The battle for better outcomes: Rural Wisconsin communities are in need of the economic developments that would help residents stay healthy and bring health care providers to the area, The Cap Times reports.

Fading murals of children, their arms outstretched to iron ore and timber tumbling overhead, celebrate a heyday that has long since passed by Hurley, Wisconsin, writes Cap Times reporter Parker Schorr.

The city of 1,500 in Iron County and Ironwood just across the Montreal River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula were devastated when the area’s mines closed in the 1960s. Fifty years ago, Hurley had 2,500 people. It is now down to about 1,500.

“We watched the place start to dry up,” Karen Hagemann, a longtime resident of the area told a reporter for The Cap Times. “A lot of my friends, acquaintances, people from school and church, they moved away because they had to, the parents had to find other jobs.”

“When the mines closed, everyone got really depressed, and it’s kind of lingered through the generations,” agrees Amy Nosal, a University of Wisconsin-Extension agent for Iron County.

Transportation can pose a barrier to rural area residents who have to travel long distances to find hospital care because of the lack of options in their communities.

Hurley, whose main strip is lined with bars and strip clubs, has one full-time and one part-time mental health therapist, according to Katie Hampston, health officer for Iron County.

“If we had some more resources in this area, we could potentially … not be that backstop all the time, and that would have better outcomes for people,” County Human Services Director Cally Kilger says.

Read more about rural Wisconsin’s fight to secure a healthier future.