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/

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.


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.

Coal companies controlled by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have agreed to a settlement covering millions of dollars in overdue property taxes in four eastern Kentucky counties: Harlan, Knott, Magoffin, and Pike.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice gives a speech during a Department of Tourism conference Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at the Morgantown Event Center.
Jesse Wright / WVPB

U.S. federal prosecutors on Tuesday said they will seek a court ruling to hold West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his son, Jay Justice, personally accountable for a $1.23 million civil fine imposed on one of the family’s coal businesses, Justice Energy Company, Inc.

 

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Virginia officials say the state’s passion for sports can be used to influence young people to learn about opioid use disorder and help prevent the next generation from entering the epidemic. 

That’s according to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, which on Tuesday announced the upcoming WVSSAC-MVB Bank Opioid Awareness Summit.

Conesville coal plant
Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Brick buildings line the wide sidewalks of Main Street in downtown Coshocton, Ohio. On a recent spring day the dogwood trees are blooming. Bright red and white tulips dot the grassy public square, home to the local courthouse and a gazebo.

There are barber shops, an optometrist, a florist, a railroad-themed steakhouse is open for lunch. A trendy public art installment features a small roller coaster designed and built by the local high school and a marquee that blinks “be nice to others.”

Working Toward Recovery: Ohio Town Fights Addiction with Focus on Economy

May 28, 2019
Chillicothe Street in Downtown Portsmouth.
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

Addiction specialists, business leaders, law enforcement officials and other community members gathered around tables at Shawnee State University to talk about two big challenges in Scioto County, Ohio: a shrinking economy and a growing addiction crisis.

Ohio Valley Farmers Unsure About New Trump Trade Aid Payments

May 24, 2019
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

The U. S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday details of a second round of aid totaling $16 billion for farmers affected by the trade war with China. But some Ohio Valley farmers worry about the ongoing consequences of these payments and tariffs.

Clients waiting for addiction treatment services in Berkeley Co., WV
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

A Washington Post investigation finds the Ohio Valley is suffering the most from the surge in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, even as deaths from other substances are falling.

The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found the region has the nation’s highest rates of death due to fentanyl.

Survey Report Reveals Disparities In Appalachian Subregions

May 22, 2019
Apalachian Regional Commission

A new report from the Appalachian Regional Commission shows that Central Appalachia lags behind other parts of the region in employment, household income, and other key measures.

Gov. Justice takes the oath of office as his son James C. Justice III (center) looks on.
Office of the West Virginia Governor

In apparent anticipation of a federal lawsuit seeking recovery of overdue penalties, coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have filed a lawsuit of their own against federal surface mining regulators.

 

 

The suit, first reported by WV MetroNews, is an apparent preemptive strike against the federal government, which is preparing to sue the companies over over unpaid fines associated with more than 100 environmental and reclamation violations at mines in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

This is the first story in an occasional series exploring the links between addiction recovery and a recovering economy.

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito this week introduced two bills aimed at further regulating a group of toxic chemicals known as PFAS.

Courtesy PTTGCA.

As a new plastics industry emerges in the Ohio Valley, a report by environmental groups warns that the expansion of plastics threatens the world’s ability to keep climate change at bay.

Ky. Aluminum Company’s New Russian Partner Raises Concerns

May 13, 2019
The site near Ashland, Ky., where Braidy plans a new aluminum facility.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

A large whiteboard in an Ashland, Kentucky, unemployment office is covered with a list of companies that are currently hiring. Senior career counselor Melissa Sloas said that just a few years ago, that board was a lot emptier.

Gov. Jim Justice, R. W.Va., delivers his annual State of the State speech on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Charleston, W.Va.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

Updated May 8, 2019 at 2:45 p.m. 

 

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against 23 coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, seeking more than $4.7 million in unpaid fines and fees for mine safety and health violations.

Tim Reddinger fishing
Kara Lofton / WVPB

The variety of fish species in the Ohio River has substantially increased since the 1960s, according to a new study.

Residual waste truck in Pennsylvania.
Iris Marie Bloom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week said it will not strengthen regulations on waste created by oil and gas production, a move that could affect communities across the Ohio Valley where the oil and gas industry is booming in the Appalachian Basin.  

 

Drug Company Gilead Gives $11M To Halt Hep C Rise In Ohio Valley

Apr 29, 2019
Courtesy Gilead Sciences

Drug maker Gilead Sciences will give $11.3 million to help prevent and treat hepatitis C in Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. That money is part of a five-year project aimed at a region that's been hit hard by the viral disease.

About 43,000 people in Kentucky have hepatitis C, according to recent estimates from Emory University.

Amid Measles Outbreaks, Debate Grows Over Religious Exemptions From Vaccination

Apr 29, 2019
CDC

Toni Wilkinson has seven children, three of them under six, and all of them home-schooled. So her house on a Lexington, Kentucky, cul-de-sac is rarely quiet.

Just inside the front door are bins filled with shoes, piles of jackets on a long bench. Across the room is the family library, crammed with school books. Crowded among them are controversial titles critical of vaccinations, the books Wilkinson used in her own homework researching vaccines.

“I just started to have questions, it was just this lingering doubt that I can’t really explain,” she said.

Byron Jorjorian/TNC

A conservation group chose Earth Day, April 22, to announce the purchase of a massive property in Appalachian forest to protect habitat and help wildlife adapt to the challenges of climate change.

The property covers 100,000 acres of forest straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit that made the purchase, said it plans to restore forest health, lease land for sustainable forestry, and provide opportunities for locals to enjoy the wilderness.

Courtesy Harvest Inc.

Meigs County, Ohio, has a complicated history with marijuana.

“Meigs County Gold” has been grown illegally for years. Local legend has it that was the strain of choice for musicians like the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson when they toured Ohio.

But for Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, that isn’t a source of pride. Instead it felt like a target on his back.

Federal Opioid Strikeforce Indicts More Than a Dozen Ohio Valley Doctors

Apr 17, 2019
Joanne Chiedi, center, Principal Deputy Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, answers reporter's questions during a news conference  Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday more than a dozen indictments against doctors in the Ohio Valley on charges relating to the illegal distribution of opioids. These are the first major indictments from the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which started work in December.

Kentucky Aluminum Plant Investor Is Russian Company Formerly Under U.S. Sanctions

Apr 16, 2019
Photo courtesy of Braidy Industries

Russian aluminum company Rusal announced Monday it plans to invest in a new Kentucky aluminum mill to be built near Ashland in eastern Kentucky. The $200 million investment in Braidy Industries is Rusal’s first U.S. project since the Trump administration lifted U.S. sanctions placed against the company.

CBD Uncertainty: Sales Soar But Science Lags on Hemp Health Effects

Apr 15, 2019
Provided by Adriane Polyniak

Inside the Bluegrass Hemp Oil store in Lexington, Kentucky, the CBD oils and lotions lining the walls have an origin story — a story of a family’s struggle.

“We took a huge risk, to be perfectly honest, because we didn’t know. We weren’t trying other people’s CBD products that were out there,” Bluegrass Hemp Oil Co-owner Adriane Polyniak, said.

Coal Community Residents Again Ask Congress For Health Study Of Mountaintop Removal

Apr 10, 2019
mountaintop removal
Vivian Stockman and Southwings

Residents of Appalachian coal communities told a Congressional subcommittee Tuesday that the controversial mining practice known as mountaintop removal should be halted until its health effects are better studied.

ARC Funds Addiction Treatment For Women In Rural Kentucky And Ohio

Apr 9, 2019
Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than two million dollars to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton Center for Families project in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Mine Safety Debt For WV Gov. Justice’s Family Companies Grows to $4M

Apr 8, 2019
Courtesy WV Governor's Office

An Ohio Valley ReSource analysis of federal mine safety data shows that the companies belonging to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice owe $4.3 million in delinquent debt for mine safety violations. That is far more than the companies owed when Justice ran for governor in 2016, when he pledged to make good on such debts.

HHS Provides Additional Funding to Expand Addiction Treatment

Apr 3, 2019
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley has received nearly $60 million in additional federal funds to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Kentucky received $16,431,436, Ohio $29,122,692 and West Virginia $14,630,361. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds as a supplement to the first-year State Opioid Response, or SOR, grant awards.

Sweet Equity: Ohio Valley Farmers Tapping Into Tradition

Apr 3, 2019
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

When Seth Long first began experimenting with maple syrup production, he tapped hollow pegs called spiles into individual trees, collected drips of sap in milk jugs, and carried each gallon down the the steep mountainside on foot.

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