News

The Five Loaves and Two Fishes Foodbank has 24 hydro-panels for water-gathering in Kimball, West Virginia.
Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In McDowell County, access to clean water can be a challenge. Aging infrastructure, a shrinking tax base and lack of oversight affect the region’s water quality. That is why one community food bank is trying something different, to provide cleaner water to some who are in need.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, abortion can be a hot button topic to avoid around the Thanksgiving table. But it’s a key issue at the heart of a highly polarized political climate. Several states now have abortion restrictions in place. Some states have signed abortion bans, but those aren’t in effect yet. And next year, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case that could change the right to legal abortion.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Advocates for the decriminalization of cannabis gathered Tuesday before a Morgantown City Council meeting. Having offered the council draft legislation, those advocates are also hoping to build a movement that pushes decriminalization and legalization efforts from city councils all the way to the statehouse.

The Rev. Michael J. Bransfield addresses the media during a news conference announcing his appointment as bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004.
Dale Sparks / AP Photo

West Virginia's Roman Catholic diocese wants a former bishop to pay back more than three-quarters of a million dollars following accusations of sexual and financial misconduct. 


Downstream of Dam #5 in Falling Waters, W.Va. during a study using tagged American eels from Millville, W.Va.
David Sutherland / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

At the end of Vineyard Road in Falling Waters, West Virginia, there is an old, stone and brick structure on the Potomac River. This small, historic building is a hydroelectric power plant owned by Cube Hydro Partners based in Maryland. Beside the structure is ‘Dam #5.’

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, for more than 180 years, American eels have not been able to swim past Dam No. 5 in Falling Waters, Berkeley County. But that’s about to change. As Liz McCormick reports, officials are finishing a new “eelway” that could potentially help thousands of eels a year migrate further upstream in the Potomac River.

When Matthew Braun gets out of medical school, he'll be able to prescribe opioids.

A decade ago, he was addicted to them.

"The first time I ever used an opioid, I felt the most confident and powerful I'd ever felt," Braun says. "So I said, 'This is it. I want to do this the rest of my life.' "

Opioids took away his anxiety, his inhibitions, his depression. And they were easy to get.

"I just started breaking into houses," Braun says. "I found it amazing how trusting people were in leaving windows open and doors unlocked, and I found a lot of prescriptions."

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the decades-long saga over DuPont’s dumping of toxic chemicals in the Ohio Valley is getting the Hollywood treatment. “Dark Waters,” a film starring Mark Ruffalo as environmental lawyer Rob Billot, opened in theaters Friday. The film comes as regulators and lawmakers consider new rules on the toxic chemicals known as PFAS. As Ohio Valley ReSource reporter Brittany Patterson reports, the chemicals are showing up in more drinking water systems around the region.

Presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want to tear up your student loans and set you financially free. That's popular among voters – especially those struggling to pay off this debt.

Other Democratic candidates have more modest plans. But economists say the dramatic proposals from Sanders and Warren to free millions of Americans from the burden of student debt could boost the economy in significant ways and help combat income inequality.

Frontier Communications

As independent auditors continue their six-month review into Frontier Communications’ landline phone operations in West Virginia, staff working for the state Public Service Commission have noted some significant delays on the part of the telecommunications company. 

Photo courtesy Focus Features

The new film “Dark Waters” depicts the real-life story of the 20-year battle waged by attorney Rob Bilott against chemical giant DuPont.

MSHA Comment Period Shows Divide On Measures To Protect Miners’ Health

Nov 22, 2019
Mackie Branham views a lung X-ray with Dr. James Brandon Crum, who was among the first physicians to note an uptick in black lung diagnoses
Howard Berkes / NPR

The comment period has closed for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposed rule on respirable silica, a major contributor to skyrocketing rates of lung disease among coal miners. The 49 relevant comments included a striking testimony from an anonymous coal miner sharing details of the ways in which current mine operators cheat on dust monitoring protocols.

A photo taken during the demolition of Herbert Hoover High School in Sept. 2018.
Kanawha County Schools

 


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide West Virginia $52.3 million to rebuild Herbert Hoover High School after devastating flooding in 2016 damaged the building. 

Eric Douglas/ WVPB

The Upshur County Public Library Board of Directors is reviewing whether to remove a children’s book from their shelves, after a local pastor asked for its removal. The book, Prince and Knight,  depicts two men who fall in love. Pastor Josh Layfield brought the issue to the attention of library staff because citing moral concerns for people of faith who might happen upon it.

Courtesy Deb Morgan

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll meet several people who are making connections with each other, themselves, or a spiritual community. 

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia election officials say a record 8,020 people registered to vote in September. 

 

Secretary of State Mac Warner on Thursday said the figure set a new state record for voter registration transactions in a single month. The tally was boosted by the registration of nearly 3,000 high school students.

The Hale Family sing at the WV Mountain State Gospel Convention in June 2019.  Photo by Zack Harold
Zack Harold / For Inside Appalachia


There’s a place in southern West Virginia that many consider holy ground. For nearly 70 years, gospel music fans have gathered on this mountaintop just south of Summersville Lake for weekend concerts featuring singers from all over West Virginia and its surrounding states.

This is the annual West Virginia Mountain State Southern Gospel Convention

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On a cool day in August, about 30 people were gathered in the front yard of a farm in Pickens, Randolph County, for a late-summer family reunion. While ATVs rumbled in the background, four family members sat in a circle made of lawn chairs, near a large tree in the middle of the yard.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we start in an old farmhouse in Pickens, home to the Nestor family in the latter part of the 20th century. A lot has changed in the past 50 years. But perhaps the biggest difference since their childhood isn’t the kids and grandkids they’ve gained -- it’s the sister they met 30 years ago, from Austria. Emily Allen joined up with the family at a recent reunion to hear their story.

The marathon of testimony in Democrats' impeachment inquiry this week confirmed that the Ukraine affair, like so many earlier subplots in the era of President Trump, boils down to two big questions:

What do the president's words mean? Can the president do what he did?

The answers to those questions have been a partisan inkblot test since Trump exploded onto the political scene, and now they are burning again as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats decide how they'll move ahead in a showdown over impeachment.

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the Crossroads Recovery Home in Gilbert, West Virginia, the residents — all women — can have as much of a leadership role as the case managers and other staffers helping them.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

People from all over the state and region converged in Terra Alta, West Virginia, this summer to celebrate nine decades of Mountain Nature Camp. It’s a camp where adults go to study pristine Appalachian corners of the world. Many folks came to celebrate community and traditions that have been going since 1929. But also to get their nature fix – which researchers say is critical for both human health and maybe even life on the planet.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, earlier this fall, Bob Hansen, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, said the state looks forward to creating new job opportunities for West Virginians in recovery from addiction. For some of these opportunities, being in recovery is actually a qualification.

The state has been certifying and paying peer recovery support specialists through its Bureau for Medical Services since July 2018. As Report for America corps member Emily Allen reports, this is just one example of the state’s recent investments in peer support.

Brian Blauser/ Mountain Stage

Our Song of the Week comes to us from two flat-picking champions, Tyler Grant and Robin Kessinger.

Adobe Stock

West Virginia’s Attorney General filed two lawsuits against a pair of opioid-manufacturers in Boone County Circuit Court on Monday, alleging the internationally operating companies have illegally misrepresented their products and downplayed the risks associated with opioid painkillers.  

Black Lung Trust Fund Likely Burdened By Murray Bankruptcy

Nov 20, 2019
Bob Murray speaking at an event in October, 2019.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

The recent bankruptcy of Murray Energy is likely to significantly increase the debt of a struggling federal trust fund that supports disabled miners’ health care expenses.

According to court filings, Murray Energy could be responsible for as much as $155 million under the Black Lung Act and general workers’ compensation, but testimony from the Government Accountability Office shows that the company only offered $1.1 million in collateral to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, with coal mining on the decline and people relocating, some towns in southern West Virginia are trying to find other ways to spur their economies. In Fayetteville, that has meant leaning into tourism.

There’s a large river-rafting, mountain-biking and rock-climbing scene in the area, but much of those activities are limited to the warmer months. So, the town has started a unique tourism campaign to get people to come visit in the off-season. Folkways reporter Caitlin Tan has the story.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) released a study this week about the barriers kinship foster care families face, and what the state can do to support them. 

A marijuana plant grows at Fotmer SA, an enterprise that produces cannabis for medical use, in Montevideo, Uruguay, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.
Matilde Campodonico / AP Photo

In about a month, medical cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries and laboratories will have the option of applying for permit applications from the state. 

Capitol
Kristi George / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A legislative post audit reveals serious problems with abuse and neglect cases handled by West Virginia’s Child Protective Services. Lawmakers heard the findings of the audit Tuesday during a legislative interim committee meeting. 

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