Jessica Lilly

Host & Co-Producer of Inside Appalachia - Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief

Jessica Lilly covers southern West Virginia for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and is the host and co-producer of Inside Appalachia. The show airs Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and is also available as a podcast. Jessica can also be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program.

Jessica joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2008 as the Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief. She’s committed to reporting stories of the people in her region and across Appalachia. She's passionate about following issues and developments in worker safety, community tap water, and more.

Inside Appalachia won a Regional Murrow in 2016 for the Inside Appalachia show called, "What Happens When Strangers with Cameras Travel Inside Appalachia?" Jessica was named "Best Radio News Anchor" two years in a row by the Virginias Associated Press beginning in 2016.

Concord University chose Jessica as, "Alumnus of the Year" in 2015. Jessica was instrumental in launching Concord University's first FM station, WVCU-LP FM in 2015.

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 among other awards throughout her career.

While studying broadcasting and journalism, public relations and business administration at Concord University, Jessica worked as the weekend producer and fill in reporter for WVNS-TV in Raleigh County, West Virginia. 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, W.Va., 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 is the faculty advisor at Concord University's radio station, WVCU LP-FM "Mt. Lion Radio".

She recently took on the role of Concord University cheerleading coach.

In her spare time, she enjoys attending sporting events and theatre productions, singing, antiquing, skiing, riding ATV’s, and traveling with family.

Ways to Connect

wvdanceco.com

A concert of modern dance that explores the history of the coal mining industry in Appalachia is touring Southern West Virginia. 

Two groups are working together to tell the story of the coal industry in Appalachia from the turn of the century to the 1920’s. 

Jessica Lilly

Some miners are looking for new occupations because they worry this current down swing in coal production won’t be an ordinary ‘bust’. Workforce West Virginia is reporting that more than 4,200 West Virginia coal miners have lost their jobs since March 2012. Although mining jobs were created during that same, the agency couldn't quantify the number. 

Concord University is hosting a special one-time screening of the story about two average working people with a passion for contemporary art. “Herb & Dorothy 50x50” tells how Herb and Dorothy Vogel and the ‘road trip’ process of donating their art to museums across the country.

The documentary, “Herb & Dorothy 50x50” details the Vogel’s gift to this country and the final chapter of their extraordinary lives. It’s a follow-up to the award-winning “Herb & Dorothy (2008) by Megumi Sasaki.

AllVoices.com

Hundreds of coal miners are expected to lose their jobs in West Virginia this month. The federal government announced yesterday that the State was given a nearly two million dollar emergency grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The federal dollars will provide retraining and reemployment services to dislocated coal miners and their families.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

A study released Wednesday says minable coal will run out much sooner than expected. The report comes from an environmental organization and the author claims it’s science based and not politically driven.

The report is published by Clean Energy Action, Colorado based environmental organization that works to push the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources.  

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

A widow is battling for black lung benefits of her dead husband.  Mary Fox filed an appeal on behalf of her late husband Gary Fox last year. Testimony before a federal appeals court began today in Virginia.

The hearing comes the same day stories from a yearlong investigation by the Center for Public Integrity revealed lawyers with the Jackson Kelly law firm submitted only favorable evidence in court.

Kings Dominion does not plan to host the attraction in 2014.
KingsDominion.com

Kings Dominion does not plan to host a Halloween themed attraction called, Miner's Revenge next year.

The Virginia-based amusement park does not plan to host a Halloween themed attraction called, Miner's Revenge next year. The  park charged more than $32 for admission during the weekends in October. The haunted attraction's similarities to the Upper Big Branch disaster similarities infuriated the families of the victims. Some have said it’s eerily similar to their real life nightmare.

Tonya Kinder

A grieving family is honoring their loved one with a memorial scholarship, with the help of the ambulance company where he worked. Mark Kinder II died in January while returning from dropping off a patient. Jan Care is donating the money for the scholarship.

It’s been about nine months since Mark Kinder II was killed. Mark’s sister Tonya, also a Jan Care employee, says her brother is believed to have been resting in the passenger seat when the accident happened.

Patriot Coal

Patriot Coal is responding to recent actions from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Yesterday, Thursday MSHA released a statement stating that the agency had labeled two West Virginia coal mines and one in Kentucky as pattern violators, meaning they've repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations.

Billy Owens as pictured in the yearbook from 1954.
Courtesy Concord University

A campus based organization at Concord University tracked down the first African American student to attend the school. The Black Student Union invited Billy Owens to Athens earlier this month. Owens saw discrimination in his day, but not at the University.   

  It started after sophomore and Black Student Union president James Riley heard the legend of Billy Owens from faculty advisors on campus. Apparently, they had searched for Owens in the past with no luck.

Rachel Lippman / St. Louis Public Radio

The United Mine Workers of America has reached a settlement with Peabody Energy and Patriot Coal that will help to cover health care benefits for retired miners.

Background:

Miracle Boy, a film about a young boy who is injured in a farming accident and then bullied by other boys, took home Best Short film at the West Virginia Filmmaker’s Festival this past weekend.  Producer Jason Brown said he will always be a West Virginia filmmaker despite his Georgia address. The movie  was shot in Greenbrier County.

The United Mine Workers is reminding miners to stay safe during the government shut down. Three miners died in just as many days over the weekend. 

UMWA president Cecil Roberts is urging all miners to be especially careful at work.

Roberts said, “check on your buddy,” and “watch each other's back.”

On Friday 62-year-old Roger R. King from Moundsville was killed after an accident at CONSOL Energy's McElroy mine in Marshall County. He was employed as a longwall maintenance coordinator and had 42 years of mining experience.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is inevitably affected by the standoff in Washington. MSHA is partially open with less than half the staff.

Update Monday October 7 9:00 a.m.

Leslie Fitzwater with the state Office of Miner's Health Safety and training says 62-year-old Roger R. King from Moundsville died Friday. 

King died Friday after an accident at CONSOL Energy's McElroy mine in Marshall County. He was employed as a longwall maintenance coordinator.

King had 42 years of mining experience with 17 years experience at McElroy mine.

Jessica Lilly

A pink scarf that stretches more than 6,060 feet is draped across the inside of Tamarack and anyone is welcome to add a few more knitted feet. Knitters that contribute then fill out a card with a message.

“This is in memory of Telo of Richmond Hill, Georgia who passed away at a young age of 47 from cancer,” Deaner Will said. “Telo know I’m always thinking of you with much love and blessings; Linda Crawford from Middleburg Florida.”

As the benefits for retirees remain in limbo, a federal court dismissed an attempt by the union to secure health coverage.  Federal Judge Joseph R. Goodwin has dismissed a case meant to force two coal companies to pay for retiree health care benefits. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal created Patriot Coal, which filed for Chapter 11 last year.

The United Mine Workers of America says it will take an act of Congress and Peabody and Arch providing significant resources in order to secure long term funding for miner benefits.

A mine in McDowell County is among several operations cited during impact inspections for safety violations last month. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the results Thursday.  

An impact inspection conducted at a JJ & E Coal Corporation’s mine in McDowell County resulted in: eight unwarrantable failure orders, one task training order, one imminent danger order and 36 citations.

A mine safety law that’s been on the books since 1977 was intended to give miners the ability to report problems without retribution. This is a law that’s rarely been used and often when it has  managers and not working miners serve as the representatives.

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