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Representatives from the coal industry in West Virginia met with local and state lawmakers Tuesday to discuss the future of the coal industry. Their talk focused on combating Federal environmental regulations, including the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a proposed federal rule meant to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.

Atlanta Journal Constitution, John Harmon, October 1997

This week, we remember Jean Ritchie, who's been called the mother of Appalachian folk music.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Groundbreaking for the new Procter & Gamble Company in Berkeley County is expected to be this fall.

Stephen Christian is the executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority. In a speech to the community Friday, Christian said negotiations for what became the plans to bring Procter & Gamble into the county began in fall of 2012.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The House passed Senate Bill 357 Friday, the Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015. This bill has caused a lot of controversy, so it was no surprise when the House debated the bill for two hours. Republicans feel like the bill is an update to previous safety laws, while some Democrats feel like it’s a scale back.

Glynis Board

On this episode, we’re learning more about Appalachian roots. Some industries are growing in Appalachia that aren’t really new at all, but new practices are building on traditional crafts. While these  changes develop across Appalachia, we inevitably want to hang onto our identity. Strong roots, after all, are one of the characteristics many of us take pride in.

30 Days In, 30 To Go

Feb 12, 2015

At the legislature today, the House passed a Senate bill relating to deer farming in the state.  It’s an issue that’s been around a while.  In the Senate, the health committee amends a bill about immunization that gives the state more control over exemptions for vaccination.  And we’ll check in with legislative leadership for a update at the midway point on The Legislature Today. 

Deer
Scott Baue / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Senate Bill 237 was on the House Floor Thursday. The bill would create the Captive Cervid Farming Act, which would allow West Virginians to own farms to raise deer and elk. The bill would transfer regulation of these farms from the Division of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture.

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.

 

 

 

 

Daniel Walker / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the end of every floor session, senators and delegates are allowed to give remarks to the entire body.  In the House Thursday, these remarks led to extended debate about jobs in the north and the lack of them in the south; about drug addiction and education, and the debate lasted for nearly an hour.

West Virginia Legislature

As the legislature begins its session, the Republicans now holding the majority tout job creation as their main focus for the next eight weeks. On the House floor today, Delegate Miley of Harrison County noted that there are plenty of jobs in the north region of the state.

region1workforcewestvirginia.org

Unemployment rates fell in 27 of West Virginia's 55 counties in November.

Walmart continues to be the largest private employer in West Virginia.
 

Based on the available records provided by WorkForce West Virginia, Walmart has been the state's top private sector employer since at least 1999.
 

  • Walmart
  • West Virginia United Health System
  • Charleston Area Medical Center
  • Kroger
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals

 WorkForce did not release specific employment numbers for each employer on the list.
 
     Rounding out the top 10:

www.mine-engineer.com

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. plans to temporarily idle its Pinnacle underground mine in southern West Virginia.
 
In a regulatory filing, Cleveland-based Cliffs attributes the decision to poor market conditions for metallurgical coal.
 
Cliffs says in its Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the mine would be idled around Aug. 25 if market conditions don't improve. The mine's idling could last more than six months.
 
Pinnacle spokeswoman Patricia Persico says 397 hourly employees would be laid off if the mine is idled.

Unemployment rates rose in 45 of West Virginia's 55 counties in May.
 
WorkForce West Virginia says the jobless rate in Pocahontas County rose to 12.3 percent, the highest in the state.
 

Officials at the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless are taking a new approach to the problem of homelessness and unemployment.

  Jobs First is a new idea developed by coalitions around the country. Instead of working with job candidates by training, developing and molding them before they apply for jobs, Jobs First helps them find jobs right away and continues to train them while they’re employed.

Helping the unemployed and homeless find work first puts them one step closer to a stable living environment where they can provide for themselves.

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An Economic Transition Summit is being held this weekend at Hawks Nest Park in Fayette County. Representatives from throughout Appalachia are meeting to discuss the development of economic opportunities beyond coal.

The meeting is being hosted by The Alliance for Appalachia, a coalition of 15 groups across the region working to end mountaintop removal, while building local economies.

WV Center on Budget and Policy

It could be argued that West Virginia has never been “owned” by her inhabitants. Before European settlement, of course, ideas of land ownership were not in vogue. Then King Charles II rewarded many loyal friends with large swaths of land and by 1730s, 800,000 acres in what would become West Virginia was owned by three land companies. For the most part, the same trend continues three hundred years later.

Some have argued absentee land ownership in West Virginia has been a major impediment to economic diversification for generations.