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. 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.


Ways to Connect

At their second televised forum in three days, two of the three Democratic candidates for Governor continued their push to convince the voters of West Virginia to cast ballots in their favor during the upcoming primary election. 

Daniel Shreve / The Media Center

More than 33,000 West Virginia voters have used the state’s online voter registration system. The numbers come from the Secretary of State’s Office as the deadline to register to vote in West Virginia’s primary election is quickly approaching.

On this West Virginia Morning, Roxy Todd takes us to a farmer's market in Abingdon, Va., where local farmers express their concerns over the used of genetically modified organisms, GMOs, in surrounding farms.

  On this West Virginia Morning, lawmakers worked during the 2016 Legislative session to reclassify the Marshall University Forensic Science Center, giving the program new opportunities for partnerships and expansion. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia’s Senate President says legislative leaders and the governor are inching closer to a budget deal, predicting West Virginia could see a special session as early as next week. 

Mike Hennessey / West Virginia Education Association

Boone County Schools is in the process of closing and consolidating three community elementary schools. That coupled with a decline in student enrollment lead the county to announce earlier this year they would lay off some 70 employees, including dozens of teachers. 

Many of those teachers attended a job fair Friday to find opportunities in other West Virginia counties.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship received the maximum sentence for his misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws. His sentence- one year in prison and a $250,000 fine- was the maximum that could be order by a federal judge.

In this episode of Blankenship on Trial, host Scott Finn discuss what it was like both inside and outside the courtroom Wednesday with Ashton Marra, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Assistant News Director, and Mike Hissam, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and partner at the Charleston law firm Bailey & Glasser.

Don Blankenship
Tyler Evert / AP Photo

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been sentenced to the maximum one year in prison and another year of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy at the company to skirt mine safety standards. Judge Irene Berger also imposed a maximum $250,000 fine, which is due immediately.

Blankenship was convicted in December of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws--a misdemeanor. The charge stemmed from an investigation into the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal that killed 29 men.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On Wednesday morning, a federal judge will decide whether former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will serve prison time or face a monetary fine after being convicted of a misdemeanor. 

Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws in December, but one miner's family says even the prison time will not bring complete closure.

Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, left, and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, right.
wikipedia/West Virginia Legislative Photography

Two of the four candidates running for Governor participated in a forum hosted by the statewide community action group Create West Virginia in Charleston Tuesday. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On April 5, 2010, Howard "Boone" Payne went to work at the Upper Big Branch mine just as he had for years. He and 28 other men made their way miles underground to the mine's long wall operation, spent hours mining coal, and prepared to wrap up their day when the unthinkable happened- an explosion that took all of their lives.

Six years later, Boone's sisters Shirley Whitt and Sherry Keeney Depoy say there is still a void left in their family that cannot be filled. 

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed two education bills, one that would have repealed Common Core aligned standardized test in the state and a second that would have allowed county boards to schedule fewer then 180 days in their school calendars.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill that requires voters to show some form of identification before casting a ballot at his or her polling place as well as creates an an automatic voter registration process system. 

PEIA Board
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Health insurance could become more expensive for some 230,000 West Virginians after the state Public Employees Insurance Agency, or PEIA, Finance Board voted unanimously to reinstate benefit cuts.

Board members had initially approved the cuts in December, but were assured by lawmakers that the program would receive more funding during this year's legislative session.

Best Furniture
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Asbestos abatement and environmental clean up began Tuesday at the vacant Best Furniture Store in downtown Welch in McDowell County Tuesday, some 19 months after a project to demolish and build new housing on the site was announced.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Two weeks after the Legislature left Charleston without approving a budget for the 2017 fiscal year that begins July 1, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is urging lawmakers to not just consider cuts when they return to complete the funding bill.

"West Virginia should take a balanced approach that includes additional revenue rather than a cuts only approach that could threaten our state's struggling economy," Ted Boettner said Monday.

WVU Tech
West Virginia University

A 120 year-old institution will soon be relocating in southern West Virginia after receiving the go-ahead from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. 

Tomblin has signed a bill that allows the West Virginia University Institute of Technology to move from Montgomery in Fayette County to Beckley in Raleigh County, taking over the campus of the former Mountain State University.

Williams Ohio Valley Midstream has paid a $14,440 settlement to the federal government after leaking a natural gas component into three Ohio Valley waterways. 

The company paid the fine to the Environmental Protection Agency after 132 barrels of natural gas condensate leaked from its Moundsville pipeline. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill that requires the state Department of Health and Human Resources to apply for permission to drug test TANF recipients.

TANF is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program that provides government benefits to working, low-income families.

Governor Tomblin
AP Photo / Tyler Evert

The state board that oversees the insurance program covering more than 250,000 West Virginians will meet once again next week to discuss possible cuts because lawmakers have not yet approved a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.