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Monitoring Water Quality in Va., Marking a Ky. Blues Singer's Grave, the Gospel Ranger and more

Inside Appalachia

In Virginia, ordinary citizens are being specially trained to monitor water quality.

We remember Brother Claude Ely, known as the Gospel Ranger.

And in West Virginia, what was it like to grow up in a federal prison camp?  Ed and Agnes Friel’s parents were corrections officers there.

Va. Residents Pitch in to Examine Water Quality: Analyzing water is a complicated business.  It can contain any number of pollutants and require a variety of regulations to clean it up. But as Sandy Hausman of WVTF found out, the state of Virginia is using a simpler approach – letting nature determine water quality, and asking citizens to help.

Climate Change and Your Plate: What you eat can have a big impact on the climate. But lowering your carbon footprint might mean giving up some all-American favorite foods like hamburgers. As Kara Holsopple of The Allegheny Front reports, the place where climate change science and food culture meet is on your plate. 

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Credit Roxy Todd
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Composer Nate May, at his parents' home in Huntington

West Virginian Uses Opera to Talk Mountaintop Removal Mining, Painkiller Overdoses: Composer and Huntington native Nate May recently finished production on an original two-person music-drama, called Dust in the Bottomland. Roxy Todd sat down with May to talk about the piece, which is set in modern-day West Virginia.

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Credit Darryl Lilly
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Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly

What’s in a Name: Have you ever driven by a town and wondered … How the heck did they come up with that name? There are some unique names  of towns throughout the Appalachian Mountains. This week, we start a segment called “What’s in a Name” that explores the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places.  Our first stop, the Village of Lilly of course. Find out how deep Appalachian roots of the Lilly’s run.

Pentecostal Song Influences Rock-n-Roll: A lasting song from the Pentecostal folks was also one of the last songs that Johnny Cash recorded called, “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).” But that song is not a Johnny Cash original. “Ain’t No Grave” was actually written in 1934, by a 12-year-old boy named Claude Ely. Ely went on to become an itinerant Pentecostal preacher known to his followers as Brother Claude, the Gospel Ranger. Outside the Appalachian mountains, his name was barely known. But his music helped influence some of the pioneers of rock & roll.  This story, produced by Joe Richman and Samara Freemark of The Radio Diaries, originally aired on All Things Considered.

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Credit Photo courtesy of Ed and Agnes Friel.
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The Mill Point Prison Camp of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

Growing Up in Federal Prison Camp: Many locals in the area are familiar with the Mill Point Federal Prison Camp that sat up on Kennison Mountain. Some folks even worked up there on the staff or had family who did. Dan Shultz of Traveling 219 sat down and talked with Ed and Agnes Hannah Friel, who spent their childhood around the camp as their parents worked up there as prison officers.

Marking the Grave of Famous Ky. Blues Singer: Cemeteries across the country are filled with unmarked graves, but two organizations are collaborating to provide a headstone for a famous blues singer from Louisville. Morehead State Public Radio’s Paul Hitchcock has the story.  

Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org