Coal Miners Urge Congress to Support Pensions, and Appalachian Writer Discusses Faith


This year’s Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd University is Karen Spears Zacharias. Zacharias grew up in a military family but spent most of her childhood in the hills of Appalachia. During the Vietnam War, her father was killed in action, and his death left a major impact on Zacharias’ life and the lives of her mother and siblings. In this episode of West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear an interview with Zacharias about how writing and faith helped her through the struggles of her youth.

And we’ll learn about a natural phenomenon that happens around dusk this time of year. It’s the roosting of chimney swifts. In rural areas, chimney swifts roost in hollowed out trees, but development has pushed them to adapt in the city and suburbs. Now they’re common in communities with old, brick chimneys. But they’re “near threatened,” as pesticides reduce their food sources, and new development means chimneys are becoming a thing of the past. 

Also in this episode, we’ll hear why retired coal miners and coal community activists are in Washington D.C. this week urging action on pension benefits, as well as providing federal funds to help miners with black lung disease.