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The FBI’s Peter Strzok spends 10 hours in open testimony in Congress. Also on the Friday rundown: Granite Staters protest AG Sessions' approach to fighting opioid abuse, and Latino Conservation Week starts on Saturday.

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Making Connections in Rural Areas

PHOTO: Access to transportation in rural areas is an issue for seniors.
PHOTO: Access to transportation in rural areas is an issue for seniors.
July 13, 2012

PIERRE, S. D. – Rural areas of South Dakota present unique challenges, especially to older citizens who need to travel for vital services. This week, several members of AARP's National Policy Council (NPC) have been in the state, looking at the issue and working to craft solutions.

While the state is big and sparsely populated, there are answers to these problems, says Bill Sparling, a member of the NPC's Livable Communities Committee. They come with a cost, however.

"I mean, the answer is rather simplistic. It's always resources - but it's not only resources; it's using them efficiently, and coordinating the resources from different sources."

Surveys have shown many older people in rural South Dakota have to travel 50 miles or more for goods and services with little or no public transportation available.

A consistent message they have heard from local officials, volunteers, and tribal officials is that each has some unique needs and problems, adds Sparling.

"We've been told by local actors in rapid transit, for the rural and frontier areas, that one size will definitely not fit all. What works best is developing programs from the ground up."

Sparling, from Virginia, spent 25 years at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), working with many transportation-related agencies and programs. He says they will work up a full report on their visit when they return to Washington.

"We will be writing an interim report shortly, and probably in the fall making final recommendations to the board, with very likely policy recommendations. The board considers those, and we work very closely with the board and staff. So, there is the likelihood that they'll be adopting our recommendations, at least substantially."

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD