Changing the Times:
Ideas from Around the Web
It’s about time Humboldt leaders start leading the way with innovative ideas for the future of our beautiful North Coast.
Instead of beating the tired old path of tax increases and asking for more, more, and still more, while threatening to reduce services unless they get their lazy fat-cat bureaucratic way, maybe they should consider the hard work of leading the progressive road forward for business and consumers to prosper alike– offering new and inventive ideas for growth and change.
The North Coast should be a leader of all things good. Period.
Here’s a few token ideas from around the web of what other communities are doing with their effective leadership.
Bayshore Mall Affordable Housing?
America’s Oldest Enclosed Mall Converted to Tiny Housing
Take Part - The bustling stores that used to grace the oldest enclosed mall in America, the Arcade Providence in Providence, R.I., have been transformed into mixed-use housing: shops on the ground floor and micro-apartments on the top two levels.
The Arcade was built in 1828, and like many malls struggling after the recent economic crash, the building, which is in Providence’s downtown, closed in 2008.
No new enclosed malls have been constructed in America since 2006, and nearly half of the nation’s existing malls are expected to go out of business within 10 years.
Gutting the Rhode Island property wasn’t an option—the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Enter developer Evan Granoff, who has spearheaded micro-housing projects in space-cramped cities such as Boston and San Francisco with city leaders.
Granoff bought the mall, set aside the ground floor for retail, and set about transforming the top two floors.
Each of the new 38 micro-apartments, which began welcoming tenants in early 2014, is 225 to 300 square feet—they take their design inspiration from shipping containers. Despite their minuscule size, the spaces come with the basics: a bathroom, a bedroom, storage, and a tiny kitchen (a mini-fridge and microwave are included, but there’s no oven or stove).
A handful of 900-square-foot apartments are available for folks who want a bit more breathing room. The building also comes with amenities, including a game room and laundry facilities.
Beating the High Cost of Renner Gas
Kentucky Town Creates Its Own Gas Station
Nation of Change - Earlier this month, the small city of Somerset, Kentucky, opened a municipally owned and operated fuel center in an effort to drive down gas prices for local residents.
As a result of its proximity to Lake Cumberland, a popular tourist destination, the city of 11,000 residents has long struggled with high fuel prices– especially during the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Under the leadership of Republican Mayor Eddie Girdler, the conservative-leaning city purchased a fuel storage facility for $200,000.
The city spent another $75,000 building the infrastructure to distribute gasoline to the public– including the installation of 10 pumps.
The city now purchases gas from a local supplier (Continental Refining Company) and uses city employees who rotate in from other departments to operate the station.
In a city where gas prices at private stations can spike 20 to 30 cents a gallon on weekends, the public station will not aim to turn a profit. Rather the mayor’s office intends to set prices in a way that the city breaks even on the cost of fuel plus operating expenses.
However, an additional goal is to provide an incentive for motorists on their way to Lake Cumberland to stop in Somerset to refuel, thus generating additional business for—and greater tax revenues from—the city’s restaurants, shops, and other small businesses.
Slashing Health Care Insurance Expenses
Maine Healthcare Cooperative Proving a Model Success
Portland Press Herald, ME - Maine Community Health Options will offer insurance through the federal marketplace to people throughout New Hampshire next year, a move made possible by a major federal loan and local success that has surprised industry experts and allowed the company to dominate the Maine market.
Cooperatives are an often-overlooked component of the Affordable Care Act and were designed as an alternative to traditional insurance companies, especially in states where there might be limited choices. In the co-op model, the governing board is ruled by its members, and any profits are plowed back into operations. In a traditional insurance company, profits can be distributed to shareholders.
Co-ops exist in 26 states, according to the National Alliance of State Health Co-Ops. Through the health insurance marketplaces created by the federal law, where people can apply for subsidized benefits on healthcare.gov, the cooperatives offer competitive plans against the big players in the industry, such as
Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and State Farm.
Nationwide, the co-ops have had varying levels of success, but health experts rated the co-op in Maine an overwhelming success.
Despite being a start up competing against longtime insurer Anthem, Maine Community Health Options captured 83 percent of the 44,000 Mainers who signed up for insurance on the marketplace in 2014, surprising state health care experts.
The co-op and Anthem offered similarly priced plans, and yet most chose the new nonprofit over the established company.
“Maine was hungry for an alternative,” said Mitchell Stein, a Cumberland-based independent health policy analyst.
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~ Via Undernews, Take Part, Nation of Change, Portland Press Herald
Our appreciation goes out to Rick and Matt St. Charles and HCCVB