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.

ASAM

A Louisville treatment center is among the first programs in the nation to be certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The Volunteers of America Mid-States’ Freedom House serves women with substance use disorder and who are also pregnant or have young children.

Brittany Patterson/OhioValleyReSource

Brittany Patterson/OhioValleyReSource

Aaron Payne/Ohio Valley ReSource

 

Addiction specialists, business leaders, law enforcement officials and other community members gathered around tables at Shawnee State University to talk about two big challenges in Scioto County, Ohio: a shrinking economy and a growing addiction crisis.

The Appalachian Regional Commission brought them together as part of a listening tour to learn about connections between addiction recovery and economic recovery.

Several speakers pointed out how the opioid epidemic has left employers with job openings and a workforce unprepared to fill them. 

WFPL

This week in Kentucky politics, a very interesting primary election took place. We learned that Gov. Matt Bevin will be facing off against Attorney General Andy Beshear in this year’s race for governor. But the results of the election show that both candidates have some work to do to unite their parties behind them. Jean West from member station WFPL talked to Ryland Barton for this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled. 
 

Liam Niemeyer/Ohio Valley ReSource

The U. S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday details of a second round of aid totaling $16 billion for farmers affected by the trade war with China. But some Ohio Valley farmers worry about the ongoing consequences of these payments and tariffs.

Rebecca Kieger

 Washington Post investigation finds the Ohio Valley is suffering the most from the surge in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, even as deaths from other substances are falling. 

The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found the region has the nation’s highest rates of death due to fentanyl.

Courtesy office of WV Governor

n apparent anticipation of a federal lawsuit seeking recovery of overdue penalties, coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have filed a lawsuit of their own against federal surface mining regulators.

Appalachian Regional Commission

 

Central Appalachia lags behind other part of the region in employment, household income and other key measures. That's according to a new study from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The data comes from the American Community Survey, that’s like a smaller version of the census. It is conducted every five years.

Within Appalachia, different subregions have very different outcomes. In many cases, Central Appalachia, which includes parts of Kentucky and West Virginia, lagged behind other subregions.

 

Associated Press

Kentucky’s largest aluminum producer supports the Trump administration’s decision to keep steel and aluminum tariffs on most countries. Those import taxes were recently removed on Canada and Mexico, but remain in place for other countries.

A Growing Recovery: Food Service And Farming Jobs Provide A Path Out Of Addiction

May 20, 2019
Brittany Patterson/OhioValleyReSource

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal. The menu today is apple sage pork tips, spiralized zucchini (or “zoodles”), roasted broccoli, and a salad of spinach grown just a few miles away.

Autumn McCraw helped prepare today’s meal. The 35-year-old Charleston resident sports a maroon apron and greets every customer with a smile. Her days here typically start around 8 a.m.

Dave Mitsch/WVPB

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito this week introduced two bills aimed at further regulating a group of toxic chemicals known as PFAS.

The chemicals include PFOA, or C-8, used to make nonstick products and other similar chemicals used in flame retardants. They have been detected in at least 10 water systems in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Exposure has been linked to some cancers and thyroid problems at very low levels.

PTTG

As a new plastics industry emerges in the Ohio Valley, a report by environmental groups warns that the expansion of plastics threatens the world’s ability to keep climate change at bay.

From MyTownTV streaming of event

A large whiteboard in an Ashland, Kentucky, unemployment office is covered with a list of companies that are currently hiring. Senior career counselor Melissa Sloas said that just a few years ago, that board was a lot emptier.

Jessica Lilly

Robert Bailey started mining coal in southern West Virginia’s McDowell County in the 1970s. By the time he retired from the Patriot Coal Company 36 years later he was already having trouble breathing. By the time I first interviewed Bailey in 2014, his black lung disease had become severe.

“I’m in the process of a lung transplant,” he explained. But an insurance company was protesting further treatment.

J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin has crafted a new version of the pension bill he vetoed last month and is expected to call a special session for lawmakers to consider the issue soon.

The measure is similar to the one that Bevin rejected last month. It allows regional universities and agencies like health departments to exit the state’s pension system to avoid a spike in the amount of money they have to contribute to it.

  A major drug company has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of contributing to the opioid epidemic in one of the Ohio Valley's hardest hit states. 

It's the largest settlement against a single pharmaceutical distributor for the state.

The McKesson Corporation agreed to pay $37 million to settle a 2016 lawsuit filed by West Virginia.

The suit, originally filed in Boone County Circuit Court, accused one of the nation's largest drug distributors of filling suspicious orders and shipping millions of prescription painkillers to the state.

CDC

Toni Wilkinson has seven children, three of them under six, and all of them home-schooled. So her house on a Lexington, Kentucky, cul-de-sac is rarely quiet.

Just inside the front door are bins filled with shoes, piles of jackets on a long bench. Across the room is the family library, crammed with school books. Crowded among them are controversial titles critical of vaccinations, the books Wilkinson used in her own homework researching vaccines.

“I just started to have questions, it was just this lingering doubt that I can’t really explain,” she said.

Bruce Johnson/TNC

A conservation group chose Earth Day, April 22, to announce the purchase of a massive property in Appalachian forest to protect habitat and help wildlife adapt to the challenges of climate change.

The property covers 100,000 acres of forest straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

 

The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit that made the purchase, said it plans to restore forest health, lease land for sustainable forestry, and provide opportunities for locals to enjoy the wilderness.

Thinkstock

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday more than a dozen indictments against doctors in the Ohio Valley on charges relating to the illegal distribution of opioids. These are the first major indictments from the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which started work in December.

Ohio Valley ReSource

 

Inside the Bluegrass Hemp Oil store in Lexington, Kentucky, the CBD oils and lotions lining the walls have an origin story — a story of a family’s struggle.

“We took a huge risk, to be perfectly honest, because we didn’t know. We weren’t trying other people’s CBD products that were out there,” Bluegrass Hemp Oil Co-owner Adriane Polyniak, said.

Polyniak’s son, Colten, began inexplicably having violent seizures in 2009 when he was three. He was diagnosed with idiopathic generalized epilepsy.

Mine Safety Debt For WV Gov. Justice’s Family Companies Grows to $4M

Apr 9, 2019
WV Office of the Governor

An Ohio Valley ReSource analysis of federal mine safety data shows that the companies belonging to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice owe $4.3 million in delinquent debt for mine safety violations. That is far more than the companies owed when Justice ran for governor in 2016, when he pledged to make good on such debts.

The Justice companies still have the highest delinquent mine safety debt in the U.S. mining industry.

ARC Provides Funds For Recovery Efforts

Apr 3, 2019
Aaron Payne/Ohio Valley ReSource

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than $2 million to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton Center for Families project in Pikeville, Kentucky.

 

Janet Butler, USFWS

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s namesake is apparent upon stepping outside its visitors center in Williamstown, West Virginia. Gazing past bird feeders and the forested bank of the Ohio River, a skinny island looms large.

“So Buckley Island is right across the water from us,” says Michael Schramm, visitor services manager at the refuge.

 

USDA

  The federal government is considering a work requirement for some people who get food assistance through SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A new study uses Kentucky as an example of what that change could mean for the country.

 

Courtsey CVI

A congressional subcommittee will hear testimony Thursday in support of a bill that would help clean up and redevelop surface mine land. The bill enjoys bipartisan support, but still faces hurdles.

Sydney Boles/Ohio Valley ReSource

When Seth Long first began experimenting with maple syrup production, he tapped hollow pegs called spiles into individual trees, collected drips of sap in milk jugs, and carried each gallon down the the steep mountainside on foot.

Now, Long rides an open-air buggy up muddy switchbacks to a 500-gallon collection tank from which translucent blue tubes branch out like arteries. There, gallons of sap accumulate from Long’s 270 maple trees before they flow through those tubes 900 feet down the mountain to Long’s grant-funded sugar shack.

 

Mary Meehan

he Ohio Valley has received nearly $60 million in additional federal funds to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Kentucky received $16,431,436, Ohio $29,122,692 and West Virginia $14,630,361.  

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds as a supplement to the first-year State Opioid Response, or SOR, grant awards.

 

RWJF.org

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation confirms the significant health challenges in the Ohio Valley, including premature deaths.

It also lays out the often overlooked connection between health and housing.

The report presents a county-by-county breakdown of health outcomes and reveals significant gaps between the healthiest counties and the least healthy counties.

The Trump Administration released on Monday details of a 2020 federal budget proposal that includes cutting funds allotted for a new federal prison in eastern Kentucky. The funds would be redirected to other law-enforcement or natural security priorities, potentially including a wall at the southern U.S. border.

The proposed cut rebukes arguments made by Congressman Hal Rogers, the powerful Kentucky Republican who has promoted federal prisons as economic development for communities struggling with high unemployment.

 

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