News

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

An audit of Frontier Communications in March found that the state’s main landline phone provider isn’t doing enough preventative maintenance on its infrastructure for landline phones.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice is defending his decision to oust the state commissioner of public health after pointing to inaccurate reporting of coronavirus cases. 

In a Monday virtual news briefing, Justice fielded questions from reporters about the resignation of Dr. Cathy Slemp, who stepped down last week from her position as West Virginia’s top public health official. 

Marijuana
Flickr / eggrole

Efforts to provide qualifying West Virginians with medical cannabis are underway with new developments, three years after the Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law. 

The West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis is accepting permit applications for medical cannabis labs after previously closing this process on Feb. 18.            


Roxy Todd / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Pastor John Wyatt in Rainelle, Greenbrier County, had reopened his two small Baptist churches for three weeks when he got the news. The Graystone Baptist Church in Ronceverte, about 30 miles from Rainelle, had a COVID-19 outbreak.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two award-winning West Virginia Public Broadcasting programs — Inside Appalachia and Us & Them — can each add a Public Media Journalists Association 2020 Award to their lists of achievements.
 

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

Environmental and economic advocacy groups from coal-producing parts of the country unveiled a policy agenda on Monday to help coal-reliant communities make a transition to a more sustainable future.

Updated at 5:35 p.m.

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court stood by its most recent abortion-rights precedent Monday, delivering a major defeat to abortion opponents who had hoped for a reversal of fortunes at the court with the addition of two new Trump-appointed justices.

By a 5-4 vote, the court struck down a Louisiana law that was virtually identical to a Texas law it invalidated just four years ago. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the fifth and decisive vote.

On this West Virginia Morning, a group of residents in Letcher County, Kentucky confront a judge over a Facebook post in which he downplayed racism and accused protesters of heightening tensions. Also, in this show, we hear how religious leaders in West Virginia are responding to the coronavirus pandemic at their places of worship. We also visit some towns in the state to hear how the pandemic’s economic impact is affecting local tourism.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


On a recent sunny weekday, Bill Currey proudly walks among 30 neatly stacked, brightly colored plastic kayaks. Birds chirp merrily, and the soothing sounds of the meandering Coal River permeate the background — nature’s version of a white noise machine. 

 

For the tanned Currey, who also owns an industrial real estate company, being here, on the river, is as good as it gets. His goal is to share this slice of paradise with as many people as will listen. 

Oakley Fugate

The courtroom was silent as 19-year-old Dayjha Hogg approached the lectern at a Letcher County fiscal court meeting, stared down a panel of county magistrates, and spoke.

“I know COVID’s going around right now, so just imagine, there’s no COVID, normal society, and imagine you walk around and it’s like you have the plague.” 


New River Gorge Bridge
Chad Matlick / WVPB

A new report shows that tourism in southern West Virginia’s national parks injected more than $70 million into the local economies in 2019, which was before the coronavirus pandemic impacted the business in the state. 


Liam Niemeyer/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Toddlers yelling, running around the hardwood floors and leaving cracker crumbs on the ground. A laptop screen dented by a soup can dropped by a kid. At one point, a room covered from ceiling to floor with hand prints after kids were left alone with a paint can. 

But for the moment, Sherman Neal’s kids — two-year-old Skyler and three-year-old Jett — are on the leather couch, fixated on another "Max & Ruby" cartoon. 


Ben McManus

As part of our Inside Appalachia folkways project, we have been exploring Appalachia’s unique connection to Wales. Both regions mountainous landscapes, a history of coal extraction, folktales and it turns out, music. 

There is a growing community of musicians from both Wales and Appalachia who share an interest in the culture that binds them together.


Governor Jim Justice speaks at his virtual press briefing, June 26, 2020
Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice says his office has found a way to cover what’s expected to be a $250 million budget hole. The governor rolled out the plan in a midday meeting with top lawmakers on Friday before releasing it to the general public.

In a virtual news briefing, Justice outlined the state’s financial situation, which has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. His plan routes federal aid dollars to various state agencies and pulls from the Medicaid surplus fund to cover the budget gap. 

Michael Gallimore

The West Virginia Dance Company, based out of Beckley, W.Va., often performs dances that tell stories about social or cultural topics in the Appalachian region. One of their recent performance pieces, “Catching Light,” choreographed by Toneta Akers-Toler, was inspired by West Virginia glassmaker Ron Hinkle. In a special report exploring folkways traditions, as part of the Inside Appalachia Folkways Project, Jordan Lovejoy profiled the choreographer and her work. 


Mason Adams / For Inside Appalachia

Culture can connect us to our kindred spirits across great distances, even during a global pandemic. It helps build bridges in other ways, too. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear stories about cultural ties that bind us to people across the globe.

Leslie Terry (center) and the rest of the Roanoke Tribune team prepare the week’s newspapers to be mailed to readers.
Mason Adams / For Inside Appalachia

The Roanoke Tribune has been telling its Black readers their lives matter for more than 80 years. 

While many newspapers have struggled to adapt to the internet, laying off reporters and editors while shrinking their coverage, the family-owned Roanoke Tribune has persisted through four generations and the destruction of their building during urban renewal.


Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community members from Paden City, West Virginia, heard from federal and state officials Thursday about an ongoing investigation into the city’s contaminated water supply. 

On this West Virginia Morning, while some statues of confederate generals have been toppled or ordered down in some cities and towns, the debate carries on in other places. We hear about one man’s mission to bring down a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Murray, Kentucky. Also, we hear about Appalachia’s connection to Wales through music, and we listen to this week’s Mountain Stage song of the week.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

With numbers spiking across Southern states, the United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, 39,972 new cases were recorded June 25, surpassing the previous record set April 24, which saw 36,291 new cases.

In a new rule announced Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled she is standing firm on her intention to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The CARES Act rescue package included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

Economic Outlook In W.Va. Better Than Expected

Jun 25, 2020
Adobe Stock

A panel of state and federal experts said while it’s still too early to tell what economic recovery in West Virginia will look like, the data is showing a better outlook than expected. 

Speaking at an online webinar Thursday, West Virginia University economist John Deskins said it’s possible that West Virginia will bounce back quickly in what economists call a “v-shaped” pattern. 

Formerly Disenfranchised Kentucky Voters Cast Their Ballots

Jun 25, 2020
WFPL

 

For many in the Ohio Valley, voting is a choice, a right they are free to exercise if they want to. But for Jackie McGranahan and the more than 175,000 other formerly disenfranchised Kentuckians, this primary election is special. It’s her first chance to vote since 2008. 

She won’t be going to a voting booth. Elections are a bit different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most voting in Kentucky is happening by mail. But even though she couldn’t go to the polls with her friends or be handed her ‘I Voted’ sticker, that didn’t stop McGranahan from savoring the moment of voting.

 

USDA

As the economies of the Ohio Valley gradually reopen from the pandemic closures, state officials are still reporting hundreds of coronavirus cases each day in the region. In Kentucky, coronavirus cases are again on the rise, with a week-long average of daily cases approaching the highest level yet. Public health officials are concerned about a spread of coronavirus into more rural parts of the region. 

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


It’s a sweltering hot Monday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and the kitchen at Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises, or CANE, is buzzing with activity. 

In an industrial kitchen that was once a high school cafeteria, Brandon Fleming is chopping onions and sliding them into a massive aluminum tray of beans. Once the beans are in the oven, Fleming mops his brow and heads outside to the parking lot, where a small army of teenagers is loading bags and boxes of groceries into the trunks of waiting cars. 

A watch glass containing microscopic spores of diverse strains of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These beneficial fungi form spores inside and outside the roots of their plant hosts, helping plants to colonize former mining lands.
Matt Kasson / West Virginia University


Thousands of people have found themselves working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, essential workers don’t have that luxury. But that’s not the only type of work that can’t be done from home.

 

Scientists across the country have struggled to maintain access to their research, including researchers who take care of living collections — those libraries of living things, usually housed at academic institutions, and used for study or preservation. 

 

On this West Virginia Morning, health officials in the state are concerned that people are becoming too relaxed about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, making outbreaks more likely. Also, one of the state’s top health officials has resigned. And if the state were to tighten restrictions, what might that mean for our friends in recovery from substance abuse?

Forced Apart: Shadow Pandemic

Jun 25, 2020
Lalena Price

COVID-19 has forced millions to stay at home for months. Isolation can feed anxiety and depression and now tens of millions of Americans say that potent combination threatens their mental health.

Us & Them host Trey Kay speaks with mental health providers in West Virginia, as well as the people who've sought treatment during the pandemic or who'd like to get some help.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Cathy Slemp has resigned following public criticisms from Governor Jim Justice. 

In his virtual press briefing Wednesday, Justice said officials recently discovered that some coronavirus case numbers were reported incorrectly. Justice used Huttonsville prison as an example, saying while the total number of cases had dropped at the facility following an outbreak at the end of May, reporting from Randolph County had not taken the recoveries there into account, artificially boosting the state’s active case numbers.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia seceded from Virginia 157 years ago to join the Union and reject the Confederate States of America. While Confederate monuments have been toppled or ordered down elsewhere across the country, they still stand in West Virginia.

There are 21 statues, memorials and other markers honoring Confederate generals and soldiers in the state — on state park resorts, schools, elsewhere according to data compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center

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