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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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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Government
1:30 am
Wed November 19, 2014

State Lawmakers Meet in Fayette Co. to Discuss Revitalizing Southern Coalfields

John David speaks at the second SCORE meeting in Fayette County.
Credit Jessica Lilly

The second meeting of the SCORE task force met in Fayette County Tuesday night.  SCORE, Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy, is an initiative aimed to give southern West Virginia much-needed opportunities to diversify the economy and strengthen communities.

Nothing was off the table as each person that chose to speak had two minutes at the podium.

Other areas of concern brought up by the community included:

  • drug abuse
  • aging population
  • disaster preparedness
  • quality child care
  • clean water

Suggestions from other speakers included:

  • renewable energy tax credits
  • selling water as a natural resource
  • funding water protection plans
  • resisting attempts to weaken environmental law
  • Ensuring the DEP is enforcing the laws


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Indictment
10:34 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Blankenship Ordered to Appear for Arraignment, Gag Order Set

Credit Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A federal Magistrate has denied former Massey CEO Don Blankenship’s request to delay arraignment proceedings.

According to court records, Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort denied Blankenship’s request to postpone his initial court appearance. VanDervort ordered Blankenship to appear in court, surrender his passport, prepare to meet and discuss his financial circumstances, and other actions to prepare for court proceedings.

The former Massey CEO  is set to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday. The former leader of what was once one of the largest coal producers in the country Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship was indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office on two mine safety charges, lying to the securities and exchange commission and securities fraud.

The decision to proceed this week with his arraignment comes days after the judge presiding over Blankenship’s criminal case issued a gag order for the parties involved.

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Inside Appalachia
5:30 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Former Coal Co. CEO Don Blankenship Indicted, Outlaw Coal Operations Skirting Penalties and More

Credit WV Division of Culture and History

Once considered untouchable, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on four federal charges in connection with the Upper Big Branch Disaster that killed 29 men in 2010. It’s news that folks in the coalfields never thought would happen.

In this episode, we’ll hear a special investigative series of reports about outlaw coal mining companies that keep operating despite injuries, violations and millions in fines.

And a new lawsuit has just been filed on behalf of the 78 coal miners who died in the Farmington Mine Disaster. We’ll hear memories from Sarah Kasnoski, one of the widows who lost her husband on that fateful date, November 20, 1968. 

Investigating Outlaw Mines That Keep Operating Despite Delinquent Fines

A recent investigative report has uncovered that some coal companies are working the system to avoid paying fines. The report also finds a connection between skirted financial penalties and injured coal miners: mines with more delinquent fines also have higher rates of injured workers.

NPR and Mine Safety and Health News sifted through citations, and documents for more than a year to find the connection. NPR’s Howard Berkes says it was no easy task. Each delinquent fine has a different start date, so tracking the injuries associated with the delinquent fines was complicated. In this episode, we hear the first three of these reports. We also talk with Berkes about mine safety and the development of these investigations.

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Upper Big Branch
11:37 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

UBB Victim's Father Reacts to Blankenship Indictment

Gary Quarles

Gary Quarles lost his son in the Upper Big Branch disaster. Since then, he's looked for peace, understanding and justice.

Quarles wanted to see Don Blankenship held accountable for the conditions at the mine and the death of his son.

Blankenship's Reputation

Quarles worked for Massey Energy as buggy operator for nine years and he knows first hand what kind of operation Blankenship was running.

“Don Blankenship’s name was known throughout Massey," he said.

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UBB Investigation
4:31 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship Indicted on Four Federal Charges

Credit Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on four federal charges Thursday. The charges stem from a years-long investigation led by the FBI and the United States Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General into an April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine owned by Massey that killed 29 miners. 

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Investigating Delinquent Mine Fines
6:01 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Investigating Delinquent Mines: The Story Behind The Story

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch and Howard Berkes at Southern Coal's Tams No. 1 Surface Mine near Beckley.
Credit Patrick Graham

Another West Virginia coal miner died this week, the fifth death this year. It's a tough reality in the coalfields where families regularly pray that loved ones will come home from a day's work, as they have for decades.

As incidents are reported, media outlets often share the amount of citations or delinquent fines of the mine where the accident occurred. But to what end?

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Inside Appalachia
7:23 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Another Industry Moves into Appalachia, Hemp Farmers in Ky. & N.C., Remembering Our Veterans

Fred Curits Lewis co-founder of the Growing Warriors Project.
Credit Growing Warriors

This week, we’ll hear from farmer Peg Taylor,  who’s excited that Hemp is being grown in Kentucky for the first time in four decades. But some farmers in West Virginia, like Bill Gorby, say they’re concerned about what hydraulic fracturing could do to the water on their farms.

And for What’s in a Name, we’ll travel to a small town that’s famous for its unique hunter’s stew.

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PSC Meetings
9:09 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

What Are West Virginia AEP Customers Saying About AEP's Proposed Rate Increase?

American Electric Power customers testify about the proposed rate increase in Mercer County.
Credit Jessica Lilly

The Public Service Commission is hosting meetings across the state as American Electric Power asks to raise electric rates on customers. Wednesday they heard from folks in McDowell County, many of which, oppose the rate increase. On Thursday they were in Mercer County.

Folks at the meeting expressed concerns about:

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Election 2014
2:29 am
Wed November 5, 2014

West Virginia's 2nd Congressional House Seat Remains Red

Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The seat in the second Congressional Delegation came up for grabs after Shelley Moore Capito decided to run for the United States Senate.

The enthusiasm at the Mooney campaign’s post-election party in Charles Town was anything but quiet. As soon as the polls closed at 7:30 p.m., supporters showed up in droves.

Throughout the evening, the vote tally between Mooney and Casey remained close, but the Republican’s supporters never faltered in confidence.

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Inside Appalachia
6:54 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Is There A KY Bourbon Bubble? A New Album by a Folk Music Legend Alice Gerrard, and More

Steven Middleton visits the world's only ventriloquist museum, located in Kentucky
Credit Steven Middleton

This week's episode features Elizabeth Wells McIlvain helps employ 1,000 people in West Virginia, making Fiesta ware.And we learn that the number of jobs created by the Kentucky Bourbon Distillery industry has doubled in the last two years. We'll also explore some eccentric roadside attractions, including a Ventriloquist museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

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Free Books
4:27 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Little Libraries Post Up in Mercer County Town

This Little Library is perched on Concord University's campus in Athens, W.Va.
Credit Jessica Lilly

The town of Athens has made it easier for folks to access books in town. The town was one of thousands across the country to open an official Little Library.

There are three “Little Libraries” throughout the town of Athens made possible by the Little Free Library Organization.  Essentially, it’s a box full of books that sits on a pole about 5 feet tall.  

The libraries are intended for residents and students to give a book and/or take a book from the boxes. So far book traffic out of the Little Libraries in Athens has been steady.

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Black Diamond Power
10:08 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Black Diamond Power Wants Overcharges to be “Customer Contribution"?

Power substation in Mullens, WV.

According to request filed by attorneys at law Hannah and Hanna PLLC back in August, Black Diamond Power admits to overcharging customers $1,686,338 admits to collecting over a five year period.

The document indicates that the company serves about 4,300 so that’s about $385 per customer.

The company proposes to refund $488, 307 to customers over a five year period which would come through a rate reduction.  But Black Diamond Power wants to treat the remaining money, treat the remaining $1.198 million as a “customer contribution.”

It appears that the Staff of the Public Service Commission filed recommendations on October 1. In that document, the staff of PSC recommends about $900,000 be recorded as a customer contribution and a reduction of rate base.


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