Jessica Lilly

Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief

Jessica Lilly covers southern West Virginia for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program, and during afternoon newscasts.

Jessica joined WV PBS in 2008 as the Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief. She’s committed to reporting stories from the people in her region and across the state and is passionate about following issues and developments in mine and worker safety.

Jessica was chosen by the West Virginia Associated Press in 2013 as the winner of the Significant Impact Award for her influence on broadcasting in the state. She was also the winner of the 2013 Associated Press Best Reporter, Best Enterprise Reporting and Best Feature Runner-Up.

In 2011 Jessica was recognized by the Associated Press as Runner-Up for Best Reporter and in 2012 was recognized for Best Breaking News Coverage.

While studying broadcasting, public relations and business administration at Concord University, Jessica worked as the weekend producer and fill in reporter for WVNS-TV in Raleigh County. She went on to work as a full time reporter for WVNS-TV for about a year.  

Jessica graduated from Concord University in 2007, where she was named Concord University’s Reporter of the Year and Producer of the Year.

Born in Bluefield, WV Jessica grew up in the coalfields of West Virginia and Wyoming County. She was always busy with activities such as cheerleading, or theatre.

When she’s not reporting, Jessica advises Concord University's online radio webstream and teaches communications classes at the school. She enjoys attending sporting events and theatre productions, singing, antiquing, skiing, riding ATV’s, and traveling with family.

Ways To Connect

West Virginia University, Douglas Arbogast

This time of year, it’s the perfect temperature for people to gather on their back deck, maybe over some drinks, to play music. So for this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, Jessica Lilly and Roxy Todd spent some time uncovering a few, shall we say, mysteries behind Appalachian music. We’ll also hear how young people are reviving this old time music.

Ashley Biega

Young people are leaving Appalachia — and they have been for years. We hear lots of stories of once-bustling boom towns in Appalachia. On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear from people who moved away from Appalachia, share their stories about why they left and how they cope with longing for home.

Daniel Walker/WVPB

Have you ever heard of a pepperoni roll? If you haven’t, then you’re not from West Virginia.

Daniel Walker/WVPB

This week, Inside Appalachia is featuring some incredible stories about dogs that help people heal. Like Paca, who helps children overcome emotional trauma and even helps encourage them to read. And we'll travel to a special cemetery, reserved only for coonhound dogs.

Malcolm Wilson / Humans of Central Appalachia

What happens when strangers with cameras go to Appalachia? It’s a complicated topic that many Appalachians have strong feelings about.

It can be pretty tough to be a young person in Appalachia. There’s a lot of love for our region in the younger generation, too. So some younger people are making their own opportunities. Hear from people in their teens and 20s who are creating art and music here and listen to their ideas and dreams for Appalachia.

Jessica Lilly

A much anticipated alternative for addiction recovery is now a reality in southern West Virginia. The Four Seasons Recovery Center in Mercer County is part of the West Virginia Justice Reinvestment Act. 

Robert Sharpe Productions, Before the Mountain was Moved

Rewind to the 1960s: Many young, middle and upper class Americans of the 1960s yearned to do something more with their lives after college. They didn't want to settle for a prosperous, suburban lifestyle, so instead, many of them signed up to serve in a new anti-poverty program called VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to American. VISTA is a national service program that launched in December, 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

USDA

In Appalachia, where green forests grow abundantly, food is scarce for many. Throughout Appalachia, grocery stores are disappearing. This week on Inside Appalachia we're looking at some ways communities are resolving to take matters in their own hands.

Jessica Lilly

Food deserts are a growing problem in West Virginia and across the country. The USDA defines a food desert as a part of the country where people don’t have access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. Parts of more than 40 counties in West Virginia endure some sort of limited food access and the number is growing as more and more grocery stores close their doors. But when the grocery store in one Greenbrier County town closed, the community worked to find local resources with hopes of becoming self-sufficient.


This week, Inside Appalachia is hearing from people across the region, sharing their views about the Confederate Battle Flag.

Authorities say a coal miner was killed over the weekend in an accident at a mine in southwestern Pennsylvania.

At approximately 12:15 AM on June 28, 2015, John William “Bill” Kelly, 55 years old, of Albright, West Virginia a long-term employee of Mepco, LLC, was fatally injured. According to a release from Mepco, Kelly died in an accident at the Company’s 4 West Mine located near Mount Morris, Pennsylvania. In the release, Mepco also released this statement:

Christine Cover

Appalachia has certainly been stereotyped by many people in the media. But not all storytellers are the same, and the stories that are told about Appalachia are often complicated with layers of misunderstandings. 

It takes time, compassion and perhaps an inside perspective to delve deep and do justice to the people affected by the story. So much of this type of work- that which is reshaping how Appalachia is portrayed- is being rendered by women in the media.

Derek Cline

Despite stereotypes, Appalachians don’t have a homogenous way of speaking. This week, we’re excited to share lots of Appalachian voices as we explore the complex aspects of the way we talk.

A professor of linguistics and English at WVU is working to map West Virginia’s dialects and accents.  Kirk Hazen was in Wyoming County earlier this week, collecting interviews from natives.


Atlanta Journal Constitution, John Harmon, October 1997

This week, we remember Jean Ritchie, who's been called the mother of Appalachian folk music.

Jessica Lilly

While other parts of the state are seeing a rapid increase in heroin overdoses, southern West Virginia continues to battle a prescription pill problem. As access to addiction treatment in the state’s larger cities like Charleston and Huntington grows, rural parts of West Virginia are still struggling with a lack of resources. But in Bluefield, a much anticipated alternative for  recovery is just days away from opening, bringing 20 male beds to southern West Virginia. It’s not much, but those involved expect it to make a difference in the community.

Courtesy of Kenneth King and the WV Mine Wars Museum

Amid news of more mine lay-offs, one former coal town has built a labor museum to attract visitors. Driving down to the new West Virginia Mine Wars Museum , you really feel the fading towns and cities, sliding into the backdrop of the mountains. It's surreal. Many places in Appalachia are. It’s sad to many people who remember the thriving economy here when coal was booming. Wilma Lee Steele says she hopes the museum in Matewan will become a place where people throughout the coalfields can come to reclaim their identity. “I think that we have a lot to say, and I think we’re gonna say it. We’re gonna tell our history, and we’re gonna come together as a community.”

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re taking a road trip through the region to find people who are reviving the old recipes and bringing something fresh to our plates. This episode is also helping us kick off a new segment, called Appetite Appalachia, which features restaurants and recipes with Appalachian roots.

www.mine-engineer.com

Several federal government agencies are teaming up to send $35.5 million to help communities and workers adapt to the decline in coal jobs.  The grant is part of the  Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization  initiative, known as POWER, led by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency.

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