Opposition to New Black Lung Regs, A Kentucky Banjo Legend, Helping the Birds & Bees, and More

May 31, 2014

Efforts to combat black lung disease draw criticism.

Meet Kentucky banjo player Lee Sexton.

A look at efforts in Kentucky and Pennsylvania to save the birds and bees.

Black Lung Controversy. MSHA is addressing concerns about miners’ health, particularly the increase in recent years of black lung disease. Last month the agency passed a long awaited rule that will lower the amount of respirable coal dust in all U.S. underground and surface coal mines.  The new standard reduces dust levels from 2 miligrams per cubic meter to 1.5 miligrams per cubic meter.  This new standard aims to reduce black lung among miners, but as WMMT’s Tarence Ray reports, it has drawn criticism from both the industry and workplace safety advocates. 

Old Time Banjo. This year marks the 40th anniversary of June Appal Recordings, a record label started in 1974 by Appalshop, a non-profit media arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky.  The intent of the label was to document, preserve, and promote the traditional music of the central Appalachian Mountains, and in a new series, WMMT is looking back at the life and work of several June Appal recording artists. In the first of this series, Parker Hobson focuses on Lee Sexton, a world-renowned traditional banjo player born and raised in Letcher County, Kentucky.

A Tern for the Better? We hear a lot of bad news about the future of birds: they're threatened by everything from human development to wind turbines to climate change. The Common Tern used to nest in great numbers in the lower Great Lakes region, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. But in recent decades Common Tern nests, and their brown speckled eggs, have largely disappeared from the region. The Allegheny Front's Julie Grant reports about one effort to encourage their return.

Bee the Difference. There’s a shortage of bees across the country thanks to things like disease and pesticide use. Bees are important when it comes to pollinating plants, like crops that supply much of the food we eat. As WEKU’s Stu Johnson reports, Tammy Horn, sees her primary role to address this problem by increasing the number of bees and beekeepers across the Commonwealth.

Showing More Skin. There are a few restaurant chains that have made their scantily clad wait staff a key element to attracting customers. Over the Memorial Day weekend in north-central West Virginia, a lot of skin was on display in one restaurant. But it might not be the skin you’re thinking about. West Virginia Public Radio's Glynis Board reports.