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/

Miners’ Pensions A Major Part Of Spending Debate

Dec 14, 2017
Courtesy of the office of Sen. Brown

  Retired union coal miners are joining teamsters, iron workers and other union retirees in an effort to shore up their ailing pension plans, and they hope the ticking clock on a government spending bill will help.

Some Democrats want to see protections for retirement benefits included in the omnibus spending bill, which Congress must pass in order to prevent a government shutdown. That could set up a year-end showdown over the spending bill, with major implications for retirees in the Ohio Valley region.

Benny Becker / Ohio Valley Resource

The sound of power tools blends with teenage chatter as students clamber around, under, and over a trailer bed that they’re busy turning into a home. They’re part of a project called “Building It Forward,” which has vocational classes building tiny houses as a way of gaining practical skills and new confidence.

LBJ Library / Public Domain

Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stood in front of the state’s capitol to rally the roughly 120 coal miners and industry boosters gathered there.

“The fight against the unlawful Clean Power Plan started in Charleston, West Virginia,” Morrisey said, noting the state’s role in a legal challenge to the Obama-era rule.

 


Changing Course: A School Cooperative Aims To Remake Coal Communities

Nov 27, 2017
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley Resource

Betsy Layne High School serves rural Floyd County in the eastern Kentucky town of Stanville, population 206. Students there produce a video program called “Bobcat Banter” where they usually talk about sports and student life. But early last year “Bobcat Banter” introduced some special guests.

“We’re here with Mr. and Mrs. Gates from the Gates Foundation,” the students said.

The world’s richest man and his partner in life and philanthropy, Melinda Gates, had dropped in for a chat.

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the is West Virginia Morning, more than 1,000 Ohio Valley farmers used a complicated federal visa program to hire about 8,000 foreign workers for seasonal jobs, last year.

Farmers say the visa program is too bureaucratic, and a bill before Congress promises to cut red tape. But as Nicole Erwin of the Ohio Valley ReSource reports, labor advocates say the bill would strip guest workers of many protections in an industry where wage theft is already a problem.

A bipartisan group in Congress, including several Ohio Valley lawmakers, is pushing for more federal support for poorly understood technology known as carbon capture and storage. The lawmakers and an uncommon alliance of labor, business, and environmental groups want to pass legislation called the FUTURE Act which would speed commercial deployment of technology that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from industries that burn fossil fuels.

Such technology has been in development for decades. Today, a number of commercial-scale projects exist demonstrating various technologies that  “scrub” CO2 from the waste stream and store it underground are possible. However, scaling those projects up to levels that would affect the atmosphere in significant ways is still prohibitively expensive.

Tobacco’s Toll: New Push To Stop Smoking In Country’s Sickest States

Nov 6, 2017
High school anti-smoking advocate Jacob Steward.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Hundreds of kids scurrying to buses are oblivious to a sign above them declaring Bourbon County High School “100 percent Tobacco Free.” But upstairs in the library, sophomore and anti-smoking advocate Jacob Steward unfurls a six-foot scroll with earth-toned papers trapped between clear sheets of laminate. He begins reading the anti-smoking slogans he’ll post around the school.

Opioid Emergency: How Trump’s Plan Will -- And Won’t -- Help The Ohio Valley

Oct 30, 2017
Courtesy White House Video

As bad as the opioid epidemic is across the nation, it is even worse here in the Ohio Valley.

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia collectively have a rate of opioid-related deaths that is more than twice the national average.

Trumps Cite Ohio Valley Experience In Opioid Emergency Plan

Oct 26, 2017
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

President Donald Trump outlined on Thursday his long-awaited plan to address the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency. Part of that plan was based on experiences in the Ohio Valley region.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the poultry industry is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow faster work speeds at some facilities that slaughter and package chickens. The industry says a new inspection program allows them to process hundreds of birds per minute. But as Nicole Erwin reports, worker and food safety advocates worry about higher speed in an industry with an already spotty safety record.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley Resource

Thelma Daulton goes to the salon to get her hair done at the same time every Friday. She gets picked up at her house and greeted by one of many familiar faces from the Rural Transit Enterprises, Coordinated, or RTEC.

Daulton is 95 years old and has been riding the public transit system in Somerset, Kentucky, for about 15 years. Daulton said her daughter would like for her to move closer to Bowling Green, but Daulton likes her community and has no intention of leaving.

 

EPA Limits Use Of Problematic Herbicide Dicamba

Oct 16, 2017
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley Resource

The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to some limits on the use of a controversial herbicide called dicamba, which farmers throughout the region have blamed for crop damage. A change to the label on the chemical will restrict sales of dicamba to certified users. 

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to end the Clean Power Plan is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to support the struggling coal industry. The Department of Energy is also pushing a new way to subsidize coal power. But a new study suggests market forces — not regulations — will still make more coal power plants in the region vulnerable.

Opioids On Trial: Can Lawsuits Help Fix The Addiction Crisis?

Sep 30, 2017
Opioids
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

  When health care and law enforcement officials met recently at a health policy forum in Lexington, Kentucky, to share ideas about the opioid crisis, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear listed some groups that have benefited from money won in a 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

West Virginia Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin will not support the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the federal agency in charge of mine safety. 

 

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Bruce Parsons

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in West Virginia and Kentuckyover the weekend to see some innovative ways that schools are using new technology.

Zuckerberg has been traveling the country working on his New Year’s resolution to speak with people in every state. On Sunday, he met with educators and students from across Eastern Kentucky.

photos by Kara Lofton, illustration by Jesse Wright

Harvey. Irma. Maria. The hurricane season’s super-charged storms have highlighted the importance of disaster planning, and the aftermath offers a fresh lesson in just how long and difficult recovery can be.

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Talks on renegotiating NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, are set for later this month and farm country is concerned about the potential fallout from a trade dispute. Pork producers are especially nervous about the implications of a threat from President Trump to place a 20 percent tariff on Mexican food imports.

New Mine Safety 'Assistance' Program Raises Concerns

Sep 14, 2017
MSHA

Lawmakers and union leaders are raising concerns about the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s practices amid an increase in coal fatalities.  

 

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Coal Fatalities Rise: Miner Deaths Increase Amid Low Coal Employment

Sep 1, 2017
MSHA

  A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates.

Coal Country Tech Job Program Heads For New Round

Aug 30, 2017
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

Last summer Melissa Anderson was unemployed and trying to keep her Pike County, Kentucky, home from falling into foreclosure.

“I built it,” she said. “And, you know, for me to lose that home would have been devastating.”

Mountain Top Removal
Southwings and Vivian Stockman

The Perry County Public Library in Hazard, Kentucky, lies along Black Gold Boulevard — a name that nods to the wealth the coal from these hills has generated. On a recent Tuesday evening, however, the library was the venue for a hearing about the full costs of extracting that coal.

A team from the National Academy of Sciences visited to hear what the public had to say about  health impacts of surface mining.

Appalachian Health Falling Further Behind Nation's

Aug 24, 2017
Mountain Comprehensive Care

A new report shows just how far Appalachia has fallen behind the rest of the country on key health measures such as rates of cancer, heart disease and infant mortality. Researchers say the region’s health gap is growing and they hope the data they’ve compiled will spur new approaches to health care. 

Courtesy Vivian Stockman and Southwings.

The Trump administration’s Department of the Interior has asked the National Academy of Sciences to suspend research into the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.

A team from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was established last year for a two-year study. The committee has been conducting hearings and investigating accumulating science on the health impacts of surface mining, especially the practice known as mountaintop removal.

Opioid Emergency: What the Ohio Valley Needs to Combat Crisis

Aug 21, 2017
Rebecca Kiger

The opioid crisis gripping the Ohio Valley is now, according to President Donald Trump, a national emergency. But more than a week after the president made that announcement, state and local health officials in the region told the Ohio Valley ReSource that they have little information about what that emergency declaration actually means, or what additional tools it might provide.

West Virginia Governor's Office

The country’s newest Republican governor is, like President Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, a political outsider, and a fan of the coal industry. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a former coal company owner, was elected as a Democrat but switched parties with a surprise announcement at a Trump rally in West Virginia.

Both Trump and Justice campaigned on promises to bring coal mining jobs back to the region. Now Justice wants the president to prop up the flagging coal industry with federally-funded incentives for power companies to purchase coal from Appalachia.

 

Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

In the rich land of Christian County, wheat is milled for McDonald’s biscuits, corn is turned into ethanol, and grazing cows support the state’s leading dairy. This is Kentucky’s breadbasket, and a river runs through it: the South Fork of Little River.

Second-generation farmer David Brame grows a little bit of everything here, including corn and wheat. The Little River lines his backyard.

“I live here on it. We want to protect these waters. I’ve got as much at stake in them as anybody in this community,” Brame said.

Alexandra Kanik / Ohio Valley ReSource

Many towns and cities across the Ohio Valley try to improve their business environment with tax breaks, site development, and other incentives. But how about investing in compassion? A growing body of science points to compassion as an economic driver and more businesses and cities around the region are willing to give compassion a chance.

Science of Compassion

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