Arts & Culture

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Thurmond, West Virginia is the smallest town in America to pass an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the town of five residents adopted employment, housing and public accommodation protections to a new town-wide Human Rights Act.

Rhiannon Giddens

This past winter has been a hectic one for Carolina Chocolate Drops frontwoman Rhiannon Giddens. Between recording Dylan covers with Marcus Mumford and Elvis Costello under the moniker The New Basement Tapes and dueting with Iron & Wine's Sam Beam on NBC's Parenthood series finale, she's somehow found time to release her solo recording debut, Tomorrow is My Turn. If you're a fan of spellbinding interpretations of Americana classics, this interview and music are recommended for you.

Bettman/Corbis / NPR

In this episode, we'll hear reactions to Obama's proposed tax credits and other funding for Appalachia. And we'll talk with documentary filmmaker John Nakashima, whose new film, "The First 1000 Days," explores the effects of poverty on young children.

 

We'll also take a look back at how the lessons from the War on Poverty could shine light on present day economic development efforts.

President Barack Obama's new budget proposal includes more than $3 billion worth of tax credits and other spending to help the Appalachian region recover from the declining coal industry. People across the coalfields are responding with mixed feelings.

In southern West Virginia, many people see initiatives from the Obama administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions as an attack on their livelihoods.

So it’s not surprising to hear skepticism and doubt from the coalfields when the president announces intentions to throw a financial lifeline to Appalachia.


http://www.wesbancoarena.com/

WesBanco Arena in Wheeling is scheduled to temporarily close this summer for renovation work.

City manager Robert Herron says new seats and handrails will be installed. The upgrades are the second phase of a $5.6 million renovation.

The city plans to open bids for the project on Feb. 20. The downtown arena is set to close from June 1 to Aug. 26.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reports that Herron discussed the renovation on Tuesday during a City Council meeting.

McDowell native Sabrina Shrader is featured in the new West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary, The First 1,000 Days: Investing In WV Children When It Counts. We first heard from Shrader when she shared her story in 2013 of how a program called Upward Bound provided resources that helped her to graduate from college after a difficult and abusive childhood. She was working as an Upward Bound Coordinator at Concord University. Things have changed since then.

wvdnr.gov

At the West Virginia Wildlife Center this morning, the groundhog named French Creek Freddie did not see his shadow. That means that he is predicting an early spring this year.  Concord Charlie at Concord University is also predicting an early spring because he Did NOT see his shadow. However, in Pennsylvania this morning, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of West Virginia groundhogs who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve. Also, we hear how increased drilling is affecting folks in PA and W.Va. Some politicians and residents are touting the natural gas industry as the best solution to bring jobs back to central and northern Appalachia. And while some people are finding well paying jobs and economic opportunities because of the boom in the gas industry, others are finding discontent.


The Struggle to Find Jobs Forces Some Appalachians to Leave the Mountains

Often on our show we hear about people who are trying to maintain hope in the midst of what many across the country would probably consider a life of poverty or despair.

Sometimes the temptation to lose hope is powerful. What future do we face in Appalachia? The need to feed our families is very real- but for many, the struggle to find jobs means they must cast their nets further and further away from home. We Appalachians know that it isn’t resignation that keeps us here- it’s pride for our mountains, our deep roots in our local communities and our strong connection with home. Part of what we love about Appalachia is the natural beauty, the simple sound of clean snow crunching under our feet.

Snowshoeing 101

When it comes to exploring the wintry outdoors in deep snow, it can be hard to get started, it helps to have a guide. That’s what Allegheny Front Contributor Ashley Murry found out when she tried snowshoeing for the first time She joined beginners to the sport, as well as seasoned outdoor trip leaders, Bill Grove and Katie Getsie, as they strapped on snowshoes in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Click here to search for guided snowshoeing trips like the one Ashley Murry took in Pennsylvania.

Click here to find directions to the Cranberry Nature Center in West Virginia, located along the Highland Scenic Highway. After a good snow, you can sometimes snowshoe along Kennison Mountain. Even with a light dusting of snow, it's an incredibly beautiful place for a winter hike.
You can also find snowshoe trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in Tennessee.

And here's a link where you can find information about snowshoeing and cross country skiing in North Carolina.

Increased Gas Drilling in W.Va. and PA Brings Jobs, but also Some Discontent

New technology now allows energy companies to blast water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressures to release gas from shale formations. With hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, gas companies are able to drill for more natural gas in some areas in Appalachia.

After Living Next to Drilling Activity, 100 W.Va. Residents Sue Companies

Almost a hundred residents from several counties throughout West Virginia are filing lawsuits for nuisance and negligence against several companies engaged in horizontal drilling activities. Glynis Board went out to Doddridge County to catch a glimpse of life in the growing rural gas fields of the state.

Gas Companies Rush to Build New Pipelines in PA

State Impact’s Marie Cusick has been following the gas boom in Pennsylvania. She reports that the pace of gas production is driving energy companies to build more pipelines that are needed to transport the new gas to markets.

Congress Considers Bill to Fast Track Gas Pipeline Projects

On January 21, the US. House of Representatives passed a resolution called the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The resolution directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny pipeline projects within 12 months after receiving a complete application. Whether or when that bill might be taken up by the Senate is unclear.

In West Virginia, there are at least two major pipeline projects in the pre-filing stage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline will each go through environmental analysis and a public comment period before being approved or denied by the Federal Government. Tamara Young Allen, spokesperson with FERC, says this process normally takes 12-18 months. The House Resolution says that FERC review should only take a year. 

Click here to make a comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the Mountain Valley Pipeline [docket number  PF15-3-000]  or the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [docket number  PF15-6-000]

Click here to make a comment to the U.S. Forest Service, which is considering whether to issue a special use permit to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which would allow the company to conduct site survey and testing in a 17.1-mile segment of the Monongahela National Forest and 12.6 miles of the George Washington National Forest.

What's in a Name?

In this episode we’re looking at a town that got it’s name for sand flies-it’s also a town that is home to the famous Punxsutawney Phil that we see each year on Groundhog Day.

Yes- Punxsutawney PA got it’s name  from a Native American word for sand flies. Known as “town of the ponkies”- a word for sand gnats- became Punxsutawney.

French Creek Freddie and Concord Charlie

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of

West Virginia groundhogs-who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve.

West Virginia's groundhogs both predicted an early spring this year. At the West Virginia Wildlife Center Monday morning, the groundhog named French Creek Freddie did not see his shadow.  At Concord University, Concord Charlie also did not see his shadow.
However, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.

 

 

The West Virginia Wildlife Center will have their Groundhog Day celebration on Feb 2, 10:00 am.

Our theme music is by Andy Agnew Jr., Our What’s in a Name Music is by Marteka and William with Johnson Ridge Special. Music in today’s show was also provided by Bing Crosby, Billy Pollard, Jake Scheppes, and the Glennville State Bluegrass Band.

 

 

 

 

Chris Graham

It's taken two years for Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf's The Bearer of Bad News to reach the States, but now we can finally hear why this Saskatchewan crooner is being hailed as "the next Nick Drake." Without a doubt, Shauf's folk is the kind of folk that makes you pause. If you're a fan of lush, contemplative songwriting, this interview and music are recommended for you.

Deer
Scott Baue / U.S. Department of Agriculture

  Hunters killed fewer deer during Morgantown's 2014 urban archery hunt than they did the previous year.

The city said Thursday that 105 deer were killed during the four-month hunt that ended Dec. 31. That's down from 137 deer killed in 2013.

Local shelters and kitchens received 853 pounds of ground venison from 35 deer donated during the 2014 hunt.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

Four Mountain Stage performances enter, two Mountain Stage performances leave. So who was it going to be: legendary country music offspring Rosanne Cash, legendary singer-songwriter Randy Newman, bluegrass maestro Del McCoury or folk-rock duo The Civil Wars?

  Timberline Four Seasons Resort is using crowdfunding to raise money for improvements.

The Tucker County resort launched an online crowdfunding on Tuesday at www.snowfunding.com. The goal is to raise $75,000 in 65 days.

Timberline CEO Fred Herz tells The Charleston Gazette that the resort sees crowdfunding as a way to engage customers in its activities and planned undertakings.

Brooke Fraser

It's hard to believe that it's been four years since Brooke Fraser released infectious folk pop songs like "Something in the Water." What's even crazier is the New Zealand singer-songwriter's brand new record, which effectively transforms that lighthearted acoustic pop princess into an electrifying alternative pop queen. If you're a fan of Lorde-esque soundscapes that are filled with depth, darkness and beauty, this interview and music are recommended for you.

Fairness West Virginia

Songwriter Sam Gleaves was inspired by the story of Sam Williams, a former coal miner who was harassed at work for being gay. 

Sam Gleaves is a musician who grew up playing old time mountain music in Southwestern Virginia. His songs have a high lonesome, old-time sound. Their roots are deep in Appalachia, and the stories they tell explore some bitter truths about how hard it can be to be different here. I met up with Gleaves at his home in Berea, KY to talk about one song in particular.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

A pinch of folk, a dash of soul and a good dollop of bluegrass. Mix it all together and what do you get? This week's "Mountain Stage After Midnight!" Broadcast from 1am-5am Saturday and Sunday mornings here on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, "Mountain Stage After Midnight" takes the best episodes from the show's 31 year history and shares their memories and songs with our late-night listeners. Each week we'll hand-pick two of our favorite episodes that'll alternate order each night. 

en.wikipedia / User: Cyrillic

  The Bridge Day Commission has decided to require BASE jumpers, reppellers and vendors to undergo finger scans.

Commission members voted unanimously on Wednesday to require the scans. Commission members say the scans are less intrusive than the one-day festival's current background checks.

Several jumpers criticized the requirement during the meeting's public comment segment. Marcus Ellison of Fayetteville said jumpers feel insulted by the requirement.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

Last year, "Mountain Stage After Midnight" posed a question to its music-loving fans: Who do you want to listen to overnight weekends? You voted on our Facebook, we tallied'em up and Bela Fleck and Robert Cray were crowned the victors.

Water Outages and Advisories Continue in W.Va. Coalfields

While the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water, it's a problem that folks in the coalfields deal with on a regular basis.

Last week, we heard stories of the water smelling of licorice, emptied shelves once stocked with bottled water, and other quests for clean water.  The water crisis in West Virginia's capital city lasted just a few weeks, but folks in the coalfields continue to deal with boil water advisories and outages.

Mountainous regions like southern West Virginia have an abundance of water, but the terrain along with aging infrastructure have been creating access issues for decades. Many of the current water systems in place today in the coalfields were installed in the early 1900's by coal companies. Coal operators, jobs, and most people left the area, leaving remnants of a once bustling economy including some beautiful buildings, coal tipples, and water systems. 

For some communities a boil water advisory is a way of life, like in Keystone, West Virginia, in McDowell County, where residents have been on an advisory since 2010. The town's neighboring sister city, Northfork, has been on a boil water advisory since 2013.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

You know that ol' Wendy's slogan, "Eat Great, Even Late?" Well the same holds true for "Mountain Stage After Midnight," a delicious public radio program that feeds music lovers into the wee hours of morning. Broadcast from 1am-5am Saturday and Sunday mornings here on West Virginia Public Radio, "Mountain Stage After Midnight" takes the best episodes from the show's 31 year history and shares their memories and songs with our late-night listeners.

marshall.edu

West Virginia and U.S. flags at all state-owned facilities will be at half-staff in honor of Marshall University President Stephen Kopp.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered the flags to be lowered from dawn to dusk on Tuesday.

Kopp died on Dec. 17 after being hospitalized for an illness. He was 63.

Marshall will hold a public memorial service for Kopp on Tuesday.

Tomblin says in a news release that Kopp's leadership had a permanent and positive impact on both Marshall and the state.

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