Heroin Problems, W.Va. African American History, Growing Hops and More

Jun 21, 2014

Heroin could be replacing prescription pills as Appalachia’s biggest drug problem.

West Virginia is 151 years old and we look at the African American contribution to its culsture.

Efforts are underway to encourage farmers across the region to grow hops to support the brewing industry.

And we visit with Bridget Lancaster from America’s Test Kitchen.

Is heroin replacing pills as the drug of choice in Appalachia? In March of this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the country was embroiled in what he calls an “urgent public health crisis” due to heroin overdoses. And things are no different in Appalachian states like Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia where heroin use, and deaths, have rapidly increased in recent years. A lengthy heroin investigation recently led to the arrest of two people living in a campus apartment at Eastern Kentucky University. Reports reveal that heroin overdoses accounted for 129 total drug overdose deaths in Kentucky in 2012, compared to 42 in the year before.  Meanwhile, Ben Adducchio with West Virginia Public Radio has been looking into what’s going on with the heroin problem in West Virginia and he has this comprehensive look at how use of the drug has increased and the impact it’s having on people.

African Americans made many contributions to Appalachian culture and history. 151 years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, West Virginia became a state. At that point in time there were many disagreements about allowing the western counties of Virginia to form a new state, including how to handle slavery. In this excerpt from West Virginia Public Radio’s award winning documentary WV 150: Commemorating Statehood, we look at some of the state’s African American history and its role in the early Civil Rights movement.

One family's cultural legacy. Essayist David Fryson’s ancestors contributed to the culture of southern West Virginia. In this eulogy to his late mother, Fryson reflects on the role his parents and others had on the state’s history.

One refugee making a new life in West Virginia. The rise of the coal industry after the Civil War brought immigrants from many European countries to Appalachia. These families made contributions to the diverse and complex fabric of the region, which has seen immigrants in recent years from places like Latin America and the Middle East. One of these more recent immigrants is actually a refugee from Africa who came to West Virginia to escape a society where everywhere you go, you have to fear for your life, simply because of what you believe in. Here’s West Virginia Public Radio’s Ben Adducchio has the story.

Hopping to start a new crop in Appalachia. Just about anywhere you go in the region you’ll find a local brew pub or brewery. Regional craft beers are available thanks to restaurants like the Charleston Brewing Company in West Virginia or Lexington Brewing Company in Kentucky and breweries like Depot Street Brewing in Jonesborough, Tennessee. As the craft beer industry has taken off, some Appalachian states are studying whether local farmers can benefit from the burgeoning beer industry by growing hops for the brewers to use. West Virginia State University through a grant from the state agriculture department just started a three year study to determine if hops grows well in West Virginia and West Virginia Public Radio's Cecelia Mason visited with a couple of participants.

A celebrity chef visits home.  Festiv-ALL is going on right now in Charleston. That’s an annual festival that floods the city with music, fine art, film, dance, theater and food. One of West Virginia’s more famous chefs, Bridget Lancaster of the PBS show America’s Test Kitchen, is participating in a Sunday afternoon event called Taste-of-ALL featuring some of the area’s culinary treats. West Virginia Public Radio’s Beth Vorhees was able to visit with Lancaster last fall to learn more about her career and how being a West Virginian contributed to it.