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

Ashton Marra

The state Board of Education learned more Wednesday about the search process for a new state Superintendent of Schools. At their October meeting, the board heard from an outside attorney hired to oversee the process.

Victor Flannigan of the Charleston law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe is heading up that process and told Board members they are now looking to hire a consulting firm to compile candidates nationwide for the job.

Ashton Marra

The state Board of Education voted to take a year to study the possible the implications of the closure and consolidation of a small Fayette County High School. Meadow Bridge houses students grades 7 through 12 and was set to be closed within the next three years, but the Board’s decision is now forcing the county to reassess that plan and also reassess their upcoming school bond.

Ashton Marra

A majority of the furloughed West Virginia National Guard members and support staff are returning to work this week because of a movement in Congress to extend military pay to reserve members.

But the state’s top-ranking Guard official said a return to work doesn’t mean those members, and the overall safety of the state, won’t continue to be affected by the federal government shut down.

“The Guard in West Virginia will overcome obstacles and we’ll make things happen to take care of our people in this state, but we shouldn’t have to operate this way.”

So far, about 200 federal employees across the state of West Virginia have begun the process of signing up for unemployment benefits. That’s according to numbers from WorkForce West Virginia.

At the end of the first quarter of this year, West Virginia had 23,270 federal workers. A spokesperson for the state Department of Marketing and Commerce said they expect to have exact numbers on how many of those workers have been furloughed by the end of the week.

Govenor Earl Ray Tomblin speaks to a crowd in Charleston about Medicaid
Ashton Marra

While state officials say they’re not sure how many West Virginians have signed up for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act last week, more than 50,000 are now covered by Medicaid under the state’s expansion of the program.

Commissioner John Musgrave presents check to David Feamster and family.
Mike Ross / WV Lottery

A coal miner is the state’s newest millionaire after winning the West Virginia Powerball.

Ruskin Air and Sound Control announced Monday they will close their manufacturing plant and office in Fairmont effective July 31, 2014.

After an influx on inquiries in the first 24 hours of the health care exchange, an official at the state Department of Health and Human Resources says the federal government is working to fix bugs and increase capacity both online and at their national call center.

Judge Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty to federal charges for violating a Mingo County man’s Constitutional rights when attempting to cover up a drug deal.

Ashton Marra

The number of uninsured West Virginians is expected to drop by 70 percent in the next three years. That’s according to numbers from the state Insurance Commissioners Office and presented by West Virginians for Affordable Health Care in the wake of open enrollment under the health care exchange.

Govrnor Earl Ray Tomblin sitting in front of a blue background at a table with small, international flags in front of him.
Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin announced a trip later this month touring 5 European countries to lobby business leaders for investment in West Virginia industries.

Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden walking out of the U.S. District Courthouse in Charleston.
Ashton Marra

Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge stemming from a federal investigation into corruption in the county. Baisden agreed to a plea bargain from federal prosecutors and will await his sentencing in January.

West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources has been working for months to organize their federal-state partnered health insurance exchange beginning enrollment on October 1.

Likened to the travel website Expedia, the exchange will allow consumers to go online, compare plans from private insurance providers and choose the one that’s best for them, but the site will also determine your eligibility for coverage on state programs like Medicaid.

Director of the State Budget Office Mike McKown , Secretary of revenue Bob Kiss and Deputy Secretary Mark Muchow in the House Chambers.
Ashton Marra

Newly appointed Secretary of Revenue Bob Kiss and members of his department presented an overview of last year’s budget to lawmakers. Legislators scrutinized the governor’s last minute decision to cut almost $18 million from Medicaid to balance the budget at the end of the last fiscal year, but they were also given some crucial insight into the revenue numbers for this year.

The state’s largest teacher’s union announced a new initiative pushing for a competitive salary for teachers and school personnel. Union leaders call the pay increase the next step in improving public education and student achievement across West Virginia.

Legislative auditors told an interim legislative committee the state's $38 million expansion of a statewide microwave communications network ignored West Virginia purchasing laws. Legislative leaders say they’re committed to reviewing the purchase process to prevent future misconduct.

Republican state leaders have been arguing for years that the state tax rates are preventing businesses from bringing jobs to West Virginia. Projected growth shows that while they may not come at the same rate those lawmakers want to see, jobs will come as the national economy turns around. There’s another factor, however, that’s starting to worry educators when it comes to the state’s economic future. And that’s the number of highly skilled workers ready to fill those positions.

In her first appearance before legislators, Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling said the department is not yet prepared to release a detailed response to a performance review completed earlier this year. Instead, she shared some generalizations about major issues the department is trying to address. The biggest of those issues is hiring and retaining the necessary personnel to run the state’s largest agency.

Lawmakers delayed hearing a report from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Monday that showed only half of the state’s graduating seniors felt academically prepared to go on to college.

Chancellor Paul Hill was scheduled to present the report to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability Monday, but the item was pushed until next month’s legislative interims because of time.

Ashton Marra

As an officer in the Air National Guard, Boone County Republican Delegate Joshua Nelson is headed to his second mandatory service training in two years. In a press conference, Nelson announced new legislation he will introduce allowing military members like himself to participate in legislative votes while away for training or on active duty.

Nelson’s “Warrior/Legislator Act” would allow legislators who are members of the military to vote by electronic teleconferencing, either using new video technology like FaceTime or Skype or by telephone.

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