Economy

F. BRIAN FERGUSON / CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL

For many families in parts of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water is part of daily life.

Blaine Taylor, a 17-year-old resident of Martin County, Kentucky, struggles to manage basic hygiene when his water comes out with sediment in it.

“I had to use a case of water last night just to get enough water in my bathtub just to get myself cleaned up for today at school,” he said. “It’s rough.”


Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A group of community members in the Northern Panhandle want to address gaps in the mental health care system. Residents met at West Virginia Northern Community College Thursday to learn about mental illness and discuss an unconventional plan to help those suffering in their community.


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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In southeast Ohio, marijuana was once something officials tried to eliminate. Now officials hope medical marijuana can replace lost jobs and revenue.

Amy Sisk

Editor's Note:  The issues at Duquesne Light are not unique to Pittsburgh. Regions and industries across the country are facing the challenges of an aging workforce.  As a part of a larger project West Virginia Public Broadcasting is looking at the issue in its American Graduate/Getting to Work project.

At a Duquesne Light facility in Pittsburgh, 10 high school students hunched over sheets of paper, pens in hand, as they sketched their dream homes.

“I’m just drawing an A-frame house with a garage on the side, a nice front porch,” said Louis Charlier of Beaver Area High School on a recent Thursday.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Russian aluminum company Rusal announced its plans to invest in a northeast Kentucky manufacturing plant. As the Ohio Valley ReSource's Sydney Boles reports, the investment is the company’s first U.S. project following relief from federal sanctions.

Craid Hudson / AP

There is a way around the notoriously sluggish internet in West Virginia. You just need a car and some time.

Kelly Povroznik can tell you, when she happens to get a good signal. She teaches an online college course so hampered by unreliable connections that she has had to drive a half-hour to her brother's place just to enter grades into a database.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hemp products are becoming hot sellers, especially those containing CBD. The compound is derived from cannabis but does not intoxicate a user. Instead, users say, CBD has a wide array of health benefits. And some Ohio Valley businesses are betting big on CBD sales. But as the Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports, there’s little evidence for the health claims. And researchers worry that CBD sales are far ahead of the science.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a fire at a US Steel plant crippled its ability to control its air pollution in December. For three months, the Pittsburgh area was blanketed with releases of sulfur dioxide much higher than usual, and thousands reported suffering from poor air quality. Last week, the steelmaker finished repairing its pollution control equipment. For State Impact Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier reports that the worries about air pollution and its health impacts, remain.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Historically, the coal industry has shaped the economic boom and bust cycle in our region. But major changes to the industry have created new strains on our economic system here in Appalachia, and some wonder if a radical fix is needed to support the poor or underemployed middle class. Some Democrats in Congress have pointed to an idea, called Basic Universal Income, as one possible solution. Lovey Cooper, contributing editor with 100 Days in Appalachia, co-wrote an article about Basic Universal Income, or UBI,  and about what supporters and critics of this proposed economic program have to say.


Eric Douglas / WVPB

West Virginia is home to numerous beverage companies that brew beer, distill spirits and syrups and press cider. The state also boasts farmers who produce fruits and grains those bottlers could use.

The problem is the two groups are often disconnected.

The “Craft: Farm to Bottle Summit” in South Charleston earlier week this aimed to address that gap, bringing the two groups together and helping each understand the other’s needs. The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in Huntington organized the summit. More than 100 people attended.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an almost decade-long effort to build a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility in the Ohio Valley saw movement this week, as state and federal politicians announced initiatives to move it forward. But as Brittany Patterson reports, not everyone is on board.

Mineral County
David Benbennick / Wikimedia Commons

The global security company Northrop Grumman is expanding its West Virginia plant located in Mineral County. The move is expected to create hundreds of new jobs at the site.

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.

Kentucky Called A 'Warning Signal' On SNAP Work Requirements

Apr 3, 2019
USDA

The federal government is considering a work requirement for some people who get food assistance through SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A new study uses Kentucky as an example of what that change could mean for the country.

The SNAP rules require 80 hours of work a month and cap assistance at three months over three years. This applies to able-bodied adults without children. The rules have been around for a while but hadn’t been enforced until recently.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the West Virginia Treasury Department has joined a coalition of 27 states in an effort to tackle the nation’s student debt crisis. News director Jesse Wright spoke with State Treasurer John Perdue about the initiative and how parents can help support their children’s higher education aspirations from birth.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

The makers of TurboTax and QuickBooks are bringing 200 to 500 jobs to West Virginia.

News outlets report Intuit Inc. has announced it's building a "prosperity hub" in Bluefield. The Mountain View, California-based information technology company produces the consumer tax preparation application, the accounting program and other products.

2016 Flood
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Greenbrier County commissioners are looking at options to help families who were hoping for federal money to rebuild homes lost in the 2016 flood.

The MARC train's Brunswick Line parked at the Martinsburg Train Station. Photo taken in Apr. 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The MARC Train, or Maryland Area Regional Commuter, serves about 250 West Virginians who live in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

The train has been serving the area for more than 30 years, but Maryland has always paid the bills. West Virginia was only responsible for upkeep of its three West Virginia stations.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs began a series this year called Opportunity in America from its national network of teen reporters. It examines the tough choices young people face these days.

A team from Morgantown High School led by senior Alia King and teacher Tiphani Davis worked with SRL producers to investigate how young people are searching for economic mobility. We hear the story the team of students produced, which aired on West Virginia Public Broadcasting television stations last week.

Elliot P. / Wikipedia Commons

West Virginia receives the fourth most federal funding of any state in the country, according to a new analysis.

Toyota Driving Demand For Solar Power In Ohio Valley

Mar 18, 2019
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Automaker Toyota is planning to announce a major investment in solar and other renewable energy in Appalachia and the Southeastern U.S. The plan includes a massive new solar facility on an old surface coal mine property in Kentucky.

Sources close to the deal tell the Ohio Valley Resource that the Kentucky site is part of a much larger plan. Toyota plans to purchase as much as 800,000 megawatt hours per year, or roughly 365 megawatts, of renewable energy, primarily from developers in Appalachia and the South.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the Trump administration’s trade talks continue with China and other countries, farmers are feeling the pain from the president’s year-long trade war. Tariffs on agricultural goods are compounding problems caused by low crop prices and over-production. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports that small farms are suffering the most.

John Deskins / West Virginia University

Economists at West Virginia University say parts of the state are seeing job growth after economic downturn, but other areas have a longer road to economic recovery.  

AllVoices.com

Police in West Virginia say two men are accused of stealing equipment from an electrical transformer at a coal mine.

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