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 Interim 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. 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 the 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 Morning Edition and All Things Considered, WBUR's Here & Now, KCRW's To The Point, the PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera America. She was named the 2014 Associated Press "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias."

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.

 

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The West Virginia Ethics Commission is ordering a former county sheriff that pled guilty to mail fraud and served a year in prison to pay a fine and undergo training. The commission said the ex-sheriff used his position for personal gain.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to repeal the state’s Common Core-based education standards for English and math and replace them with a newly developed set called the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Booth Goodwin
Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia

A federal grant will make a lifesaving drug available to State Troopers in three southern West Virginia counties.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Booth Goodwin announced the $100,000 grant in Princeton Wednesday.

Doctor Patient Health Care Coverage
Fæ / wikimedia commons

Federal officials are extending the amount of time West Virginians have to sign up for health insurance through the HealthCare.gov website. 

HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan made the announcement in a press release Wednesday.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Division of Tourism / David Fattaleh

West Virginia higher education officials want to increase the number of degrees awarded annually in the state to 40,000 by 2025, more than doubling those awarded last year. 

West Virginia's two-year and four-year public colleges and universities awarded a record 18,000 degrees in 2014, but now higher education officials are looking for ways to increase that number to meet future workforce demands.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia School Building Authority denied a request Monday from the Fayette County school system for $39 million over three years to construct and renovate facilities in the district.

The Authority gives out additional dollars annually to counties to aid in the construction and renovation of schools. Monday, the board distributed some $56 million to 15 county school systems.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia School Building Authority met Monday to award more than $56 million in state funds to county school systems for facilities improvement projects. The following are the counties selected and the details of their projects:

http://www.boe.faye.k12.wv.us/school_home.aspx?schoolid=7

The West Virginia Board of Education is asking the state School Building Authority to put Fayette County at the front of line during its next round of financial awards. 

Board  members voted 6 to 2 in a meeting Tuesday approving a resolution that asks Fayette County be considered a priority for additional funding from the West Virginia School Building Authority.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Some 24 hours after a verdict was handed down in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said he is not disappointed in the outcome. In fact, he's calling the conviction on one misdemeanor count a victory.

After the announcement of the final verdict in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, jurors were escorted from the courthouse through a backdoor. A few spoke with members of the media about their decision and what they experienced during the 10 days of deliberations.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors returned a split verdict Thursday in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship finding him guilty on a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws. 

In the final episode of the podcast "Blankenship on Trial," host Scott Finn discusses the verdict, its implications and what comes next with West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hissam.

Blankenship Trial
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors have found former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards, a misdemeanor charge that carries up to a year of jail time. Deliberations lasted about 10 days.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Federal District Judge Irene Berger issued an Allen charge to jurors in the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship Tuesday morning.

 

In the charge, which is given to prevent a hung jury, the judge urged jurors to consider both the majority and minority opinions as they continue to deliberate. Berger also added an instruction that if jurors can reach an agreement on some of the charges, they may return a partial verdict.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Turkey and travel. Those are the two major players in the average American's Thanksgiving, but with all of the talk of climate change, how big is the carbon footprint of your family's holiday feast?

And a new national report says West Virginia has the highest rate in the nation of youth overdose deaths.

Associated Press

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. Be sure to keep refreshing this post for the latest. For more, follow @wvpublicnews on Twitter. For more on the verdict, see this post. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors have begun deliberations in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam detail the closing arguments in the case with host Beth Vorhees in this special episode of the podcast recorded as a part of West Virginia Public Broadcasting's morning news show, West Virginia Morning.

Jeff Pierson

Lead defense attorney Bill Taylor said the government has provided no solid evidence to back its claim that former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship conspired to violate federal mine safety laws and lied about his company's safety records to investors and securities officials.

"Paper is what the government has brought you," Taylor said in the first half of his closing argument Tuesday morning. "No witnesses, no proof."

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In his closing argument Tuesday morning, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin called former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship an "outlaw" who ran a massive criminal conspiracy at the company's Upper Big Branch mine. 

An April 2010 explosion at that mine killed 29 men and sparked a federal investigation into Massey and Blankenship himself. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Defense attorneys chose to rest their case Monday morning without calling a single witness to aid in their defense of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

In a special edition of the podcast "Blankenship on Trial," host Scott Finn discusses the surprising turn of events with reporter Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam. 

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will soon be asked to deliver a verdict.

At 10:10 a.m. Monday, the prosecution rested its case. In a surprising move just moments after a bench conference, the defense also rested without calling any witnesses to the stand.

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