Molly Born

Reporter, Southern Coalfields

Molly Born is making the transition from print to radio reporting as a fellow with Report for America, an effort to strengthen local journalism in Appalachia and other undercovered areas. She's based in Williamson, Mingo County, and will cover the state's southern coalfields.

A native of Marion County in north-central West Virginia, Molly attended Fairmont State University and Northwestern University. She spent six years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she won multiple awards covering beats including crime, local government, and education. In pursuit of the story, she has spent the night at a palatial Hare Krishna commune, reported on location from the middle of a four-lane highway, and (politely) commandeered a passing car to hear the verdict in a murder trial.

Outside of work, Molly enjoys doing Zumba, reading, and exploring new places.

Ways to Connect

Blair Mountain Battlefield
WV Humanitites Council

Blair Mountain, the site of the storied labor battle in Logan County, again has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The battlefield was named to that record in 2009 before it was removed months later. In 2016, a federal judge said the delisting was wrong in that federal officials didn't verify the list of landowners they claimed took issue with the designation. In her decision released Friday, Joy Beasley, the "keeper" of the National Register, called the removal "erroneous" and said the majority of those landowners hadn't objected to it at all.

A group of teens walks on the campus of West Virginia State University to the Rainbow Formal, the state's first LGBTQ prom.
Molly Born / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this week’s show, we’re exploring issues in our region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We’ll hear from a teenager getting ready for an LGBT formal. We’ll learn how difficult it can be to access healthcare in eastern Kentucky for one gender nonconforming Appalachian. We’ll also take a look at efforts in West Virginia to provide legal protection to people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gabby Marshall

Inside the spotless industrial kitchen at Recovery Point, a long-term drug treatment facility in Charleston, Tracy Jividen helps to cook three meals a day for the nearly 100 women she calls her sisters. This space is her domain, and the irony isn’t lost on her: Last winter, she was stealing so she could eat.

Teachers hold a rally outside the Senate Chambers in the West Virginia Capitol Monday, March. 5, 2018 in Charleston, W.V. Hundreds of teachers from 55 counties were on strike for pay raises and better health benefits.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

From Morgantown to Matewan, educators and their supporters pledged to "remember in November" the Republican state lawmakers who held out on the raise they demanded this winter during the teacher strike. On Tuesday, they went to the polls to, as some put it, "make them pay in May."

Supporters talk with former Massey CEO and West Virginia Republican Senatorial candidate, Don Blankenship, center, prior to a town hall to kick off his campaign in Logan, W.Va., Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.
Steve Helber / Associated Press file photo

Polls show former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship hovering in third place in the six-way Republican U.S Senate primary primary race. In his native Mingo County, Blankenship’s donations to the community, and a belief that he will help bring back jobs, have led some to support him.

Dollar Photo Club

More than 40 people were arrested in Huntington this week on drug and gun charges in a sweeping joint investigation targeting accused interstate drug traffickers in what officials called a "turning point" for the city -- and "in the war against the opiate nightmare." 

A group of teens walks on the campus of West Virginia State University to the Rainbow Formal, the state's first LGBTQ prom.
Molly Born / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For many teens the prom is the epitome of their high school experience. But for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer, it can be a challenge to feel like they belong. This year, some West Virginia students decided to start a new tradition: The Rainbow Formal, the state's first dance for LGBTQ youth.

Molly Born / WVPB

Up to a half-million people were expected in Washington, D.C., Saturday for the March for Our Lives, a demonstration advocating school safety, organized by the survivors of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Among those planning to join the cause were several student-activists from southern West Virginia.

Andrew Thomas doesn’t teach math, but there was important equation on the whiteboard of his classroom at Mullens Middle School in Wyoming County two days after the end of the statewide teacher strike: $32,000 X 5 percent = $1,600. The bigger number is his salary, and the rest, he told his students, is what he and the thousands of other teachers fought for at the Capitol in Charleston.

"We are so underpaid, guys," he told them. "I make $1,042 every two weeks. … Guys, this is a hard way to live in southern West Virginia, particularly, especially as a teacher."

Teachers and supporters fill the Capitol Building March 5, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va.
Molly Born / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Now that teachers and other school employees across West Virginia have returned to the classroom, lawmakers are turning their attention to the budget to pay for 5 percent raises for educators, service personnel – and the salary hike promised for all public employees.

West Virginia Legislative Services

Voters in November will decide on a resolution that would effectively strip the constitutional right to have an abortion in West Virginia.

Teachers and supporters fill the Capitol Building March 5, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va.
Molly Born / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the eighth day of a statewide teacher strike, a special committee of lawmakers is set to begin sorting out what kind of pay raise teachers in West Virginia will ultimately receive.

Teachers rally outside the state Senate chambers at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
John Raby / AP Photo

Update: 10:15 p.m. 03/03/18

The question of whether striking West Virginia teachers would return to the classroom Monday was temporarily dwarfed by another Saturday night: What just happened here?

The state Senate passed a bill that they thought would give teachers a 4 percent raise, less than the 5 percent they asked for. But, according to a House of Delegates clerk, the version Senate lawmakers passed had some of the same key language as the original.

Superintendents, Justice Urge Senate to Pass Pay Raise Bill
Molly Born

Whether teachers will return to class next week across West Virginia remained an open question Friday evening as school district leaders urged state Senate lawmakers to pass a teacher pay-raise bill and put an end to an ongoing strike.

Adobe Stock

Every October, Gilbert  -- population 475 -- swells with visitors as 5,000 people come for TrailFest, which markets itself as one the premier ATV events on the East Coast. The tourism surrounding the Hatfield-McCoy Trail has helped make the Mingo County town one of the fastest-growing in the area.

Having reliable Internet access here is critical to building the local economy, said Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood, who said described the service as "snail-paced."

Kristian Thacker

The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a plan to use part of yearly budget surpluses to help fund public employee health insurance.

The bill comes as thousands of teachers, school service personnel and other public employees took to the Capitol Thursday, Feb. 22, to rally lawmakers for better pay and an overhaul of their insurance plan. Schools in all 55 of West Virginia’s counties were closed Thursday because of the work stoppage. A second day of walkouts is planned for Friday.

Jason Walker, one of the Cedar Creek residents who have accused Dynamic Energy of contamining their water, poses near a creek from which he draws water to flush his toliets.
Molly Born / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In May 2016, a jury found that a coal company owned by then-candidate for governor, Jim Justice, wasn’t responsible for contaminating the water wells of several Wyoming County residents. Still, an order requiring the firm to provide temporary fresh water stayed in place, and the water kept coming -- until recently, when it abruptly stopped. 

wikimedia commons/Magnolia677

Attorneys for 16 Wyoming County families who accused a coal company of contaminating their water asked the state’s highest court Wednesday, Jan. 24, for another chance to prove their case.