barbara County, the county wrote.

    About 2,400 homes bordered by East Camino Cielo, Ontare Road, Foothill Road/Cathedral Oaks Road and Fairview Avenue were placed under mandatory evacuation orders. An evacuation warning was issued for the area north of Foothill Road and from Ontare Road east to Gibraltar Road.

    Shortly after noon, about 4,000 residents in the far eastern area of the evacuation zone the largest section of displaced homeowners were to be allowed to return. Officials, however, warned that many would be arriving to homes without electricity. Large swaths of Santa Barbara County, including unincorporated areas between Goleta and Santa Barbara, along Highway 154 through Mission Canyon and parts of Summerland and Carpinteria, are experiencing power outages because of the fire.

    No injuries have been reported, and no homes have been destroyed, but one outbuilding was damaged, officials said. It was not clear how the blaze started.

    Firefighters expect their efforts throughout the day will be made more difficult by significant southwest winds blowing through the region. The fire has chewed through dense, old brush in an area that hasnt burned since the Painted Cave fire in 1990. That fire, which authorities said was the result of arson, destroyed hundreds of homes in the area and caused $250 million in damage. Harris called the area around San Marcos Pass where the winds funnel through the hillsides a nightmare spot for a blaze.

    Weve had a lot of fires in Santa Barbara County in the front country over the last 15 years or so, Harris said. This is one of the last slots of old vegetation. Its something weve all talked about for years and years.

    Fire crews may be getting some help from Mother Nature by Tuesday evening, when a storm is expected to arrive in the area, Bertucelli said.

    Whats working in our favor is were getting rain tonight, he said. Its definitely going to affect our fire behavior. ... Its going to diminish the fire.

    The storm, which is expected to drop about an inch of precipitation on the fire area, brings its own challenges in the burn area in the form of possible debris flows. During an early morning briefing, fire officials warned crews to be cautious when the rain started and to have a plan in case roadways were washed out.

    Bertucelli said officials were mostly concerned about small rock slides onto Highway 154.

    The impending rainstorm was welcome news to residents near the fire.

    People say, What about the mudslides? But I believe we need it, said Fred Cortez, standing in his socks on his ash-sprinkled porch in the Blue Skies Mobile Home Park on Tuesday. The night before, Cortez watched as car after car fled the mobile home park. The hillside glowed with a deep orange hue and ash fell like snow on neighborhoods as residents rushed to pack their belongings and leave their homes.

    But Cortez decided to stay.

    The community was not under a mandatory evacuation order, and Cortez figured that if he really had to leave, police would come into the neighborhood to alert residents. In the meantime, he re-positioned his car so he could leave quickly if needed and began packing some important paperwork and belongings.

    Cortez watched the news on his computer until 4 a.m., keeping the window blinds up so he could spot the fire on the mountains outside.

    It looked like it would calm down, he said, and then it would flare up again.

    Stan Jeffries, 91, was at home with his wife in Santa Barbaras San Vicente Mobile Home Park on Monday afternoon when his daughter called to alert him to the fire. Jeffries walked out onto his street and could see plumes of smoke in the surrounding hillsides.

    First we saw smoke, and it wasnt too alarming, he said. As it got darker, you could see the flames, and they began to blossom.

    The fire didnt seem to be an immediate threat, but hours later, a neighbor from the mobile home communitys disaster preparedness committee knocked on their door and told them it was time to leave.

    The couple left about 2:30 a.m. after packing some blankets and important paperwork. As he sat at the evacuation center early Tuesday, Jeffries said he still wasnt too worried about their home.

    I think our committee was a little conservative, he said, but by the time we left, we could see the fire coming down the mountain.

    Before the sun rose Tuesday, about 45 people who had evacuated were sleeping in the Goleta Valley Community Center, which had opened as a shelter for displaced residents hours earlier.

    Among them was 90-year-old Irene Lamberti, who lives in an unincorporated area of Goleta a few miles from the fire. She first saw smoke when she was driving home from a swim aerobics class on Monday afternoon. She didnt think she would have to evacuate and settled down to watch Antiques Roadshow on television and eat dinner.

    I didnt think it was going to affect us, she said.

    At about 8 p.m., authorities knocked on the door and told her that people in her neighborhood were evacuating. Lamberti and her husband spent about half an hour grabbing items from around their home and placing them in a small suitcase. They forgot their toothbrushes and her husbands pajamas, she said, but the couple made sure to bring a Japanese embroidery of a geisha that Lamberti had been working on for months.

    Our house is like a museum. You cant take everything, she said. I wasnt going to leave that.

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    Cave fire threatens thousands of homes in Santa Barbara County - GazetteNET

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