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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High Waters
6:37 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Gov. Tomblin Declares Statewide State of Emergency

Credit Office of the Governor

Rainfall and melting snow is causing creeks and rivers to rise across West Virginia. The rising waters pushed 15 counties to dismiss students early from public schools on Wednesday.

In a release sent out Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a statewide State of Emergency. The declaration mobilizes state resources to combat severe weather conditions and ensure the safety of residents across the state.

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High Waters
12:03 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Creeks Rising in Southern West Virginia

High water in the Hanover region of Wyoming County began to reach roads Wednesday morning.
Credit courtesy of Luke Jackson

High waters are creating dangerous conditions in southern West Virginia. Dispatchers say some residents are being evacuated.

Emergency dispatchers in Wyoming County say that the rainfall Wednesday morning caused a mudslide. One resident in Jesse told dispatchers that part of the mountain slid into their residence. Deputies are on scene evaluating the situation.

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Inside Appalachia
5:54 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Inside Appalachia: Living with Industrial Spills, Floods and Disasters

Buffalo Creek Flood Disaster Victims at Man, Logan County, W. Va.
Credit West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries

Earlier this month in West Virginia, a CSX train derailed, causing giant fireballs to stretch hundreds of feet into the air and one home to be destroyed. Investigators are trying to figure out what happened to cause this derailment. February also marks the anniversary of other industrial accidents. On this episode, we'll hear from folks who have survived them, and hear why many people are concerned that more of these accidents could happen in the future.

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Inside Appalachia
5:07 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Inside Appalachia: Getting Back to Our Roots

Larry Harding at Harding's Ginseng Farm
Credit Glynis Board

On this episode, we’re learning more about Appalachian roots. Some industries are growing in Appalachia that aren’t really new at all, but new practices are building on traditional crafts. While these  changes develop across Appalachia, we inevitably want to hang onto our identity. Strong roots, after all, are one of the characteristics many of us take pride in.

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Danny Webb Construction
3:50 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

DEP Postpones Public Hearing Concerning Lochgelly Waste Site, Again

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is rescheduling a public hearing on two permit renewal applications for the second time. The public hearing is around applications for an underground injection control (UIC) facility near Lochgelly in Fayette County. 

In an email, the DEP said the meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 19 in Oak Hill has been postponed a  due to inclement weather conditions.

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Inside Appalachia
6:10 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Dear Appalachia: Our Love is Complicated

One of the letters mailed last winter from Thomas, received in New Mexico by Carol Carpenter

Today we’re talking about love – but wait, it’s not what you think. This episode is kind of one big love letter to Appalachia. We’re showing off some of that Appalachian pride by talking about our complicated love for this place.

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Veteran Health Care
5:36 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Permanent VA Clinic Planned for Mercer County

Credit Dept. of Defense

Princeton will soon be home to a permanent VA clinic.

According to a release from Senator Joe Manchin’s office, Mercer County’s mobile health clinic, which served as an extension of the Beckley VA Medical Center, will become a permanent VA clinic.

The release says an increased number of veterans in need of healthcare in the area, called for a more permanent solution.

The Princeton VA will be able to serve a total of 1,200 eligible veterans.

Senator Manchin currently serves as a member on the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee.

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Inside Appalachia
6:27 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Inside Appalachia: Let's Get Real About Poverty

President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, greet Tom Fletcher's family in Inez, Ky., in 1964. Fletcher was an unemployed saw mill worker with eight children.
Credit Bettman/Corbis / NPR

In this episode, we'll hear reactions to Obama's proposed tax credits and other funding for Appalachia. And we'll talk with documentary filmmaker John Nakashima, whose new film, "The First 1000 Days," explores the effects of poverty on young children.

 

We'll also take a look back at how the lessons from the War on Poverty could shine light on present day economic development efforts.

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Decling Coal Industry Recovery
9:54 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Coalfields React to Part of Obama's Budget

President Barack Obama's new budget proposal includes more than $3 billion worth of tax credits and other spending to help the Appalachian region recover from the declining coal industry. People across the coalfields are responding with mixed feelings.

In southern West Virginia, many people see initiatives from the Obama administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions as an attack on their livelihoods.

So it’s not surprising to hear skepticism and doubt from the coalfields when the president announces intentions to throw a financial lifeline to Appalachia.


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The First 1,000 Days
4:32 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Sabrina Shrader; The Face of Poverty Says "Never Give up"

Sabrina Shrader has been friends with Heather Wingate since attending Head Start together.

McDowell native Sabrina Shrader is featured in the new West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary, The First 1,000 Days: Investing In WV Children When It Counts. We first heard from Shrader when she shared her story in 2013 of how a program called Upward Bound provided resources that helped her to graduate from college after a difficult and abusive childhood. She was working as an Upward Bound Coordinator at Concord University. Things have changed since then.

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Arts and Culture
5:00 pm
Sat January 31, 2015

French Creek Freddie and Concord Charlie Both Predict an Early Spring

West Virginia's groundhogs both predicted an early spring this year. At the West Virginia Wildlife Center Monday morning, the groundhog named French Creek Freddie did not see his shadow.  At Concord University, Concord Charlie also did not see his shadow.
However, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.
Who is French Creek Freddie?

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Inside Appalachia
5:57 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Meet W.Va.'s Groundhog Prophets and Hear How Gas Drilling is Affecting Parts of Appalachia

French Creek Freddie lives at the West Virginia Wildlife Center in Upshur County, W.Va.

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of West Virginia groundhogs who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve. Also, we hear how increased drilling is affecting folks in PA and W.Va. Some politicians and residents are touting the natural gas industry as the best solution to bring jobs back to central and northern Appalachia. And while some people are finding well paying jobs and economic opportunities because of the boom in the gas industry, others are finding discontent.


The Struggle to Find Jobs Forces Some Appalachians to Leave the Mountains

Often on our show we hear about people who are trying to maintain hope in the midst of what many across the country would probably consider a life of poverty or despair.

Sometimes the temptation to lose hope is powerful. What future do we face in Appalachia? The need to feed our families is very real- but for many, the struggle to find jobs means they must cast their nets further and further away from home. We Appalachians know that it isn’t resignation that keeps us here- it’s pride for our mountains, our deep roots in our local communities and our strong connection with home. Part of what we love about Appalachia is the natural beauty, the simple sound of clean snow crunching under our feet.

Snowshoeing 101

When it comes to exploring the wintry outdoors in deep snow, it can be hard to get started, it helps to have a guide. That’s what Allegheny Front Contributor Ashley Murry found out when she tried snowshoeing for the first time She joined beginners to the sport, as well as seasoned outdoor trip leaders, Bill Grove and Katie Getsie, as they strapped on snowshoes in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Click here to search for guided snowshoeing trips like the one Ashley Murry took in Pennsylvania.

Click here to find directions to the Cranberry Nature Center in West Virginia, located along the Highland Scenic Highway. After a good snow, you can sometimes snowshoe along Kennison Mountain. Even with a light dusting of snow, it's an incredibly beautiful place for a winter hike.
You can also find snowshoe trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in Tennessee.

And here's a link where you can find information about snowshoeing and cross country skiing in North Carolina.

Increased Gas Drilling in W.Va. and PA Brings Jobs, but also Some Discontent

New technology now allows energy companies to blast water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressures to release gas from shale formations. With hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, gas companies are able to drill for more natural gas in some areas in Appalachia.

After Living Next to Drilling Activity, 100 W.Va. Residents Sue Companies

Almost a hundred residents from several counties throughout West Virginia are filing lawsuits for nuisance and negligence against several companies engaged in horizontal drilling activities. Glynis Board went out to Doddridge County to catch a glimpse of life in the growing rural gas fields of the state.

Gas Companies Rush to Build New Pipelines in PA

State Impact’s Marie Cusick has been following the gas boom in Pennsylvania. She reports that the pace of gas production is driving energy companies to build more pipelines that are needed to transport the new gas to markets.

Congress Considers Bill to Fast Track Gas Pipeline Projects

On January 21, the US. House of Representatives passed a resolution called the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The resolution directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny pipeline projects within 12 months after receiving a complete application. Whether or when that bill might be taken up by the Senate is unclear.

In West Virginia, there are at least two major pipeline projects in the pre-filing stage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline will each go through environmental analysis and a public comment period before being approved or denied by the Federal Government. Tamara Young Allen, spokesperson with FERC, says this process normally takes 12-18 months. The House Resolution says that FERC review should only take a year. 

Click here to make a comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the Mountain Valley Pipeline [docket number  PF15-3-000]  or the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [docket number  PF15-6-000]

Click here to make a comment to the U.S. Forest Service, which is considering whether to issue a special use permit to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which would allow the company to conduct site survey and testing in a 17.1-mile segment of the Monongahela National Forest and 12.6 miles of the George Washington National Forest.

What's in a Name?

In this episode we’re looking at a town that got it’s name for sand flies-it’s also a town that is home to the famous Punxsutawney Phil that we see each year on Groundhog Day.

Yes- Punxsutawney PA got it’s name  from a Native American word for sand flies. Known as “town of the ponkies”- a word for sand gnats- became Punxsutawney.

French Creek Freddie and Concord Charlie

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of

West Virginia groundhogs-who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve.

West Virginia's groundhogs both predicted an early spring this year. At the West Virginia Wildlife Center Monday morning, the groundhog named French Creek Freddie did not see his shadow.  At Concord University, Concord Charlie also did not see his shadow.
However, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.

 

 

The West Virginia Wildlife Center will have their Groundhog Day celebration on Feb 2, 10:00 am.

Our theme music is by Andy Agnew Jr., Our What’s in a Name Music is by Marteka and William with Johnson Ridge Special. Music in today’s show was also provided by Bing Crosby, Billy Pollard, Jake Scheppes, and the Glennville State Bluegrass Band.

 

 

 

 

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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.

Last week, we heard stories of the water smelling of licorice, emptied shelves once stocked with bottled water, and other quests for clean water.  The water crisis in West Virginia's capital city lasted just a few weeks, but folks in the coalfields continue to deal with boil water advisories and outages.

Mountainous regions like southern West Virginia have an abundance of water, but the terrain along with aging infrastructure have been creating access issues for decades. Many of the current water systems in place today in the coalfields were installed in the early 1900's by coal companies. Coal operators, jobs, and most people left the area, leaving remnants of a once bustling economy including some beautiful buildings, coal tipples, and water systems. 

For some communities a boil water advisory is a way of life, like in Keystone, West Virginia, in McDowell County, where residents have been on an advisory since 2010. The town's neighboring sister city, Northfork, has been on a boil water advisory since 2013.

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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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