Roxy Todd

Reporter

 Roxy moved to West Virginia in 2009 and has been hooked on the stories here ever since. Since 2011 she has been producing stories with Allegheny Mountain Radio and the Traveling 219 Project, and many of these stories have also aired on West Virginia Public Radio. Her story about Richwood’s Ramp Festival was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition. The Traveling 219 Project that she helped create was awarded a national award of merit from the American Association for State and Local History.

Roxy is a native of middle Tennessee. In 2005 she graduated from Warren Wilson College, where she studied Creative Writing, Theater and Education. She worked for Warren Wilson’s newspaper and contributed to the college’s literary journals, The Pulp and The Well

In 2006 Roxy and her friend Patrick Seick wrote a sci-fi rock opera called Osama Baby. The play was performed at the Montford Park Amphitheater in Asheville, NC. 

NPS

In this episode: Appalachians who love their land and their mountain homes. But history reveals some unsettling stories about some Appalachians who were forced off their land in the 1930s to make room for the Shenandoah National Park. 

Roxy Todd

This past weekend, the community of Pickens, West Virginia celebrated the 31st annual West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival.

A few miles away from Pickens is the Blue Rock Farm, where, Don Olson makes maple syrup, most of which he sells during the festival.

But last week, there wasn't a lot of syrup being made at the farm. The sunlight poured through the sugar maple trees, and the temperature was in the 60s. The sap was hardly flowing.

Roxy Todd

In colder regions of Appalachia, the third week in March is maple syrup season. That’s right, maple syrup isn’t just for New England farmers. This weekend marks the 31st annual maple syrup festival in Pickens, West Virginia.

This week we’ve been exploring a series of reports about service dogs and therapy dogs that have been trained by prison inmates. A program called paws4people has been partnering with West Virginia state prisons for the last few years. For the final part of this story,  we learn about a service dog named Mason who was trained in a state prison in Mason County, West Virginia.

Daniel Walker/WVPB

St. Mary's Correctional Center is one of five state prisons in West Virginia where inmates help train service dogs. The program is a partnership between the paws4people foundation and the West Virginia Division of Corrections.

Roxy Todd

Paca is an English Black Labrador who works with elementary school students at the Mary C. Snow School on Charleston's West Side.

One of Paca's roles is to help children who are emotionally in need of some extra love.

photo courtesy Coal River Mountain Watch

In Charleston on Monday, about 200 people gathered in front of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection headquarters to demand a moratorium on mountaintop removal mining permits.

Protesters cited several health studies that show a direct link between high rates of cancer and mountaintop removal mining. One of the six environmental groups that organized the rally was Coal River Mountain Watch. Vernon Haltom is the group’s executive director.

Christine Cover

Appalachia has certainly been stereotyped by many people in the media. But not all storytellers are the same, and the stories that are told about Appalachia are often complicated with layers of misunderstandings. 

Daniel Walker/WVPB

This week, Inside Appalachia is featuring some incredible stories about dogs that help people heal. Like Paca, who helps children overcome emotional trauma and even helps encourage them to read. And we'll travel to a special cemetery, reserved only for coonhound dogs.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of seeing eye dogs, but service dogs do plenty of other jobs to help people. Roxy Todd takes us on a journey with a few service dogs helping folks in unique ways.

photo by Cecelia Mason

Appalachia is no stranger to industrial or environmental disasters that affect our water. Because of crumbling water infrastructure in many coalfield communities, folks often turn to bottled water for regular use.

But not all bottled water is equal. At least that’s according to judges at the 25th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting & Competition, which took place February 19-22. The competition judges the taste of bottled water, purified water, and municipal city waters from across the world were judged.

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.

Melissa Ellsworth

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration announced that its full-scale forensic investigation is now underway in earnest, following last week's train derailment.  

Federal Investigators say it could be weeks before we know what caused the CSX train to derail last Monday.

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.

Roxy Todd

During January’s West Virginia Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to withdraw a controversial new policy that addresses how science teachers should teach climate change to public school students.

Folks have until 4:00 pm Tuesday February 17th, to weigh in on this new policy.

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.

This is a story about love, tragedy, and new beginnings. 

Valentine's day isn't a favorite holiday for all people- especially not people who aren't in a romantic relationship. But what about a bundle of unexpected letters, written by strangers from a little town far away? Well a town in West Virginia is about to receive about 700 love letters. These letters express well wishes- even for those who claim to be left out of Valentine's Day.

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.

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.


This past Saturday, chefs from West Virginia and Virginia came to Charleston to compete in the 10th annual Cast Iron Cook Off. On Friday students from five West Virginia high schools also competed in the first annual Junior Cast Iron Cook Off.

High School Culinary Students Compete

Smells of leeks and mushrooms sauteing in olive oil filled the air, as I walked through the doors of the West Virginia Culture center. The entire lobby was filled with students racing against the clock to prepare food in cast iron skillets.

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