News Release
Release No.STELPRD4013394
ContactKevin Tuttle715-345-7615 x154
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE IN RURAL AREAS
Three Wisconsin Projects Funded
Washington, D.C., Dec 08, 2011 --

@@Contact:

Kevin Tuttle 715-345-7615 x154

Kevin.tuttle@wi.usdsa.gov

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding To Improve Access to Education and Health Care in Rural Areas

Three Wisconsin Projects Funded

WASHINGTON, December 8, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that recipients in 34 states and one territory will receive funding to improve access to health care and educational services in rural areas. Funding is provided through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program.

   “This program delivers educational and medical opportunities that are urgently needed in remote, rural areas,” Vilsack said. “President Obama has said that no matter where you live in America, you should have access to quality educational opportunities.  Rural Americans deserve the same opportunities for education and medical care as metropolitan-area residents, and these funds will make that happen.”

   The grants, administered by USDA Rural Development through its Rural Utilities Service, will help fund 100 distance learning and telemedicine projects, including three in Wisconsin.  In Iron County – which borders Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP), Aspirus Health Foundation, Inc. will receive a $53,000 grant that will expand a telemedicine system that serves residents in Central Wisconsin.  The expansion will bring the Wisconsin video medical network out to two sites in the UP – the Aspirus Grand View Hospital in Ironwood, and Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium.  In the same way, the newly equipped hospitals will connect rural patients and medical staff in the UP with specialty doctors in Wausau or other hospital locations on the network, thereby reducing the need for hospitalizations and the lengths of stay in hospitals.

   “The Cooperative Educational Services Agency #8 that serves Langlade, Florence, Forest, Marinette, and Oconto Counties, will receive a grant for $500,000 to update an outdated version of their distance learning system for 16 schools in N.E Wisconsin,” said USDA Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski.  “The newer equipment has better display performance and makes intelligent use of how information is presented onscreen with touch monitor display features, creating an effective learning impact for individuals who are visually oriented.   The technology will also provide a venue to train firefighters, emergency medical technicians and community members.”   

   In eastern Wisconsin, eight counties will benefit from a $245,000 grant to the Cooperative Educational Services Agency #7.  Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Calumet, Outagamie, Brown, Door, Kewaunee, and Shawano Counties will receive high definition video equipment, which presents a major platform upgrade in the availability of courses with richer content and more intelligent features in 18 of their schools. 

   For a list of awardees that will receive funding under Rural Development’s DLT Program, please click here 

   Awards are contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the agreement with USDA.

   Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses, entrepreneurs and people who want to live, work and raise their families in rural communities.

“These grants are proof that the President is keeping his word. Wisconsin rural communities will directly benefit from these investments, and all of this means more opportunity and the prospects for a better quality of life in rural Wisconsin,” Gruszynski concluded.

   USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has a portfolio of more than $160 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

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