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.

During the legislative session, Ashton hosts West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today. She also reports from the Senate, bringing daily reports from the inner-workings of the state’s upper house.

Ashton served as the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 10-week political podcast fall of 2016 focused on the General Election. 

Ashton is the winner of two 2016 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her work producing West Virginia Morning and covering the decline of the state's coal industry. She was also named the 2015 and 2016 "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias" by the Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Ashton's work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, PBS NewsHour, WBUR’s Here & Now, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, KCRW’s To the Point and other programs.

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, W.Va., 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. 

 

Ways to Connect

WVDE

The Governor’s Education Reform Bill passed through the legislature and was signed into law earlier this year. That bill was seen as a major overall to the state’s public education system which critics said was failing West Virginia students, but was only meant to be the first step in reform.

From preschool to college and beyond, legislators have spent the past nine months hearing from the state Department of Education and the Higher Education Policy Commission about how they’re working to expand their reach and improve the quality of education students’ are receiving.

Ashton Marra

A bi-partisan House committee focused on the issues of woman and children across the state will introduce four bills to the full legislature for its consideration in the upcoming session.

“If every Delegate is thinking properly, they’re going to do the right thing by voting for these,” said Delegate Linda Goode Phillips, chair of the Select Committee on Crimes Against Children.

“I think these are more from the heart, common sense bills. We want to protect the children.”

The bills were announced during a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday.

Ashton Marra

The terms “router-gate” and “tower-gate” have been thrown around in committee meetings, in newspaper articles, on social media, to refer to what some are calling major mess ups by the previous and current administrations’ efforts to expand internet access across the state.

The funds those scandals misused came to West Virginia as a grant under the Federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP. Legislative audits show that money was misused in various ways and now some are calling on the state to take a look at whether the expansion of the broadband fiber optic cable network has also been mismanaged.

WV Office of Legislative Services

Legislators are working on proposed legislation to reform the state purchasing laws that is expected to come before the full legislature during the 2014 session.

The bill was passed by a subcommittee and will be presented to the full Joint Committee on Government Organization in January for amendments before it is passed and considered by the full House and Senate.

Committee Chair Senator Herb Snyder said the draft bill has three basic provisions that will help make purchasing for all state spending units more clear.

The bill:

prweb.com

With the opening of an envelope and the reading of a few numbers, the state Purchasing Office completed a bid opening Thursday for the Division of Corrections.

The request for proposals, known as an RFP in government jargon, asked national companies or state corrections departments to bid on sending West Virginia inmates to their out-of-state facilities in the hopes of curbing the state over crowding problem.

Ashton Marra

Open enrollment for Medicare ends Saturday, Dec. 7, and Kimberly Riddle with the WV Senior Medicare Patrol said that means an influx of scams directed toward seniors.

Whether they receive phones calls asking for personal information for fake Obamacare cards or banking information to bill them for their new Medicaid cards, Riddle said it’s important for seniors to know these are fraudulent calls and to report them.

Ashton Marra

After a lawsuit criticizing the Salem Industrial Home for Youth last year, the home was ordered closed and its juvenile residents transferred to other facilities throughout the state.

But that wasn’t the end for the Harrison County location. The Division of Corrections has worked over several months to transition the facility and its counselors from one for youth to one that now focuses on the rehabilitation of adult males.

Ashton Marra

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin were joined by hundreds of West Virginians at the Capitol complex to celebrate their annual holiday gathering, 'Joyful Night.'

The evening was full of musical performances, a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," and the lightning of not one, but two Christmas trees.

Performances included:

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for most of the state Tuesday into Wednesday as a Nor’easter makes its way across the mid west and into the northeast.

Meteorologist Ken Batty of the NWS said much of the state will experience light to moderate rain showers throughout the day Tuesday that will increase into the evening hours.

The northern panhandle is the exception as they are experiencing colder temperatures already bringing them snow. Areas near Wheeling and Weirton will continue to see snowfall throughout the day Tuesday into Wednesday.

Ashton Marra

Del. Ryan Ferns announced Monday he has switched parties and will run in 2014 for the state Senate as a Republican.

The former Democrat is in his second term in the House of Delegates and first made the announcement in his hometown of Wheeling, W.Va.

Ferns then traveled to Charleston, W.Va., where he, surrounded by Republican members of the state legislature, filed his pre-candidacy papers with the Secretary of State’s Office for the Senate seat.

Pahz/Flickr

The holiday season is often thought of as a time for giving, but state officials want West Virginians to be cautious as they choose who to donate to this year.

To protect yourself and your family from scams, the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office is urging you to ask questions of solicitors calling your home, research each organization before you decide to give and report any charity you believe may be fraudulent.

The office advises using the "BEWARE" method as warning signs for potentially fraudulent charities:

Provided

It’s that time of year again!

For two weeks, beginning Monday, Nov. 25 and ending Saturday, Dec. 2, it’s open season in 51 counties across the state as hunters hit the woods looking for that prize buck.

About 330,000 hunters will participate in West Virginia’s buck firearm season and will spend an estimated $230 million here, particularly in rural areas, but before you hit the woods, the state Division of Natural Resources has some rules and regulations they want you to be aware of:

Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin and his wife Joanne honored the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy a day early by rededicating a plaque that hangs in the lower rotunda of the Capitol.

The symbol commemorates Kennedy’s speech delivered on the Capitol steps June 20, 1963, celebrating West Virginia’s 100th birthday.

On that rainy summer day, the President began his remarks by saying, “The sun doesn’t always shine in West Virginia, but the people do.”

Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin made his third major jobs announcement in two weeks Tuesday in Charleston. A supplier for the steel industry, the newest company locating in West Virginia will not just create jobs, but also heavily rely on coal to do it.

“Today, 60 more West Virginians will have good paying jobs and the coal industry will have a new customer,” Tomblin said.

He made the announcement surrounded by executives from Carbonyx International USA and representatives of the state Department of Commerce.

Ashton Marra

Legislators got their first look at a bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in the state during interim meetings in Charleston. A controversial proposal, lawmakers are taking their time scrutinizing the legislation before they even decide to present it to the full legislature for consideration when they convene for the 2014 Regular Session in January.

The comprehensive bill is a compilation of medical marijuana laws from multiple other states and sets forth these five provisions:

1. Creation of a Patient Registry

Ashton Marra

In his first press conference as Speaker of the state House of Delegates, Speaker Tim Miley announced the intended formation of a new committee in his chamber, the committee on small business, entrepreneurship and economic development.

The committee will be separated from the one already in existence in the House which is focused on the energy industry and labor. Miley said this new committee is important because small businesses are the backbone of future economic growth in the state.

Ashton Marra

The state superintendent said enrollment numbers in public schools statewide are down and the Department of Education is now left trying to figure out where those students have gone.

Superintendent Dr. James Phares reported to a Joint Committee on Education, student enrollment has decreased by more than 1,200 student since last year.

Harrison County led the enrollment decrease losing 283 in the last five years.

Ashton Marra

State lawmakers say they’re starting to broaden their focus of the state’s water resources from not just protecting it, but also managing it.

During a legislative interim meeting in Charleston, legislators considered the thoughts of scientists and industry leaders regarding waste water management in the natural gas sector.

Ashton Marra

More than 42,000 West Virginians are employed by the manufacturing industry and state lawmakers were told that number is expected to grow in the coming years, but industry leaders say the state needs to focus on educating those workers now.

President of the West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association Karen Price said the problem with the state’s manufacturing industry is not a job shortage, but a labor shortage.

Ashton Marra

A law signed by Governor Tomblin in April is already having its intended effect of decreasing the state’s prison population. Legislators meeting this week in Charleston got an update on how Senate Bill 371, the governor’s prison reform bill, is doing.

State lawmakers are presented with projections all the time. The projected annual revenue, for example, is constantly talked about within the corridors of the Capitol because in recent years, those projections have shown major declines in funds.

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