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.

Howard Berkes/NPR

William McCool is a 64-year-old former coal miner from Letcher County, Kentucky, with an advanced form of black lung disease. Health experts say the condition is entirely preventable with dust control measures in mines. But today, more miners in Appalachia are being diagnosed with severe black lung than ever before.

Gov. Matt Bevin says it’s too early to say what he thinks of President Donald Trump’s proposal to institute tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum even though the policy could have a big impact on Kentucky. 

The tariff could benefit Kentucky aluminum manufacturers like Braidy Industries—the company that Bevin helped attract to the state with a package of economic incentives—and Century Aluminum, which announced it would hire 300 new workers in Hancock County if the tariff went into effect. 
 

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

 

 

 

 

  Jeff McGrew stood in line with about 30 other west Kentucky farmers awaiting certification that they’ve been trained to apply the herbicide Dicamba. The two hour session explained the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on use of the controversial herbicide. The session left McGrew uncertain about whether to use the spray.

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Istock

 

Kentucky advance practice nurses got a big win in 2014. For the first time, they were able to prescribe routine medications, like antibiotics and blood pressure meds, to patients after spending four years collaborating with a doctor. This applied to…“nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialist…”

That was Jessica Estes , a nurse practitioner near Owensboro. She’s also the president of the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse-Midwives.

So this was a big win for these nurses. Nurse practitioners could basically set up their own shops - free from having to work with a doctor - but only if they didn’t prescribe controlled drugs, like opiates. They still have to have an agreement with a doctor indefinitely to prescribe those controlled drugs.

“We are now finding that APRNs are finding difficulty securing a collaborator , and they have to be of the same or a similar specialty, and licensed in Kentucky. And it’s creating some barriers.”

This ‘collaborative prescriptive agreement’ is a piece of paper, a form if you will. Doctors sign off on it. And every year, those doctors have the option of renewing that collaborative agreement.

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

  President Donald Trump met with steel and aluminum industry leaders Thursday to talk about implementing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum which matters in the Ohio Valley as it is home to last US aluminum smelters and many industries depend on steel and aluminum. 

As a candidate Trump promised to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Now he says he’ll sign those tariffs into law next week. After the announcement the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 500 points as investors feared a trade war and retaliation against US exports. 

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

A water system in eastern Kentucky that was on the verge of collapse could soon get much needed improvements. Many Martin County, Kentucky, residents were without water for long periods this winter. The crisis drew attention amid a national discussion about infrastructure priorities, and put a spotlight on the sort of water woes that are all too common throughout Appalachian coal country.

 


Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

Proposed Tariffs and Kentucky's Steel and Aluminum Industries

Feb 26, 2018
wkyt.com

The Ohio Valley’s steel and aluminum industries are closely watching what the Trump administration will do on imports. The Department of Commerce has suggested a massive 24 percent global tariff on steel and aluminum imports. Candidate Donald Trump promised to crack down on imports. Now, it’s unclear if President Trump will follow through. Becca Schimmel spoke to people in regional industries that could win or lose if tariffs take effect.

Aaron Payne/ Ohio Valley ReSource

 Social Autopsy

RAHUL GUPTA: If you have heart disease or you may be at risk of having heart disease there are a lot of risk factors. The doctor might often say you’re a walking heart attack about to happen and we need to do a set of things to lower your risk for that event

Fracking Waste Disposal: Still A Hot Mess

Feb 14, 2018
Bill Hughes

The slogan for Estill County is “where the bluegrass kisses the mountains.” But since 2015 the county, population 15,000, is widely known as the place where radioactive material generated by the oil and gas industry in a process known as fracking was dumped near some schools.

Immigration Court Expansion in Ohio Valley Region

Feb 8, 2018
Stu Johnson

With Congress in a heated immigration debate, the Ohio Valley region is adding to its immigration courts. Sources within the Justice Department say Kentucky will have a new immigration court operating in Louisville as soon as April, and Ohio is adding additional judges to handle deportations and other immigration cases. The changes in immigration policy have left many people with an uncertain future.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Common

Trump Takes Enforcement Approach To Opioid Crisis

Jan 31, 2018

President Donald Trump addressed the opioid crisis affecting the Ohio Valley region in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge,” he said. “My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.”

 


Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the speed limit on work at some slaughterhouses, a move that food safety advocates are calling a victory for workers and consumers. 

Still from White House

Trump got a warm welcome from the farm bureau crowd. Farm country likes his promises to reduce regulation. But on trade, many growers are growing nervous. Smith thinks it is too early to see a direct impact from Trump’s first year in office, and he’s hopeful but nervous about Trump’s tough talk on NAFTA.

 

 

In Wake Of School Shooting, A Look At How Kids Get Guns

Jan 25, 2018
Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

Heather Adams sat in a line of cars along Kentucky Route 95, cars filled with parents who had just received the call no parent wants to get: A shooting at her child’s school, Marshall County High in Benton, Kentucky. Two 15-year-old students were killed and another 18 injured.  

Adams was waiting anxiously to pick up her children, a 15-year-old and a ten-year-old. Both were safe and so she could relax enough to talk a bit. Earlier, she was at the high school with other frantic parents looking for answers about their children. 

 


Opioid Emergency Extended

Jan 22, 2018
Mary Meehan

Acting Health And Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan signed an order Friday to extend the public health emergency for 90 days. A post on the agency’s website, cited the continued consequences of the opioid crisis.


Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Donald Trump loves coal.

He campaigned on a promise to put miners back to work and his first year in office included numerous Ohio Valley visits to highlight coal’s importance.

“I love our coal miners and they’re coming back strong!” Trump said to a roaring crowd at an Augustrally in Huntington, West Virginia.

Mary Meehan

A small gaggle of reporters points their microphones at reproductive rights activist Marcie Crim as she bluntly decries  the shrinking access to abortion in the region. Crim stands just a few feet from the open door of the office of Governor Matt Bevin near the Capitol rotunda. Crim and Bevin may be physically close in in this situation, but they could not be further apart on the issue.They personify the opposing poles of the decades-old debate surrounding abortion.

Bevin has been vocally supportive of legislative restrictions on abortion access such as longer waiting periods.

Analysis Shows Toxic Sites In Flood Zone

Jan 2, 2018
Wikipedia Commons User Markzvo

The Ohio Valley has long been home to some of the dirtiest industries in the nation. Coal, plastics, and chemical plants and their waste sites dot our river valleys. Even those no longer operational leave their legacy in the soil and water.

Distler Farm sits just on the outskirts of Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Its pastoral name is misleading. During the 1970s it served as a landfill for liquid waste, including medical and agricultural refuse.

Kentucky Power customers expressed frustration with proposed rate increases.
Mimi Pickering/WMMT

One evening this past November, angry customers and public officials filled a high school auditorium in Hazard, Kentucky, and took turns pleading with three members of the state’s public service commission.

Angie Hatton, a state legislator representing Letcher and Pike counties, presented the situation in historical terms. “This community that for two centuries has been powering our nation, we’re now struggling to keep our own lights on.”

 


NAS To Fund Halted Mining Study

Dec 22, 2017

The National Academy of Sciences says it is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining. As Jeff Young reports the Trump administration cited budget concerns when it ordered a halt to the study.

The National Academy of Sciences says it is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining. 

 

National Academies spokesperson Riya Anandwala says there has been no further information on the budget review and the study has remained on hold since August.

From C-Span Video

Mary Meehan

Throughout coal mining country of the Eastern U.S. you will find streams that run a peculiar rusty orange. It’s the result of pollution called acid mine drainage, or AMD. It’s estimated that about 10,000 miles of streams are polluted by AMD in Pennsylvania and West Virginia alone. In fact, researchers have calculated that every second, coal mines throughout the region are pumping out about 3,000 cubic feet of AMD. That’s roughly equal to an average May day’s flow of water in the Monongahela River as it winds through the region.

Some Rare Good News Concerning Opioids

Dec 14, 2017
Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

A survey put out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found a rare bit of good news about the opioid crisis. As Aaron Payne reports, fewer teenagers are using opioid drugs.

The Monitoring the Future Survey results shows a continued decrease of opioid misuse by teens.

National Institute of Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow says this is encouraging news as overdose and addiction rates continue to rise for adults.

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.

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