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.

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Diesel Spill
4:50 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Weather Moves Water Distribution Indoors in Greenbrier County

Update Monday January 26, 2015 at 9:11 p.m. 

  Water samples taken from the Greenbrier River did not show dangerous levels of diesel, the Charleston Gazette is reporting.

This means the water intakes will be turned back on to refill the tanks and restore water pressure.

Earlier today, Al Whitaker said that after the intakes are turned on, residents will be boil water advisory for at least three days.

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Inside Appalachia
6:35 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Inside Appalachia: Finding Love & Tolerance Instead of Racism & Homophobia

Blair Campbell (center) managed to find a smile the day after someone painted a racial slur on the side of her restaurant. Friends and neighbors pitched in to help her erase the graffiti from the Pretty Penny Cafe and launch a new campaign called "We are One". Photo by Brynn Kusic

Racism and homophobia, love and tolerance--none of these are new to Appalachia. Today, we explore the stories of Appalachians who are moved to spread love, not hate.

In West Virginia, a racist hate crime shakes a community to spread a message of tolerance.

And a Kentucky songwriter’s high lonesome tune is inspired by a gay coal miner’s true story.

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Underground Injection Well
4:45 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Danny Webb Construction Permit Hearing Rescheduled

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

A public hearing on two permit renewal applications for an underground injection control (UIC) facility near Lochgelly in Fayette County has been rescheduled for Feb. 19, according to a release. The hearing was initially scheduled for Jan. 7 but had to be postponed due to inclement weather conditions.

The hearing is set for 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at Oak Hill High School. The DEP is also accepting written comments until March 1.

Background

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Inside Appalachia
4:31 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Inside Appalachia: Water in the Coalfields

Water Outages and Advisories Continue in W.Va. Coalfields

While the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water, it's a problem that folks in the coalfields deal with on a regular basis.

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Water Infrastructure
6:47 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

What Does it Take to Build New Water Systems in the Coalfields?

Work to replace the water system in Elkhorn began summer 2014.
Credit Daniel Walker

This week, we’ve been talking about water in the coalfields. We met folks that deal with frequent water outages and boil water advisories because of crumbling water systems, and heard stories of folks living with no water source at all. We also learned that proper sewage disposal is still a challenge.

 

Progress has been made. Just this past year, the Elkhorn Water Project began. It's expected to bring clean water to folks living in several coal camp communities along Route 52 in McDowell County. A project in Wyoming County is expected to bring a permanent solution to water issues in Bud and Alpoca.

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Water Infrastructure
9:13 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

What Water Options Are Available In The Coalfields?

The mountain spring in Maybeaury, W.Va. is often crowded with folks gathering water for their homes.
Credit Jessica Lilly

While the chemical spill in Charleston left 300-thousand people without access to clean water, folks in the coalfields deal with water issues every day.  We heard from folks in McDowell communities living off dated water systems that frequently go without water. Some communities have been on boil water advisories for years.

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Water Infrastructure
10:11 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Water Outages and Advisories Continue in W.Va. Coalfields

Betty Younger explains the struggle to keep tap water on her front porch in McDowell County.
Credit Daniel Walker

While the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water, it's a problem that folks in the coalfields deal with on a regular basis.

Mountainous regions like southern West Virginia have an abundance of water, but the terrain along with aging infrastructure create challenges, just as it has for decades.

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Inside Appalachia
5:56 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Inside Appalachia: Remembering the Elk River Chemical Spill, Honoring Two Musical Legends

Lida Shepherd and her daughter, Lucia.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re marking the one-year anniversary of the Elk River Chemical Spill in Charleston, W.Va. that temporarily left 300,000 without water.

Remembering West Virginia Native, "Little" Jimmy Dickens

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Environment
10:35 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

UPDATE: DEP Postpones Public Hearing Concerning Lochgelly Waste Site

Credit Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 Update Wednesday January 7, 2015 11:46 a.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is postponing the meeting due to weather/road conditions. In an email, Kelley Gillenwater with the DEP said,

"Due to the inclement weather conditions in the Oak Hill area, tonight’s public hearing on the Danny Webb UIC permit applications will be reschedule. The date, time and location have not yet been determined but an announcement with those details will be made within the next couple of days."

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Inside Appalachia
6:49 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Inside Appalachia, One of 2014's Biggest Shows

This week we revisit an Inside Appalachia episode from 2014 packed with so much information we felt it’s worth sharing again.

We go back into the archives for the November 15, 2014 show. It includes an interview with Gary Quarles, who lost his son Gary Wayne Quarles, in the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in 2010. He spoke with host Jessica Lilly about Don Blankenship's indictment before federal Judge Irene Berger ordered a gag order against speaking with the media and more.

A seemingly fitting show since on this same day, nine years ago, loved one gathered in West Virginia as they waited to hear if their loved ones survived a mine disaster. In the end, they found 12 coal miners died.


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Inside Appalachia
2:11 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Calls From Home Connects Family Members with Their Loved Ones in Maximum Security Prisons

Syliva Ryerson is part of a team of DJs that helps put Calls From Home on the air every Monday Night. Photo courtesy of WMMT/Calls From Home

For many families with loved ones who are overseas in the military or in the marines, the holiday season can be a very sad time, missing those who are far away. The holidays can also be hard on families with loved ones incarcerated. This is especially true for loved ones in maximum security prisons.

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Inside Appalachia
12:38 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

PA's Own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, W.Va.'s Frosty the Snowman, and KY's Calls From Home

Former Coal Company Store in Itmann, W.Va.

We’ll hear some of the Christmas messages that were broadcasted into high security prisons this week on the Calls from Home radio program. The holidays often bring back memories of years past, and this is especially hard for those with a family member or loved one who’s passed away. And we’ll hear about a former marine in West Virginia who’s now helping people pull themselves out of poverty. You’ll find these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

It Just Needed A Little Love: An Ugly Spruce Ties A Town Together

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Inside Appalachia
6:47 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

It's Christmas in Appalachia, Stories of Goodwill Towards all People

Welcome to a special holiday episode of Inside Appalachia, featuring music by The Sweetback Sisters, with their album Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular, 2012, and Bob Thompson's More Joy to the World, 2007.

Hip Hop from the Hill Top / Calls from Home

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Don Blankenship Criminal Case
6:15 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Outlets Want Gag Order Lifted While Blankenship Wants to Change Trial Location

Credit Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship appeared Wednesday in US Federal Court in Beckley.

Judge Irene Berger heard arguments in two hearings in relation to Blankenship’s criminal case.  

One involved a motion to lift the broad gag order while the other requested more time to prepare motions and for trial.

Several media outlets including Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR are challenging a gag order Judge Berger issued after former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on federal conspiracy charges.

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Inside Appalachia
6:23 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Appalachian Holiday Traditions of Food and Spirits, With Recipes on How to Cook with Bourbon, & More

Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In this episode we’ll explore two holiday and Appalachian traditions: food and spirits. We’ll also hear about some female butchers who are leading a renaissance in local foods.

You’ll find these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

Cooking with Bourbon:

In Whitesburg KY, each month, Jonathan Piercy and Jenny Williams host a live radio cooking show on WMMT called What's Cookin' Now, broadcasting straight from the Appalshop kitchen.

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Inside Appalachia
4:28 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Affrilachian Poet Takes on Coal, History of Racial Tension in KY, UMWA Strike of 1984 and more

Credit Paul Corbitt Brown

W.Va. Poet: “Appalachian Blackface” Story of 2014 Election Cycle: Have you ever heard the term ‘Affrilachian?’ It’s one poet Crystal Good uses to describe herself, an African American who grew up and lives in Appalachia. Good is a native of St. Albans, in West Virginia’s chemical valley. Good’s newest poem, “Appalachian Blackface,” premiered this fall at the Summit on Race Matters in Appalachia held in Charleston.

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Inside Appalachia
2:41 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Inside Appalachia Thanksgiving with a Turkey Egg "Secret Agent", Heirloom Apple Collector and more

Turkey Drive, 1900. Lewisburg. Courtesy of the West Virginia and Regional Historic Collection, WVU Libraries.

Thanksgiving comes in two parts “giving” and “thanks.”  

This week, we’ll talk to a man in North Carolina, who’s collected over 1,000 varieties of heirloom apples.

And Layuna Rapp shares her memories of raising turkeys on her family farm in West Virginia

And we also want to take some time to hear from two young women who know what it’s like to struggle.

Troubled Youth Thankful For Youth Systems Services: Glynis Board visits the Youth Services System in Wheeling, serving at risk children and young adults.

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Inside Appalachia
3:39 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Coal Co. Operating Above the Law, Revitalizing Coal Country, 14-Year-Old TN Banjo Picker & more

Credit Courtesy of the Meade family

Perfect for your Thanksgiving road-trip: Fifty-one minutes of some great Appalachian stories, including: NPR's mine safety investigation continues. Where is the the mine with the highest delinquent fines in the U.S.? What happens when mines don’t pay their fines? And an update from the Appalachian Project, and how a financial adviser in Johnson City, TN decided to begin recording oral histories across Appalachia. These stories and more, in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

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Inside Appalachia
6:26 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Coal Co. Operating Above the Law, Revitalizing Coal Country, 14-Year-Old TN. Banjo Picker & more

Credit Courtesy of the Meade family

Perfect for your Thanksgiving road-trip: Fifty-one minutes of some great Appalachian stories, including: NPR's mine safety investigation continues. Where is the the mine with the highest delinquent fines in the U.S.? What happens when mines don’t pay their fines? And an update from the Appalachian Project, and how a financial adviser in Johnson City, TN decided to begin recording oral histories across Appalachia. These stories and more, in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

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Developing
1:53 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Blankenship Pleads Not Guilty, Bond Set at $5 Million

Sketches of Don Blankenship and his attorney during arraignment hearing.
Credit Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship stood with three attorneys as he pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Beckley. Blankenship was indicted on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety rules and then lying about it.  Blankenship appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort.   

Families Can't Hide Their Emotions

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