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.


10:40 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Candidates on the Attack: The Race for the 2nd Congressional District

The race in the 2nd Congressional District has gotten more and more ugly over the past few weeks as candidates dig in for the final push before Election Day. Democratic candidate Nick Casey talks about his view of the partisan politics in Washington and how he thinks he can make a change, as well as discusses the major issues facing the district.

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Marriage Equality
4:59 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Meet the First Gay Couples to Get Marriage Licenses In West Virginia

Chris Bostic and David Epp were the fist gay couple to get married in Kanawha County.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Just a few hours after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced he would no longer fight a challenge to West Virginia's gay marriage ban in court and Governor Tomblin directed state agencies to begin taking steps toward allowing the practice, Chris Bostic and David Epp of Charleston were the first couple to apply for a marriage license in Kanawha County.

Moments before, Justin Murdock and William Glavaris, as well as Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins received their licenses to marry in Cabell County.

Counties across West Virginia are issuing the licenses after orders from the state saying not to turn couples away.

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Public Education
11:17 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Local Control Returned to Grant County BOE

Grant County Board of Education President Scotty Miley addressed the state board before their vote Wednesday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to return local control of the school district to the Grant County Board of Education after nearly five years of intervention.

The system was taken over in 2009 after and audit showed the county was failing in multiple areas, including curriculum, student achievement and lacked leadership.

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Public Education
2:10 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

New W.Va. Superintendent Releases Schools Plan

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano presented his six point plan to the West Virginia Board of Education Wednesday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's new superintendent of schools has released his goals for improving the state's public education system, including a focus on improving student attendance and graduation rates.

Michael Martirano presented the plan to the state Board of Education on Wednesday.

The plan would increase pre-kindergarten offerings in all elementary schools and early childhood learning centers, including the expansion of programs before and after school and during the summer.

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Same Sex Marriage
9:15 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

What Does the U.S. Supreme Court's Inaction Mean for Gay Marriage in W.Va.?

Credit Pine /

When the United States Supreme Court ruled Monday not to consider the appeals before them against lower courts’ same sex marriage rulings that meant five new states could now issues marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. 

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Home Rule
12:42 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Home Rule Board Announces 16 New Cities

Credit Martinsburg Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau

The West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board announced the sixteen new cities who will take part in the extension of the pilot program Monday in Bridgeport.

Home rule legislation was first adopted in the state as a five year pilot program for four cities. In 2013, the program was extended through 2019 and expanded to an additional 16 cities.

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12:00 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Gay Marriages in Va. Can Begin Monday, W.Va. Ruling to Come

Credit Palosirkka / wikimedia Commons

The Richmond-based federal appeals court says its ruling authorizing same-sex marriages in Virginia will take effect this afternoon.

According to the clerk's office, the mandate will be issued at 1 p.m. Court clerks will be able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after that time.

In West Virginia, the issue of same sex marriage is in the court of Federal Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington.  Chambers had set aside ruling on the matter citing the same issues were at stake in Virginia.  Chambers entered an order in June that stayed the case filed in West Virginia by three couples last October.

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10:52 am
Fri October 3, 2014

What the Third Parties Have to Offer in the Race for U.S. Senate

When voters take to the polling place this November, they'll decide between five candidates vying for Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat in the U.S. Senate. Most will recognize the names 'Tennant' and 'Capito,' but what about Baber, Buckley, and Hudok?

The three third party candidates for Senate, Bob Henry Baber of the Mountain Party, John Buckley of the Libertarian Party and Phil Hudok of the Constitution Party, talk about what they have to offer West Virginians when representing them at the federal level. 

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Election 2014
4:11 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Republican Candidate Must Be on Ballot

Credit West Virginia Legislature

Just a day after hearing oral arguments, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled Republican Delegate Suzette Raines must be replaced on November’s ballot.

The court released a unanimous decision Wednesday afternoon, with Justices Menis Ketchum and Allen Loughry writing separately.

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Election 2014
6:59 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Supreme Court to Determine Raines Ballot Dispute

Credit West Virginia Legislature

In August of this year, House of Delegates member Suzette Raines decided she would not seek re-election for her seat in the 35th District in Kanawha County. The decision lead to petitions over replacing her name on the ballot and that petition has since turned into a lawsuit, one that will now be decided by the state's highest court.

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Legal Power
6:13 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Court Decision Could Allow AG to Aid in Criminal Cases

Credit Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

Tuesday's docket before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals included a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey against the state's Office of Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel. The decision in that case could potentially give more power to the Constitutional office.

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Higher Education
3:20 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Campaign to Finish Degrees On Time Comes to W.Va.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission kicked off an initiative in Charleston Tuesday meant to push college students across the state to finish their degrees on time.

The ‘15 to Finish’ campaign’s main goal is to encourage students to take 15 credit hours a semester in order to finish their 4-year-degrees in four years.

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Law & Order
4:05 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Huntington Receives $100K to Study Crime

Credit wvfunnyman / wikimedia Commons

The Huntington Police Department was awarded a $100,000 grant Monday from the U.S. Department of Justice to study a crime ridden area of the city.

The grant is part of the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program.

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10:39 am
Fri September 19, 2014

The 'Quiet', Nearly Non-Existent Campaign for The 1st Congressional District

State Auditor Glen Gainer says his campaign efforts in the 1st Congressional District are "grassroots" and he's working to reach out to the voter on a individual level instead of wasting precious campaign dollars on television advertising.

In our reporter roundtable, Misty Poe, managing editor of the Times West Virginian, says while that may be his focus, she's not seeing those grassroots efforts in the 1st District. Dave Boucher with the Charleston Daily Mail adds a statewide perspective to that race.

We profile Mountain Party candidate for U. S. Senate Bob Henry Baber who has run for political office in the past, and Dr. Neil Berch from West Virginia University discusses the political implications of Sen. Joe Manchin's vote not to send U. S. aid to Syrian rebels in their fight against ISIS.

Child Poverty
12:39 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Data Shows Rate of Child Poverty in W.Va. Growing

Credit West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy

Data released Thursday by the U. S. Census Bureau shows the percentage of West Virginians living in poverty stayed consistent last year, but the number of children living below the poverty line has grown.

According to the 2013 American Community Survey, one in three children in West Virginia under the age of 5 lived in poverty in 2013.

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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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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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