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/

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

Pixabay

More than two million people across the Ohio Valley live in areas that lack any option for fast and reliable internet service. This week some of them had a chance to tell a member of the Federal Communications Commission what that means for their work, studies, and everyday life.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

 

Thanks to singer-songwriter John Prine, Paradise Fossil Plant might be the only coal-fired power plant that has a household name. “Paradise,” Prine’s 1971 ballad, drew on boyhood memories from the small town of Paradise, in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to relay the environmental and social costs of our dependence on coal.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

From the outside Summit Aviation, in the small town of Somerset, Kentucky, looks like any other nondescript, white warehouse. But inside workers craft parts for drones, weapons casings, wing stabilizers and other high-flying products.

Summit is one of many small manufacturers making up the growing aerospace industry in the Ohio Valley. Highly specialized companies are landing in Kentucky and Ohio for the proximity to important raw materials and the promise of some political sway.

Senators Take Heat On Health Care During Summer Break

Jul 10, 2017

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went to the western Kentucky city of Paducah this week to talk about improvements to a local flood wall. Instead he heard a flood of complaints from more than 30 protesters upset about the Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

“We will not go away, don’t destroy the ACA!” the protesters chanted, and relayed their concerns about the Senate bill’s projected cuts.

Rick Perry at Longview Power Plant
Glynis Board

Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured a modern and relatively clean coal-fired power plant in West Virginia in order to tout the benefits of coal in a competitive energy market. But the secretary’s comments generated some controversy.

Working With Addiction: A Popsicle Plant Helps To Lick The Opioid Crisis

Jul 3, 2017
Ziegenfelder employee Sonny Baxter helps coach workers with addiction.
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Budget Saver twin popsicle on a hot summer day, you can thank the employees of the Ziegenfelder frozen treat factory in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Floor operator Sonny Baxter keeps the line of popsicles going in the cherry-scented worksite.

Labor Gains: From Horseback to Hospitals

Jun 23, 2017
Mary Meehan

Dressed in crisp blue scrubs, Certified Nurse Midwife JoAnne Burris walks briskly, the click of her sensible clogs a counterpoint to smooth jazz in the hall.

The UK Midwife Clinic with large, color prints of newborns on the earth-tone walls, still has that new furniture smell. But word-of-mouth already has the waiting room full.

Inside Exam Room 3 Emily and Johnathan Robertson wait to hear their baby’s heartbeat.

And there it is the echoing “whoosh, ump, whoosh, ump, whoosh ump” of a strong fetal heart. “Best part of the appointment,” Burris said, “every time.”

U.S. Dept. of Energy

Paducah, Kentucky, is home to USEC, a Department of Energy uranium enrichment facility that operated for 50 years until being decommissioned in 2013. Just across the Ohio River lies the Honeywell corporation’s Metropolis Works, the nation’s only uranium conversion plant.

Former State Sen. Bob Leeper thought it made sense to build on that existing capacity. So he introduced a bill to end the state’s decades-old moratorium on nuclear power. That was ten years ago.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

With a speech planned for Cincinnati’s Ohio River waterfront, President Donald Trump has chosen a fitting venue to talk about infrastructure improvements. The Ohio Valley is home to aging highways, bridges, and dams, poor drinking water systems, and weak internet service for many rural residents.

Steve Helber / AP Photo

The true costs of the deep cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would fall disproportionately on many of the poor and working class people in the Ohio Valley region who helped to elect him, according to lawmakers and policy analysts.

Deep cuts to subsidized health care, food aid, disability assistance, and addiction treatment services would have the biggest effect in parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia with some of the nation’s greatest needs for these safety net programs.

Alexandria Kanik / Ohio Valley ReSource

As Congress considers repealing the Affordable Care Act, health professionals in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia grapple with what that might mean for a region where many depend on the law for access to care. This occasional series from the ReSource explores what's ahead for the Ohio Valley after Obama Care. See more stories here >>

Trump Administration’s Addiction Crisis ‘Listening Tour’ Gets An Earful

May 19, 2017
HHS Sec. Tom Price speaking at a press conference at the state Capitol.
Ashton Marra / WVPB

Trump administration officials have been visiting parts of the country affected by the opioid addiction crisis, including the Ohio Valley region. The administration called it a “listening tour,” and they got an earful in events marked by protests and controversies.

Mending Mining Country: Three Ways Trump Could Help Miners And Coal Communities

May 15, 2017

At a March ceremony to sign an executive order reversing Obama-era environmental regulations, coal miners were arranged on stage around President Donald Trump as he took up his pen.

“You know what it says, right?” Trump asked the miners. “You’re going back to work.”

From his campaign rallies to White House events, President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with coal miners and promised to restore their collapsed industry.

Heart Of The Matter: Needle Drug Use Brings Spike In Heart Infections

May 6, 2017
Alexandra Kanik / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley’s addiction crisis has brought another health problem, as rising numbers of needle drug users are contracting a serious form of heart infection called endocarditis. The rate of endocarditis doubled in the region over a decade, and many patients require repeated, expensive treatment and surgery as they return to drug use and once again become infected.

Farmers in the Ohio Valley are waiting to see how President Trump’s choice to lead the Agriculture Department might affect their fortunes. Concerns over trade have held up a confirmation vote for nominee Sonny Perdue, and trade is also on the minds of regional growers.

Farmers here have been big winners under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and while farm country voted overwhelmingly for Trump, his talk about scrapping NAFTA has farmers like Jed Clark nervous.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

With Australia coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and China turning back imports of coal from North Korea this week as apparent punishment for missile tests, U.S. coal exports could take up some slack. But analysts aren’t predicting a coal comeback.


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