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 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 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

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has extended the state of emergency declared in 12 West Virginia counties impacted by last month’s flooding. 

Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers and Webster counties will remain under a state of emergency until August 22.

Mark J. Terrill / AP Photos

West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito took center stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Tuesday night delivering a keynote address.

Capito started her speech by recognizing the recovery efforts in her home state after historic floods ripped through West Virginia in late June, devastating several communities.

From flooding Capito turned to attacks aimed at the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

During the first evening of keynote addresses at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Monday, several speakers called for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to be imprisoned after a using a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. 

West Virginia’s only Democratic Congressional leader defended Clinton Tuesday.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The 34 West Virginia Delegates to the Republican National Convention cast their official ballots for Donald Trump to become the official Republican nominee for president Tuesday in Cleveland. 

The state’s delegation supports Trump for many reasons, his primary win of the state for one, but one delegate in particular points to Trump’s energy policies as the reason for his support.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Ride-sharing company Uber is now officially operating in two West Virginia cities. The company opened up shop in Charleston and Morgantown on Tuesday.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin took the first Uber ride in West Virginia Tuesday. They rode from the Capitol Market to the state Capitol to celebrate the service’s opening in the state.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Four schools in Kanawha County suffered damage after historic flooding late last month and as a result, the state is taking special action to make sure some of the affected students can return to class by the start of the semester. 

West Virginia Board of Education members approved a proposal from Kanawha County Schools Thursday that will allow students from Elkview Middle School and Herbert Hoover to attend only a half day of school when they start classes on August 3.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Board of Education members are giving Boone County’s school board until July 18 to make drastic cuts to their budget. 

State board members voted 6 to 1 Thursday to take over Boone County schools if the local school board does not take action to reduce its budget by Monday. Former Delegate Tom Campbell was the only nay vote.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Over the past two weeks, 12 counties have been given federal disaster declarations. Severe flooding in those counties destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and many are looking to the federal government--specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency--for help in rebuilding. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says 35 schools have been impacted in some way by last month’s historic flooding.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

State revenue officials say West Virginia didn’t end the 2016 fiscal year quite as badly off as they predicted, but they’re still calling it the worst budget year in decades. 

Department of Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said in a conference call with reporters Friday his office predicted the state would end the 2016 fiscal year at the end of June some $464 million below revenue estimates. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


While the initial disaster response was focused on Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Nicholas counties, it wasn’t long before state officials realized the damage was more widespread.

 

In Clay County, much like the rest of the region, the storms hit Thursday. On Friday, the county got its first shipment of water and National Guard troops, but after that, they were left without much state aid until Saturday afternoon.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


Two weeks after historic flooding in the Kanawha County town of Clendenin destroyed or damaged homes, churches, and even town hall, the people who live there are still working to clear mud and debris from the homes and city streets.

 

There are two donation collection locations set up for the town of about 1,200, one across the street from the damaged post office that's now closed. Workers are handing out mail from a temporary trailer  parked next to a tent full of food and cleaning supplies.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

While Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties were initially thought to be the hardest hit in West Virginia, receiving federal disaster declarations some 24 hours after catastrophic flooding, as the waters receded it was clear the damage was more widespread.

In Clay County, officials estimate more than 500 homes were damaged or destroyed leaving at least 500 people displaced. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Update, July 4, 2016:

A second body was recovered by rescue workers over the weekend in Greenbrier County, bringing the official death count to 22.

One person is still missing and presumed dead.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In Clay County, the process of recovery after June 23 and 24 flooding is just beginning as volunteer firefighters, the American Red Cross and the National Guard continue to pass out food and water and remove potentially hazardous debris from the county.

Philanthropy West Virginia, a three person non-profit based in Morgantown, shifts its focus from its normal work to aiding in flood relief efforts, directing donations to the hardest hit areas.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Country music star and West Virginia native Brad Paisley toured flood damaged areas of Kanawha County Thursday after committed to help the region recover from catastrophic flooding.

The floods, which left 10 counties named federal disaster areas, killed 23 people and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

By his estimate, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said thousands of homes have either been destroyed or damaged beyond repair after severe storms rolled through much of southeastern West Virginia Thursday, leaving in its wake some of the worst flooding the state has seen in years.

“No one’s seen anything like this before," House Speaker Tim Armstead said Monday as he waited outside Clendenin Advent Christian Church for Tomblin.

After a press conference, Tomblin toured the church as Pastor Mike Todorovich pointed out the devastation.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed eight bills Friday, including the budget for the 2017 fiscal year lawmakers spent nearly a month in a special session crafting. 

The budget bill includes cuts to state agencies and Constitutional Officers as well as the use of one-time Rainy Day Funds to find a balance. 

The problem with drive-by journalism is that you only see what your driver points out.

If Garret Mathews had really been interested in seeing if hope exists in McDowell County, he would have gotten out of the car and talked with dozens of recent high school graduates who were mentored, encouraged to work hard and stay out of trouble and are about to enroll in college.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has added an additional bill to his special session call for state lawmakers to consider- a bill reducing funding for the state infrastructure fund.

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