Economy

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

Tom Folz drives around on a sunny, August afternoon and surveys the thousands of acres of dark green, leafy soybean plants and tall stalks of corn he grows on his sprawling farm in Christian County, Kentucky.

At 54, Folz has wispy, white hair matching his white mustache. It’s taken him several long work weeks to get his crop to where it is today.

“You got to be a little bit ‘off’ to be a farmer,” Folz said. ”You don’t get to enjoy anything during harvest and planting season because we’re working.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign stop Thursday, May 5, at the Morgantown Event Center.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will visit Kentucky and West Virginia just days after releasing his plan to address climate change.

Sanders is scheduled to speak in Louisville, Kentucky, Sunday. He planned to visit Morgantown, West Virginia, Monday, but plans to visit the Mountain State have since been canceled.

Justin Hayhurst / 100 Days in Appalachia

 

For more than a decade, more than 100 migrant and refugee families from countries like Myanmar (formerly Burma), Vietnam, Ethiopia, Guatemala and others have come to Moorefield, West Virginia.

They’ve done so to work at Pilgrim’s Pride – a large poultry plant that is Hardy County’s biggest employer with 1,700 workers.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Health officials in Huntington, say a cluster of HIV infections has grown to 71 confirmed cases. That’s in a city that usually sees about eight HIV infections in a year. As with an earlier such cluster in northern Kentucky, the primary cause of infection is needle drug use.

Health officials say harm reduction programs are an effective tool against HIV, offering needle exchanges and health screening services. 

But as the Ohio Valley ReSource’s Mary Meehan explains, many people are wary of syringe exchanges. And in some places, that means programs are closing just when they’re most needed.

The Poultry Plant That’s Changed the Face of This Appalachian Town

Aug 15, 2019
Justin Hayhurst / 100 Days in Appalachia

When Sheena Van Meter graduated from Moorefield High School in 2000, her class was mainly comprised of the children of families that had long-planted roots in West Virginia’s eastern Potomac Highlands. Some were African American. Most were white. And for the Moorefield resident, the closest exposure she had to other cultures, before leaving for college, came in the form of an occasional foreign-exchange student. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue a series that considers how some communities in our region have been impacted by deindustrialization. We also hear the latest in our ongoing series, “Wild, Wondering West Virginia.”

Nearly $37 million in general revenue surplus money will be given to West Virginia’s Medicaid program as well as the state’s Rainy Day emergency reserve fund.

Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen and Founder and Producing Director Ed Herendeen speak at an event for the 2019 season of CATF. Photo taken May 2019.
Contemporary American Theater Festival / catf.org

The Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia just closed on its 29th season. The festival draws visitors from all over the world to West Virginia and has helped the state stand out in the professional theater scene.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We continue a podcast series from the Northern Panhandle on this West Virginia Morning. The series is called What Happened to Weirton. In the third episode, titled As Goes the Mill, reporter Ella Jennings traces the town’s history as it slides from boom to bust.

Michael/Flickr

The West Virginia Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the next round of Governor Jim Justice’s Secondary Roads Initiative is underway.

This Dec. 4, 2017, file photo shows the Pfizer company logo at the company's headquarters in New York.
Richard Drew / AP Photo

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Mylan Pharmaceuticals and a division of Pfizer have announced a deal that will create a new pharmaceutical company expected to bring in $19 billion-$20 billion in annual revenue. 

According to a news release, Mylan and Upjohn, the Pfizer subsidiary, hosted a Monday morning conference call with investors.

How a Proposed SNAP Eligibility Revision Could Affect Ohio Valley Recipients

Jul 25, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week a proposal to tighten the rules on who qualifies for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA estimates more than three million people across the country would lose SNAP benefits in an effort to prevent fraud. Anti-hunger advocates in the Ohio Valley say the more than two million people in the region who use the benefits would be impacted.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear a segment from part two of a series that explores de-industrialization in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle.

Ella Jennings, a native of the region, produced a podcast series called What Happened to Weirton. Her second episode, titled “He Could See Everything Folding”, looks at some of the social and emotional consequences that come with losing a major industry.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday, July 18, to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour by 2025, the first wage increase in a decade. One report predicts that in large portions of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, and southeast Ohio, roughly 40 percent of workers would see some increase in wages. Becca Schimmel explains.

Ohio Valley Workers, Employers React as House Votes for $15 Minimum Wage

Jul 18, 2019

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the current $7.25 rate, which has not changed in a decade. The bill is unlikely to clear the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he will not take it up. 

Peabody Energy, Inc.
Wikimedia Commons

This story was updated on 7/16/19 at 4:35 p.m. EST.

A coal company with mines in Kentucky and West Virginia has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Father Jim Sichko, a Catholic priest and motivational speaker based in Lexington, paid the electric bills of about 200 out-of-work coal miners in Harlan on Monday.
Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader

A priest in Kentucky handed out more than $20,000 on Monday to miners struggling to pay bills after the coal company they work for filed for bankruptcy protection.

People crowded Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Harlan as Father Jim Sichko signed checks for more than 100 miners who are currently out of work, news outlets reported.

How a Carbon Tax Could End Some Coal Towns, or Fund a New Future

Jul 15, 2019
Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

Declining coal tax revenues place coal-reliant counties in Appalachia at risk of fiscal collapse, according to new research from the centrist Brookings Institution and Columbia University. Policies designed to prevent further climate change would accelerate that decline, the report found, but could also provide a new stream of revenue to help communities rebound from coal’s demise.

What Happened to Weirton? Part 4: Where is God Today?

Jul 15, 2019
Ella Jennings

The consequences of deindustrialization manifest in many different ways.

Sherry Linkon and John Russo, two prominent scholars in working class studies, have written several books and articles about this topic, and at this point, they find you can easily make a list of what will happen when industry leaves. Let’s run down it.

What Happened to Weirton? Part 3: As Goes the Mill...

Jul 15, 2019
West Virginia & Regional History Center

“History tells us, like it or not, as goes the mill, so goes Weirton, in good times and bad.”

This is a quote from Dr. David Javersak, a former professor and local Ohio Valley historian, from his book, "History of Weirton." There’s a lot of truth in that statement: Weirton would have never existed without the mill. And up until its fateful bankruptcy, the town fully depended on Weirton Steel, like any devoted company town. This episode will trace through some of the highlights of Weirton’s history, providing an overview of its prominence and decline.

Ella Jennings

One person’s story can change your outlook on an entire town. Unfortunately, their story can leave you with more questions than answers.

By 2018, around 10,000 people had already left Weirton in search of a better life. I wanted to find someone who had stayed in the area and could tell me about their experience with the mill’s downfall. This led me to a story written in 2006 by an Associated Press reporter, Vicki Smith.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the American Medical Association marked a milestone last month. The largest professional association for physicians in the United States inaugurated its first African American woman as its leader. The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Aaron Payne recently spoke with the newly elected president, who has a unique understanding of West Virginia. And she says the organization will work for patients and physicians as they face some of the nation’s toughest health challenges.

Ella Jennings

In Appalachia, we know too well the symptoms of industry in decline. However, some aspects are much more visual than others.

On March 9, I stood anxiously with a crowd of Weirton natives and former steelworkers on a hillside in Weirton, West Virginia, overlooking Weirton Steel’s Basic Oxygen Plant, or BOP. Thousands of people contributed to the steelmaking process in the huge structure since its construction in 1967. Now, they were offering their final goodbyes.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

In Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives passed amendments to end military use of toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in firefighting foam and food packaging, and to expand efforts to monitor for PFAS pollution.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More than a hundred coal miners and family members gathered Wednesday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, in an attempt to get their pay from failed mining company Blackjewel. The country’s sixth-largest coal company filed bankruptcy last week, and many of Blackjewel’s 1,100 workers across Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia are suddenly out of work. As Brittany Patterson reports, most are still waiting for back wages as well as answers about the company’s future.

Laid-Off Employees Of Bankrupt Blackjewel Mining Seek Pay, Answers

Jul 10, 2019

 

Patrick Fitchpatrick has worked at Blackjewel’s D-11 coal mine in Cumberland, Kentucky, for a year and a half. He says he enjoyed the work right up until he was told not to come in last Monday. 

“Everything was fine,” he said. “Everything was smooth sailing and then one day it just all goes to hell.”

The country’s sixth-largest coal company filed bankruptcy last week, and many of Blackjewel’s 1,700 workers in Wyoming and across Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia were suddenly out of work.

Minimum Wage Hike Would Have Major Effect in Ohio Valley

Jul 10, 2019
students and other supporters protest in 2015 on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, in support of raising the minimum wage for campus workers to $15 an hour.
AP file photo

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would boost the wages of 17 million workers and lift about 1.3 million people out of poverty. But the CBO warns that could also result in more than one million lost jobs and could diminish overall income for others.

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase the pay of at least 17 million people, but also put 1.3 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.

The increased federal minimum could also raise the wages of another 10 million workers and lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and last increased a decade ago.

Courtesy of Marshall University

This story was updated on 7/5/2019 at 9:20 a.m.

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — A helicopter carrying seven Americans to Fort Lauderdale, Florida crashed Thursday, July 4, off Grand Cay island in the Bahamas, killing everyone on aboard, Bahamian police said.

A statement from the Royal Bahamas Police Force said the helicopter went missing shortly after leaving Big Grand Cay and authorities and local residents later found the crash site two miles off Grand Cay. Police identified those killed as four women and three men but did not provide names.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the state’s growing natural gas industry has expanded beyond drilling rigs during the past few years. Two multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline projects are under construction in West Virginia. If completed, they will transport billions of cubic feet of natural gas out of the Appalachian Basin to the East Coast.

Pages