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

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usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has closed six offices nationwide, including two in West Virginia, after receiving anonymous threats Monday. 

USDA Director of Communications Matt Herrick said in a statement the offices in five states will be closed until further notice after concerns for the safety of agency personnel.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, earlier this year in McDowell County, the Walmart superstore—the county’s only chain grocery store-- closed, making it tougher for residents to access food. Even before the Walmart shut its doors, much of McDowell County was already considered a food desert- an area where a large number of people don't have a large grocery store in their town.

Flood
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More than 8,000 West Virginia households have contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for federal assistance since June’s flooding.

FEMA officials say 8,732 West Virginians have contacted the agency for help after high waters damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses on June 30. That number is expected to increase, though, because the deadline to apply for assistance does not expire until September 7.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

One year into a long-term study of the state’s universal pre-K system, researchers say the program is improving achievement for students. 

The West Virginia Department of Education announced the longitudinal study of the state’s pre-K system a year ago, partnering with Marshall University and the National Institute for Early Education Research.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the United States Economic Development Administration visited Huntington this week to announce millions of dollars in funding for Appalachian communities struggling with the effects of coal’s decline. 

Carla Whitee Ford / New South Media

Hemp, known in the scientific community as cannabis sativa, is a cousin to the more commonly known marijuana, but unlike its medicinally and recreationally used relative, hemp does not contain any THC- a mind-altering ingredient. 

So, throughout the nation's history, hemp has been used more practically. It's often turned into fibers used in fabrics or rope or pressed into oils, but the plant itself is still considered a schedule one drug, meaning law enforcement treats it just like they would heroin or Ecstasy.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Managing Editor of the magazine West Virginia Living Zack Harold discussing his latest article, "High Hopes for a New Cash Crop," focused on the state's budding hemp industry.  The article appears in the latest edition of Morgantown Magazine and he joined Ashton Marra to discuss it reporting. 

Arthur Quattrocchi stands in front of his son's house Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Follansbee, W.Va., joking about having a yard sale. The town was flooded during severe storms that hit West Virginia's Northern Panhandle on Saturday, July 30.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Both home and business owners in the Follansbee area are now eligible for federal assistance after flooding in late July.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday his request for aid for the July 29 and 30 floods in three counties was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

A new analysis of West Virginia educator data shows school administrators have a higher rate of turnover than classroom teachers in the state. 

The analysis is part of regional study focused on the retention and attrition rates of West Virginia educators.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Fayette County Board of Education has passed a resolution in support of proposed changes to a plan to fix education facilities there.

The Register-Herald reports the board passed the resolution Monday in a 4-1 vote.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the first part of 2015, the percentage of uninsured Americans dropped almost 12 percent due to the Affordable Care Act, but even though more Americans are insured than ever before, deductibles – the amount of money you have to pay before insurance kicks in – have skyrocketed, going up by almost 70 percent since 2010. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Small-scale farmers in the region often find it challenging to keep their land sustainable while staying competitive in the marketplace. 

The Ohio Valley ReSource's Nicole Erwin visited a farm that’s doing both with a method called rotational grazing. She found that this “new” approach grows from some very old ideas.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Two legislative interim committees received updates Sunday on the state of West Virginia’s recovery since June’s flooding.

Infrastructure came first during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability.

DOT Secretary Paul Mattox told lawmakers the state’s highways, roads and bridges suffered $55.5 million dollars in damage. That damage was largely focused in three counties- Clay, Kanawha and Greenbrier- and Mattox said significant progress has been made in repairs in those areas.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A new committee of West Virginia lawmakers will meet at the Capitol Monday to focus on ways  to reduce the size of state government.

Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead announced the creation of the Government Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency Committee last week, calling it GATE for short. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The deadline for West Virginians impacted by June’s flooding to register for federal disaster relief has been extended. 

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced through a press release the deadline to register with FEMA- the Federal Emergency Management Agency- has been extended from August 24 to September 7.  That gives flood victims in 12 counties an additional two weeks to register.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A circuit judge blocked the implementation of a new right-to-work law in West Virginia Wednesday.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey ordered the injunction during a hearing in her Charleston courtroom. The decision blocks West Virginia’s right-to-work law from taking effect until the court makes a final decision on its constitutionality.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Statewide standardized test results show West Virginia students are improving in both math and English under Common Core education standards, but West Virginia teachers will be teaching under new standards this school year. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state with one of the highest overdose death rates in recent years welcomed Dr. Robert Califf Tuesday for a roundtable discussion focused on opioid abuse. 

Califf is the new head of the Federal Drug Administration- the federal agency that oversees medications for both people and animals and monitors the nation's food supply, among other things. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

FEMA-- the Federal Emergency Management Agency-- is well known for its individual housing assistance program- a federal program that helps homeowners and renters who have lost their housing and belongings in natural disasters, but the agency has another program that helps states and local governments rebuild.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Thousands of West Virginians are still recovering more than six weeks after heavy rains caused historic flooding in southeastern parts of the state. State officials say finding housing is still one of the top priorities, but the need in some communities is changing.

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