West Virginia

Jim Thacker is frustrated.

The spokesperson for the Madison County, Kentucky, Health Department said there is a real threat of a Hepatitis A outbreak at the detention center right down the road in Richmond.

Built to house about 240 inmates, it holds more than 400.  

“It’s like a petri dish, they are packed so close together,” he said.

Mary Meehan

Health officials in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia say the number of overdose deaths related to the opioid crisis continued to rise in 2017 as state data began to reflect the fatalities related to the powerful drug fentanyl.

A new report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy found 1,565 died from drug overdoses last year, up 11.5 percent from 2016.

Fentanyl played a factor in more than half of the overdose cases in which a toxicology report was available.

Mary Meehan/Ohio Valley ReSource

The low rumble of industrial fans fills the Catholic Action Center in Lexington, a shelter that provides meals and other services for homeless people.

It’s mid-morning on a hot July day and dozens of people sit camped on couches in the entryway, or slouch at tables nearby. Despite the fans the air is stale from too many bodies too close together — ideal conditions for the spread of disease.

 

Aaron Payne/Ohio Valley ReSource

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts fired up a crowd of thousands of union workers in Columbus, Ohio, with a simple chant: “Fix it!”

The rally last week came on the eve of a Congressional field hearing on problems plaguing multiemployer pension programs like the one retired miners depend upon.

“When the people get to marching, the politicians get to listening,” Roberts roared.

Nicole Erwin/Ohio Valley ReSource

Jimmy Tosh sells a lot of pigs. He is owner and CEO of Tosh Farms, Tosh Pork, and Bacon By Gosh, in Henry County, Tennessee, and has 84 contractedbarns in the region where farmers grow pigs for his products.

On a recent July day, Tosh craned over some 1,200 piglets and reflected on how recent market disturbances have affected his business.

 

Legislators grilled representatives from five major opioid distributors Tuesday on how painkillers flooded West Virginia under their watch.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing came as part of an investigation into why Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith failed to report suspiciously large orders of opioid painkillers at the beginning of the addiction crisis.

FirstEnergy Emergency Request Could Be A Last Chance To

Apr 17, 2018
Glynis Board/Ohio Valley ReSource

Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy Solutions made waves last month when it asked the Department of Energy to grant it an emergency order to help keep coal and nuclear plants operating across the Ohio Valley.

The request even hit the president’s radar. Speaking earlier this month at a roundtable event in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Donald Trump said the administration was examining the utility’s request.

“We’ll be looking at that 202, you know what a 202 is, we’ll be looking at that, we’re trying,” he said.

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

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.

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.  


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.    


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. 

 

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!”

 

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

Jul 24, 2017
Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

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.


Roxy Todd

 

"I’d love to be able to stay here,” said 32-year-old West Virginian Mark Combs. “The people are great. But it’s just dying. If you want to succeed you’ve gotta leave.”

Mark is an actor and an Iraqi war veteran. He thinks there has to be a better life, or at least better economic opportunities, elsewhere. He decided to head west for Los Angeles.  


Ohio Valley ReSource

With a speech planned for Cincinnati’s Ohio River waterfront, President Donald Trump has chosen a fitting venue to talk about infrastructure improvements.

The Ohio Valley is home to aging highways, bridges, and dams, poor drinking water systems, and weak internet service for many rural residents.

Izzy Bloomfield

Nearly half of the people living in rural parts of the United States don’t have access to broadband internet, the high speed connection required for common uses many of us take for granted.

Government and survey data show that in 65 counties across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, the majority of residents don’t have access to broadband — that’s one-quarter of all the counties in the three states. 


Kenn W. Kiser/Morguefile.org

Many political leaders in the Ohio Valley approve of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

But surveys indicate that public opinion across the region varies, with a slight majority saying they’d like the country to stay the course on climate change.


Jeanna Glisson

Jeanna Glisson has two lives: her life before August 20th, 2007, and her life after.

That day is so vivid, Glisson can still hear the sounds of her son’s feet coming down the stairs.

“I remember Derek when he got up that morning, he was on the phone talking to my dad. He was excited,” Glisson said.

 


Robert McGraw / WOUB

 

The true costs of the deep cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would fall disproportionately on many of the poor and working class people in the Ohio Valley region who helped to elect him, according to lawmakers and policy analysts.


Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource

By most measures, health outcomes in the Ohio Valley region are not very good, with many parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia ranking near the bottom among states.

But a team of health researchers may have found a few places within the region that stand out. They see them as potential “bright spots” — places with some health measures better than expected for the region. 


Rebecca Kiger

Rebecca Kiger

The Road To Recovery

On a recent gray winter morning Tomas Green drove the rain slick streets of Ranson in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. No matter the weather, Green helps transport clients working through addiction at the Jefferson Day Report Center get to their treatment sessions and meetings.


 As Congress considers repealing the Affordable Care Act, health professionals in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia grapple with what that might mean for a region where many depend on the law for access to care. This occasional series from the ReSource explores what’s ahead for the Ohio Valley

after Obamacare. See more stories here >>

The health care sector has grown by more than 19,000 jobs in the Ohio Valley region. And some economists who focus on health care policy are warning that many of those jobs could well hang in the balance as Congress considers changes to the Act.

Becca Schimmel/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Ohio Valley region once helped give rise to the labor movement. Now it’s shifting toward what’s known as right-to-work law. West Virginia and Kentucky have passed right-to-work laws and Ohio is considering a similar bill.

Mary Meehan/Ohio Valley ReSource

Dona Wells walked through what’s left of the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Boxes fill what use to be offices. Sterilized medical supplies are in disarray. A light flickers on and off in the back hallway. She doesn’t see a point in fixing it. At 75, she still runs 25 miles a week, but Wells is tired.

“I was going to retire anyway, probably this year,” she said. But I wanted to do it on my terms, not Gov. Bevin’s terms.”

 

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

She asked to not be identified. And it’s understandable given the stigma attached to addiction. For this story, we’ll call her “Mary.”

 

Mary lives in eastern Kentucky and has struggled with an addiction that began with painkillers and progressed to heroin.

“As soon as I opened my eyes, I had to get it,” Mary said. “And even when I did get it, then I had to think of the next way that I was going to get.”

Mary was using when she learned she was pregnant with her first child. She sought treatment but the disease had a tight grip on her.

Roger McGraw/WOUB

During the presidential campaign I visited two regional manufacturing executives who do business in the same county but hold views on trade that are worlds apart. Now that Donald Trump is the president-elect, I asked them and some regional economists how the new administration’s approach to trade might affect the Ohio Valley region.

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