Ashton Marra

Assistant News Director, Statehouse Reporter

Ashton Marra is the Assistant News Director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, coordinating the coverage of her fellow reporters under News Director Jesse Wright, and serves as the producer for the morning news magazine West Virginia Morning. She also serves as the fill-in host of the program.

Ashton covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning with the latest statehouse news, from politics to policy and everything in between.

During the legislative session, Ashton hosts West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today. She also reports from the Senate, bringing daily reports from the inner-workings of the state’s upper house.

Ashton served as the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 10-week political podcast fall of 2016 focused on the General Election. 

Ashton is the winner of two 2016 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her work producing West Virginia Morning and covering the decline of the state's coal industry. She was also named the 2015 and 2016 "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias" by the Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Ashton's work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, PBS NewsHour, WBUR’s Here & Now, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, KCRW’s To the Point and other programs.

Ashton came to WVPBS in October of 2012 from ABC News’ morning program Good Morning America where she worked as a production associate. Ashton produced pieces for the broadcast, including the first identified victim of the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, as well as multiple entertainment news stories.

Before her time at GMA, Ashton worked as an intern on ABC’s news assignment desk, helping to organize coverage of major news stories like the Trayvon Martin case, the Jerry Sandusky trial and the 2012 Presidential election. She also spent 18 months as a weekend reporter for WDTV based in her hometown of Clarksburg, W.Va., breaking the story of missing Lewis County toddler Aliayah Lunsford. Ashton’s work from that story was featured on HLN’s Nancy Grace in October of 2011.

Ashton graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University in May of 2012, where she was named WVU’s Reporter of the Year. 

 

Ways to Connect

Nancy Andrews / West Virginia University

It's clear many of the adults living in Appalachia are focused on what the new president can do for the economy here, but they're not alone. Young people also have their own concerns about Trump.

Students from Frankfort High School in Mineral County marched in the inaugural parade Friday in Washington, but before they left, they shared their thoughts about President Trump and their role in performing at his inauguration.

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

A panel of appellate judges has affirmed a ruling that sent former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to prison.  The decision means he’ll serve out the remainder of his one-year prison term in a California penitentiary. 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice waves to the crowd as he delivers his inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Charleston, W.Va.
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

Jim Justice took his oath of office on the steps of the state Capitol Monday, becoming the 36th governor of the state of West Virginia.

 

In his inaugural address, Justice focused on the challenges the state is facing and shared a message of hope as he committed to face those challenges head on after recounting many of the anecdotes he shared on the campaign trail.

Jim Justice
Chris Tilley / AP Photo

Gov.-elect Jim Justice will take his oath of office Monday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m. on the steps of the state Capitol during his inauguration ceremony.

Elected in November, Justice will become the state's 36th governor. 

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

With his inauguration Monday, Gov.-elect Jim Justice is announcing more staff appointments in his new administration. 

Justice announced Friday former state Senator and long-time House of Delegates member Bob Ashely will take over as his legislative director, working directly with lawmakers to push the governor’s bill through the legislative process.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin during his farewell address Wednesday in the House of Delegates chamber.
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For the past six years each January, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has returned to the chamber where he began his political career to address members of the Legislature, Board of Public Works, Justices of the Supreme Court and citizens of the state of West Virginia.

Martin Valent/Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Optimism. That’s the key to moving the state of West Virginia forward, according the newly elected Senate President and House Speaker.

The 83rd Legislature gaveled in for the first time Wednesday to elect chamber leaders and take their oaths of office, hearing for the first time as a body from the men who will lead them through the upcoming Legislative session.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

State tax incomes are continuing to decline according revenue officials, but Governor Tomblin will present a plan to lawmakers Wednesday to balance the budget during the upcoming legislative session. 

Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss told lawmakers Monday that the state missed collection estimates by nearly $7 million in the month of December. For the entire fiscal year that began in July, the state has collected nearly $100 million less than estimated.

Twitter

Carl "Butch" Antolini will serve as the Director of Communications for incoming Gov. Jim Justice. 

The announcement came Friday through a press release from the Justice transition team.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Nearly 100 mourners gathered at a memorial service for Ken Hechler Monday at the Culture Center on the state Capitol complex. 

Hechler, a nine-term Congressman and West Virginia's Secretary of State, passed away Dec. 10 at 102.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

There were no surprises today as five West Virginia electors cast the state’s official votes for the next president and vice president of the United States. 

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant read the five official electoral college votes cast at the Capitol Monday by the state’s members of the electoral college during a ceremony in the House of Delegates chamber. 

Holding Hands, Hold Hands, Baby, Baby Hand, Hand Holding
Pixabay.com

New data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources shows fewer women in the state are smoking while pregnant now compared to a few years ago. 

DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health says the rate of West Virginia women who smoke while pregnant fell by four percent between 2014 and 2016. 

West Virginia Turnpike
Seicer / wikimedia Commons

Members of the West Virginia Parkways Authority are supporting the continuation of tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike, doubling down on a resolution to that effect passed in January.

The tolls are set to expire in May of 2019, when the bonds on the road’s construction will be paid off.

Sen. Joe Manchin says his meeting with President-elect Donald Trump has been rescheduled for next week, but speculation about him taking a post as Energy Secretary is just that: speculation.

WV AFL-CIO

The head of West Virginia's largest workers union is retiring after more than a decade of service. 

West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue announced his retirement this week in an email to union members. 

Department of Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss.
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has already taken action to close an estimated $165 million budget gap this year, but the state’s Revenue Secretary said that unless lawmakers take significant action in the upcoming legislative session, that hole will only grow. 

Sec. Bob Kiss presented the latest revenue estimates to a Joint Committee on Finance during interim meetings Tuesday. 

Department of Education

A legislative audit of the state’s eight Regional Education Service Agencies says that while many of the services they provide are important, the independent agencies themselves are no longer necessary. 

John Sylvia, Director of the legislative auditor’s Performance Evaluation and Research Division, presented the report during interim meetings Tuesday. 

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he’s spoken with Republican President-elect Donald Trump about how they can work together in his future administration.

Manchin released a statement Monday saying he spoke with Trump last week, reportedly over the phone, and the two would be continuing their conversations this week. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s Congressional leaders will be asked to vote this week on a bill to fund the government through April 2017, but that bill may also be the only hope for thousands of coal miners set to lose their healthcare benefits at the end of the year. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s newest elected member of the state Supreme Court has taken her oath of office and is now officially ready to assume the bench in January. 

Current Justice Allen Loughry administered the oath of office to Justice-elect Beth Walker in the Supreme Court chamber on the Capitol grounds. 

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