Economy

Pensions At The Polls: Will Concern Over Shaky Plans Show Up On Election Day?

Oct 22, 2018
Aaron Payne

Thousands of union coal miners and their families gathered this summer in Columbus, Ohio, wielding signs and wearing camouflage United Mine Workers of America shirts.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts led the crowd in a call-and-response chant.

“I want you to send a loud, clear signal that we are one! We are one!”

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jeannette Walls grew up poor in America. She wrote about it in her memoir "The Glass Castle," which has remained on the New York Times bestsellers list for more than eight years. She spent most of her childhood west of the Mississippi River, but her father, who was originally from West Virginia, eventually brought her family back to McDowell County, where she lived for four years. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll listen back to an interview Jessica Lilly did with Walls in 2017, just before the movie inspired by her book was released in theaters. 


Roxy Todd/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Can apples grow on an abandoned mine site? That’s a question the West Virginia National Guard is spending more than $5 million to find out.

West Virginia was given $30 million in 2016 to invest in economic development projects across the state. The money came from the 2015 omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress. There was a catch, though—groups would have to build their projects on former Abandoned Mine Land sites. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, hundreds of miners have been laid off, effective Thursday, Oct. 18, following a mine closure in Wyoming County. As Molly Born reports, the news is a blow to the region -- and some miners are now considering getting out of the industry altogether.

Join West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg as we co-host a FREE panel discussion with regional experts exploring the future of job opportunities in the Eastern Panhandle – and how to get there.

On this West Virginia Morning, agriculture -- even on a small scale -- could have a big impact in West Virginia’s economy. We’ll hear about one program trying to spur that growth.

The Exclusive Industry That’s Supplying Pennsylvania’s Medical Cannabis

Oct 15, 2018
Provided

Laura Jean Kahl owns Rabbit Hollow Farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania. A fairly rural county of just over 200,000 people, it sits south of Pittsburgh bordering West Virginia.

The 50 acres of land has been in Kahl’s family since the Great Depression. Her great grandfather purchased the farm by means of employment through the United States Postal Service, and over the years, his sons were able to build their own homes and raise their families on the land. After Kahl’s grandmother passed away in 2015, she made the decision to take over the farm with her husband.

Sprouting farms
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

This story is part of an episode of Inside Appalachia about projects aimed at spurring job growth in Appalachia.

On a recent Monday morning, as the rising sun burns off the low-hanging fog and fishermen haul in their morning catches from the Greenbrier River, at Sprouting Farms, the day is well underway.

Produce has been harvested and safely stored in a giant refrigerator. Employees are packaging cherry tomatoes into plastic clamshells, activities you might find at any of the farms that dot the Greenbrier Valley.

But while the daily tasks are handled at this production-scale vegetable farm, the crux of Sprouting Farms’ mission goes beyond the fields at hand.  

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, federal funds to help revitalize coal country have poured in from Washington, D.C. And in recent years, a new federal push has brought millions of dollars worth of funding to projects that are intended to create jobs and retrain people in coal country for work in other fields. There are also a number of state initiatives to help generate job growth. But have these projects worked? 


Miners Urge Congressional Action On Pensions, Black Lung Fund

Sep 26, 2018
Office of Sen. Brown

Retired coal miners and coal community activists are on Capitol Hill this week urging action on two important issues for miners: pensions and black lung benefits. Advocates say funds supporting both pensions for retired miners and the federal benefits for those sickened by black lung disease are at risk if Congress does not act.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, across the nation, more women are becoming farmers compared with  previous generations. That’s even more true in some Appalachian states, including West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Chris Williams introduces us to several women who are part of this trend.

Hemp seeds
Kristen Wyatt / Associated Press

A U.S. attorney is suing a West Virginia hemp farm and others, saying they violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart has sued Matthew Mallory of CAMO Hemp WV, and Gary Kale of Grassy Run Farms. Grassy Run Farms owns the land, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Saturday.

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Coal miners and their families in Appalachia take great pride in their work and the fellowship that surrounds coal mining. As Jeremy Brock, one former Kentucky coal miner, put it: "It's a culture. It's a brotherhood."

“Once you get used to it, I wouldn’t do nothing else," he told the documentary project, Humans of Central Appalachia, in 2016.

For the better half of the last decade, newspapers have been treated as novelties. An under-appreciated resource whose disappearance is problematic, but for reasons that are seemingly pragmatic. To make matters worse, there doesn’t appear to be a solution in sight.

Oglebay Park, Oglebay Mansion
BotMultichillT / wikimedia commons

A West Virginia resort is offering shelter for people who have had to leave their homes because of Hurricane Florence.

Steve Helber / AP File Photo

President Donald Trump picked West Virginia as the place to announce he'd roll back pollution rules for coal-fired power plants. But he didn't mention that coal country would be hit the hardest by the health impacts.

After Nearly Three Decades And $3 Billion Olmsted Locks And Dam Open On Ohio

Aug 31, 2018
Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

After nearly 30 years of construction and a budget that rose into the billions, Olmsted Locks and Dam passed the first tow barge through its system at a ceremony Thursday on the Ohio River.

The $3 billion infrastructure improvement by the Army Corps of Engineers is the most expensive inland waterway project in U.S. history and is touted as the hub of the nation’s river navigation system.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the European-based insulation manufacturing company Rockwool held a handful of community open houses last week in Jefferson County. The aim was to better-connect with residents, many of whom don’t want the company to locate in the Eastern Panhandle. As Liz McCormick reports, Saturday’s Rockwool open house drew a crowd of hundreds who rallied outside to protest the plant.

Hundreds of Jefferson County residents and locals from nearby counties rallied outside the Jefferson County Community Center on Saturday Aug. 25, 2018 to protest the Rockwool company.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The European-based insulation manufacturing company Rockwool held a handful of community open houses last week at the Jefferson County Community Center. The aim was to better-connect with residents, many of whom don’t want the company to locate in the Eastern Panhandle. Rockwool’s final open house drew a crowd of hundreds who rallied outside to protest the plant.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talks about his budget proposal during a stop on his Save Our State Tour on Thursday, March 3, 2017, at Fairmont State University.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal court has ordered the U.S. Marshal to collect more than $1 million owed by two coal companies controlled by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the House of Delegates has selected Delegate Roger Hanshaw as the chamber’s new presiding officer. Hanshaw took the podium over the Democrats’ choice, House Minority Leader Tim Miley. Dave Mistich has more on the past two days and the race for speaker.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the U.S. and Mexico have reached a preliminary deal to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. As Becca Schimmel reports the emerging agreement has big implications for agriculture and automakers in the Ohio Valley.

West Virginia GOP Largely Accurate About Food Stamp Decline

Aug 28, 2018
In this Monday, March 27, 2017 photo Sunny Larson, left, and Zak McCutcheon pick produce while gathering provisions to take home at the Augusta Food Bank in Augusta, Maine.
AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty

In a recent tweet, the West Virginia Republican Party praised President Donald Trump for his role in reducing the number of Americans who rely on food stamps.

"Thanks to President Trump and Republican leadership, the number of people collecting food stamps has declined by more than two million. Our economy is (in) recovery and more jobs are available! #WVGOP," the party tweeted Aug. 1.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Moring, we reported earlier this year on an economic development project to grow lavender on former strip mines in West Virginia. After the story aired, we heard from a number of students involved in the program, saying they were disappointed and felt misled by the outcomes of the project, called Green Mining. Roxy Todd revisits the story to find out what happened, and if the project is still going as expected.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, when President Trump visited West Virginia last week, he hailed his administration’s new Affordable Clean Energy Rule as something that will fuel a coal comeback. 
The rule replaces an Obama-era regulation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. 
But as Brittany Patterson reports, industry experts say they don’t expect Trump’s new plan to change coal’s fortunes in the Ohio Valley -- and the administration’s own analysis agrees.

In Ohio Valley Visits, Trump Administration Pushes Policies Supporting Mining And Metals

Aug 24, 2018
Kara Lofton / WVPB

In back-to-back events this week President Trump and his commerce secretary visited the Ohio Valley to tout administration policies aimed at propping up two of the region's traditional but faltering industries -- metals and mining.

The president used a Tuesday rally filled with West Virginia coal miners to unveil a new plan to ease pollution requirements on coal-burning power plants.

Throughout the U.S., thousands of towns are working to revitalize their downtowns. Some 2,200 of these places were considered this year for a prestigious Great American Main Streets Award, based on revitalization efforts. This year Wheeling is among the top 10 contenders for the award. Executive director of Wheeling Heritage Jake Dougherty spoke about the award and the work his organization is doing to see Wheeling reinvented.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, there’s been a lot of friction in recent weeks in Jefferson County between thousands of residents and a new Rockwool manufacturing plant. In response to the communitiy's pushback, the Denmark-based company has scheduled open houses through Saturday. Liz McCormick has more.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Wheeling is among thousands of towns throughout the U.S. working to revitalize their downtown areas. Some 2,200 organizations that undertake these efforts are considered each year for the national Great American Main Streets Award. Wheeling is among the top 10 contenders this year. Glynis Board spoke with Wheeling Heritage executive director Jake Dougherty about the work his organization is doing to reinvent its city.

West Virginia Morning is a product of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which is solely responsible for its content.

Appalachian Regional Commission

A new economic report from the Appalachian Regional Commission shows that across Appalachia, communities are starting to rebound. But in West Virginia, that’s not the case. 


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