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.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

 

  

The sound of power tools blends with teenage chatter as students clamber around, under, and over a trailer bed that they’re busy turning into a home. They’re part of a project called “Building It Forward,” which has vocational classes building tiny houses as a way of gaining practical skills and new confidence.

LBJ Library

Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

 

 

 

In the wake of the hearings the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted in West Virginia last week, the agency has decided to schedule more public hearings about the repeal of the Clean Power Plan - carbon regulations that aimed to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Kenn Fisher, morgueFile.com

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stood in front of the state’s capitol to rally the roughly 120 coal miners and industry boosters gathered there.

“The fight against the unlawful Clean Power Plan started in Charleston, West Virginia,” Morrisey said, noting the state’s role in a legal challenge to the Obama-era rule.

 


Glynis Board/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency returned to friendly terrain in coal country this week for two days of public hearings on its proposal to repeal a key federal rule aimed at reducing pollution that contributes to climate change.

Last month EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt chose an eastern Kentucky mining town as the venue to announce his intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule that sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

 


Glynis Board/Ohio Valley ReSource

A group of about 30 coal miners in work apparel complete with hardhats sat in one of the three hearing rooms to hear their boss, Bob Murray. Murray is CEO of the Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy, and a leading opponent of the Clean Power Plan. He applauded EPA’s decision to repeal the regulation.

“God bless President Trump, and you coal miners,” Murray said. “I love you, fellas. God bless you.”

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Napoleon famously said that an army marches on its stomach. Troops must be fed in order to fight. But what happens when that army faces hunger after marching back home?  

Federal statistics show tens of thousands of U.S. military veterans struggle with homelessness, hunger and food insecurity.

As the holiday season approaches, a pilot program in the Ohio Valley aims to serve those who served their country.


Nicole Erwin/Ohio Valley ReSource

Roberto Gonzales and six other workers came from Nayarit, Mexico, to work on a Garrard County, Kentucky, tobacco farm using a guest worker program called the H-2A visa

The Department of Labor program guarantees a wage in Kentucky of $10.92 an hour. But Gonzales said the workers were only getting between $3 and $8 per hour. So they went on strike


The U.S. Senate voted along party lines Wednesday, 52 to 46, to narrowly confirm President Trump’s nominee to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. 

Carbon Capture Reconsidered: Big-Ticket Climate Fix Gets A Fresh Look

Nov 13, 2017

A bipartisan group in Congress, including several Ohio Valley lawmakers, is pushing for more federal support for technology known as carbon capture and storage.

At a conference last year on the region’s opioid crisis, journalist Sam Quinones presented a call to action to Northern Kentucky University.

Quinones is author of the influential book on the opioid crisis, “Dreamland,” and a tireless speaker on the topic. At conferences and other events in the Ohio Valley he frequently makes a plea: create an addiction research hub among regional institutions affected by the epidemic.

NKU decided to give it a shot.

“We looked and saw who was doing any kind of research related to health,” Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh said. “We sent an invitation for them to come to campus last December and to start to talking about opioid addiction and the possibility of forming a consortium.”


Striking Migrant Farm Workers Win Settlement

Nov 8, 2017

After about three weeks on strike, a group of migrant workers employed at a tobacco farm in Gerrard County, Kentucky have reached a settlement with the farm’s owner.

The workers came from Mexico under the H2A visa program, which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for temporary or seasonal farm work. The Department of Labor program also sets a minimum wage for the workers and requires the employer to provide for costs associated with the work, such as work supplies and travel to and from the farm.

Mary Meehan

 

Hundreds of kids scurrying to buses are oblivious to a sign above them declaring Bourbon County High School “100 percent Tobacco Free.”

But upstairs in the library, sophomore and anti-smoking advocate Jacob Steward unfurls a six-foot scroll with earth-toned papers trapped between clear sheets of laminate. He begins reading the anti-smoking slogans he’ll post  around the school.


President Donald Trump outlined on Thursday his long-awaited plan to address the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency. Part of that plan was based on experiences in the Ohio Valley region.

In an address at the White House Thursday both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump mentioned efforts in the Ohio Valley region to help infants affected by the crisis.

Trump said that a hospital nursery in West Virginia treats one in every five babies for symptoms of addiction.

Courtesy White House Office of the First Lady

EDITOR's NOTE: This story has been updated to include new information regarding the timing of an emergency declaration.

Many lawmakers from the Ohio Valley region are expected at the White House Thursday as President Donald Trump delivers an address on the opioid crisis. 

It is still not clear when the president will unveil a long-awaited emergency declaration on the epidemic. 


USDA/Bob Nichols

After serving five years in the Navy Tyler Dunn has returned home to Hickman, Kentucky.

These days, if he isn’t at work at the local liquor store or completing assignments for a business degree, you might find him surrounded by one of several stray cats he saved from a parking lot.


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.   


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