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.
 

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Downtown Revitalization
5:39 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Clarksburg Hopes the Robinson Can Be Grand Once Again

The front facade of the Rose Garden Theater in Clarksburg.
Ashton Marra West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The City of Clarksburg is looking to other municipalities across the state and around the country to aide in their endeavor to restore and rehabilitate a historic theater in the city’s downtown.

Clarksburg City Council voted in April to purchase the Rose Garden Theater, once known as the Robinson Grand, for $430,000 from C.J. Martin, James Lambert and David Rexroad, all of Upshur County.

Members said the city has been working to purchase the property since 2005, but the previous owner wasn’t interested in selling.

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Abuse Case
2:17 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Supreme Court to Decide if Prosecutor Should Keep Law License

Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants
Credit Marcus Constantino (@AMTino) / Charleston Daily Mail

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday over whether to temporarily revoke the law license of a county prosecutor charged with domestic battery.

Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants is facing the misdemeanor charge after State Police say he hit his step-son multiple times with a leather belt in February, leaving bruises.

The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel alleges Plants’ license should be revoked until his criminal proceedings are completed because he has violated ethics rules.  

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Higher Education
3:46 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Higher Ed. Transfers Soon to be Easier in W.Va.

The campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Credit West Virginia Wesleyan College

Two higher education groups announced the adoption of a new policy Friday intended to make transferring credits between schools easier for West Virginia students.

The agreement between the state Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education intends to pave a way for a more seamless transition for students changing from one higher education institution to another, particularly for students transferring from two-year to four-year institutions.

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Election 2014
1:36 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Berkeley Co. Committee Chooses New Candidate for House Race

Credit West Virginia Legislature

A Berkeley County Democrat's wife is taking his place to run for the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Donn Marshall withdrew his candidacy in House District 63 to accept a federal job with the Department of Defense. The state Election Commission gave the Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee permission to pick a replacement candidate.
 

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Pulitzer Prize Winner
3:18 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Year-Long Series Looks at Black Lung in Appalachia

Reporter Chris Hamby
Credit Center for Public Integrity

This week the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration released updated regulations designed to drastically reduce the amount of coal dust miners inhale, hoping to cut back on the prevalence of black lung disease.

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Mon Power Merger
5:16 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Supreme Court Upholds PSC Approved Power Plant Sale

The Harrison Power Station in Haywood, W.Va.
Credit WDTV/5 News

The West Virginia Supreme Court has sided with the state Public Service Commission on a decision to allow the sale of a Harrison County power plant.

The PSC approved the sale of Harrison Power Station in October 2013. In the deal, Mon Power would obtain about 80 percent ownership of the plant from Allegheny Energy Supply and become its sole owner.

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Public Policy Forum
4:03 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Sen. Rockefeller Shares Legacy with Students at WVWC

Sen. Jay Rockefeller sits with journalist Ted Koppel during a forum on West Virginia Wesleyan's campus.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a packed auditorium on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, Senator Jay Rockefeller took a seat on the stage, joined by Emmy-award winning journalist Ted Koppel, a long-time correspondent for ABC News and former host of their late night news magazine Nightline.

The two sat down as old friends to discuss Rockefeller’s decades in politics, his feelings toward the current atmosphere in Washington and, most importantly to him, to motivate young people on the campus of Wesleyan to get involved in public service.

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Reconnecting McDowell
1:48 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Donation Creates Mentor Program for McDowell Co. Students

Mount View High School Junior and Aspire participant Emily Hicks thanked a crowd during a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A telecommunications firm announced a hefty donation Wednesday to a program designed to improve the educational opportunities for students in one of the poorest counties in the state.

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Healthcare
10:34 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Forum: 'The State of Rural Healthcare'

Congressman David McKinley hosted the forum at the Erickson Alumni Center on WVU's Evansdale Campus.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia faces a multitude of challenges when it comes to providing healthcare to its citizens. Because of its rural nature, many citizens face a lack of access to healthcare facilities, healthful foods and places to exercise.

But a recent forum at West Virginia University uncovered problems even more complex, problems with recruitment, public education and cooperation between healthcare providers.

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Constitutional Powers
3:42 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Does W.Va.'s Governor Have Too Much Power?

Gov. Tomblin signed a ceremonial bill after the completion of the 2014 legislative session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The question of gubernatorial power in West Virginia was forced into the spotlight after two decisions by Governor Tomblin following the 2014 legislative session; two vetoes, to be more specific. Now lawmakers, the Governor’s Office and even the Attorney General are trying to figure out what’s next for these rejected bills.

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West Virginia Morning
8:16 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Documents Strengthen Legislative Veto Override, W.Va.'s Professor of the Year, Mountain Stage Music

Historical documents seem to strengthen some Republican lawmakers' case that the Legislature has the ultimate power to override a gubernatorial veto. West Virginia's Professor of the Year for 2013 is an English teacher at Marshall University who has a unique style, and John Gorka performs "Give Us Back Our Water" in the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

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Gun Ordinance
3:53 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Morrisey Files Motion to Dismiss Charleston Gun Lawsuit

Attorney General Patrick Morissey testifying before a Senate committee earlier this year.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed motions to intervene in and dismiss a Kanawha County Circuit Court case challenging a new state gun control law.

The bill passed during this year’s legislative session strives to make gun ordinances uniform across the state.

In a release, Morrisey said the case should be dismissed because the City of Charleston did not name a defendant. Instead, the city is asking the circuit court judge to rule on the "validity" and "construction" of the new law.

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West Virginia Morning
8:03 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Lawmaker: Legislators are Ceding Power to Governor, The Mysterious Tradition of Salt Rising Bread

One state lawmaker says the balance of power in the state has been shifting toward the office of governor for decades as legislators slowly cede their powers to the office, and the tradition of salt rising bread in Appalachia is slowly being forgotten, but two Pennsylvania women are trying to change that. They're making sure people remember not just the history, but also the science behind the food.

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West Virginia Morning
8:01 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Constituional Powers Questioned in W.Va., Young Fairmont Poet Wins National Award

After some controversial vetoes from Gov. Tomblin, lawmakers, academics and citizens a like arequestioning the balance of power in West Virginia's Constitution and a 21-year-old Fairmont native is making a name for himself on the national poetry scene.

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Online Renewal Service
2:35 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

W.Va. DMV Announces Online Services Now Available

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Division of Motor Vehicles Acting Commissioner Steve Dale announced Tuesday that many DMVs throughout the state may see less foot traffic as some West Virginians may now have the option to go to the web for vehicle services.

Dale says some customers can now renew their vehicle registration and request a duplicate registration card online. The  DMV’s online service portal is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Mingo County
10:14 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Williamson Mayor Resigns, Charged with Making False Statements

Credit Flonight / wikimedia Commons

The soon-to-be former Mayor of Williamson is charged with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service just hours after resigning from his post.

Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick submitted his resignation letter Monday, but didn’t give a reason for the departure. That information was made public Tuesday and was followed by an information from US Prosecuting Attorney Booth Goodwin.

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West Virginia Morning
8:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Preserving Cheat Canyon, Celebrating Shakespeare's 450th Birthday & A Man's Roots in W.Va. Slavery

Two national conservancy groups have announced plans to turn the Cheat Canyon into a nature preserve and wildlife management area. West Virginia University celebrates the 450 birthday of William Shakespeare with an adaptation of Henry IV and a Michigan man traces his ancestry back to Cabell County and back to a slave owner with whom he shares a name.

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Chemical Leak
4:35 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

WVAM Says MCHM Not Detected After Carbon Filters Changed

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water said new tests show no signs of MCHM from water filtered through two newly replaced carbon filters.

The company began changing out the 16 activated carbon filters in the Charleston plant on April 1.

In a release this Monday, WVAM said 16 water samples taken throughout the filtration process at that location returned non-detect levels of MCHM.

The results came from Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, Inc. in Lancaster, Pa., which WVAM said is testing the water at the 0.38 parts per billion level.

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Chemical Spill
4:14 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Freedom Industries Submits Site Remediation Plan

This photo from the Chemical Safety Board shows the holes in the Freedom Industries tank that allowed the January 9 spill into the Elk River.
Credit @chemsafetyboard / Twitter

Freedom Industries has submitted its remediation plan to the state Department of Environmental Protection to address environmental conditions at the company’s Charleston storage tank facility. The facility was the site of the Jan. 9 chemical spill of MCHM and PPH into the Elk River. 

The site remediation plan was developed by Civil & Environmental Consultants, a Pennsylvania-based firm also responsible for Freedom's tank decommissioning plan submitted to the DEP in March. It includes a summary of water quality sampling and remedial measures Freedom Industries has already implemented at the spill site.

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West Virginia Morning
8:24 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Apprentices Compete to be Best in W.Va., A Historic Mill Gets a Second Chance

The West Virginia Pipe Trades Apprentice Contest in Wheeling pits plumbers, pipefitters and HVAC workers against one another competing to be the best of the best in the state. Feagans’ Mill was recently added to the Endangered Historic Structures list, but a Jefferson County man is working to save the site by thinking of new uses for the historic building.

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