Ohio Valley ReSource

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the seven stations involved in the Ohio Valley ReSource will be taking a look at the big stories in a regional community, from large focus issues in economy, energy, environment, infrastructure, health and agriculture. Each station has a reporter collaborating to this initiative, working together to tell these stories.

The region is undergoing huge changes in all of these large focus areas. OVR Managing Editor Jeff Young states, "Just look at how dramatically the energy marketplace has changed or what a crisis opiate addiction has become affecting healthcare. Some communities are really struggling while others are finding creative approaches for new economic development, or coming up with new ways to deliver health services in rural areas."

Young says he hopes the resource will offer storytelling that allows people in one community to learn from people in another.

http://ohiovalleyresource.org/

Toyota

The automaker Toyota announced Thursday major new investments in facilities in Kentucky and West Virginia to increase production of hybrid vehicles. Toyota plans to invest about $750 million in facilities in five states with almost half of that going to its plants in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, already the largest Toyota facility in the world, will get a $238 million boost.

Distress Grows For Ohio Valley Farmers As Trade Deals Stall

Mar 18, 2019
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrung some Ohio Valley industries.

Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.

Ohio Valley Farmers, Electric Cooperatives Push Back On Trump’s Budget Cut Proposals

Mar 18, 2019
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Kentucky Soybean Farmer Jed Clark, like many Ohio Valley farmers, is in a tighter financial situation because tariffs from the trade war and market forces have depressed crop prices.

“We’ve had a collapse in our grain markets,” Clark said. “We’re seeing some of the lowest commodity prices for wheat we’ve seen in a long time.”

Trump Budget Proposal Cuts Funds for Hal Rogers’ Prison Project

Mar 18, 2019
Pixabay images

The Trump Administration released on Monday details of a 2020 federal budget proposal that includes cutting funds allotted for a new federal prison in eastern Kentucky. The funds would be redirected to other law-enforcement or natural security priorities, potentially including a wall at the southern U.S. border.

The proposed cut rebukes arguments made by Congressman Hal Rogers, the powerful Kentucky Republican who has promoted federal prisons as economic development for communities struggling with high unemployment.

Automation For The People? Ohio Valley At High Risk For Job Losses

Mar 14, 2019
Amazon employs 2,500 people at its Jeffersonville, IN, facility.
J. Tyler Franklin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Amazon employee Andre Woodson made his way among yellow bins traveling through a vast warehouse filled with boxes and envelopes to be packed, sorted and shipped. In Amazon-speak, this is a “fulfillment center.”

“Our Jeffersonville, Indiana, fulfillment center is about 1.2 million square feet, which is equivalent to about 28 football fields,” Woodson explained.

A 2011 aerial photo of Little Blue Run, the largest coal ash waste site in the country.
Robert Donnan

More than 90 percent of the nation’s regulated coal ash repositories are leaking unsafe levels of toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater, including ash sites at more than 30 coal-fired power plants in the Ohio Valley.

Pixabay

Vivian Livingood is the mayor of Gilbert, a southern West Virginia  town of under 500 people that has struggled for years without reliable internet. Livingood said that hampers Gilbert’s tourism, businesses and schools.

“We get kicked off the internet here every two minutes, and that’s if we can afford the internet,” Livingood said. “And it’s just pitiful service. It’s not fast.”

The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH

On the night of July 24, 1916, a natural gas explosion near Cleveland trapped workers in a waterworks tunnel beneath Lake Erie. Rescuers sent in to recover the trapped men were themselves felled by “noxious fumes.”

The Cleveland authorities knew just who to call: Garrett Morgan, an inventor who had recently given a demonstration of his breathing contraption.

Morgan arrived at the scene still wearing his pajamas. With his strange breathing device strapped to his face, Morgan, along with his brother and another brave volunteer, descended into the muddy disaster site.

New ARC Grants Combine Economic Recovery and Addiction Recovery

Feb 27, 2019
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced Thursday another $22.8 million in funding to 33 projects aimed at revitalizing economies in places affected by the decline in the coal industry.

Courtesy Coal Miners Respiratory Clinic

Miners and advocates rallied Wednesday at the West Virginia Capitol in support of a series of bills aimed at preventing and treating severe black lung disease.

Five bills introduced by lawmakers would make it easier to make qualify for state benefits and provide benefits to miners who have early-stage black lung.

Dave Mistich / WVPB

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it will move forward with a series of actions to regulate toxic fluorinated chemicals, including proposing drinking water limits by the end of this year. But environment and public health advocates say that timeline is unacceptable.

 

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

Economic development leaders from the Ohio Valley’s coal communities used a Congressional hearing on climate change Tuesday to say that their communities must be central to conversations about climate solutions.

Health Experts Say Poor Practice By Vaccine Company Likely Source Of Infections

Feb 12, 2019
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Infectious disease experts say poor practices in vaccine delivery are the likely cause of infections reported by some people who received vaccine shots at their places of employment in the Ohio Valley.

Kentucky health officials are investigating a link between the infections and a private Kentucky company hired to deliver vaccinations in the workplace. Location Vaccination, based in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, administered vaccines to staff at other companies in 22 cities and towns in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.

Hemp’s Heyday: It’s Finally Legal. Now, Can Ohio Valley Farmers Cash In?

Feb 11, 2019
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, store owner Doug Flight tries to position himself in front of a camera crew.

His experience with growing and selling hemp spans years. But memorizing lines for what he says could be the first hemp TV commercial in the state is another issue.

“I know, I grow,” Flight says to the camera. “Is that it?” Flight asked.

“It’s ‘I know because I grow,’” someone with the camera crew said back.

Joe Manchin
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will begin holding full hearings this week with a new top Democrat: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

 


 

 

Trump Rally Charleston Sign
Kara Lofton / WVPB

It’s been two years since President Donald Trump took office and began rolling back environmental regulations on the coal industry.

Black Lung Clinics Call For Action But Top Regulator Plans No New Measures

Jan 29, 2019
An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.
Adelina Lancianese / NPR

In the wake of an NPR and PBS Frontline investigation into the surge in cases of black lung disease, a coalition of black lung clinics is calling for action to better protect coal miners from dust exposure.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

Cyndi Kirkhart has some 26 thousand square feet of warehouse space at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington, West Virginia, where she is executive director. That sounds like a lot of space. But very little of it is cooler space.


Food Aid A Concern As Government Shutdown Affects SNAP Payments

Jan 24, 2019
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

The partial shutdown of the federal government is affecting families depending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program program, or SNAP. Benefits for February have come early as a temporary fix to avoid anticipated disruptions should the shutdown drag into another month.

But the leader of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Kentucky, said the threat of hunger remains. 

Still Fighting: These Widows’ Stories Show Larger Effects of Black Lung Epidemic

Jan 20, 2019
Vickie Salyers with a picture of Gene, who died in 2013.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Nancy and Rich Potter had the kind of marriage that made other couples jealous. He’d take her on spontaneous trips. She’d wear her Daisy Dukes just for him.

Joyce Birman said her late husband, George, made a terrible first impression. It was his apology for it that made her fall for him, hard.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

A coalition of environmental groups is challenging an air quality permit issued to a proposed petrochemical plant along the Ohio River.

The Farm Service Agency office in Mayfield, Kentucky, is so quiet you can hear the tick of the Department of Agriculture-branded clock on the wall.

U.S. Senate

During a sometimes contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday on his nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler was pressed by members of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works about the impact of the government shutdown on the agency as well as his beliefs on climate change.

Wheeler noted one casualty of the ongoing partial government shutdown, now in its fourth week, is that a long-awaited long-awaited plan on regulating the PFAS group of chemicals has been delayed.  

 

 

 

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A slender, black, rectangle, the Juul fits easily in the palm of your hand. You don’t light it, you trigger it with a click of a finger. The mist that is exhaled is so fine it’s hard to see. The nicotine is delivered via a pod the size of a AAA battery, with each pod containing the equivalent of 20 cigarettes.

That combination of small size and potent power makes the Juul the vaping device of choice for many teen users. A group of students from Casey County, Kentucky, affirms those features make “Juul-ing” – yes it has become a verb – rampant in class.

Courtesy White House Video

As President Donald Trump addressed farmers at a national conference Monday Ohio Valley agriculture leaders said they are standing by his effort to renegotiate trade deals. But some leaders cautioned that costly tariffs on farm products need to end soon.

President Trump doubled down on his fight for better trade deals during his speech to American Farm Bureau Federation members at their convention in New Orleans.

Ohio Valley Senators Again Aim to Shore Up Shaky Pension Plan For Coal Miners

Jan 9, 2019
UMWA retirees talk pension protection with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Courtesy office of Sen. Brown

Following a failed attempt to address a looming crisis in many multi-employer pension programs, two Ohio Valley lawmakers have introduced a bill in Congress to shore up the shaky pension plan for coal miners. The bill also aims to protect health benefits and restore funding for the federal trust fund providing benefits for thousands of miners sickened by black lung disease.

A 43-year-old miner died when struck by equipment at a Metinvest Mine in Randolph County, W.Va.
U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration

Just a few months ago, the U.S. coal mining industry was on track for its safest year in history. But in an eleven-day span in late December, three miners died after separate incidents, bringing the total number of fatalities in 2018 to 12, even as coal mining employment continued its decline.

Sensitive Santa: A Kinder, Gentler Kringle for Kids with Special Needs

Dec 21, 2018
The Merritt family participated in the Sensitive Santa event in Richmond.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

I’m not usually one to name-drop but my brother Pat Meehan is Santa Claus. A real, professional Santa.

Sitting in his home office fresh from work, he’s wearing black suspenders and a red T-shirt. There at least six other Santa outfits in his closet including beach Santa. His thick, white beard (yes, a real one) shimmers faintly with glitter.

Still, They Persist: Black Lung Advocates Demonstrate At McConnell’s Ky. Office

Dec 20, 2018
Teri Blanton speaks about watching her father die of black lung disease.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

With just days left before a Congressional deadline, advocates for black lung treatment are still pushing Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to secure funding for miners’ benefits.

About two dozen people demonstrated Wednesday near McConnell’s regional office in London, Kentucky, carrying placards reading “Black Lung Kills” and singing along with a banjo tune modified for the occasion.

Amid Black Lung Surge, Pulmonary Rehab Brings Hope To Disabled Miners

Dec 19, 2018
Marcy Tate, right, helps a patient at New Beginnings clinic in Norton, Va.
Photo courtesy of Marcy Tate

Marcy Tate grew up in southwest Virginia in a coal mining family.

“My father-in-law was a coal miner, my father was a coal miner, my grandfather was a coal miner, my great-grandfather was a coal miner,” she said. Tate knew what black lung disease looked like.

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