Ohio Valley ReSource

A regional journalism collaborative reporting on economic and social change in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, seven public media outlets across the three states have partnered to form the ReSource in order to strengthen news coverage of the area’s most important issues.

The Ohio Valley region has disproportionately high numbers of seniors and people living with disabilities and on low incomes - those are all groups that frequently depend on public transit. Without transit, older people lose independence, and reaching a doctor or workplace becomes much harder. A new report finds that demand for transit in rural areas is climbing faster than in cities, but spending on rural transit is not keeping pace with demand.

Thirty years ago the premiere of a small-budget, independent film had an out-sized effect on how many people in Appalachian coal country thought about their region and their past.

A bipartisan Congressional group from the Ohio Valley and beyond introduced a new bill to save pensions for retired union coal miners throughout the region.

The American Miners Pension Act, or AMP, would secure pensions for about 43,000 miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia whose retirement benefits have been undermined by the decline of the coal industry.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Congress acted to protect miners’ health benefits last year but pensions got kicked down the road.


Courtesy WFPL.

When health care and law enforcement officials met recently at a health policy forum in Lexington, Kentucky, to share ideas about the opioid crisis, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear listed some groups that have benefited from money won in a 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

Susan Jack

Harvey. Irma. Maria.

The hurricane season’s super-charged storms have highlighted the importance of disaster planning, and the aftermath offers a fresh lesson in just how long and difficult recovery can be.

Communities in the Ohio Valley, some still recovering from flash floods themselves, are looking at ways to prepare for what emergency management professionals warn is an era of more frequent extreme weather.

It’s time, experts say, to get ready for the new normal.

“Night From Hell”

NAFTA Talks Have Ohio Valley Pork Producers Nervous

Sep 21, 2017

Talks on renegotiating NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, are set for later this month and farm country is concerned about the potential fallout from a trade dispute. Pork producers are especially nervous about the implications of a threat from President Trump to place a 20 percent tariff on Mexican food imports.

Mary Meehan

Edwin Hall is dressed in a footed onesie covered in the pastel shades of monkeys and hippos.

Although Edwin is just seven weeks old, he already tells his mom when he’s hungry with a sharp and persistent yelp.

Soon after he gets her attention, Edwin is practicing his sucking technique. His mom, Sarah, with the dazed look of the sleep deprived, talks with a La Leche League volunteer at the Madison County, Kentucky, Health Department about some breast-feeding challenges.


MHSA

Lawmakers and union leaders are raising concerns about the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s practices amid an increase in coal fatalities.  


Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Jacob Goodman drove toward a soybean field in western Kentucky in hopes of seeing something different. Most of the 2,500 acres of soybeans his family farms here in Fulton County haven’t been looking so good, but trees that line Running Slough River protect this plot.


Rebecca Kiger

It’s been nearly one month since President Trump told a group of reporters he was declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency,”  the president said at his golf resort in New Jersey on August 10.  


MSHA

A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates.

Already this year 12 miners have died on the job in the U.S., compared to eight fatalities in all of 2016. 


Coal Country Tech Job Program Heads For New Round

Aug 30, 2017
Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

Last summer Melissa Anderson was unemployed and trying to keep her Pike County, Kentucky, home from falling into foreclosure.

“I built it,” she said. “And, you know, for me to lose that home would have been devastating.” 


Vivian Stockman and Southwings

The Perry County Public Library in Hazard, Kentucky, lies along Black Gold Boulevard — a name that nods to the wealth the coal from these hills has generated.

On a recent Tuesday evening, however, the library was the venue for a hearing about the full costs of extracting that coal.


Mountain Comprehensive Care

A new report shows just how far Appalachia has fallen behind the rest of the country on key health measures such as rates of cancer, heart disease and infant mortality.

Researchers say the region’s health gap is growing and they hope the data they’ve compiled will spur new approaches to health care.   


Ohio Valley Environmental Council

The Trump administration’s Department of the Interior has asked the National Academy of Sciences to suspend research into the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.

A team from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was established last year for a two-year study.    


Opioid Emergency: What the Ohio Valley Needs to Combat Crisis

Aug 21, 2017
Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

The opioid crisis gripping the Ohio Valley is now, according to President Donald Trump, a national emergency.

But more than a week after the president made that announcement, state and local health officials in the region told the Ohio Valley ReSource that they have little information about what that emergency declaration actually means or what additional tools it will provide.

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

The country’s newest Republican governor is, like President Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, a political outsider, and a fan of the coal industry.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a former coal company owner, was elected as a Democrat but switched parties with a surprise announcement at a Trump rally in West Virginia. 

 

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

In the rich land of Christian County, wheat is milled for McDonald's biscuits, corn is turned into ethanol, and grazing cows support the state’s leading dairy.

This is Kentucky’s breadbasket, and a river runs through it: the South Fork of Little River. 


Mary Meehan

Days after sending mixed signals on his response to the nation’s opioid crisis, President Donald Trump said Thursday that he plans to declare a national emergency to better address the epidemic.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” the president said, announcing that his administration was drafting the paperwork to make the emergency declaration official.


Rebecca Kiger

The Trump administration’s top health official backed away from a presidential commission’s proposal to declare a national public health emergency to address the opioid crisis.

An emergency declaration could have big implications for the Ohio Valley, a region with some of the country’s highest addiction and overdose rates.

The top recommendation from President Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis was for the president to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency.   


J. Tyler Franklin

Paramedics and police are already in the hotel room when Kyle Simpson walks in.

“What happened?” he asks.

A 37-year-old man in the room is barely conscious–just revived by the overdose reversal medication Narcan.


Mary Meehan

The church choir in bright blue robes swayed and testified on a hot summer Sunday.

Pastor Anthony Everett, in his own robe of orange and brown, preached to his “saints” of Wesley United Methodist Church and they called back their approval with a staggered chorus of “Amen!”

 

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

 

Many towns and cities across the Ohio Valley try to improve their business environment with tax breaks, site development, and other incentives.

But how about investing in compassion?  


Report Reveals Contaminants In 'Legal' Water

Jul 28, 2017

An environmental group’s new report shows a broad range of contaminants occur in many drinking water systems in the Ohio Valley, even though the water meets federal requirements.

The research highlights the gap between what regulations require and what many scientists and health advocates recommend for safe drinking water.                                                         


Healthy Debate: What The Republican Health Bill Taught Us About Medicaid

Jul 24, 2017
Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Pixaby

More than two million people across the Ohio Valley live in areas that lack any option for fast and reliable internet service.

This week some of them had a chance to tell a member of the Federal Communications Commission what that means for their work, studies, and everyday life.  


Glynis Board/Ohio Valley ReSource

Thanks to singer-songwriter John Prine, Paradise Fossil Plant might be the only coal-fired power plant that has a household name. “Paradise,” Prine’s 1971 ballad, drew on boyhood memories from the small town of Paradise, in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to relay the environmental and social costs of our dependence on coal.

“Mr. Peabody’s coal train,” he sang, had hauled away the Paradise from his childhood.


Bob Jagendorf/Flickr


Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

From the outside Summit Aviation, in the small town of Somerset, Kentucky, looks like any other nondescript, white warehouse. But inside workers craft parts for drones, weapons casings, wing stabilizers and other high-flying products.


Senators Take Heat On Health Care During Summer Break

Jul 6, 2017
Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went to the western Kentucky city of Paducah this week to talk about improvements to a local flood wall. Instead he heard a flood of complaints from more than 30 protesters upset about the Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  


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