Ohio Valley ReSource

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the seven stations involved in the Ohio Valley ReSource will be taking a look at the big stories in a regional community, from large focus issues in economy, energy, environment, infrastructure, health and agriculture. Each station has a reporter collaborating to this initiative, working together to tell these stories.

The region is undergoing huge changes in all of these large focus areas. OVR Managing Editor Jeff Young states, "Just look at how dramatically the energy marketplace has changed or what a crisis opiate addiction has become affecting healthcare. Some communities are really struggling while others are finding creative approaches for new economic development, or coming up with new ways to deliver health services in rural areas."

Young says he hopes the resource will offer storytelling that allows people in one community to learn from people in another.

http://ohiovalleyresource.org/

Rick Perry at Longview Power Plant
Glynis Board

Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy Solutions made waves last month when it asked the Department of Energy to grant it an emergency order to help keep coal and nuclear plants operating across the Ohio Valley.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

When Oklahoma teacher Sally Salmons saw momentum building toward teacher protests in her state, she immediately reached out to family ties and educators in West Virginia. She said teacher walkouts in the Mountain State provided her and colleagues across the state with the courage they needed to take a stand.

Courtesy Office of the Surgeon General

  U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams threw his support behind syringe exchange services as an important tool to address the Ohio Valley’s high risk of needle-borne disease associated with the opioid epidemic.

Trade War Fears Have Ohio Valley Soy Growers Nervous

Apr 10, 2018
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

China buys more than half of the soybeans grown in the Ohio Valley. So China’s threat this week to place a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soy means farmers would be caught in the crosshairs of a trade war.

Even though tariffs haven’t taken effect, markets are already showing signs that commodities traders are growing nervous. The tariff anxiety comes as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits the region this week.  

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Billy Hobby’s days are largely filled by two things: church and pool.

“I play everyday, mostly,” Hobby said, sitting next to his wife, Barbara.

“Well, I enjoy watching him play,” Barbara Hobby said. “He’s got health problems, can’t go out of town and play all the time.”

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

President Donald Trump visited West Virginia Thursday for a roundtable discussion on the recent tax bill.

 

In his wide-ranging remarks, Trump also indicated the administration is looking closely at a recent emergency request made by regional electric utility FirstEnergy Solutions.

 

Courtesy Bureau of Prisons

The Bureau of Prisons has issued a record of decision signaling that it is moving ahead with plans to build a federal prison on the site of a former strip mine in the hills of Letcher County, Kentucky. But local opponents of the prison say they’re not giving up and are considering a legal challenge to prevent the construction of a new prison.

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Greg Lee, Kentucky’s HIV/AIDS educator, starts the town hall on a somber note.

“How many people in this room know someone who has died of an overdose death?”

It is a standing-room only crowd. Most hands go up.

Howard Berkes / NPR

William McCool is a 64-year-old former coal miner from Letcher County, Kentucky, with an advanced form of black lung disease. Health experts say the condition is entirely preventable with dust control measures in mines. But today, more miners in Appalachia are being diagnosed with severe black lung than ever before.

Brittany Greeson / The GroundTruth Project

A federal study that was examining the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining -- halted last fall by the Trump Administration -- is officially over.

 

ARC and NORC at Univ. of Chicago

President Donald Trump’s call to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers grabbed headlines Monday. But public health officials within the Trump administration are stressing other elements of the president’s plan to address the opioid crisis.

Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anne Schuchat, outlined her agency’s plans for the Ohio Valley, which has some of the nation’s highest rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

Morgantown Industrial Park
Northeast Natural Energy

Dozens of chemicals that can affect the fertility of humans and animals are being found in the air near unconventional oil and gas development, according to a new study.

 

Students Push As Lawmakers Ponder Gun Safety Bills

Mar 20, 2018
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

In a recently released court video, Capt. Matt Hilbrecht of the Marshall County, Kentucky, Sheriff’s office testifies about his interrogation of Gabriel Parker, the 15-year-old accused of a mass shooting at Marshall County High School in January.

“We asked him initially when he had the thought of the school shooting,” Hilbrecht begins as he describes the events leading up to the shooting. The recording was released because Parker is being tried as an adult.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

Bottles of bourbon make their way through the assembly line at Maker’s Mark, one of ten distilleries on the Kentucky bourbon trail. They’re cleaned, filled, capped and then dipped in the company’s signature red wax, a tradition that started with the wife of the distillery’s founder, Bill Samuels.

Bluegrass Solar

Arlie Boggs Elementary sits between Kentucky’s two tallest mountains in a remote area that once had a booming coal economy. Ten years ago there were over a thousand coal miners employed here in Letcher county. Today, there are just 28.

“We were left with many unemployed miners,” eighth-grader Nicholas Sturgill said, as he and two classmates gave a presentation to a small crowd of students and teachers at an education summit in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Nicole Erwin

In the wake of school shootings in Kentucky and Florida, a rash of copycat school threats throughout the Ohio Valley left law enforcement and school officials grappling with how to improve security. A school counseling expert says it’s useful to look at the potential school shootings that did not happen. His research focuses on how schools have successfully averted shooting incidents.

Culture of Dignity

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Ohio Valley’s numbers on the opioid crisis are grim, especially so in West Virginia, which has the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths.

But those numbers could give health workers the ability to identify people at risk of drug overdose and then reach them before they die.

Fracking Waste Disposal: Still a Hot Mess

Feb 16, 2018
Bill Hughes

The slogan for Estill County is “where the bluegrass kisses the mountains.” But since 2015 the county, population 15,000, is widely known as the place where radioactive material generated by the oil and gas industry in a process known as fracking was dumped near some schools.

Courtesy ICE

With Congress in a heated immigration debate, the Ohio Valley region is adding to its immigration courts. Sources within the Justice Department say Kentucky will have a new immigration court operating in Louisville as soon as April, and Ohio is adding additional judges to handle deportations and other immigration cases.

Recent immigration changes and heated rhetoric have left many people in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia with an uncertain future and lawyers and courts with a backlog of cases.

Rosa’s Story

Edward Brown and Jerry Helton are both struggling with black lung disease.
Adelina Lancianese, photos; Alexandra Kanik, illustration.

The central Appalachian coalfields are in the middle of an unprecedented epidemic of severe black lung disease. In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association federal researchers released the results of a study conducted at just three black lung clinics. The study confirmed 416 cases of the most severe form of black lung disease, Progressive Massive Fibrosis.

Peabody Energy, Inc.
Wikimedia Commons

At a recent conference in Lexington, Kentucky, economists and community leaders gathered to talk about the state’s current budget crunch and possible economic future. Peter Hille, president of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, said Kentucky and other Appalachian states need to do more to build a new economy and move from dependence on a single source.

“Because coal played such a dominant role, it took the oxygen out of the room for the development of other sectors of the economy,” he said.

Trump Takes Enforcement Approach To Opioid Crisis

Feb 1, 2018
C-Span video

President Donald Trump addressed the opioid crisis affecting the Ohio Valley region in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge,” he said. “My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.”

Still from White House video

When President Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau annual convention this month he focused on the regulatory rollbacks and tax cuts that motivated many farmers to help vote him into office.

“We are doing a job for you,” Trump told an auditorium filled with farmers. “You’re seeing it like nobody else: regulation, death tax, so much.”

Dale Moore said farmers look to Trump for a better deal. Moore directs public policy for the Farm Bureau. He said net income for farmers hasn’t been this low since the Great Depression

In Wake Of School Shooting, A Look At How Kids Get Guns

Jan 25, 2018
Heather Adams and Gloria Hollifield waiting to pick up their children after the shooting.  There is another parallel to the Marshall County High shooting.
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Heather Adams sat in a line of cars along Kentucky Route 95, cars filled with parents who had just received the call no parent wants to get: A shooting at her child’s school, Marshall County High in Benton, Kentucky. Two 15-year-old students were killed and another 18 injured.  


Trump Renews Opioid Emergency As Democrats Seek More Funding For Crisis

Jan 22, 2018
Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press file photo

The Trump administration has extended its public health emergency on the opioid crisis. The move came just days before the original declaration signed in October was set to expire.

Acting Health And Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan signed an order Friday to extend the public health emergency for another 90 days. In a post on the agency’s website Hargan cited the continued consequences of the opioid crisis.

Demonstrators targeting Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Remember the American Health Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or the Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act? They were among the many Congressional proposals to end the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Courtesy of White House video

Donald Trump told supporters on the campaign trail his plan to combat the opioid crisis. It included stopping the flow of drugs into the country, increase the penalties for drug trafficking, and make treatment more accessible.

“We will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need,” then-candidate Trump said.

Still from White House video

Donald Trump loves coal.

He campaigned on a promise to put miners back to work and his first year in office included numerous Ohio Valley visits to highlight coal’s importance.

“I love our coal miners and they’re coming back strong!” Trump said to a roaring crowd at an August rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

  Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

Burned By Coal: Coalfield Communities Facing Electricity Price Hikes

Dec 23, 2017
Kentucky Power customers expressed frustration with proposed rate increases.
Mimi Pickering / WMMT

One evening this past November, angry customers and public officials filled a high school auditorium in Hazard, Kentucky, and took turns pleading with three members of the state’s public service commission.

Angie Hatton, a state legislator representing Letcher and Pike counties, presented the situation in historical terms. “This community that for two centuries has been powering our nation, we’re now struggling to keep our own lights on.”

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