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

Energy and health care. They’re the two issues in the presidential race that could have the greatest impact on West Virginians.

On this week's Viewpoint, we look at where the Democrat Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on the two issues with a report from The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier and an interview with Kara Lofton, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Appalachia Health New Coordinator. 

Jim Justice and Bill Cole
Tyler Evert / AP Photo

After an NPR investigation into Jim Justice’s business operations, the Democratic candidate for governor takes on Republican Bill Cole in the second West Virginia gubernatorial debate.

A leaked tape where Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump can be heard describing sexually assaulting women causes waves in West Virginia politics, but will either scandal swing the vote? 

Ann Ali, managing editor of the State Journal, and MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinney join us to discuss the race. 

Associated Press

Republican Bill Cole and Democrat Jim Justice met for their second and final televised debate last night in Charleston.

Much like the first, they spent a lot of time talking about the economy and the lack of revenue causing major budget shortfalls, but the night was also dotted with responses to scandals at both the national and state level.

Tyler Evert

Two years ago, an NPR investigation found that Jim Justice was among the top delinquent mine owners in the country, owing millions in federal mine safety fines.

NPR’s Howard Berkes decided to follow up on those findings and see just how far the Justice companies had come. What he found was not just that Justice now owed more money in fines than any other operator in the country, but that he also owed millions in federal, state and local taxes as well.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an NPR Investigation in 2014 found Justice was one of many coal mine owners across the country who had ignored millions of dollars in safety fines, putting miners at risk. At the time, Justice promised to pay all of his fines.

He didn't. In fact, NPR has found he is now the nation’s top delinquent mine owner, owing more money than he did two years ago and NPR's Howard Berkes reports his debts extend far beyond his coal mines.

Kabir / wikimedia commons

The state Treasurer’s Office says it will begin to distribute the nearly $800,000 generated from taxes on high-powered fireworks. 

Lawmakers passed a bill during the 2016 session to allow the sale of the high-flying fireworks in the state. The bill added a 12 percent surcharge to the fireworks on top of the normal sales tax to help fund two programs: volunteer fire departments and veterans facilities.

On this episode of Viewpoint, West Virginia’s two major party candidates for governor squared off in their first of two televised debates Tuesday, focusing in on the state’s economic and budgetary issues.

Reaction to the candidates’ performances from the Chair of the West Virginia Republican Party Conrad Lucas and retiring Sen. Bill Laird, vice chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito lead a Senate hearing in southern West Virginia this week focused on the local impacts of the Clean Power Plan.

She, Sen. Joe Manchin and Congressman Evan Jenkins, all from West Virginia, were the only Congressional leaders who attended the forum, but Capito said in an earlier interview she wanted to make sure the struggling region's thoughts about the CPP were on the record.

Monday night marked the first presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. Democrat Hillary Clinton joined Republican Donald Trump on the same stage for the first time, and the same is about to happen in a West Virginia.

Tuesday, Republican Bill Cole and Democrat Jim Justice will meet in Charleston for their first of two televised debates focused on the top issues facing West Virginia- a struggling economy, a high unemployment rate, and a less than effective education system, just to name a few.

Bill Cole sat down to discuss his debate preparations and his focus this election cycle- jobs.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board approved recommendations last night that were the result of an investigation into a 2014 Charleston chemical leak. 

The leak spurred a tap water ban for more than 300,000 West Virginians. Before the vote, the board heard directly from members of the public who were affected by the leak. 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Chemical Safety Board voted Wednesday evening to approve the final report and recommendations that were the result of a more than two and a half year investigation into a Charleston chemical leak.

The leak, which was discovered January 9, 2014, spurred a tap water ban for more than 300, 000 West Virginians for as many as ten days.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Twenty American veterans turn to suicide every day according to a new report from the Veteran’s Administration. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Eric Newhouse spoke with Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly to give some understanding about the struggle this group of veterans face when they return from war.  

This week on Viewpoint, a federal judge has ensured that 18 third-party candidates’ names will appear before voters on November’s general election ballot. Over the course of a week, those names were included, eliminated and then restored to the ballots because of two consecutive court rulings. 

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s solicitor general will argue before a federal district court panel next week that the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is an illegal use of presidential power. 

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey previewed the state’s arguments Thursday.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s been about 15 years since the opioid epidemic first hit Appalachia, and now, there’s a whole generation of teenagers in West Virginia and Kentucky who have grown up with drug addiction strongly affecting their friends and families. 

Carrie Mullens is a novelist from Eastern Kentucky who returned from college to find that her community had been devastated by the drug epidemic. Mullens spoke with Roxy Todd about her coming-of-age novel based on the frightening realities facing many young Appalachians.   

Manchin Capito

A federal bill to protect the pensions and health care benefits of thousands of retired miners is one step closer to becoming law. 

Both of West Virginia’s senators are urging its passage by the end of the year.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill to provide $85 million in state funding to help pay for continued flood clean-up and recovery costs. 

The $85 million accounts for 25 percent of the nearly $340 million in total damage caused by the June 23, 2016, flood that killed 23 people. The federal government will pay the rest of the cost.

Michael Martirano
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano has announced he'll leave his post on June 30 next year to be closer to family in his home state of Maryland.

Martirano took over the office in September 2014. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill to help pay for the state’s portion of recovery efforts in the 12 counties affected by June’s flooding. 

Tomblin stood on the stage at Elkview Middle School with members of the Legislature and the Herbert Hoover High School senior class before signing House Bill 201. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate has approved a bill to send $85 million in state aid to counties impacted by June’s flooding.

Senators voted 32-0 Monday completing the Legislature’s work on the bill.

The bill appropriates $21 million from lottery reserves, $9 million from an unappropriated surplus from the previous fiscal year, and $55 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.