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Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces fell in most states across the country in the past year, including West Virginia, while 15 states saw enrollment increases, according to a new Urban Institute report. But West Virginia and Louisiana had the MOST significant drops at almost 20 percent and 24 percent fewer enrollees, respectively.

Glynis Board / WVPublic

A federal lawsuit filed this week by an environmental group alleges two protected crayfish species are being harmed by coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

The suit, filed Wednesday in West Virginia by the Center for Biological Diversity, alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has missed the one-year time frame set under the Endangered Species Act in which to designate habitat areas for the two crayfish species.

The Happy Retreat mansion in Charles Town, W.Va. Formerly the home of Charles Washington, founder of Charles Town and brother to President George Washington.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Happy Retreat is a historic mansion in Charles Town that was once the home of Charles Washington – founder of Charles Town and brother to the nation’s first president. Today, the house is becoming a hub for public events, community outreach, history and tourism.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A member of the West Virginia House of Delegates has filed suit against Gov. Jim Justice over a provision in the state constitution requiring the governor to reside in the state capital.

Del. Isaac Sponaugle, a Democrat, filed a complaint in Kanawha County Circuit Court stating that Gov. Justice has not lived in Charleston or conducted the business of his office in the state’s capital.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hazardous chemicals left over from coal-fired power plants are leaching into groundwater across Kentucky. This new look at coal ash pollution comes from the power plants themselves -- they were recently required to make public the data from groundwater monitoring. WFPL’s Ryan Van Velzer has the second story in the series, Coal Ash, Uncovered.

Alex Proimos (CC)

Places like Lake Tahoe, Nantucket and Colorado ski country are playgrounds for the wealthy. To make the playground run smoothly, there’s a dire need for people to cook food, bus tables, clean rooms, mow lawns, manicure golf courses and operate ski lifts. It all works well until those same workers don’t have a place to lay their heads at night.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

"A voice that's part Memphis, part Chicago and all woman," Shemekia Copeland returns to the Mountain Stage with a fiery performance of "The Battle is Over (But the War Goes On)." Catch it on over 240+ NPR stations during this week's encore Mountain Stage broadcast.

Water
Jasonanaggie / Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration today released a politically charged study on the health impacts of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, including the compound known as C8, which has been detected in some water systems in the Ohio Valley.

 

The draft report, released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), finds these fluorinated chemicals, which are used in some nonstick products and flame retardants, can endanger human health at levels 7 to 10 times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency has previously said were safe.

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end his controversial policy that has resulted in thousands of family separations and brought criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

"We're going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don't stand for and that we don't want," Trump said Wednesday morning, when he announced that he would sign the order.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A grand jury in West Virginia’s southern district has indicted state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry on 22 counts. The charges include fraud, witness tampering and making false statements.

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart says FBI agents arrested Loughry Wednesday morning and brought him to the Robert C. Byrd federal courthouse in Charleston for processing.

Curt and Debbie Havens’ ranch style home is the gathering place for their family. Their two boys grew up playing in the streets in this quiet neighborhood in West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Now, their grandchildren do the same.

“They played ball, all kinds of games,” Debbie recalled during a recent interview. Family photos and knick-knacks line the walls. One heart-shaped sign reads “May love be the heart of this home.”

“Everybody wants to come to grammy’s and pappy’s,” she added.

Shayla Klein

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a  “Zero Tolerance” policy in illegal immigration earlier this year , and that policy has recently come under scrutiny for news that  children are being separated from their parents as they enter the United States across the Mexican border. A group, called “Mountaineers for Progress”, hosted a protest Monday evening against the policy.

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A new study finds that medications used to treat opioid use disorder are greatly underutilized even though they’re proven to significantly reduce chances of opioid-related deaths. 

 

Kara Lofton

About ten years ago, the National Park Service noticed that fewer kids and families were using the parks. And they wanted to change that.

So in 2009, they partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to launch an initiative to help families unplug, get outside, and connect with their local natural resources. The initiative, called Kids in the Park, soon expanded to encompass pediatricians like Erin Regan who are trying to combat childhood obesity, diabetes and excess screen time by writing “scripts” for kids to go outside.

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A little over a decade ago, a psychologist named Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder,” meaning that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, to the detriment of their mental and physical health. It’s not an officially recognized medical disorder. But health professionals from various fields are embracing the idea that America’s shift toward sedentary, indoor lifestyles is harming our health.  

 

 

Coal Ash Uncovered: Polluted Groundwater Found At 14 Kentucky Sites

Jun 19, 2018
Erica Peterson

For decades, Kentucky’s own coal stoked the fires that generated most of its electricity. And while some of those power plants have shut down or switched to natural gas, their legacy remains today in the leftover coal ash that’s stored all over the commonwealth.

Now, new data show the coal ash buried in landfills and submerged in ponds at many of these sites has contaminated local groundwater.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, about 10 years ago, the National Park Service noticed that fewer kids and families were using the parks. And they wanted to change that. So in 2009, they partnered with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to launch an initiative to help families unplug, get outside and connect with their local natural resources.

Kara Lofton reports that the initiative called Kids in the Park soon expanded to include pediatricians who are trying to combat childhood obesity, diabetes and excess screen time by writing “prescriptions” for kids to go outside.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Jim Justice is seeking a $2,700 increase in the tiers for health insurance premiums to avoid bumping teachers and other public employees into higher tiers from a recent 5 percent pay increase.

Justice announced at a news conference Monday he will ask the Public Employees Insurance Agency for the change.

Coal Ash Uncovered: New Data Reveal Widespread Contamination At Ohio Valley Sites

Jun 18, 2018
A 2011 aerial photo of Little Blue Run, the largest coal ash waste site in the country.
Robert Donnan

For generations, coal power has fueled American prosperity. But for each shovelful thrown into the furnaces, a pile of ash was left in its place.

Today, as coal’s dominance in the power sector wanes, those piles of ash have grown into mountains as coal ash became one of the largest waste streams in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

Anti-poverty activists say they will continue a campaign of demonstrations and civil disobedience throughout the Ohio Valley despite arrests at some events and being blocked from Kentucky’s capitol building.

The Poor People’s Campaign has rallied in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia and campaign leaders returned to Kentucky Wednesday after the group was denied access at earlier demonstrations.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West VIrginia Morning, coal has long powered the Ohio Valley. But it left behind a legacy of waste: dozens of massive coal ash disposal sites. As the Trump administration changes the regulation of coal ash, the Ohio Valley ReSource and partner station WFPL have analyzed new data from the region’s waste sites. The analysis found widespread evidence that coal ash sites are leaking contaminants into surrounding groundwater.

In the first of a three-part series, reporters Brittany Patterson and Ryan Van Velzer share what they found and what it might mean for nearby communities.

When Congress approved giving $380 million to states to bolster the security of their elections, state officials were caught off guard but extremely grateful. Elections are notoriously underfunded and haven't seen a windfall like this from the federal government in more than a decade.

But getting that money out to all the states, and then into the hands of localities that run the elections, with enough time to have a meaningful effect on the 2018 midterm elections is a difficult proposition.

W. Clayton Burch, Interim Secretary, West Virginia Department of Commerce.
WV Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice named W. Clayton Burch as interim secretary at the West Virginia Department of Commerce on Friday, a day after forcing out his predecessor.

Carol Guzy/ NPR

Can Trump bring coal jobs back to Appalachia? We’re a year-and-a-half into his presidency, and some people, like coal operator Barry Estep, are hopeful.

“Maybe this is a light at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been hoping for, to get things turned around and changed some.”

But others are not so sure that coal has a long-term future. 


Hydrocodone pills
Toby Talbot / AP

A federal judge in Ohio will consider whether to allow public access to government data detailing years of prescription opioid painkiller shipments.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, NPR reporter and host Kelly McEvers and her colleague Chris Benderev spent more than a year exploring coal counties across Appalachia -- trying to understand our people and our history with coal.

The series, which recently aired on a podcast called Embedded, follows several people in central Appalachia, to find out how their lives changed during the first year-and-a-half of the Trump presidency. McEvers recently spoke with Roxy Todd. We'll hear part of that conversation and travel with McEvers as she goes a mile underground inside a coal mine.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. began a movement to unite people of all colors and creeds in what was called the Poor People's Campaign. We’ll hear the latest in how that movement is being revived today.

We’ll also hear about experiments in Pennsylvania that are trying to bring back bats populations that have been plagued by a deadly fungus.

And the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has passed its version of the Farm Bill with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s provisions to remove hemp from a list of Schedule 1 controlled substances.

When Bourdain visited Lost Creek Farm, I knew who he was. It took his tragic death for me to understand why he truly mattered.

Health, doctor, nurse, mask, breathing
Dollar Photo Club

Health officials in West Virginia say two more food service workers have been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says in a news release one of them worked at a Taco Bell in Hurricane (HER'-a-kin) and the other at a Pizza Hut on MacCorkle Avenue in Charleston. The health department handles public health services for Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State commerce department Sec. Woody Thrasher has resigned following reports of a slow-moving recovery program aimed to help victims of the June 2016 flood.

 

Thrasher resigned Thursday after Gov. Jim Justice asked for his resignation, according to a news release from the governor’s office.   

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