Ashton Marra

Assistant News Director, Producer/Host Viewpoint, 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 is also the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Radio's new political talk show. The weekly program includes in-depth interviews with candidates, analysis and a reporter roundtable that includes journalists from across West Virginia. The show will take questions from callers and via social media.

Ashton also  covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio 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 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 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.
 

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Health Care
4:01 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Rockefeller Urges Congress to 'Act Now' on CHIP

A screen grab from the livestream of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Insurance, which Sen. Jay Rockefeller chaired.
Credit U.S. Senate Committee on Finance

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller chaired his first and, notably, last meeting of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Health Insurance Tuesday afternoon discussing a program he has championed, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.

“Creating this program has been one of the most meaningful things I have done in my career in public service,” Rockefeller said in opening the meeting.

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Election 2014
11:31 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Political Ideology: It's Not as Simple as Red Versus Blue

Credit DonkeyHotey/Flickr

Are you a liberal or a conservative? When it comes to politics, Americans can often feel like the answer is black or white, or maybe red or blue. 

But the Pew Research Center is trying to change that notion with a quiz that asks, “Where do you fit in the political typology spectrum?”

The quiz asks 23 questions about political values, everything from the social safety net to role of religion to the size of government, and then places respondents into one of eight categories on their political spectrum.

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Viewpoint
10:38 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Political Junkie Ken Rudin Talks West Virginia's Congressional Races and National Importance

'Political Junkie' host Ken Rudin discusses how West Virginia's Congressional races fit into the national picture and answers the question, do endorsements really matter? A study by the Pew Research Center says politics across the country don't fit into the simple "liberal" and "conservative" categories most Americans think they have to identify with. Instead, researcher Jocelyn Kiley lays out eight typologies and asks you to take their quiz. Libertarian Davy Jones is profiled and the week's latest in the reporter roundtable.   

Remembering the Fallen
3:34 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Governor Marks 13th Anniversary of 9/11

Gov. Tomblin places a wreath at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the state Capitol complex.
Ashton Marra West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A light rain fell on the Capitol complex as the governor laid a wreath at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. From there, he led a procession across the complex to ring the ceremonial bell in the North Plaza.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was joined by members of the National Guard and first responders at the state Capitol Thursday to honor the 13 anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

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Health Forum
11:19 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Survey: Top Health Priority in Kanawha County is Drug Abuse

A group who attended the CAPE event discuss what health issues they would have prioritized on the survey.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A national organization was on the campus of West Virginia State University Wednesday to release results from a survey conducted in Kanawha County. The survey asked respondents to rank the top health priorities for the area and, for those who attended the event, the results weren’t all that surprising.

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News
3:21 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Our Children, Our Future Wraps Up Two-Day Symposium

Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Our Children Our Future campaign wrapped up a two day symposium by taking over the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber. 

The final session of the symposium asked participants to act as delegates and advocate for the issues they want to see the legislature take up next year.

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Election 2014
11:46 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Congressional Candidates Talk Our Children, Our Future

Mountain Party candidate for the 2nd Congressional District Bob Henry Baber answers a question for forum moderator Kenny Bass of WCHS-TV.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Our Children, Our Future campaign has spent the past two years rallying around social issues, many of which are meant to raise West Virginia children out of poverty, at the state level. This year, however, the campaign is throwing its hat into the election ring.

The organization hosted a forum Tuesday for Congressional candidates in Charleston, inviting Democrats, Republicans and third party candidates alike. In all, four candidates made appearances in person, two through videos and one through letter.

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Environmental Regulations
10:50 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

The DEP's Three Categories of Above Ground Storage Tanks

Credit AP

When the legislature passed Senate Bill 373, they mandated the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection create a program to register and inspect all above ground storage tanks, something the state had never done before.

The bill came in response to January's chemical spill in Charleston that left 300,000 people without drinking water for days, but for months storage tanks owners have been left with only some vague guidelines about having their tanks registered and inspected by the dates mandated in law. 

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Viewpoint
10:42 am
Fri September 5, 2014

House Leaders Talk Future of Coal, West Virginia's Economy

Our premiere episode includes a discussion with House Speaker Tim Miley and Minority Leader Tim Armstead on a possible change in power in the House of Delegates this fall and their top priorities for the upcoming legislative session.  Dr. Robert Rupp of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Dr. Mary Beth Beller discuss the impact 2012’s redistricting could have on this year’s mid-term races. We'll also wrap up of the week’s top political stories during our reporter roundtable. 
Natural Gas
2:46 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Dominion Announces Partnership to Build W.Va. Pipeline

Credit Dominion

Dominion Resources officially announced a new partnership Tuesday that will pump billions of cubic feet of natural gas a day out of West Virginia. That is if a federal regulatory commission approves the project.

The nearly $5 billion project has Dominion Resources teaming up with North Carolina’s Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas as well as Atlanta-based AGL Resources to lay 550 miles of pipeline.

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Water Quality
2:36 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Guthrie Appointed to Water System Study Group

Del. Nancy Guthrie.
Credit West Virginia Legislature

House Speaker Tim Miley announced his appointment Tuesday to a statewide panel that will focus on the quality of public water systems in West Virginia. 

Kanawha County Delegate Nancy Guthrie was appointed to the Public Water System Supply Study Committee on August 21 and will serve as a non-voting member.

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Legislation
4:29 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Groups Working with Governor, DEP to Avoid Special Session on Tank Bill

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Stakeholders met with the governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection Friday to discuss possibly calling the legislature into a special session. The session would be focused on fixing some unintended consequences both Senate and House leadership see in the above ground storage tank bill passed earlier this year.

Friday’s meeting was the second this week focused on Senate Bill 373, legislation that came as a response to January’s chemical spill in Charleston. The spill contaminated 300,000 people’s drinking water for as many as ten days.

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Government
3:40 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Kessler Appoints Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Chief to Water System Panel

Credit Kanawha Charleston Health Department

Senate President Jeff Kessler has announced his appointment to a statewide panel that will focus on the quality of public water systems in West Virginia.

Kessler announced in a press release the appointment of Kanawha- Charleston Health Department Executive Director Dr. Rahul Gupta to the panel. Gupta will serve as a non-voting member.

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Viewpoint

Viewpoint is a political talk show focused on the November 2014 mid-term elections. Host Ashton Marra takes listeners inside the world of politics with in-depth candidate interviews, analysis and conversations with journalists covering elections across the state.

Election 2014
6:19 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Tennant, Capito Focus on Coal at Chamber of Commerce Forum

Candidates Shelley Moore Capito and Natalie Tennant discuss the logistics of the debate with moderator Scott Rotruck.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is focusing on energy, education and elections at their annual business summit in White Sulfur Springs this week, but the election component is taking a front seat as the Chamber hosts forums to allow candidates for Congressional offices to debate.

Scott Rotruck of the law firm Spillman Thomas and Battle served as moderator for the forum that had both Natalie Tennant and Shelley Moore Capito sitting on the same stage.

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Legislature
8:20 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Lawmakers Tour North Central West Virginia During Interim Meetings

Harrison County Delegate Richard Iaquinta interacts with a resident of the Clarksburg Veterans' Nursing Home.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  State lawmakers wrapped up their August interim meetings Wednesday, but legislators decided to take the show on the road this month, meeting in Bridgeport and touring parts of North Central West Virginia.

While some of their interim meetings were held in conference rooms around long tables just like in Charleston, many had delegates and senators out exploring the area.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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