Ashton Marra

Statehouse Reporter/Producer

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered.

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 that show on Fridays and leads a reporter roundtable discussing the top stories of the week with her colleagues from the statehouse press corps.

Ashton has most recently received national attention for her coverage of the January 9, 2014, chemical leak in Charleston. Her work was featured on NPR's hourly newscasts, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, WBUR's Here & Now, KCRW's To The Point and the PBS NewsHour.

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.

When she isn’t reporting, Ashton enjoys cooking and is an avid supporter of the arts, including theater, music and dance. She is a huge fan of musicals and touts her collection of Playbills from the Broadway shows she’s attended, which grew by nearly 30 in her 9 months living in New York City.
 

Pages

Mine Permit
7:51 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

DEP Says Not Enough Evidence Will Harm Appeal Against Kanawha State Forest Mine

Members of the Kanawha Forest Coalition stood outside the DEP's Kanawha City office to oppose the mine permit.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Surface Mine Board has finished hearing testimony in the appeal of a mine located next to the Kanawha State Forest.

In the second day of hearings, board members heard testimony from the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, employees of the DEP and a consultant who helped write the mine permit, among others.

Read more
Politics
10:40 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Romney Stumps for GOP Hopefuls in West Virginia

Former presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the stage with GOP candidates Evan Jenkins, Shelley Moore Capito and Alex Mooney in Beckley.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney made a stop in West Virginia Tuesday to officially endorse the West Virginia GOP’s candidates for Congress.

Romney addressed a crowded room at the Tamarack conference center in Beckley, officially announcing his endorsement for Shelley Moore Capito, Evan Jenkins and Alex Mooney.

The coal rhetoric was far from subtle, even from Romney, who easily molded himself into an industry supporter during his short, five minute address.

Read more
Government
2:45 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform Meets for First Time

Rev. Mathew Watts
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 Governor Tomblin's task force working to reform the state's juvenile justice system met for the first time in Charleston today. The group of some 30 members is tasked with presenting legislative recommendations before the end of the year.

Read more
West Virginia Morning
7:56 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Fracking Regulations, Craft Brew Festivals, Antiques Roadshow and Mountain Stage's Song of the Week

An environmental watchdog group is claiming some companies in West Virginia are using diesel fuel in their fracking fluids without the proper permits. Craft Brewers are celebrating their industry at two festivals in West Virginia this weekend, but they're hoping the events bring attention to the legal needs of the industry not just their businesses. Antiques Roadshow's executive producer Marsha Bemko discusses the show's first time in West Virginia and Brett Dennen has this week's Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Read more
Public Education
9:21 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Bus Ride Times Will Drastically Increase for Harman Students

Randolph County Superintendent Terry George presented his waiver request to the state Board of Education at their meeting at Greenbrier East Middle School.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After a ceiling collapse caused the indefinite closure of one Randolph County school, the state Board of Education approved a waiver to allow students in the area to exceed set limits for the amount of time they can spend on a bus.

Randolph County Superintendent Terry George asked for the waiver Wednesday that would allow Harman School students to go to Elkins area schools about 26 miles from the facility. 

Read more
West Virginia Morning
8:44 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Huntington Fights Drug Abuse, WVBOE Approves Extended Bus Routes & Reducing Euthanization of Strays

Federal and regional drug enforcement officials visited Huntington to learn about the success the city has had so far in combating the drug epidemic and share details about their future efforts. The West Virginia Board of Education approved a waiver to allow some students in Randolph County to take bus rides as long as an hour and 18 minutes one way after a ceiling collapse closed their school and the Kanawha Chalreston Humane Association has changed some policies helping them along their path to become a no-kill shelter.

Read more
Coal Panel
10:29 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Congressional, Industry Leaders Discuss Challenges in Coal Industry

Attorney Genreal Patrick Morrisey, Va. Congressman Morgan Griffith, Congressman Nick Rahall and Sen. Joe Manchin participated in the event.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Members of Congress, state government and industry representatives gathered in Bluefield Tuesday for the Bluefield Coal Symposium. The annual event gathers leaders to discuss the major issues facing the industry.

On the panel were Congressmen Nick Rahall and Morgan Griffith of Virginia, state Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Rainey and Alpha Natural Resources Senior Vice President of Environmental Affairs Gene Kitts. Sen. Joe Manchin served as the moderator.

Read more
West Virginia Morning
8:20 am
Tue August 12, 2014

DEP Hears Appeals About Kanwaha Co. Mine, Changing Climates Mean Changing Forests & Education Reform

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Surface Mine Board held its first day long hearing in the case of Keystone Industries' KD Mine No. 2, a mine situated near the boundary of Kanawha State Forest. In the first day, appellant presented evidence and testimony about why the permit should be revoked.

The Allegheny Front's Julie Grant discusses how climate change could be linked to the changing make up of forests in Appalachia and educators gather at Marshall University to discuss reforming the state's education system.  

Read more
Mountain Top Removal
6:42 am
Tue August 12, 2014

The Three Reasons Residents are Appealing the KD Mine No. 2

Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Surface Mine Board held the first of at least two hearings focused on Keystone Indutries’ KD Mine No. 2 Monday. The mine is located just 1,500 feet from the edge of the Kanawha State Forest in Kanawha County.

Tom Rist, a Fayetteville attorney, argued the case of a few residents of Middle Lick Branch Road, a small community of four or five homes located just across the street from the forest.

Read more
West Virginia History
9:57 am
Mon August 11, 2014

John W. Davis: W.Va.'s Only Presidential Candidate Accepts Nomination 90 Years Ago

Davis during the parade through downtown Clarksburg.
Provided by Rod Rogers

On Monday, August 11, 1924, Clarksburg native John W. Davis returned to his hometown to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. He still holds a place in state history as the only West Virginia to ever receive a major party’s nomination for the position.

After a day of meetings, parades and celebrations, Davis took the stage in the Clarksburg neighborhood of Goff Plaza. With a major storm rolling in, he stood under and umbrella and accepted the nomination amid the sound of thunder and fireworks, set off prematurely.

Read more
News
8:24 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Watch the DEP Surface Mine Board Hearing Live

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Surface Mine Board is holding a hearing Monday focused on the appeals of Keystone Industries' KD Mine No. 2. The mine sits just 1,500 feet from thed edge of the Kanawha State Forest.   

West Virginia Morning
8:02 am
Mon August 11, 2014

90 Years Since W.Va. Presidential Candidate Accepted Nom., Morgantown Traffic and More

   On Monday, August 11, 1924, Clarksburg native John W. Davis returned to his hometown to accept the Democratic nomination for president. Rod Rogers, former aide and speechwriter for Gov. Arch Moore and unofficial expert on Davis, talks about the importance of that nomination.

Morgantown is speaking out against truck traffic in its downtown area, but is finding there may be little they can do about it and a non-profit in Huntington is hoping they can take a vacant building and make it a hub for artists and entrepreneurs. 

Read more
Infrastructure
10:04 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Highways Report Expected One Year After Intial Release Date

Credit Sarah Lowther Hensley / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The chairman of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways says the group will release its final report in late September almost a year after its initially set release date.

Jason Pizatella tells the Charleston Gazette the report is undergoing proofreading and editing.

Gov. Tomblin created the Blue Ribbon Commission nearly two years ago with the goal of issuing recommendations on how to better fund the state’s roadways. Commission members approved their recommendations in September of 2013, but the final report was delayed.

Read more
News
9:22 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Coalition Continues Fight Against Mine Near State Forest

Dozens gathered on the Capitol steps to rally against mountain top removal mining near Kanawha State Forest.
Ashotn Marra West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 Members of the Kanawha State Forest Coalition gathered supporters at the Capitol Thursday evening to rally against an approved mine site just 1,500 feet from the forest's edge.

The state Department of Environmental Protection approved the permit in May, although officials say the proposal had been in the works for years.

Read more
West Virginia Morning
8:18 am
Fri August 8, 2014

A Rally Against MTR Mining, Unemployment Advice, Abracadabra's 4th Season and Mountain Stage Music

  The Kanawha State Forest Coalition continues their fight against the mountaintop removal mine site just 1,500 feet from the forest's edge with a rally at the state Capitol. Dr. William White, member of the state Board of Education and the West Virginia Broadcasting Authority board of directors, talks about his book focused on curbing unemployment in the African American community. West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Abracadabra is finishing up production of its fourth season, and Jessie Winchester sing "Never Forget to Boogie" in the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.  

Read more
West Virginia Morning
8:13 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Reconnecting Teachers in McDowell, Helping Veterans Access Benefits, MU's New Pharmacy and More

  Educators in West Virginia hope the completion of a new apartment building in Welch will draw new teachers and young professionals to McDowell County. The plan comes from the project Reconnecting McDowell and new apartments are expected to be complete in August of 2015.  

The American Legion is reaching out to veterans across the country to help them access their health care benefits. They set up shop in North Central West Virginia this week.

Read more
Reconnecting McDowell
2:53 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

New Teacher Housing for Troubled McDowell County

West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten cut the ceremonial ribbon at Bet's Furniture in Welch.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the governing board for Reconnecting McDowell voted to demolish two buildings in the county seat of Welch to make way for new, affordable housing for teachers and young professionals.

The board and members of the American Federation of Teachers held a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the old Best’s Furniture warehouse, a 25,000 square foot building that’s sat vacant for years. In the coming months, it and the smaller Katzan building located directly behind it will be torn down to make way for 28 new housing units.

Read more
West Virginia Morning
8:21 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Solar Co-ops Come to W.Va., Turning Grafton Around and Estimated Homeless Number Growing in State

Two communities in West Virginia are trying out solar power, but pooling their resources to do so. They've started solar co-ops, meant to help save them money while benefiting the environment. Community teams in Grafton are putting the finishing touches on their project proposals for the Turn This Town Around Project.

Read more
Energy Leader
11:06 am
Tue August 5, 2014

DOE Names New Head of Energy Technology Lab

The Department of Energy has named a new director for the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which has offices in five states including West Virginia.

The DOE said in a press release that Grace Bochenek  will manage day-to-day operations for more than 1,000 employees from their Pittsburgh office. Those employees work on new technologies to manage and use fossil fuel energy.

Bochenek  has more than 25 years of technical and management experience with the Department of Defense, most recently as the first Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Read more
West Virginia Morning
7:57 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Passing the Tradition of Appalachian Bluegrass and a Look into World of Poverty in W.Va.

A jam band in Sophia, West Virginia, plays for fun, but is also passing down an Appalachian tradition to younger generations to ensure bluegrass music doesn't fade away and one man's story of poverty.

Read more

Pages