News

West Virginia Education Association's President Dale Lee attends a Senate Education Committee meeting on Jan. 24 2019.
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A West Virginia teachers’ union is urging public schools to avoid face-to-face instruction when students return next month due to the coronavirus.

The West Virginia Education Association suggested the online-only start Thursday based on a survey of the union’s membership.

Members of the Our Students First Coalition gather on Aug. 12, 2020 outside the West Virginia Education building on the Capitol grounds in Charleston, W.Va.
Jenny Anderson / Our Students First Coalition

A coalition of teachers and public school advocates are asking for West Virginia schools to start remotely for the first 14 days with in-person instruction beginning only after 14 consecutive days of no new coronavirus cases in the state.

The Our Students First Coalition also wants state officials to allow students to return to in-person learning – on a county-by-county basis – if cases drop to zero in certain areas.

Eric Douglas / WVPB

Federal, state and local representatives gathered at Yeager Airport in Charleston Thursday to break ground for the new Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School. 

Jerome Gilbert, president of Marshall University, explained that the school learned the aviation industry needed new pilots because they have a federally mandated retirement age. 

“It was after a thorough investigative and fact-finding process, Marshall committed to a flight school to produce commercial pilots with a bachelor’s degree,” Gilbert said  

On this West Virginia Morning, ever wonder what it would be like to fly in a small plane around West Virginia? We hear another story about West Virginia’s airplane industry and its remaining airfields. Also, in this show, we hear more about an unregulated landfill near South Charleston, Kanawha County that has been polluting a creek in the area for decades.

Brian Blauser/ Mountain Stage

Renowned singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin marked the 30th anniversary of her landmark album Steady On with acoustic treatments of the songs when she joined us last September.

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

The Big 12 Conference is moving ahead with its football season, announcing that fall sports will continue – with teams following safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference hopes to hold its title game in December, as it normally would.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

With recent deaths from the coronavirus in West Virginia concentrated within the state’s elderly population, Gov. Jim Justice says he is once again restricting visitations at nursing homes. 

At a virtual news briefing Wednesday, Justice announced 12 additional coronavirus-related deaths since Monday. He also noted outbreaks in at least 28 nursing homes across the state.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Lawmakers from across the Ohio Valley have received nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions from 2019-2020 from a political action committee associated with FirstEnergy Corp., the electric utility implicated in a $61 million bribery and racketeering scheme related to Ohio’s controversial energy bill that bailed out several struggling nuclear and coal plants. 

 

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Normally, Boone County Circuit Judge William Thompson holds his drug court graduation ceremonies inside the courthouse.

But on a slightly overcast August afternoon, he found himself and the first two graduating members of his family treatment court outdoors at Waterways Park in Boone County. 

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Normally Robert Villamagna would be in his art studio in Wheeling, West Virginia, hammering out old metal pieces from children’s toys, chip cans and coffee cannisters that he finds at local flea markets. He has made artwork out of scrap metal for decades and was named West Virginia Artist of the Year in 2016.

But starting July 25, he has not made much art.


West Virginia's Confirmed Virus Cases Triple In 7 Weeks

Aug 12, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

The number of reported deaths from the new coronavirus in West Virginia has jumped 23 percent in the past week, with six more fatalities announced Wednesday pushing the total to at least 153.

On this West Virginia Morning, a Wheeling-based artist is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. We hear about his experience. Also, in this show, we hear about the first graduation from a new family treatment court in West Virginia, and we learn about West Virginia’s fifth major export – airplane parts.

Daniel Walker/ WVPB

While the president has asserted that children are “almost immune” from COVID-19, public health experts say many things are unknown about how the virus impacts youth, particularly long-term.

“The short answer is that we do not know,” said Dr. Mariana Lanata, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who works at Marshall Health. “This virus is completely new, and we are still getting to know it and know what it does.”

A statue of Shepherd University's mascot wears a face mask outside the football field during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shepherd University

Updated on Aug. 12, 2020 at 9:50 a.m. 

All of West Virginia’s higher education institutions have varying return-to-campus plans in place for the fall 2020 semester. But how will plans be enforced? And what consequences exist if students refuse to comply?

Updated 6:32 p.m. ET

Two major college conferences — the Big Ten and Pac-12 — each announced Tuesday they were sidelining college football and other fall sports because of the coronavirus, just weeks before schools were scheduled to play their first games.

The Big Ten, which includes universities with powerhouse sports programs, such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State, said it will look at holding some competitions in the spring.

On this West Virginia Morning, should we be worried about our kids and grandkids catching COVID-19? The short answer, according to experts, is it’s unclear. We get into the long answer of this question in this show. Also, we hear local reports in government and energy, and we learn about some natural springs in Southwest Virginia that may not be as clean as residents thought.

Adobe Stock

West Virginia corrections officials will test all people incarcerated at the South Central Regional Jail for the coronavirus this week, after reporting eight prisoners with COVID-19 there on Monday. 

The Charleston jail was on lockdown as of Sunday night, according to a press release from the DCR. Diagnosed prisoners were quarantined to two housing units with the 29 others they had contact with. 

The DCR reported 17 employees had COVID-19 Monday afternoon.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Nearly five months into West Virginia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Jim Justice says his administration needs to develop another round of plans to test vulnerable populations and children. The governor also said the state is ready and willing to disperse additional unemployment benefits after President Trump signed an executive action on Friday extending those benefits. 

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the nation continues to grapple with conversations over police brutality and racism, some police departments are trying to tackle the problem by teaching better communication skills and recognizing bias among their officers.

Police in Jefferson County recently completed a two-day training focused on de-escalation, implicit bias and racial profiling.

Former and current council members in a West Virginia town have admitted to an ethics violation for voting to decide on whether to count provisional ballots that impacted their elections. 

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


A major Ohio Valley coal producer announced last week it will speed up its exit from producing coal used to generate electricity. In a call with shareholders last week, Contura Energy, Inc., said the move is tied to the ongoing global transition away from fossil fuels. 

Director of Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach at YWCA Ron Scott Jr. leads a discussion about diversity in Wheeling.
provided / YWCA Wheeling

A longtime community leader in the Northern Panhandle, Ron Scott Jr. was born and raised in a family of community advocates in Wheeling. He founded and directs the Ohio Valley African American Student Association — an organization that “encourages & promotes higher and continued education for Black and Bi-Racial students in the Ohio Valley.” Now he’s the Director of Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach at the YWCA in Wheeling. The mission of the YWCA is, “Eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.” 

West Virginia Public Broadcasting met up with him to learn about some of the changes he’s seen in his community in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.


On this West Virginia Morning, we learn about some new training police in the Eastern Panhandle recently received in de-escalation, racial profiling and implicit bias. Also, in this show, we speak with longtime community leader Ron Scott Jr. who founded and directs the Ohio Valley African American Student Association in the Northern Panhandle.

Cruz Santos thought her life was finally turning around in early March when she found a job at a shoe store after months of looking.

Two weeks later, the store shut down, throwing her back onto the unemployment lines, and leaving her and her three school-age kids at risk of losing the one-bedroom Bronx apartment where they live.

"I don't know what's going to happen and if they're going to kick me out of my apartment. And that's something hard, you know. You can hardly even sleep sometimes," Santos says.

Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

The state’s topmost regulatory agency is giving a small, struggling Fayette County water utility 30 days before it forces a nationally funded, statewide provider to take over. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Counties in southern West Virginia are experiencing a significant rise in new COVID-19 cases compared to the rest of the state, which health leaders blame on residents traveling for the summer.


The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia received documents from the City of Martinsburg Friday afternoon — all related to treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters in late May

The ACLU-WV filed a freedom of information act request more than a month ago, and having not received the documents within the legally mandated time frame, filed a lawsuit earlier Friday. The documents arrived thereafter. 

USDA

Tyson Foods sought and received federal permission to increase the operating speed at poultry processing plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana even  as public health officials reported dozens of coronavirus cases among Tyson workers. Now, a union representing workers at meatpacking plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana is one of several plaintiffs suing the federal government over waivers that allowed Tyson Foods and other companies to operate faster.

Eric Douglas

Amid the rolling hills and strip-mined mountain tops that stretch through Logan County, West Virginia is Route 10 -- a newer highway that was 20 years in the making. It made road travel in southern West Virginia more accessible, but it also replaced the McDonald airfield.  

And like most airports in the coalfields, the McDonald airfield is but a faint memory, recalled only by a few who used to fly there. 


Courtesy photo

Twenty businesses in West Virginia provide materials, make airplane parts or service engines and airframes for the aviation industry and the state exports more than $150 million of airplane parts every year. 

One of the bigger players is Pratt and Whitney in Bridgeport. Pratt and Whitney is a multinational corporation that manufactures jet engines for civilian and corporate jets. The West Virginia facility, though, services older engines. 

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