Editorial: The importance of rural Georgia

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A guest editorial by State Senator Freddie Powell Sims

109 of Georgia's 159 counties are designated as "rural," and extreme poverty exists in these counties.

Georgia's rural counties have the worst overall health ratings, with high concentrations of diabetes, cancer, obesity, strokes, heart disease, high infant mortality rates, low life expectancy, delayed cognitive abilities among children, just to name a few!

Southwest Georgia, in particular, has an aging population; a dwindling population in fact; limited mental and behavioral health services; healthcare worker shortages; loss of intellectual capital meaning, skilled and educated workers are leaving the area; and challenging recruitment of quality educational leaders for our schools.

From January 2010 thru November 2016, six rural Georgia non-profit hospitals have closed, including Calhoun Memorial in Arlington, and Stewart-Webster Hospital of Richland.

For the past several weeks, the Georgia Senate Rural Study Committee has crisscrossed rural Georgia seeking answers to the many challenges facing these Georgians. This intense interest in rural Georgia from Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and the Legislature is a signal of hope for struggling rural Georgia communities.

We hope that proposed transformations assured to rural Georgians will help stabilize epic countryside living and productivity.

Remember: Rural Georgia farmers give Georgians and the Country an $80 billion industry called FARMING!

The importance of Rural Georgia cannot be overstated!

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