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Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

This is a developing story and may be updated.

 

Despite tornado warnings and a brief recess in which lawmakers and the public were evacuated downstairs at the Capitol, the West Virginia Senate voted Monday to pass a controversial omnibus bill that could most notably lead to the state’s first charter schools. Senators fast-tracked the bill by suspending rules that would normally require they read the bill three times on three separate days. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The leader of West Virginia’s Republican party is applauding a state senator’s call for intolerance against members of the LGBTQ community.

Republican state Sen. Mike Azinger wrote an opinion article Sunday titled “The Shame of LGBTQ Pride” in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel after the paper covered a gay pride picnic. State GOP chairwoman Melody Potter then wrote on Facebook that Azinger’s article was “right on.”

Rural Homelessness, Made Worse By Opioid Crisis, Presents Special Challenges

Jun 24, 2019
Charles “Country” Bowers revisits the wooded patches where he once lived.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Charles “Country” Bowers takes long, quick strides down a worn dirt path and is soon in front of a thicket of bushes made deep and tall by spring rains.

He’s leading me on a tour of camps made by homeless people in wooded corners of Fayette County, Kentucky. He stops and lifts a hand to signal that he’s spied something.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, homelessness is often considered an urban problem. But a recent NPR survey found a third of rural Americans say homelessness is a problem in the communities. In the first in a series of reports from the Ohio Valley ReSource Mary Meehan explores rural homelessness. Those working on the issues say it remains largely hidden, even as the region's opioid crisis pushes more people into need.

Mine-safety regulators say the March 2019 death of a West Virignia miner occurred because the mine operator didn't identify the place where the miner was standing as an area that should be avoided.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says the operator also didn't train miners to avoid such areas. Media outlets report MSHA released details of Adam DeBoard's death in an investigation report.

West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 4.8% in May. 

WorkForce West Virginia says it's the lowest rate for the state since 2008. The number of unemployed state residents fell by 800 last month to 37,800.

Total nonfarm employment has increased by 5,200 jobs since May 2018. Job losses of 1,300 in construction and 200 in mining and logging were offset by hundreds more jobs in other areas.

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A new regional medical school campus is expected to launch next June in Charleston.

 

The initiative is a collaboration between the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and Charleston Area Medical Center who announced the two organizations had signed a letter of intent earlier this week.

 

Charleston Area Medical Center is providing space for the campus, including use of its existing training facilities, according to a press release.

 

Anne Li / WVPB

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re taking another listen to an episode we aired last winter. With the political season heating up, we probably all need another reminder.

We’re wading into the American political divide and bringing you voices with distinct points of view from opposite sides of the country. It’s no secret that these days, we live in the divided states of America. Sometimes, it can feel like the only thing that unites us anymore is that now-nearly universal experience of sitting awkwardly around the Thanksgiving table with family members who have different political beliefs, trying to find a way to avoid politics altogether. 


Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia’s Senate leader says he wants to pass a sweeping House GOP education bill that would allow the state’s first charter schools.

Republican Senate President Mitch Carmichael told The Associated Press on Thursday that he’s not going to try to amend the proposal when it gets to his chamber.

Mountain Stage is excited to announce two more additions to the late Summer offerings here in our home town of Charleston, WV.

Congressional Panel Hears Black Lung Testimony, MSHA Chief Says No New Policy Needed

Jun 21, 2019
An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.
Adelina Lancianese / NPR

A Congressional panel heard testimony and had some sharp questions Thursday about the epidemic of black lung disease among Appalachian miners. Labor leaders are calling on federal regulators to strengthen protections for miners and several lawmakers wanted to know why the country’s top mine safety agency is not doing more in response to the dramatic increase in the preventable but deadly disease.


Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

President Trump says he called off a Thursday strike on Iran ordered as retaliation for Iran's having shot down a U.S. drone. Trump said he canceled the attack shortly before it was to begin, after he was told 150 people would very likely be killed.

"We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die," Trump said in a series of tweets Friday.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the 2019 Veterans Affairs Mission Act went into effect earlier this month. It makes emergency and specialized care available to more U.S. veterans. The act promises to provide less red tape and greater satisfaction and predictability for veterans. The legislation passed through Congress easily with broad bipartisan support and President Trump signed it into law.

Robert Wilkie, the Veterans Affairs Secretary since last July, took over the VA during significant turmoil. He spoke over the phone with Eric Douglas about changes to the VA and the challenges the organization still faces.

Kathy Mattea will be returning as guest host to welcome Steve Earle & The Dukes, Damien Jurado, Vanessa Peters, Alsarah & the Nubatones and Erika Wennerstrom.

UPDATE: Advance Tickets have sold out as of Friday morning. Any available tickets will be placed on sale starting at 5p.m. in the Culture Center lobby, $35.

Original Post: A few tickets remain online and at Taylor Books for this Sunday’s Mountain Stage in Charleston, WV. If you’re unable to join us, then the next best thing is to catch the exclusive live-stream starting at 7p.m. EST.

Updated at 9:04 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a 40-foot World War I memorial cross can stay on public land at a Maryland intersection.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, mead is often associated with Vikings and medieval feasts. In the 1960s, it made a brief resurgence thanks to renaissance festivals. But in the last couple of years, there’s been a new revival in mead. According to the American Mead Makers Association, it’s the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in the country. Brittany Patterson spent some time with some West Virginia mead makers and learned how the Mountain State’s unique charm is influencing their craft.

Brian Blauser/ Mountain Stage

Our Mountain Stage Song of the Week comes from enchanting jazz and pop vocalist Kat Edmonson, who makes her third appearance on the show with songs from her album called "Old Fashioned Gal."

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Hours after Iran announced that it had shot down a U.S. drone, President Trump told journalists at the White House, "You'll soon find out" if the U.S. is planning a strike on Iran in retaliation.

"They're going to find out they made a very big mistake," Trump added, in comments that came as he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But Trump also said he suspects that Iran's taking out the drone was not intentional, saying he finds it hard to believe.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Updated Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 at 11:40 p.m. 

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed its version of a long, sweeping and controversial education reform measure. The bill, which is the latest in a series of omnibus proposals, cleared the lower chamber Wednesday on a 51-47 vote after delegates considered amendments on third reading.

Catherine Jozwik, president of the Eastern Panhandle Green Coalition, speaks at a press conference outside the attorney general's office on Wednesday, June 19, before several residents and concerned West Virginians handed the governor's office a petition
Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Residents from Jefferson County gathered at the West Virginia Capitol Wednesday to give Gov. Jim Justice a petition regarding a stone wool insulation plant they’ve spent the last year protesting.

As Congressional Panel Focuses On Black Lung, UMW Urges Stronger Health Protections

Jun 19, 2019
Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

As Congress hears testimony on the epidemic of black lung disease among Appalachian miners, two labor leaders are calling on Congress and regulators to do more to protect miners.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday released its long-awaited final replacement for the Obama administration's signature climate change regulation, which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by one-third by 2025.

The Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, or ACE, tasks states with developing plans that rely on the use of efficiency technologies to reduce carbon emissions at existing power plants.

Bluefield State College
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Eligible West Virginia students could receive free tuition at Bluefield State College this fall.

News outlets report the college announced Tuesday that over a dozen programs classified as "high-skilled, high-demand" would begin offering free tuition.

Josh Hernandez / Creative Commons

Japanese truck maker Hino Motors Manufacturing is set to open its new West Virginia assembly plant this summer.

Hino Motors has scheduled an Aug. 21 grand opening for the facility in Mineral Wells. The company is moving about 20 miles to a larger location at a former retail distribution center.

The Capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A legislative audit has found that the Jobs Act enacted by West Virginia lawmakers in 2001 in hopes of assuring that 75 percent of jobs on state-funded public works projects would go to local workers has failed.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the audit says the legislation has been wholly ineffective and recommends that it be repealed.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the latest episode of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Us & Them podcast focuses on the subject of sexual assault on college campuses. This is an emotionally charged and a delicate subject. Our assistant news director, Glynis Board, spoke with Us & Them Host Trey Kay about the episode titled “Reckoning with Sexual Assault: Righting a Wrong.”

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Over the past 30 years, the annual Kids County Data Book has been tracking things like low birth-weight babies, children in poverty and young children not in school. Researchers track if states do better, worse or the same among 16 markers of health, education, economic well-being and family life.

The new report, released this week, found that from 2016 to 2017, West Virginia improved on 10 of the 16 markers and did worse on 6. Nationally, America saw improvements on 11 of the 16 markers.

courtesy Still Hollow

Still Hollow Distillery isn’t close to any interstate exit. It’s in Randolph County, West Virginia, not far from the Pendleton County line, and it’s nestled in the high Allegheny mountains. You can only get there by driving curvy two-lane roads.  


Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House of Delegates has advanced its own omnibus education bill and is getting set for a vote on the complex and controversial measure. The measure moved forward during a Tuesday floor session in which teachers lined the galleries to watch the proceedings.

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Not everyone looks at the increased availability of alcoholic beverages quite the same way. Some people struggle with it. Alcohol is, after all, a socially acceptable, legal drug.

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