USDA Rural Development awards nearly $1.9 million in grants

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 6:35 p.m. CDT; updated 7:08 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 9, 2011

COLUMBIA — The UM System is among six recipients across the state to be awarded funding for creating 11 new rural health centers and adding new services to 19 existing rural sites.

The Rural Utilities Services’ Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program awarded $1,884,627 million in grants to fund projects that are educational or expand access to health care services in rural Missouri, said George Thomas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development public information coordinator.

Anita J. Dunning, the Missouri State Director for USDA Rural Development, announced the grants Wednesday, according to a news release.

The 2010 winners include:

  • Citizens Memorial Hospital District in the southwest Missouri community of Bolivar, $457,500;
  • The UM System Board of Curators, $220,459;
  • Kennett School District in southeast Missouri, $305,410;
  • Correctional Medical Services, Inc., $280,332;
  • Health Care Coalition of Lafayette County in west central Missouri, $125,000;
  • Missouri Sisters of Mercy Health System, $495,926.

The release stated the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program awarded the grants to help eligible applicants finance projects that offer rural residents access to better communication services.

"These (grants) are just federal funds, but these recipients are also matching this money with some of their own money," Thomas said. "So there is actually some more investment in these projects that some of these communities are benefiting from."

Projects can include infrastructure loans to local telephone companies for improving telecommunications service in rural communities, broadband access loan programs, community connect grant programs in eligible communities and distance learning and telemedicine loan and grant programs to rural residents, according to the release.

“The vision of the telecommunication program is that rural America will have access to affordable, reliable, advanced communications services to provide a healthy, safe and prosperous place to live and work,” Dunning said in the release.

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