Suzanne Higgins

Executive Producer

Suzanne Higgins is Executive Producer for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, headquartered at WSWP-TV in Beckley, and is currently project manager for the network's focus on the state's Opioid crisis with an emphasis on the many issues surrounding recovery.

Suzanne and editor Aaron Shackelford are winners of a 2018 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for their one-hour television and radio documentary Vietnam: West Virginians Remember, featuring the experiences of five West Virginia Vietnam combat veterans. In addition to producing, writing and narrating the film, she coordinated multiple community film screenings and led panel discussions throughout the state for the Vietnam project.

She recently produced The Legislature Today, the network's nightly television news coverage of the 2018 legislative session - the first time the program originated from the state Capitol building.

Prior to the Vietnam project, Suzanne completed her 7th season as Senior Producer of Inspiring West Virginians, a radio, television and WV Learning Media project, and produced the network’s 2016 Gubernatorial Candidates forum and Supreme Court candidates forum.

Following the devastating floods in southern West Virginia in June, 2016, Suzanne led a team of producers in delivering the Emmy-nominated one-hour television special Inside Appalachia: West Virginia’s 1000 Year Flood.

In the fall of 2016, Suzanne and fellow producer Russ Barbour won the National Educational Telecommunications Association’s Best Documentary Award for Jay: A Rockefeller's Journey. The 2-hour film focuses on the life and half-century career of John D. Rockefeller, IV, and was distributed by NETA nationally to PBS stations.   

Since the launch of the West Virginia Channel in January, 2016, Suzanne works with independent producers and filmmakers throughout the state, building production partnerships and broadening WVPB's program offerings for the channel.

Her past projects have included producing and hosting live television studio programs, documentaries, multiple radio series including the 5-year, award-winning Aging With Grace & Dignity series, community events and film screenings, and contributing reports to the network's ongoing news and public affairs programs. 

Suzanne is also a 2016 graduate of the Leadership West Virginia program, the recipient of the national Pew Charitable Trust’s Batten Award for Excellence in Civic Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting, two Emmy awards, a PRNDI award, several West Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Association awards, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Virginias’ Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Ways to Connect

Not many pharmacists do cutting edge research in developing new drugs, and how drugs affect different patients differently.

But 53-year-old clinical pharmacologist Bill Petros of Wheeling, WV studies how cancer drugs react differently from one patient to the next.

For more than a decade Bill Petros led his own research lab at Duke University Cancer Center, one of the top cancer research centers in the United States. 

Then he got a call from West Virginia University, and was thrilled to return home.

pills
Wikimedia Commons

The pill is called Sovaldi and it’s profoundly changing outcomes for Hepatitis C patients.

Just 5 years ago the cure rate for most patients in the US was about 50%. Now with Sovaldi, made by Gilead Sciences Inc. of California and approved by the FDA last December, the latest Hep C regimen is making therapy shorter, more tolerable, and the cure rate is reaching 95-100 %.

That’s significant for West Virginia, which has the second highest prevalence of Hepatitis C in the country.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller participated in a Martinsburg panel discussion about video games
Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who announced Saturday the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at West Virginia University, will retire at the end of the year after 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

Rockefeller calls public life "all consuming if you go after it like you should."

He says personal time with family, especially his children, has been the price he's paid in public service, and he plans to make up for it in retirement.

Cong. Nick Rahall with veterans
Submitted Photo / Office of Nick Rahall

Democrat Nick Rahall of Beckley will leave his congressional office next month after 38 years of service, to be replaced by Republican Evan Jenkins.

West Virginia's District 3 congressman sat down with Suzanne Higgins on election night, to reflect on the 2014 campaign, and the successes he's had for southern West Virginia while in office.

While the Rahall campaign received between $3-$7 million in outside support to Jenkins' estimated $8-$10 million, the congressman said the practice has undermined the political process.

Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After switching parties in the spring, Evan Jenkins will now head to D.C. after pulling off what could be called a monumental upset.  

Jenkins unseats Nick Rahall from the 3rd congressional district seat after a reign that lasted 38 years. Jenkins began his political career as a member of the House in 1994 and elected to the Senate in 2002. Even though he defeated a long time member of Congress, in his victory speech Jenkins says he appreciates what Rahall did for the state.

Love Krittaya, Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia is one of 10 states selected to launch a federal pilot program to keep more at-risk teenagers at home, reducing the number of children receiving services in out-of-home care facilities.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families will launch the Safe at Home West Virginia program.

The effort will provide wrap-around services and counseling to children and families around the state. The aim is the prevention of child abuse, neglect and the re-entry of children into foster care.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

West Virginia has received two national honors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its efforts to control vaccine-preventable diseases.

The CDC ranks West Virginia among the top three states in the country for having the highest number of adults immunized against the flu. 

Approximately 52% of adults in West Virginia got a flu shot in the 2013-2014 season, compared to 42% nationally.

West Virginia was also cited for being among the top five states for most improved immunization coverage of adolescents, ages 13-17.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Department of Health and Human Resources officials filed an order Wednesday requiring health care providers to report all cases that may be linked to a mysterious neurologic illness that has been seen in children in Colorado.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making the request nationwide.

The CDC is investigating the illness of a cluster of nine pediatric patients in Colorado, all hospitalized with acute neurologic illness with limb weakness of undetermined origin that might be linked to the enterovirus D68. 

Prison Bars
Schavda / wikimedia Commons

Inmates at Mount Olive Correctional Complex can now pursue a four-year college degree that officials believe will reduce violence inside and outside of prison.

According to WV Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein, the new Moral Rehabilitation program that launched this week will change prison culture, save lives, reduce victims, reduce violence, and save money.

In a release the commissioner said the program will operate as an extension campus of Appalachian Bible College, an accredited Raleigh County institution.

Dr. Lewis Cantley opened up entirely new fields in cell biology and cancer treatment.
Jean Snedegar

Internationally renowned cancer scientist Lewis Cantley, a West Virginia native,  will deliver the 2014 Laurence and Jean DeLynn Lecture at West Virginia University Monday.

Cantley grew up in Big Chimney in Kanawha County, graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan and then went on to Harvard.

The biochemist discovered a family of enzymes fundamental to understanding cancer biology.

wikimedia commons

According to the latest data, West Virginia's adult obesity rate is tied with Mississippi for the highest in the country at 35.1%.  Colorado has the lowest rate at 21.3 percent.

The annual report is produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health.

In addition to being the most obese state, West Virginia is also the state with the highest percentage of people who do not exercise.

Among high schoolers,  West Virginia ranks sixth, with 13 percent of those students obese.

Ken Thomas / wikimedia Commons

Five thousand people on some 500 boats are expected on the Gauley River beginning Friday as the U.S. Corp of Engineers begins drawing down the water levels on Summersville Lake, releasing a thunderous amount of water into the Upper and Lower sections of the Gauley.

The releases will occur during the next 7 consecutive weekends, supporting the local rafting industry and ensuring the river maintains its world class rafting status.

West Virginia University

Open interview sessions for approximately 300 positions at WVU Healthcare will be held Wednesday.

WUV Healthcare includes the teaching hospitals and clinics for WVU’s health professions schools.

The job interviews will be held from 10 am to 6 pm at the WVU Erickson Alumni Center.

Per diem, casual, part-time, and full-time positions are available, including management, direct patient care, support services, and administrative.

 

wikimedia commons

Four health centers in West Virginia will expand behavioral health services using funds from the Affordable Care Act.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced almost a million dollars in funds from the federal health care act will support and expand services for about 29,000 West Virginians  that seek treatment from those 4 health centers.

AllVoices.com

Twenty-two miners were killed in accidents in the mining industry during the first half of 2014, including 8 coal miners, according to a summary by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

 

That's compared to 18 miners who were killed in the first half of 2013.

In the second quarter of this year alone, 14 miners died – five in coal mining and nine in metal and nonmetal mining.

National Park Service

A new National Park Service report shows that visitors to national park areas in southern West Virginia spent $51 million in nearby communities in 2013.

The report says a little more than 1,243,000 people from around the world visited the New River Gorge National River, the Bluestone National Scenic River, and the Gauley River National Recreation Area in 2013.

In a release today NPS Superintendent Trish Kicklighter said that in addition to providing visitors remarkable experiences in America's outdoors, National Park  Tourism is a significant driver in the national economy.

Fayette County Bridge construction
Google Earth

A bridge closing in Fayette County means long-term disruption for river
traffic as well.

The West Virginia Department of Highways and the Federal Highways Administration are replacing the Thomas Buford Pugh Memorial Bridge on Route 41 in the town of Prince.

Construction of the new bridge will require temporary full river traffic closures and long term river detours between Prince and the town of McCreery on the New River.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and the detour will remain in effect until the project is completed  next July.

Community Health Systems of Beckley is one of 60 clinics across the country that will share more than 80 million dollars in Affordable Care Act money.
 

The rural clinic  will receive a $1.65 million grant to help train primary care providers.

Kate Long

West Virgina University Children’s Hospital opened today a new WVU Healthcare clinic located at the Summersville Regional Medical Center.

Larry Rhodes, M.D., physician-in-chief at WVU Children’s Hospital and chair of the WVU Department of Pediatrics, said in a news release that pediatric clinics have been held along the borders of the state for several years, but the new Summersville clinic will provide a more central location in the state and has the potential to serve a nine-county region.

Greenbier
Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons

Cole Hand and Alston Spears, two West Virginia junior golfers, will participate alongside professional golfers at this year's Greenbrier Classic, which began Monday.

Hand and Spears were invited to play in the practice rounds and Pro-Am of the PGA Tour FedEx Cup event at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, according to a release from the Governor's office.

Elk River Chemical spill
wikimedia / Wikimedia

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health released Friday information from physicians who reported seeing patients outside of the ER for symptoms possibly associated with the Elk River Chemical Spill.

 

Dept. of Defense

While Senator Jay Rockefeller is standing by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Congressman Nick Rahall and Congresswoman Shelly Capito are calling for his resignation amid the scandal that has embroiled the Veterans Administration for weeks.

Rahall added his name Friday to the growing list of Democrats joining Republicans calling for Shinseki to step down, signaling mounting pressure on the Secretary.

Welch, WV
Suzanne Higgins

A long-abandoned property in downtown Welch has been purchased for the construction of apartment-style housing for teachers and other professionals.

Reconnecting McDowell, the public-private partnership focused on improving McDowell County's education system and economy, has purchased the former Best Furniture and Katzen buildings and the attached parking lots for $92,000.

The group intends to build a Teachers Village - which will include about 30 housing units, areas for residents to collaborate and relax, and community amenities such as a street-level coffee shop.

Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie Thompson
Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Follow two of the world's leading paleoclimatologists to the top of the world and both poles!

Using ice cores they drill themselves, Marshall graduates Lonnie Thompson, from Gassaway, and Ellen Mosley-Thompson, from Charleston, study the history of climate at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.  Lonnie was the first scientist in the world to drill ice cores on glaciers in tropical regions.  And he has spent more time above 20,000 feet than anyone in history.

Caroline and Holmes Morton
Jean Snedegar

Travel to Amish country to hear about one of the most unusual medical clinics in the United States -- the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, founded by Dr. D. Holmes Morton, of Fayetteville, and his wife, Caroline, from Beckley.  Here doctors and scientists diagnose and treat rare genetic disorders in children from Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Jean Snedegar

Meet Hinton-native Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington.  Previously she was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Burwell is the past President of Global Development at the Bill & Linda Gates Foundation in Seattle, the world's largest charitable organization. At the Foundation Mathews Burwell was responsible for giving away $750 billion a year to help some of the world's poorest people have access to better agricultural techniques, financial services and clean water and sanitation.

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit
Brad Smith

Hear why co-workers of Brad Smith, President & CEO of the global financial software giant, Intuit, say he's the best ambassador West Virginia could ever have.

With Marshall memorabilia in abundance in his office, this Wayne County native boldly declares that everyone in the company knows about his alma mater, Marshall University, and his hometown, Kenova, West Virginia.

M.I.T. professor John Ochsendorf
Jean Snedegar

Elkins-native John Ochsendorf, 36, is a professor of structural engineering and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  At 26 – eight years after he graduated from Elkins High School – he became one of the youngest professors ever appointed at the world’s top technical university.

Dr. Geoffrey Cousins
Jean Snedegar

Dr. Geoffrey Cousins, 42, is one of West Virginia’s most innovative heart surgeons and a pioneer of robotic-assisted heart surgery in the United States.  He lives with his wife and four children in Charleston and practices cardio-thoracic surgery at the Charleston Area Medical Center. 

Verna Gibson, first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company
Jean Snedegar

Verna LeMasters Gibson, a native of Elkview in Kanawha County, broke the ultimate corporate “glass ceiling” in 1985 when she became the first woman CEO to earn the top spot at a Fortune 500 company, The Limited Stores.  She ran The Limited for six years and during that time it became the nation’s first billion dollar specialty retailing chain. 

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