Ashton Marra

Assitant 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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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12:15 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

West Virginians Head to California to Fight Wildfires

Credit Courtesy Photo / West Virginia Division of Forestry

A group of West Virginians are on their way to California to help fight wildfires in the northern part of the state.

 A 20-person wild land firefighting crew left Charleston Monday to assist with wildfire suppression efforts. Sixteen West Virginia Division of Forestry staff members and four specially trained volunteer firefighters make up the crew that will serve a 14-day tour of duty.

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West Virginia Morning
8:12 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Charleston's West Side Revive, Redefining College in W.Va. and Marie Manilla's New Novel

The American Legion is sending representatives to North Central West Virginia this week to help veterans better understand the benefits available to them. A group on Charleston's West Side is working on narrowing down ways they can revive the urban neighborhood. An education summit in Morgantown was focused on redefining college for West Virginia students, and Marie Manilla, a Huntington native, talks about her new book "Patron Saint of Ugly."  

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West Virginia Morning
8:16 am
Fri August 1, 2014

EPA Hearings in Pittsburgh, New Coal Dust Regs, Marina Safety Law Delayed and Mountain Stage's 800th


  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings in Pittsburgh on planned regulations to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Federal regulators are releasing new regulations to close loopholes in the mine inspection process. West Virginia lawmakers expalin why they decided to delay the implementation of a marina inspection law that could save lives and Mountain Stage's 800th show features Dave Mason and his hit "We Just Disagree."

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8:23 am
Thu July 31, 2014

New NPR Chief Visits West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Talks Future of Public Radio

West Virginia Public Broadcasting executive director Scott Finn (left) looks on as NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn speaks to employees, board members, and others.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

NPR has a new president and CEO.  Jarl Mohn was once a music DJ, but he says he has a passion for  public radio. That's why he chaired Southern California Public Radio after making his career in cable TV as President and CEO of E-Entertainment Television.

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Energy & Environment
12:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

West Virginia, Coal Industry Leaders Attend Pittsburgh Energy Rally

Credit Marcus Constantino (@AMTino) / Charleston Daily Mail

   West Virginia officials joined hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally.

The Wednesday event at Pittsburgh's Highmark Stadium included Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, labor leaders and others.

Officials say the rally is aimed at raising awareness over proposed changed to federal rules about pollution discharged by coal-fired power plants.

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Same Sex Marriage
1:59 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

How Does The 4th Circuit Court's Gay Marriage Decision Affect West Virginia?

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.
Credit Sean McCormick

In a historic move, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The decision was celebrated by pro-LGBT advocates in other states in the circuit, including West Virginia, but even they say it will take time before the decision impacts gay couples in the state.

As of now, 20 states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same sex marriage. Many other states, districts and circuits are currently dealing with the issue in the court system.

The Decision:

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Military Veterans
11:23 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Program is Turning Warriors to Farmers Across W.Va.

Two veterans look after the bees they bought after becoming members of the Warriors and Veterans to Agriculture Program.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the country continues to struggle to help its military members returning from war, one fledgling program in West Virginia isn’t wasting any time tackling the issues veterans face. 

From transitional job training to psychological therapy, members of the Warriors and Veterans to Agriculture Program say they’re discovering they can help West Virginia veterans in more ways than they ever anticipated.

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Energy Efficiency
11:46 am
Thu July 17, 2014

The Three Ways the NAACP Says W.Va. Can Reduce Pollution and Create Jobs

NAACP West Virginia Political Action Chair Kenneth Hale at the organization's press conference at the Capitol.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Civil rights and environmental advocates gathered at the Capitol Thursday morning for the release of a new national report. The NAACP’s Just Energy Policies details ways states can reduce pollution and create jobs.

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2:38 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

The Five Things You Need to Know About the CSB's Preliminary Investigation at Freedom Industries

Johnnie Banks presented the Chemical Safety Board's preliminary findings on the Freedom Industries spill Wednesday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Investigators from the U. S. Chemical Safety Board presented preliminary findings Wednesday from their investigation into the January chemical leak at Freedom Industries in Charleston.

Lead Investigator Johnnie Banks explained the process they’ve gone through collecting evidence and information and said they will soon begin to analyze that data to put together a final report and recommendations.

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9:08 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Congressional Stalemate May Cause Construction Delays for W.Va. Roads

From left to right, West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, Congressman Nick Rahall, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sat at a table with Senator Rockefeller, Congressman Nick Rahall and West Virginia DOT Secretary Paul Mattox in the main hall of the state Culture Center in Charleston.

He came to West Virginia to talk about infrastructure and the funding it will take to fix an aging system not just in West Virginia, but across the country. That funding, though, as Foxx said, is stuck in Washington.

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Election 2014
8:50 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Ryan, Warren Campaign in W.Va. For Senate Candidates

Natalie Tennant and Sen. Elizabeth Warren take the stage at a rally in Shepherdstown.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two major Congressional players made stops in West Virginia Monday to rally around their respective party’s candidate for Senate.

The atmosphere in Shepherdstown was upbeat, in a word, at current Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s rally as supporters chanted and cheered for the Democratic candidate. Tennant was joined by veteran Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In the days leading up to the rally, Tennant’s Republican opponent bashed her for teaming up with an anti-coal Senator whose agenda the state GOP says hurts West Virginia.

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Mountaintop Removal
10:16 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

New Coalition Battles Mine Site Near State Forest

Kanawha County resident Doug Woods points out Middle Lick Mountain just over his shoulder, a site that has been approved for mountaintop removal mining near the Kanawha State Forest.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 7 miles outside of Charleston sits 9,300 acres of protected land. The Kanawha State Forest is home to hiking and biking trails, campsites and a shooting range, but just a few hundred acres away, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a mountain top removal mine site.

The Kanawha State Forest Coalition, a group of concerned Kanawha County residents, formed to fight the site and get the administration to withdraw the permit, saving hundreds of plant and animal species on Middle Lick Mountain where mining is set to begin.

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Meth Labs
4:48 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Senator Who Backed Pseudoephedrine Restrictions Reacts to CVS Ban

Sen. Greg Tucker
Credit West Virginia Legislature

Two major retailers in West Virginia announced this week they would no longer be selling some over the counter cold medications in their stores. CVS Pharmacies stopped selling single-ingredient pseudoephedrine medicines in late June and Walgreens intends to follow suit.

Senator Greg Tucker of Nicholas County sponsored legislation this year intended to curb the meth problem by making psuedoephedrine—meth’s main ingredient—available only by a doctor’s prescription. The bill, however, died in the final hours of the session.

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Election 2014
11:02 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Number of Registered Democrats in W.Va. Drops to Historic Low

Credit DonkeyHotey/Flickr

Republicans in West Virginia are touting an accomplishment this week that has historical significance for the state. For the first time in more than 80 years, Democratic voter registration has dropped to below 50 percent.

Numbers from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office show it is true, that number has dropped, but just barely.

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Public Education
5:29 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Preston County Schools Regain Local Control

Preston County Superintendent Rick Hicks details his county's progress over the past year in decreasing their deficit.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state board of education declared a state of emergency in Preston County in 2009 and as part of their intervention, seized decision making authority from the county.

Everything from finances to the school calendar, hiring to curriculum, all were set at the state level. But that oversight will officially end August 1 after a unanimous vote from the board yesterday.

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