The Struggle to Stay

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President Donald Trump's Commission on the Opioid Crisis recently recommended that the president declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The commission said that such a declaration could free up money to fight the epidemic.

Back in April, we aired a special report about the opioid epidemic here in Appalachia. So this week, we’re going to revisit that story to remember how some Appalachians became addicted, and what a battle for sobriety can be like.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the West Virginia Morning, shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The 13-member commission is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, but its vice chair — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — is doing a lot of the groundwork for the group.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes was appointed to the commission, which held its first meeting in Washington, D.C., last month. Rhodes told Ashton Marra he doesn’t believe there is widespread voter fraud in West Virginia, or across the country, but he still believes in the commission’s work.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, communities in rural northern West Virginia are still cleaning up from and coping with the effects of flash flooding in July. A state of emergency was declared in eight counties. Glynis Board visited Hundred -- a small town in Wetzel County that was among the hardest hit.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s nothing unusual to think about leaving your hometown after you graduate high school, but sometimes it’s not an option to leave, and sometimes, as we’ve heard, leaving can be difficult and expensive, too. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the conclusion to 20-year-old Kyra Soleil-Dawe’s story as part of our Struggle to Stay series. Yesterday, we heard that Kyra’s theater group, Whiskey Shine and Pantomime Productions, opened its third production to the public - William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Now, as we step back into Kyra’s story, we will hear more about Kyra’s family, and what a piece of sudden news will mean for Kyra’s Struggle to Stay.

We also hear more from Appalachia Health News about the effort to diagnose and treat hepatitis C.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, tens of thousands of Boy Scouts are making their way to southern West Virginia today for the start of their National Jamboree. Ashton Marra reports on the preparations that began long before a single Scout set foot on the site.

We also hear from the Ohio Valley ReSource's Benny Becker, who is reporting on the Appalachian Connectivity Summit in Marietta, Ohio, where the Federal Communications Commission heard from Ohio Valley residents upset about poor internet service in rural communities.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders held two health care rallies Sunday in Covington, Kentucky and Morgantown, West Virginia, telling attendees to put pressure on their state representatives to vote against the GOP health care plans.

Kara Lofton spoke with Sanders about his visits and what he thinks the proposed legislation would mean for Appalachia. 

U.S. National Archive Jack Corn

This week time travel back to your own childhood summer memories with the Appalachian storytellers.      

Kyra Soleil-Dawe, Kyra, The Struggle to Stay
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last week, we met Kyra Soleil-Dawe, a 20-year-old aspiring theater director and playwright who lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

“And this place is so beautiful," Kyra said, "how would you ever wanna leave it? And I hope that I’m not the only one that sees that, I hope that I’m not the only one that sees that there’s something really incredible happening here.”

courtesy Crystal Wilkinson

Ever hear the word 'Affrilachian'? In the 1990s, a poet in Kentucky named Frank X Walker came up with the term. It refers to African Americans living in Appalachia. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 


In 2014, when Kyra Soleil-Dawe was 17-years-old, they formed a small, theater company out of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle in Shepherdstown – a historic, artsy, college town just miles from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, established in November 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in Huntington has been paddling upstream, trying to make a dent in the on-going fight against drug addiction in the city. City officials hope a new, two-year strategic plan can continue to help them make a dent in the problem.

We also hear one more chapter in Mark Combs and Cameron Elias Williams’ Struggle to Stay story, for the time being.

Cameron Williams

Last September Mark Combs and Cameron Elias Williams set out for California hoping to develop careers in the arts and entertainment industry. But once they reached Denver they found it difficult to get their lives financially under control. They also fought loneliness.

“It's been, it's been kinda tough to be honest. I didn't think I would miss people back home this much,” Mark recorded after a lonely Thanksgiving in Denver.

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from Major General James Hoyer about rebuilding efforts in parts of the state affected by last year's flooding. Inside Appalachia host Jessica also speaks with Hoyer about what the National Guard learned from the flood.

We also hear more about our Struggle to Stay series.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the battle over the state's budget continues at the Capitol. Ashton Marra brings us the latest from Thursday's late-night legislative session.

Mark Combs

Our Struggle to Stay series continues as we follow actor and Iraqi war veteran Mark Combs and his good friend and artist, Cameron Elias Williams. These young men took off from West Virginia hoping to land on their feet in Los Angeles - the land of abundant creative jobs - far from their economically depressed homes in Appalachia. But the target life in L.A. was harder to hit than expected. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, state officials have revised revenue projections upward for the 2018 fiscal year by about $170 million. But much of that revenue depends on legislation that has yet to become law.

We'll also hear the next installment in our Struggle to Stay series. We're following Mark Combs and Cameron Williams as they set out for California and the promise of work in the entertainment industry.

Cameron Williams

Day One

Very early one fall day in 2016, Mark Combs set west from Morgantown, West Virginia, with lots of hope, California dreams, and as many belongings as he could fit into a small SUV -- including a few companions.

“I’m feeling really positive about the trip,” Mark said into a handheld recorder while stopped at a gas station somewhere in Ohio. “We started out very, very strong this morning. We’re still going strong.” 

He was traveling with his border collie Lily, a cat named Terror Czar (TC for short), and his good friend from theater school and fellow West Virginian Cameron "Elias" Williams -- a dancer, rapper, writer and like Mark, a comedian. Together, they’ve been planning this move West with similar ambitions.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we'll hear the next part of our Struggle to Stay series. Reporter Glynis Board has followed the story of Mark Combs for the past year as he left West Virginia for California to pursue a career in acting.

We also travel to Clendenin, where homes are being built for victims of last year's flooding.

Charles Kleine / West Virginia Public Broacasting

Mark Combs is among a community of West Virginians who have decided that -- despite a deep love for Appalachia -- they have no choice but to leave the region. His “Struggle to Stay” actually made staying impossible.

Rebecca Kiger

This week on Inside Appalachia, we talk with Marcus Murrow, a West Virginia native who’s telling the story of southern West Virginia, and the surprising way cultural divides are sometimes bridged in and around Appalachia. He's working on a film called Staring up from the Mine Shaft.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

The fire was rough on Colt. He didn’t hear from his mother for weeks at a time, and he lost a lot of sleep worrying about where she was staying, and what would happen to her, now that she was homeless. He and his mom drifted apart again, and they haven’t spoken much over the past few months.

But winter was, in many ways, a turning point for Colt.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a West Virginia University student is using his award as a Newman Fellow to aid veterans who have received less than honorable discharges. 

Research shows many of these veterans suffer from some sort of trauma which often contributes to their discharges.

Courtesy Maria Marotto

“If you want to stay in West Virginia, then I believe you’re doing something right," Colt Brogan told West Virginia Public Broadcasting for The Struggle to Stay series. "I mean, cause it’s hard to want to stay here in my opinion. Cause it is so rough.”


Here in Appalachia, thousands of young people are leaving each year, moving from their hometowns to find opportunities elsewhere.  In this episode, you will hear part of Colt Brogan’s Struggle to Stay in Appalachia.

It’s part of a series on Inside Appalachia called, “The Struggle to Stay.” This decision is different for each of us. While academic studies might provide a generalized view, the complexities are found in the individual journey as we try to find a place where we belong. 


The Struggle to Stay stories follow Appalachians as they try to figure out if they will stay or leave home, and how they are going to survive here if they do. Our first Appalachian in this series is Colt Brogan. He’s a 20 year old West Virginian who says he’s determined to stay. More than just living here, though, Colt says he has big goals. He hopes to someday own a farm.  

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear again from 20 year old Colt Brogan of Lincoln County and hear more of his story on the struggle to stay.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Roxy Todd

20-year-old Colt Brogan always found it easy to make fairly good grades in school. As a kid, he’d dreamed of being an architect. But that changed. Around the time when he was a junior in high school, Colt decided college wasn’t for him.

“It felt too unpredictable. I thought, dealing drugs is safer than going to college. That’s the God’s honest truth,” says Colt.

The Struggle to Stay on The Front Porch

Apr 20, 2017

On this week's Front Porch podcast - we discuss the Struggle to Stay in Appalachia. It's a long-time obsession in our region, and also a new project of Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear the first in our series “The Struggle to Stay” with a profile of a young Lincoln County man and learn his story about choosing to stay home and make his living here.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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