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.

Ways To Connect

Mark Williams, "Mr. Fuel Cell"
Jean Snedegar

Randolph County native Mark Williams is a visionary engineer and scientist who was the first person to see the commercial potential of fuel cells to run everything from heart pacemakers to power plants. 

Judy Sheppard, a dynamic West Virginia entrepreneur
Jean Snedegar

  Judy Sheppard is currently West Virginia’s most honored businesswoman and entrepreneur.  In 2011 she was named the state’s Small Business Person of the Year as well as Distinguished West Virginian of the Year.  Sheppard is founder, president and CEO of Professional Services of America, Inc, a multi-million dollar business based in Parkersburg.   With more than 200 employees, PSA, as it’s known, provides services for some of America’s largest corporations – DuPont, GE, Pepsico, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mylan Pharmaceuticals and others – as well as 32 government agencies.

Dr. Lewis Cantley opened up entirely new fields in cell biology and cancer treatment.
Jean Snedegar

Back in 1985 Dr. Lewis Cantley, a native of Big Chimney in Kanawha County, discovered an enzyme called PI3-Kinase.  At the time his scientific colleagues thought he couldn’t be right.  How could a chemist discover something so fundamental to biology?

Kim Weaver - Global Pioneer in X-ray Astronomy
Jean Snedegar

When Kim Weaver looked up at the stars from her father’s campground in Monongalia County, she was inspired to find out what was out there.  By her early 20s, this WVU graduate had already discovered a galaxy.  She was also among the first scientists in the world to study Black Holes, using an X-ray telescope built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Her discoveries helped to launch whole new fields of astronomy.

Homer Hickam - Rocket Boy, NASA aerospace engineer, writer
Jean Snedegar

McDowell County native Homer Hickam, Jr. is best known for his book Rocket Boys, the story of how six teenagers in a 1950s West Virginia coal company town went on to win the National Science Fair in 1960.   One night in October 1957, Hickam’s life changed forever when the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 – the world’s first artificial earth satellite – flew over his hometown of Coalwood.

“I knew at that moment that somehow, some way, I wanted to be involved in this movement into space.”

New River Gorge Fire
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.

Boy Scouts
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.

Righteous Remnant Bartizvah
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.

Temple Beth El
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.

Gayle Manchin
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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

state capitol
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.

WV Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announces intentions to run for US Senate 2013
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.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller

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.

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.

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

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.