Suzanne Higgins

Senior Producer

Suzanne Higgins is the news department’s Senior Producer, headquartered at WSWP-TV in Beckley.

She's currently producing Jay: A Rockefeller's Journey, a program focusing on the life and career of John D. Rockefeller, IV as the senator retires following 50 years of public service. 

Other current projects include the Inspiring West Virginians web series for middle school students, and contributions to radio newscasts.

One of Suzanne's recent projects was The Story of the Jews radio series. She also co-produced West Virginia 150: Commemorating Statehood, an hour-long program celebrating the state's sesquicentennial, which was awarded Best Documentary in 2014 by The Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Suzanne's other ongoing projects include the Inspiring West Virginians documentary series, the McDowell County: Rebirth and Resilience radio series, the Aging with Grace & Dignity series, and contributions to West Virginia Morning, Inside Appalachia, and The Legislature Today.

Her past projects have included producing and hosting nightly television legislative coverage, producing West Virginia Music Hall of Fame specials, the Legacy series, the Mountain State Science series and the Healing in the Hills series.

Suzanne is the recipient of the national Pew Charitable Trust’s Batten Award for Excellence in Civic Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting, an Emmy Award, and several West Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Association awards.


Fire Closes Trail
8:00 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

National Park Service Battling New River Gorge Fire

A fire has been burning in the New River Gorge National Park since Sunday. The fire has closed the Endless Wall Trail.
Credit Erin Board

Updated: Friday, April 25, 2014 at 10:27 a.m.

New River Gorge National River’s Fern Creek Fire that has been burning since Sunday April 20th remains  at 90% contained.  Crews will continue to monitor and mop up the burn. There are still some hot spots and heat within the perimeter of the burn.  Today’s rain will provide a much needed break for the firefighters.  The area will be assessed after the weather breaks and future actions planned accordingly.

The National Park Service at New River Gorge National River reports that rangers at the Glen Jean station have been fighting a fire in the park since Sunday night.

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Volunteers welcomed
2:16 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Boy Scouts and Others To Plant Chestnut Trees at Reserve

Consol Energy Bridge, Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, Mt. Hope, WV.
Credit wikimedia commons

Boy Scouts at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Mount Hope will conduct a chestnut tree planting April 19. 

The American Chestnut Foundation says the Scout Reserve is located near the center of the American chestnuts’ historical range in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

Volunteers will plant several hundred potentially blight resistant chestnut trees provided by the foundation near the west end of the Consol Energy Bridge.

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Story of the Jews
10:55 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Righteous Remnant: Jewish Survival in Appalachia

A Bar Mitzvah at Temple Beth El in Beckley, 1994.
Credit Tom Sopher

Righteous Remnant: Jewish Survival in Appalachia is the West Virginia PBS documentary produced by West Virginia University School of Journalism Professor Maryanne Reed. The half-hour film, produced in 1997, examines the history and modern-day concerns of the small Jewish community in Beckley, W.Va. Click play below to watch the entire film.

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Story of the Jews
9:19 am
Wed March 19, 2014

They’re Keeping the Faith at Temple Beth El

Temple Beth El has been the center of the Jewish community in Beckley since 1935.
Credit Suzanne Higgins

This article is part of a special series highlighting the Jewish experience in West Virginia. It's a companion to the television series The Story of the Jews, airing March 25 and April 1 at 8 pm on West Virginia PBS.

Tom Sopher was once a teenager helping the rabbi at Temple Beth El in Beckley with maintenance and yard work.

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Free computers
4:10 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Laptops On the Way to All McDowell Middle School Students

Gayle Manchin is chair of Reconnecting McDowell, the partnership which announced today free laptops for McDowell middle school students.
Credit Suzanne Higgins

Every middle school student in McDowell County will be given a free laptop next week.

Approximately 875 laptops will be distributed to students and their parents or guardians—first at Mount View Middle School on Monday evening, then at Sandy River Middle School on Tuesday evening and then at Southside K-8 School on Wednesday evening.

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Commemorative Issue
12:05 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Goldenseal Celebrates 40 Years

Goldenseal's 40th Anniversary issue is available now.

Goldenseal magazine, known as the state's journal of traditional life,  is marking its 40th year of publication with a special commemorative issue, on sale now.

Goldenseal has been published quarterly by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History since 1975.

The Spring 2014 edition revisits favorite stories from past issues, along with story updates and additional content.

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Story of the Jews
10:00 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Says Forgive But, Don’t Forget

Daniel Kereth of Bluefield, a Holocaust survivor.

As national Holocaust Day of Remembrance approached, 92 year old Holocaust survivor Daniel Kereth said years on the run and in prison were life-defining.

As Kereth prepared to speak at a remembrance ceremony at Mountain State University in 2011, Suzanne Higgins visited him in his home in Bluefield.


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Funds Not Approved
10:07 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Governor to Appeal FEMA Denial

Governor will appeal FEMA's decision to deny funds available under an emergency declaration.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Wednesday that he's appealing a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny West Virginia's request for emergency protective measures through the emergency declaration issued in response to the Kanawha Valley water crisis.

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2-year program
3:03 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

UC-Beckley to Start Associate Nursing Program

The University of Charleston has announced plans to start a 2-year associate degree in nursing program at
its Beckley campus.

At a news conference University of Charleston Regional President Jerry Forster said the school has notified the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses and will begin the accreditation process.

He says leaders at Raleigh General Hospital and Beckley Appalachian Regional Healthcare have conveyed the message that more nurses are needed to fill shortages.

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Beckley facility
2:47 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Senate Considers New Nursing Home for Veterans

A bill to construct a new skilled nursing home for veterans has been introduced in the state Senate.
Credit wikimedia / Wikimedia

State Senator Mike Green (D., 9th District) has introduced a bill to designate funds for the construction of a veterans skilled nursing facility in Beckley.

Senate Bill 523 proposes using money from the Veterans Facilities Support Fund and bonds provided by the West Virginia Hospital Finance Board.

The 120-bed veterans skilled nursing facility would be located on more than 17 acres adjacent to the Jackie Withrow Hospital, formerly known as Pinecrest Hospital.

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1:57 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Tennant Files for Senate

Natalie Tennant filed for U.S. Senate race Friday.
Credit Jessica Y. Lilly

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant filed her candidacy papers for U.S. Senate today.

Tennant filed to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

In a statement her campaign chairman, retired Major Gen. Allen Tackett said "Natalie always puts people above politics, and she knows West Virginia because she is West Virginia.”

According to the release Tennant grew up the youngest of seven children on her family farm. She worked her way through college at West Virginia University, where she was the Mountaineer mascot.

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1:45 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Rockefeller Wants More Answers from Water Company

Sen. Rockefeller is demanding more information from West Virginia American Water.
Credit Politico

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller has written to West Virginia American Water for a second time since the chemical leak at Freedom Industries January 9.

In a letter sent this morning he asked West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre to respond by Friday, Jan. 24.

Rockefeller states he’s deeply concerned that after the “do not use” ban was lifted for people living in Buffalo, Fraziers Bottom and Pliny, further tests revealed levels of Crude MCHM higher than 1ppm.

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3:30 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Text Your Way Into College

WV high school seniors will receive college counseling by texts.

West Virginia's Text Messaging Support Project, launched this month by the state's Higher Education Policy Commission, provides a pilot group of high school seniors personalized college counseling by text message.

The initiative to increase the college-going rates of high school students was highlighted at a White House conference Thursday hosted by the President and First Lady.

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Company statement
1:34 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Freedom Industries Makes Statement on Leak

State of Emergency in 9 WV counties.

The following is a statement by Gary Southern, President of Freedom Industries, issued approximately at 1pm Friday.

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10:57 am
Thu January 2, 2014

James "Buck" Harless Dead at 94

James "Buck" Harless, International Industries, dies at age 94.
Credit Marshall University

Ninety four-year-old James "Buck" Harless has passed away. Harless was born in Gilbert, W.Va. in Mingo County and worked as a miner for the Red Jacket Coal Company for several years after high school.

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2:36 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Conference Looking at Environment and Jobs

Alliance for Appalachia seeks to end mountaintop removal and replace those positions with environmentally friendly jobs.

An Economic Transition Summit is being held this weekend at Hawks Nest Park in Fayette County. Representatives from throughout Appalachia are meeting to discuss the development of economic opportunities beyond coal.

The meeting is being hosted by The Alliance for Appalachia, a coalition of 15 groups across the region working to end mountaintop removal, while building local economies.

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1:33 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame Inductee Homer Bailes Dies at 91

Homer Bailes at WV Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Credit WVPublic



  Born in 1922 near Charleston, WV, Homer Bailes, the last surviving member of The Bailes Brothers, passed away December 3, in Ruston, LA.


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5:29 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

He’ll Make You Want to Lace Up Those Running Shoes

Champion runner Bill Warner of Beckley.
Credit Suzanne Higgins / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last fall Bill Warner of Beckley was running through the woods of Thurmond when suddenly he noticed “a big ole black bear” just 10-12 feet away.

“I set a new age group record that day,” he laughs.

Bill is 60 years old and an ultra – marathoner - running up to 50-mile races – and winning!

Just this year he won first place in his age group against 118 runners at the USA 25k Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Then there was the Chicago Marathon where Bill placed first in his age group of 510 runners, and 769th out of the total 38, 871 runners.

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3:13 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

State Police Say Latest Meth Busts Underscore Funding Needs

WV State Trooper First Sergeant Michael Baylous (L) and Trooper First Class L.W. Price discuss month of meth lab busts Friday.
Credit Suzanne Higgins / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia State Police say they've arrested dozens of people in southern West Virginia on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine during targeted efforts in the past month.

Since October 26 state troopers in Webster, Pendleton, Randolph, and Braxton counties found 2 meth labs, arrested 14 people and seized a little over $1000.

This resulted in 28 felonies and 2 misdemeanor charges.

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4:43 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Rockefeller Receives Award From Japan

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, recipient of national award from Japan.
Credit Politico

Sen. Jay Rockefeller say's he's deeply honored to receive the prestigious Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese government.  The award recognizes Rockefeller’s work to strengthen the economic and cultural relationship between the two countries.

In a news release the senator says the people of Japan have shaped his life and the lives of thousands of West Virginians.

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