The Struggle to Stay

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.

Benny Becker/ WMMT

Derek Akal, 22, grew up in the famed coalfields of Harlan County, Kentucky. He’s a bit over six feet tall, he’s black, and he has an athlete’s build. Neat curls of black hair rise off the top of his head, and on his chin, he keeps a closely-trimmed mustache and goatee.

I first interviewed Derek in October 2016. At that time, he said he was trying to become a Kentucky state trooper, but also making plans to move to Texas to work on an oil rig. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

When we left off last time in our Struggle to Stay series, 38-year-old Dave Hathaway, a former coal miner who’d been unemployed for 12 months, was offered a job out of state. But it would mean leaving his wife and newborn baby behind. Then, he got another offer closer to home would put him going back to work as an underground coal miner. The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier delivers the final installment of Dave Hathaway’s, Struggle to Stay story.

Jack Corn/ U.S. National Archives

Coal mine owner Andrew Jordon and environmental attorney Joe Lovett grew up together in Charleston, but have taken two completely different, even adversarial, paths in life. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear “Two Tales of Coal” from the Us & Them Podcast


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, our series featuring people who are struggling to stay or leave Appalachia continues. We’ve been following the story of Dave Hathaway, a former coal miner in Pennsylvania.

Last week, we heard about Dave’s struggle as an unemployed father of two trying to hold onto his dignity while his wife works. He and his wife are committed to staying in Greene County, even though the job choices are thin. The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier has our next installment of Dave’s Struggle to Stay story.

Reid Frazier/ The Allegheny Front

For the past few weeks, we’ve been following the story of Dave Hathaway, a laid off miner from Greene County, Pennsylvania, as part of our series The Struggle to Stay.

Late in 2016, he got a job offer for a company that was doing blasting work. It was great money, and a steady day shift. But it was in Maryland. He’d have to spend four nights a week in a hotel, leaving Ashley to take care of newborn Deacon. “We agreed I pretty much had to do it,” he said. “I didn’t have any funds coming in.”

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, most trees harvested in West Virginia are collected by small-scale logging operations with chain saws. But a growing number of companies use large, mechanized logging machines. In the next part of our occasional series on the timber industry, Jean Snedegar joins veteran logger Jerry Huffman on a job on Knobley Mountain, in Grant County.

Also this morning, we hear from 38-year-old Dave Hathaway, a laid-off coal miner. His story is part of our Struggle to Stay series, where we follow six people as they wrestle with the decision, do I stay or do I go? Unlike many others Dave is determined to STAY in Appalachia.

The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier went to visit him at his home in Greene County, Pennsylvania, just after his new baby was born to hear how his job search is going.

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? 


Reid Frazier

In our series, The Struggle to Stay, we've been following six people as they try to find a way to support themselves here in Appalachia, or elsewhere if they decide to leave. 

Dave Hathaway is a former coal miner in the very southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Back in 2015, he lost his job. Now, he and his wife Ashley have a new baby. And the job hunt isn't going so well.


Reid Frazier

Dave Hathaway is a coal miner in Greene County, in the very southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Apart from a brief stint living in Colorado as a child, he’s lived his whole life there, and he’s never really thought much about leaving. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the out-migration of people leaving Appalachia is nothing new. Folks have been heading for the cities elsewhere for generations to find work and new opportunities.

Still, there are a few here who are determined to stay. But for them, staying is also a struggle. That’s why West Virginia Public Broadcasting and our podcast Inside Appalachia have been following six people for about a year to see how they are managing to stay… and if they can find a way to support their family here in Appalachia.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In our ongoing Struggle to Stay series, we’ve been following Crystal Snyder, who works at a job-training program called Refresh Appalachia. She’s learning how to grow squash and shiitake mushrooms, while also going to a community college, working on her associate’s degree in Applied Science. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as rain continues to fall throughout southeastern Texas from hurricane Harvey, Glynis Board reports that federal aid workers are still assisting West Virginians struggling after July 2017 flooding in the northern part of the state.

courtesy Crystal Snyder

This is the fourth story about 37-year-old Crystal Snyder. It’s part of our series called The Struggle to Stay.
Last time, we found out that Crystal, a non-traditional student, was in her first semester of college, while also working 33 hours a week for a job-training program called Refresh Appalachia. 
Last summer was an especially stressful time for Crystal, and by August, things got worse. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the next part of our ongoing series, The Struggle to stay. For the past few months, we’ve met four West Virginians who are struggling to find a way to earn a living -- and debating whether the struggle is worth staying in Appalachia. Most recently, we’ve been hearing the story of Crystal Snyder, a mother of two who's working a new job with a program called Refresh Appalachia, which is helping her learn how to farm. Roxy Todd has been spending the past year and a half following Crystal and helping her document her story.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Crystal Snyder is a mother of two who's working a new job with a program called Refresh Appalachia, which is helping her learn how to farm. About three thousand squash plants were grown from seed by Crystal and her co-workers in the summer of 2016. That summer she also returned to college. In this installment of The Struggle to Stay, we'll hear what it's been like to juggle work, school and taking care of her family.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we pick back up with Crystal Snyder, a single mother of two, who lost her job a couple of years ago. But she didn't lose hope. Roxy Todd has more of Crystal's story in this next installment of The Struggle to Stay.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last week on West Virginia Morning, we met Crystal Snyder, a single mother of two who says she wants to stay in West Virginia, and raise her children here. As a single mom, it’s on Crystal to provide for her family, which is hard to do without a job. A couple of years ago, she lost her job at a T-shirt factory. That’s where Roxy Todd picks back up with Crystal’s Struggle to Stay story today.

stock photo

President Donald Trump's Commission on the Opioid Crisis recently recommended that the president declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The commission said that such a declaration could free up money to fight the epidemic.

Back in April, we aired a special report about the opioid epidemic here in Appalachia. So this week, we’re going to revisit that story to remember how some Appalachians became addicted, and what a battle for sobriety can be like.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the West Virginia Morning, shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The 13-member commission is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, but its vice chair — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — is doing a lot of the groundwork for the group.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes was appointed to the commission, which held its first meeting in Washington, D.C., last month. Rhodes told Ashton Marra he doesn’t believe there is widespread voter fraud in West Virginia, or across the country, but he still believes in the commission’s work.

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