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 Beth Vorhees, 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 that 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 hourly newscasts, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, WBUR's Here & Now, KCRW's To The Point, the PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera America.

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.
 

Ways To Connect

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A national worker safety organization is using the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster as call to action for the nation to enforce stricter safety standards to prevent workplace deaths.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health released their report “Not an Accident: Preventable Deaths 2015” Thursday ahead of the national Workers Memorial Week, which runs from Saturday, April 25, through Saturday, May 2.


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin
Courtesy Photo

Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey have introduced comprehensive mine safety legislation to Congress.

The Senators say ‘The Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act of 2015’ will help fix a broken regulatory system.

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / New River Gorge, Fayette County, Fayette Station Road

A report from the National Park Service says three parks in southern West Virginia brought tens of millions of dollars into the surrounding communities, supporting hundreds of jobs.

The National Park Service says the New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area brought 1,280,604 visitors into southern West Virginia last year.

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, from Pennsylvania Route 118 in eastern Moreland Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ruhrfisch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) / Wikimedia Commons

Despite recent announcements of layoffs in the industry, the state is reporting severance tax incomes from oil and gas have doubled since 2013.

A review by the West Virginia Department of Tax and Revenue and the State Treasurer’s Office shows companies paid $188.3 million in severance taxes in 2014. That’s compared to the $79.2 million collected in 2013.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is throwing his support behind Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for 2016. Clinton declared her candidacy earlier this month. 

On a conference call with reporters Monday, Manchin called Clinton "“warm, compassionate, engaging and tough" and ready for the job.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“I have promised my children that I will do everything in my power to fix this and I believe that we finally with this bond have a chance to do that.” -Shauna Starks

Fayette County parents like Shauna Starks spoke during the West Virginia Board of Education's April meeting in favor of the county's upcoming $66.5 million bond vote.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin
Courtesy Photo

Sen. Joe Manchin says he will remain in the United States Senate and not run for Governor. He made the announcement today, after telling people he was seriously considering a return to the Governor's mansion because of gridlock in Congress.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was joined by lawmakers and patient advocacy groups from across the state at the Capitol Thursday for the ceremonial signing of two healthcare related bills.

Senate Bill 366 creates the Patient Protection and Transparency Act which offers protections to people who sign up for insurance through a federal health care exchange website.

Tomblin also signed House Bill 2100 known as the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act.

On West Virginia Morning, as a part of our occasional series "Effective from Passage,"reaction from the Eastern Panhandle about a new bill that may affect net metering standards in West Virginia. Those standards dictate how solar producers, including homeowners with solar panels, receive credit for the energy they produce.

Professor Michael McCawley of West Virginia University discusses his recent research about the health dangers of dust exposure for West Virginians that live near mountaintop removal or surface mine sites.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Nearly 40 people gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to protest Governor Tomblin’s veto of a bill to allow for herd-sharing in the state, allowing more West Virginians to consume raw milk.

Senate Bill 30 passed with overwhelming support by both the House and Senate, despite some health concerns attached to the bill. 

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office will present oral arguments before a U.S. Court of Appeals Thursday fighting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon emission standards. 

The proposed standards were released for comment last summer by the federal EPA. They would require states across the country to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent in 15 years, focusing particularly on emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A select group of West Virginia lawmakers began an arduous process Monday, combing through the state's current tax code and finding ways to bring it "into the 21st Century," as one delegate put it. 

The Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform was one of only four committees to meet during April interims, the first held under the new Republican leadership. 


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Consol Energy plans to lay off some 170 natural gas workers at locations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to industry blog Marcellus Drilling News.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education voted 6-2 Thursday to adopt an amended set of science standards for West Virginia schools. The amendments came at the request of Board member and previous Board President Wade Linger.

twitter.com

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano announced Thursday the state Department of Education will take on a full review of the state’s Next Generation Content Standards for English and math.


Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education and State Superintendent of Schools have denied the requests of nearly 30 counties to waive their 180 instructional day requirement.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia has been plagued for the past few years with budget deficits. To deal with the shortfalls, the governor has cut state agency budgets across the board, implemented hiring freezes and dipped into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

This year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin cut the House and Senate approved budget by an additional $11 million, leaving some service programs to wonder how they’ll keep their doors open. The Charleston Health Right is just one of those service programs.

The West Virginia Health Right clinic located in Charleston's East End is a free and charitable clinic that provides medical, dental and vision services to more than 15,000 uninsured and underinsured West Virginians each year. 

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West Virginia’s Senators have scheduled events across the state this week while Congress is in recess.

Dave Mistich / via Tableau Public (Data from MSHA)

Sunday marked five years since a tragedy in southern West Virginia that still fills headlines across the state. Five years ago, April 5, 2010, an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal in Raleigh County killed 29 men.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If you live in a nine county area in southern and central West Virginia, the name Rahul Gutpa may be a familiar one. During the January 2014 water crisis, Gutpa’s name became synonymous with the term “medical monitoring,” something he fought long and hard for during the weeks some West Virginians were without clean water and in the months after.

Since, the former director of the Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County Health Departments has taken on a new role in government. Gupta was appointed as the state’s Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health and chief health officer in January, overseeing 130 statewide programs and some 700 employees.  

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