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Signing Up for Health Care Insurance, Winning the Iditarod, Meet Farmer Joe Riley and More

Inside Appalachia

As the deadline for getting health insurance approaches, learn what it’s like to go through the process.

A Kentucky basketball great is in a West Virginia federal prison.

A new school in Cabell County, W.Va., could be a model for the rest of the state,

And meet Joe Riley, a Pocahontas County, W.Va., farmer.

Signing up for Obamacare: The deadline to sign up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is swiftly approaching. Monday, March 31, 2014 is the deadline for signing up without facing a tax penalty. But the Obama administration gave some flexibility to those who have their online applications started by Monday. West Virginia Public Radio’s Ashton Marra wanted to know, how difficult is it to sign up for a health care plan? She visited a navigator to help her with the process.

Mercy Killers, the play: As this deadline for signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act approaches audiences in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia are getting the opportunity to view the issue of health care through the one-man play Mercy Killers. The main character in Mercy Killers is Joe. He’s from southeast Ohio, works as an auto mechanic and is libertarian in his political views.  The man who wrote and performs the play, Juilliard educated stage actor Michael Milligan, was inspired by a real life experience. West Virginia Public Radio's Cecelia Mason spoke with Milligan.

Richie Retrospective: As the University of Kentucky Wildcats prepared for the NCAA basketball tournament this past week, one of the most popular players from UK’s storied past reported to federal prison. Richie Farmer is serving a 27 month sentence at the United States Penitentiary-Hazelton in West Virginia.  The former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner pleaded guilty last year to corruption charges related to his two terms in that office. As Kentucky Public Radio’s Rick Howlett reports, it’s been a dramatic fall from grace for Farmer, who parlayed his basketball fame into what was once a promising political career.

Skiing and Global Warming: All the cold and snow this winter has meant a great season for American skiers and ski resorts. Several resorts in the region have been able to remain open until the end of March thanks to the colder than normal temperatures and extra snowfall. But as The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports, in Pennsylvania, the future of skiing isn't so rosy. Climate scientists predict half of the PA resorts could be forced to close in the coming decades.

Iditarod Winner: A popular winter activity in Alaska is the Iditarod. Referred to as the Last Great Race on Earth, the annual long-distance sled dog race occurs in early March from Anchorage to Nome, just over 1,000. Mushers and a team of 16 dogs cover the distance in about a fortnight. But there’s another event, the Iditarod Trail Invitational, which covers the same route, but by foot, bike, or ski. This year, a Tucker County, W.Va., resident won the race on foot. West Virginia Public Radio’s Glynis Board reports.

Farmer Joe Riley: Joe Riley grew up in a farming family in Stompin' Creek, W.Va. After graduating from West Virginia University, Joe became a high school ag teacher and taught for 17 years before becoming principal of Marlinton Middle School. While continuing to work full time, Joe and his family manage to run their farm in Stompin' Creek. In exploring the history and heritage of agriculture in Pocahontas County, the Traveling 219 project's Dan Schultz and Jesse Wright-Mendoza sat down and talked with Joe about his own experiences as a farmer here in the rural Allegheny Mountains.

Cecelia Mason is West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Eastern Panhandle Bureau Chief. Cecelia has worked in the Shepherd University bureau since December 1990 covering a variety of stories throughout the Eastern Panhandle and in Washington D.C. She can also be heard hosting Inside Appalachia.