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. You can keep up with her work on social media through Twitter and tumblr.

During the legislative session, Ashton focuses on the state Senate, bringing daily reports from the inner-workings of the state’s upper house on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today.  She also hosts the show, interviewing lawmakers, lobbyists and leading a roundtable discussion focused on the top stories of the week with her colleagues from the Capitol press corps.

Ashton served as the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 10-week political talk show in the fall of 2014. The weekly, hour-long program included in-depth interviews with candidates, analysis and a reporter roundtable leading up to the 2014 general election. 

Ashton has most recently received national attention for her coverage of the January 9, 2014, chemical spill in Charleston. Her work was featured on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, WBUR's Here & Now, KCRW's To The Point, the PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera America. She was named the 2014 Associated Press "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias."

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, WV, 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. She covered government for the P.I. Reed School of Journalism’s bi-weekly newscast WVU News and also served a semester as the WVPBS bureau reporter.

 

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Steve Helber / AP Photo

Apparent Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump drew a crowd of more than 10,000 to the Charleston Civic Center Thursday for a campaign rally largely focused on revitalizing the coal industry.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Beth Walker is running for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

 

The name may be familiar to you, maybe because of her unsuccessful bid for the high court in 2008, or maybe because of her legal challenge to opponents Brent Benjamin and Bill Wooten’s use of public campaign financing in the race, but now, Walker is traveling the state to make sure voters recognize her for her conservative values.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Brent Benjamin was first elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2004 during a race that became known for the influence of outside spending.

At the time, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship funneled big bucks into the race attacking Benjamin's opponent, incumbent Justice Warren McGraw, and now Benjamin, the conservative lawyer turned centrist judge, is attempting to move past his former political ties in 2016's nonpartisan race.

Gage Skidmore / AP Photo

Coming off of big wins in Indiana's primary Tuesday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders announced scheduled stops in West Virginia.

Both candidates will visit the state Thursday.

John Minchillo / AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will make at least three more stops in West Virginia before the state's May 10 primary elections, according to his campaign's national press secretary.

Simone Sanders announced during a conference call with reporters Tuesday the Vermont Senator would hold events in Charleston, Morgantown and McDowell County this week, but didn't release any further details.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made her second West Virginia stop Tuesday morning on the campus of the University of Charleston. Clinton hosted a roundtable discussion focused on the state’s substance abuse epidemic. But she said it’s not just West Virginia that’s suffering.

“We have to treat this as an epidemic,” Clinton said. “This is a public health challenge.”

Paul Sancya / AP Photo

While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton preached a message of friendship and promised progress for southern West Virginia inside a campaign event in downtown Williamson Monday, dozens of protestors filled the streets outside chanting messages that made it clear Clinton was not welcome in their community.

“Hillary is a crook!” one man chanted just feet from the event’s entrance. Others yelled loudly, “Remember Benghazi!”

McGraw Campaign

Of all five of the candidates running for Supreme Court, only two have judicial experience. Current Justice Brent Benjamin is hoping to be re-elected to his seat, and Darrell McGraw, a member of the high court from 1976 to 1988, is trying to take it from him.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

More rain is expected Monday in parts of the state already experiencing high waters due to weekend showers. 

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch from noon Monday through Tuesday morning for the majority of the state, including central, southwestern and northern West Virginia with an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain forecasted. A flash flood warning has also been issued for counties in the southwestern part of the state. A thunderstorm watch has been issued for much of the southern part of the state until 10 p.m. this evening.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton will make stops in West Virginia next week.

Clinton will kick off her 'Breaking Down Barriers' tour in Appalachia Monday with stops in Williamson and Ashland, Kentucky, will the former President will focus on Charleston and Logan Sunday. 

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

Law enforcement agencies across West Virginia will participate in a national event Saturday attempting to get unused prescription drugs out of homes where they could potentially be abused.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice sponsor several National Drug Tack-Back days every year. Saturday's event marks the 11th annual event.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Budget negotiations are inching closer to a solution for both the 2016 and 2017 budget years according to House Speaker Tim Armstead.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Tomblin began negotiating a budget resolution in March for the 2017 fiscal year that begins July 1.

This week marks the 25 year anniversary of the world renowned alt-rock band R.E.M.'s appearance on Mountain Stage. The 1991 performance was one of only a handful of live performances the band gave that year. 

Mountain Stage Executive Producer Adam Harris discusses the significance of the performance and its anniversary.

Dozens of community leaders from across the state are converging in Summersville today for Hubapalooza- the annual conference sponsored by the West Virginia Community Development Hub. 

The event’s main goal is to network and share ideas and this year organizers and participants will focus on moving not just West Virginia, but Appalachia forward. Kent Spellman, the Hub’s executive director, discusses the day-long event. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

An estimated 6,000 Bernie Sanders supporters attended the Tuesday rally in Huntington, standing in line for hours to see the Democratic candidate for president. 

The results Tuesday evening, however, showed Sanders lagging even further behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, winning only one of five state primary elections, but neither Sanders nor his supporters are ready to back out of the race just yet. 

Still, Clinton's nomination appears to be more and more inevitable as voters across the country continue to cast ballots. So, should their candidate lose the race, how will West Virginia's Sanders supporters vote in November?

On this West Virginia Morning, Vermont Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders encouraged West Virginia voters to join his political revolution during a campaign rally in Huntington Tuesday night. 

In his hour long speech, Sanders spoke about ending income inequality in the nation by increasing the minimum wage and fighting for equal pay for women. Sanders also touched on what he said was a controversial subject in West Virginia-- climate change

John Minchillo / AP Photo

Minutes after the polls closed in five states, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took the stage in Huntington calling on West Virginia voters to join his "political revolution."

By the end of the night, only one of the five states-- Rhode Island-- had swung in Sanders's favor, allowing front runner Hillary Clinton to pull even further ahead in the race to the Democratic Party's nomination.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: For live coverage of the Bernie Sanders rally and more on West Virginia's May 10 primary, visit elections.wvpublic.org.

Hundreds of Bernie Sanders supporters were already in line at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington by early afternoon Tuesday. Supporters of the democratic presidential hopeful came from all over West Virginia to see the U.S. Senator from Vermont, who is scheduled to speak at 8:30 p.m.

On this West Virginia Morning, a West Virginia native and WVU journalism school graduate is part of the team that received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service based on an international investigation of the fishing industry in Southeast Asia.  

Over the course of 18 months, Margie Mason was among the journalists from The Associated Press who located men held in cages, tracked ships and stalked refrigerated trucks to expose the abusive practices of the seafood industry in that part of the world. She speaks with Beth Vorhees.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

More than 24,000 doctors across West Virginia who accept Medicaid were put on alert Monday that the state may not be able to "continue to process claims at the same consistent level."  

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