- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

The federal government is tackling poverty in a remote corner of Utah by focusing on the health of children and their parents’ work and education prospects.

The White House announced the unique, second-generational approach Friday as part of a test of its so-called Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive.

The effort is an attempt to address an issue facing more than six million people in rural areas.

Utah’s San Juan County is the only western community to participate in the federal program.

“Generational poverty -that’s something we see a lot of. Kids learn from their parents,” said Jeremy Redd, the city manager of Blanding, Utah, where the grant will be based in Utah. “There’s got to be a better way to break that cycle.”

The county’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate is twice that of the state’s modest number. One in four residents lives below the poverty level and 34 percent are on long-term public assistance, Redd said. The town of 3,500 on the edge of the Navajo and Ute reservations in southeastern Utah saw a bustling period in the 1950s and 1960s for uranium mining, but has since tried to market itself as a home base to explore the natural parks nearby.

“We’re not located on a rail line or on an interstate. When you talk about remote, it’s a pretty remote area,” Redd said.

The federal program will also include the communities of Berea, Kentucky; Blytheville, Arkansas; Hillsboro, Ohio; Hugo, Oklahoma; Jackson, Mississippi; Machias, Maine; Marshalltown, Iowa; Oakland, Maryland; White Earth, Minnesota.

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