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West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Appalachia’s coal country is struggling to diversify its local economies amid the sharp declines in employment at mines and power plants. An eastern Kentucky organization called SOAR, or “Shaping Our Appalachian Region,” is trying to help.

The group is betting big on high-speed internet and industrial development. But as the Ohio Valley ReSource’s Sydney Boles reports, those are proving tough items to deliver in the rural, coal mining region.

US Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Census Bureau released data last week that showed the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line went down for the first time since the Great Recession of 2008. 

Overall, the number of people living in poverty, nationwide, decreased by half a percentage point from 2017 to 2018 covering nearly 1.5 million people.

Scott McCloskey / The Intelligencer

A private West Virginia university will reinstate several academic and athletic programs that were dropped amid a financial crisis.

Wheeling University says in a statement that starting in January, it will resume offering majors in biology, engineering science and English. It also will offer new online programs in criminal justice and psychology.

Tucker County Convention & Visitors Bureau

The West Virginia Land Trust has purchased a site in Tucker County that includes the Moon Rocks hiking and mountain biking area.

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

Officials say $1.2 million from the sale of the diocesan home of former West Virginia Catholic Bishop Michael J. Bransfield will go to assist victims of sexual abuse in West Virginia.

The Intelligencer reports Bishop Mark E. Brennan released the information in a letter Friday to Catholics in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Courtesy Doug Smith

A southern district that includes a controversial House delegate will have another GOP candidate in next year’s primary election. The 27th House District currently includes Del. Eric Porterfield, who made anti-gay comments during the 2019 legislative session.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the opioid drug OxyContin, said it reached a tentative deal last week that would settle some of the thousands of lawsuits brought against them by state and local governments in the wake of the opioid crisis. But the company now says it will delcare bankruptcy in the face of their potential legal liability.

As Kara Lofton reports, some are arguing any money recovered from Purdue and other defendents shouldn’t go to state governments. Instead, they say it should go directly to providers and hospitals.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday night, just days after striking a settlement with more than 2,000 local governments over its alleged role in creating and sustaining the deadly opioid crisis.

SOAR at 6: Group’s Lofty Goals for Coal Country Meet Challenges on the Ground

Sep 13, 2019
Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin announce the completion of east Kentucky’s middle mile of high-speed internet.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

In a conference hall in Pikeville, Kentucky, this September, Gov. Matt Bevin led an eager audience in a countdown. When the audience reached “One!,” a map on the screen behind the governor lit up with the promise of a high-tech future.

After years of delay and scandal, major portions of the commonwealth’s “middle mile” of high-speed internet were complete.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Today, many seniors in rural communities don’t have the support they need to live independently, safely. Who’s going to care for our elders in the years to come? In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll explore the resources available to caregivers and their loved ones. We’ll also hear what some people are doing to help seniors feel less alone and isolated.

Protesting miners blocked the tracks in the morning fog.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

The federal judge presiding over coal operator Blackjewel LLC’s bankruptcy has set a timeline in the “hot goods” dispute over millions of dollars worth of coal sitting in railcars in Kentucky and Virginia.


West Virginia Department of Education

West Virginia education officials say they've found a problem with the state's school system: many students aren't showing up to class.

Fairlight Hubbard

Two November live events have been added to the schedule for Mountain Stage and both shows are on sale at a special rate to Mountain Stage Members today.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, many farmers wage a never-ending battle with weeds. “Pigweed” or as folks in Arkansas call it “Satan’s Weed” -- is one of the hardest to get rid of. 

Farmers across the nation are divided over the use of the controversial herbicide called Dicamba. The chemical has the tendency to drift and damage nearby crops and plants.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Us & Them host Trey Kay and his colleague Loretta Williams have been following the issue with their developing story called “Farm Wars.”

West Virginia University

In the late 1990s, the tobacco industry agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines to state governments to offset some of the medical costs associated with caring for the millions of Americans dealing with the effects of nicotine addiction. 

 

Inspired by the tobacco model, state and local governments came together in recent years to sue Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the drug OxyContin, for its role in the opioid crisis. That lawsuit came to a tentative resolution Wednesday. 

Eir-Anne Edgar / Courtesy Photo

West Virginia-raised musician and artist Daniel Johnston died this week at the age of 58. Known best for his earnest and harrowing lo-fi pop songs, Johnston remained an underground hero for most of his life. His influence, though, continues to stretch across musical and artistic genres -- and around the world.

Whether you’ve heard of Daniel Johnston or not, here’s a quick warning: There’s really no way to fully condense his life and work into a few minutes worth of radio or a short written article. 

There are full-length documentaries for that -- films that show a brilliant, yet tortured person. There are flashes of genius interspersed with dark stories about psychotic episodes, bad hallucinogenic trips, and unrequited love.

In the backdrop, of course, are songs that have inspired countless people.

courtesy Brandon Dennison

The founder of a West Virginia job-training organization called Coalfield Development has been awarded $250,000 from the Heinz Family Foundation. 


Brandon Dennison is being recognized for his work to help address generational poverty in central and southern West Virginia.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid drug OxyContin, has reached a tentative deal worth billions of dollars that would resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by municipal and state governments who sued the company for allegedly helping to fuel the opioid crisis.

The pending settlement likely means Purdue will avoid going to trial in the sprawling and complicated case involving some 2,300 local governments across 23 states.

The Trump administration is changing the definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States," tossing out an Obama-era regulation that had enhanced protections for wetlands and smaller waterways.

Thursday's rollback is the first step in a process that will allow the Trump administration to create its own definition of which waters deserve federal protection. A new rule is expected to be finalized this winter.

Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that West Virginia will receive approximately 6 million dollars for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. 

The project originally launched in 2010. It currently serves every state in the union, as well as some territories and the District of Columbia. The goal is to help at-risk parents and families improve child and maternal health, prevent child abuse and neglect, and promote school readiness. 

 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A third family has come forward in an investigation of multiple suspicious patient deaths at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia.

Attorney Tony O'Dell says Thursday he's representing the family of Navy veteran John Hallman after the 87-year-old died last year at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.

A view of the Monogahela River in Morgantown, W.Va., from beside Woodburn Hall, on West Virginia University's Downtown Campus.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Appalachia’s What’s in a Name segment explores the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places. For the latest segment, we dug a little deeper into a debate we’ve had here in our newsroom -- the origins of the name of one of our rivers --- and how to pronounce it.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We have a very musical West Virginia Morning for you. We’ll hear from singers in Oregon, a pop musician from the Northern Panhandle, and fiddlers in Clay County who have been handing down old-time music for a long time.

First up, get your popcorn ready — this Saturday evening, you can watch our new documentary, In Tune, about the old-time music community in West Virginia.

As Roxy Todd reports, one of the musicians in the film is teaching traditional music to the next generation through the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Folklife Apprenticeship program.

Brian Blauser/ Mountain Stage

Our Song of the Week comes from the Hardcore Troubadour himself, Steve Earle.

Harry Cabluck / AP Photo

Musician and artist Daniel Johnston was known for eccentric and sometimes harrowing pop songs colored by childlike innocence and romantic longing.  His life and work have been seen as an inspiration to many artists and musicians.

Johnston was found dead at home Wednesday morning at the age of 58. According to a statement from his family, he died of natural causes. 

Adobe Stock

The community health center New River Health has partnered with Fayette County schools to offer a concussion-management protocol for athletes. 

The idea behind the protocol is to test high school athletes before they are injured so medical providers have a baseline on record. Then, if a concussion is suspected, the athlete is tested again to allow for a comparison between pre and post-concussion data. 

As seen from the New Jersey Turnpike near Kearny, N.J., smoke billows from the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York after airplanes crashed into both towers Tuesday, Sept.11, 2001.
Gene Boyars / AP file photo

It’s hard to believe the terror attacks on Sept. 11 were 18 years ago.

In some ways, it feels like it just happened. In other ways, it seems like forever ago.

I still vividly remember where I was and what I was doing that morning. I’m sure you do, too.

It was an awful event in our nation’s history, and we should never forget what happened, what it meant and what we lost on that terrible day.

We were attacked by evil men who perverted a religion as an excuse to do unspeakable and unfathomable acts of hate.

Hearing From Kermit

Sep 11, 2019
Joseph Mullins owns the Mullins Family Funeral Home in Warfield, Kentucky, serving families in the Kermit-Warfield area.
Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The small, southern West Virginia town of Kermit has had more than its fair share of national headlines regarding its struggle with the opioid crisis. 

But few stories focus on the people themselves. Earlier this summer, we visited Kermit to ask residents how they think the town can reinvent itself. 

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

West Virginia's new Roman Catholic bishop was installed late last month at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling. Bishop Mark Brennan was previously auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.

Pope Francis named the 72-year-old Brennan to replace Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Glynis Board spoke with the new bishop. Here’s some of that conversation.


Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Executives from three major chemical companies — DuPont de Nemours, Inc., The Chemours Company and The 3M Company — testified for the first time to Congress about widespread contamination from the group of nonstick, fluorinated chemicals broadly called PFAS.

The so-called “forever chemicals” persist in the environment, are linked to ill health effects, and have been found in numerous water systems in the Ohio Valley.

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