Appalachia

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we visit communities impacted by creation of flood-control lakes. In one, the Village of Lilly, about 40 families were pushed off their land along the Bluestone River in Summers County, W.Va., in the 1940s. Many of these families had lived there for more than 200 years. 


courtesy Charlie McCoy

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll talk about faith and music. We learn about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of the first great recording stars of gospel music, find out the story behind "Amazing Grace," and why it became an American icon, and hear the story of Nashville session musician, W.Va. native Charlie McCoy.


courtesy Mike Costello

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll travel to the sugar shacks of Appalachian maple producers, and we’ll learn how to use syrup in everything from glazed greens to buttermilk ice cream – and even roasted rabbit. 

TYLER EVERT / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The nine-day teachers’ strike in West Virginia made headlines across the country, and some are wondering what the events mean for state’s political landscape. How did a widespread labor strike, a practice normally associated with Democrats, happen in a state that voted so heavily for Donald Trump?

We wanted to take a step back to explore how politics have been changing here over the past generation. West Virginia has been dubbed the heart of Trump Country, but politics here are anything but straightforward.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers discussed several bills around opioid abuse and prevention this session, including the Opioid Reduction Act and have re-examined the state's medical marijuana law. Michael Brumage is the new director of the WV office of Drug Control Policy. Health reporter Kara Lofton talked to him last week about the role his office plays in implementing legislative policy. 


Adobe Stock

Loud dance music pours out of a historic church in downtown Bluefield, West Virginia, around 7 on a Friday evening. About 30 people are eating barbeque, beans and chicken at a newly formed support group for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and queer people. 

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

It isn’t news that Appalachia is struggling economically. If you’ve followed the boom-bust cycle of the coal industry, you know that we’ve been here before. 

Acts of violence and protests resisting racial integration were features in many American communities in the 1950s and 60s. A tiny town in the coalfields of South Central West Virginia appears to have been a notable exception.

John Nakashima/ WVPB

On a recent weekday, in a renovated building in downtown Huntington, 22-year-old Jacob Howell was among 20 people working at a laptop in a sunlit office. Senior web developers sat shoulder-to-shoulder with new employees at long tables. There wasn’t a cubicle in sight.


 

Howell, a Hurricane native, wasn’t sure where he might end up after graduating last year from Marshall University.

WVPB/ Janet Kunicki

Gwynn Guilford is a reporter for Quartz, a business news site. She specializes in writing about the economy. Guilford spent 10 months researching Appalachia’s economy for an article called “The 100-year capitalist experiment that keeps Appalachia poor, sick, and stuck on coal”. Guilford dug into the history of the region’s economic ties to the coal industry, and the long-term effects this relationship has had on the people who live and are determined to stay in Appalachia.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Roxy Todd spoke with Guilford about her report.


Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

When you picture the Appalachian Coalfields, you might think of those scenic photographs of mist rising from the mountains. But there are the less picturesque landscapes too -- views of mountaintops that have been stripped away from coal mining. Imagine if these barren landscapes were covered with purple fields of lavender.

courtesy photo

This week on Inside Appalachia, we'll hear stories of women whose grit and determination changed their own lives - and changed other people's lives, too. We’ll hear from women who overcame a lot of challenges to succeed as students, musicians, entrepreneurs and educators.

e-West Virginia Encyclopedia

On February 1, 1975, 25 Catholic bishops from Appalachia released a pastoral letter called “This Land is Home to Me.” It was officially distributed from Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University). 

It was written in response to a report from the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, highlighting the region’s economic and political inequalities. For a year, committee members traveled throughout Appalachia and collected stories of hardship from individuals and from community and church groups. The committee members then folded these stories into the pastoral letter.

Valerius Tygart / Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump intends to nominate a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's staff as the new federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The White House said Thursday in a news release that the president intends to nominate Tim Thomas to oversee the ARC. Thomas works as a McConnell staff member in Kentucky. He previously worked in former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration.

Jill Lang/ Adobe Stock

The Federal Communications Commission and the National Cancer Institute have joined forces to increase broadband access in rural areas in hopes of improving lives of cancer patients there. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans living in rural areas are still more likely to die of cancer than their counterparts in urban settings. 


Opioids, Coal-Fueled Energy & A Photographer Being Homesick for Appalachia

Dec 13, 2017
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a U.S. House subcommittee focused on the opioid epidemic in Appalachia during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier reports on a federal commission that will decide what to do with a Trump administration proposal aimed at keeping coal and nuclear plants open. 

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, overdose
Pixabay

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is targeting opioid abuse in Appalachia by establishing a new field office in Kentucky to oversee a region ravaged by overdose deaths.

The new Louisville field office will have a special agent in charge to oversee investigations in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Much of Appalachia’s economy has rested on the boom and bust cycles of industries like coal and manufacturing for decades. It’s true that these industries have long put bread on the Appalachian table, but as those industries have faded in recent decades, jobs have grown scarce. 

So are there industries that might one day provide more financial stability to the region? This week on Inside Appalachia, we learn more about some unexpected and unique ways Appalachians are thinking outside the box to earn money, like growing industrial hemp, installing solar panels and even growing tea.

courtesy Derek Akal

This is chapter four of Derek Akal’s Struggle to Stay. In the first chapter, we met a young man from Harlan County, Kentucky, who thought a college football scholarship was going to be his ticket out. But a serious neck injury led Derek to drop out and move back home.

Wikimedia Commons/ Snoopywv

High-profile confrontations between African-Americans and police officers have fueled racial tensions across the country. How do we in Appalachia talk about how these issues affect us here in the mountains?

Kara Lofton/ WVPB

About 2.5 million children in the U.S. are being raised by grandparents or relatives other than their birth parents.

This week on Inside Appalachia, we hear a special series about grandparents raising grandchildren. Many are taking care of grandchildren who would otherwise be put in foster care, but the arrangement can be difficult for the grandparents themselves.


Benny Becker/ WMMT

Too many times, when stories of Appalachia are in the national spotlight, we hear shallow, shocking and grim stories. But they miss some of the most inspiring aspects to our realities: the struggle, the perseverance and the resilience.  On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia we’ll meet storytellers who work to help Appalachians tell their own stories, and capture the true Appalachian spirit behind the statistics.

USDA/ Daniel Boone National Forest

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we visit communities impacted by creation of flood-control lakes. Like the Village of Lilly, where back in the 1940s, about 40 families were pushed off their land along the Bluestone River in Summers County, West Virginia. Many of these families had lived there for more than 200 years. 

Inside Appalachia Host Jessica Lilly has deep roots to this community, as we hear in this episode. 

Reporter Mahlia Posey reports near the Viking Wash Plant in Justiceville, Kentucky as part of The GroundTruth Project's "Crossing the Divide" reporting project.
Ben Brody / GroundTruth

Three prominent, regional news organizations have come together today to launch a project that will provide deeper news coverage for local communities in the coal fields of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.  

Mark Regan Photography

Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. After decades of widely publicized campaigns with names like “the War on Poverty”, living on low income often comes an extreme sense of shame and self-doubt. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear different ways of reporting on financial security, or lack thereof. From a coal miner who lost his job, to a long-time welfare director, how do we talk about folks who are good at making do with what they have? How do we react when we hear these stories? 


Rural Populations Decline, Regional Patterns Shift

Sep 14, 2017

The number of people living in rural areas continues to slide, according to the latest population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. People have left rural America in decades past. The big difference now is that the number of births in rural areas isn't keeping pace with the number of deaths.

courtesy Charlie McCoy

Even if you don’t recognize the name Charlie McCoy, you’ve probably heard his music. Many of the great musicians who recorded in Nashville over the past fifty years have played with McCoy, a native of West Virginia who’s been working in the Nashville music industry for over five decades. He’s recorded with some of the best known country music and rock and roll legends, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. Charlie McCoy's new memoir is called 50 Cents and a Box Top

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

 


Several organizations throughout Appalachia will see federal grant money. Funds are designed to help strengthen coal-impacted economies.

 

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced nearly $2 million additional dollars this week for regions in Appalachia that have been affected by job losses related to the declining coal industry.

 

Emily Hanford / APM Reports

The start of a new school year can be a stressful time, but it’s also a season of transition, and of new beginnings. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear the conclusion to Crystal Snyder's Struggle to Stay story, as she juggles school, work and family responsibilities. And we travel to McDowell County, where people are exploring new ways to deal with a chronic teacher shortage. 


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