Ohio Valley Resource

Brittany Patterson

On a recent sunny weekday, Bill Currey proudly walks among 30 neatly stacked, brightly colored plastic kayaks. Birds chirp merrily, and the soothing sounds of the meandering Coal River permeate the background — nature’s version of a white noise machine.

For the tanned Currey, who also owns an industrial real estate company, being here, on the river, is as good as it gets. His goal is to share this slice of paradise with as many people as will listen.

WFPL

For many in the Ohio Valley, voting is a choice, a right they are free to exercise if they want to. But for Jackie McGranahan and the more than 175,000 other formerly disenfranchised Kentuckians, this primary election is special. It’s her first chance to vote since 2008.

Ohio Valley Farmers Receive More Than $100 Million So Far In COVID-19 Relief

Jun 17, 2020
Liam Neimeyer

Ohio Valley farmers have received more than $100 million so far in federal relief payments to offset the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with potentially more payments on the way.

Sydney Boles and Ohio Valley ReSource

It’s a sweltering hot Monday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and the kitchen at Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises, or CANE, is buzzing with activity.

In an industrial kitchen that was once a high school cafeteria, Brandon Fleming is chopping onions and sliding them into a massive aluminum tray of beans. Once the beans are in the oven, Fleming mops his brow and heads outside to the parking lot, where a small army of teenagers is loading bags and boxes of groceries into the trunks of waiting cars.

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley Resource

By now it’s become a familiar scene: Marchers fill the streets with placards proclaiming “Black Lives Matter,” and chants fill the air as the demonstrators recite the names of those lost. 

But there’s something different about some of these protests around the Ohio Valley in the past week. They’re not just happening in the larger cities such as Louisville, Lexington, Columbus and Cincinnati. Smaller college towns such as Athens, Ohio, and Morgantown, West Virginia, have seen marches. Communities in Kentucky farmland and the heart of Appalachian coal country, such as Hazard and Harlan, Kentucky, have seen people protesting against racial injustice and police violence.

Bytemarks Via Creative Commons

As the Ohio Valley continues its phased-in reopening, unemployment insurance claims are down slightly compared to the week before. The region is still reporting high levels of unemployment assistance applications.

At least 82,011 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Glynis Board

A new federal program is buying more than $1 billion in farm products such as dairy, produce and meat unable to be sold due to the pandemic’s disruptions to the food supply and send “food boxes” to needy families. But some anti-hunger advocates worry that parts of the Ohio Valley may be overlooked in getting this aid.

Brittany Patterson

Executives with Indiana-based coal company American Resources Corporation will face daily fines of $2,500 if they continue to flout court orders, according to filings in the bankruptcy case of Cambrian Coal. 

WFPL

Kentucky’s primary was moved to June 23 from its original date on May 19 due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. For the primary, the state has also expanded to all registered voters the option of absentee voting, which was previously only allowed for a few reasons, such as military deployment, disability, or temporary residence out of the state. 

Aaron Payne

A new study shows the Ohio Valley has some of the nation’s highest rates of food insecurity among older adults, and anti-hunger advocates say that situation could be made worse by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio Valley Making Progress On Unemployment Backlog

May 14, 2020
Becca Schimmel, Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are making progress on unemployment claims filed in March as states begin a phased-in reopening.

New unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

At least 125,459 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That surge in claims is in addition to the more than two million unemployment assistance applications people in the Ohio Valley made since mid-March.

Eastern Standard - May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

Kentucky coal miners, especially those with Black Lung disease, are urged to take precautions against COVID-19 | How women’s suffrage and the abolition movement converged: our 19th Amendment series continues | A chronicle of the courage and determination of Appalachian women | Dealing with hair during a pandemic

Contact: Tom Martin at es@eku.edu or leave voicemail at 859-622-9358

Erica Peterson

Underground coal miners start their shifts getting changed in closely packed changing rooms. They ride rail cars to their worksite, shoulder-to-shoulder, sometimes for more than an hour. And once they’re underground, ventilation designed to tamp down coal dust blows air through the mine. All that makes a coal mine the kind of place where the coronavirus could spread like wildfire.

Becca Schimmel, Ohio Valley ReSource

New unemployment insurance claims in the Ohio Valley began to taper off this week as states make their way through the backlog of applications amid business closures forced by the coronavirus pandemic. But local economies still face a staggering number of unemployed, and many of those who are out of work are still awaiting help.

About 211,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nicole Irwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

As President Trump ordered meatpacking plants on Tuesday to keep operating amid the coronavirus pandemic, more details are emerging about the concerns workers had about their safety at a facility in Louisville, where dozens of workers were infected and one died.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported as of Monday, the state was aware of 220 coronavirus cases at four meatpacking plants, including 34 cases at a JBS Swift plant in Louisville. The cabinet also reported one death — at that Louisville plant.

Becca Schimmel

Unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

Nearly 260,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That surge in claims is in addition to the more than one million unemployment assistance applications people in the Ohio Valley made since mid-March.

Online SNAP Program Could Increase Food Accessibility in Ohio Valley

Apr 22, 2020
USDA

Kentucky and West Virginia have recently been added to a federal pilot program to allow food stamp recipients to purchase groceries online, and Ohio Valley anti-hunger advocates say it’s a good move to improve food accessibility amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CDC

The governors of Kentucky and Ohio announced Monday that K-12 schools will remain closed and instruction will continue remotely for the remainder of this school year.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during his daily press conference Monday that the state appears to have flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases. But the virus remains and sending students back to school remains a health risk.

Educators also advised DeWine that going back for a short time would not be a good idea.

Tonia Casey

Food banks and pantries across the Ohio Valley are seeing spiked demand as an unprecedented surge of people continue to file for unemployment benefits, with food banks facing weeks long delays to get certain products. Meanwhile, some farmers are facing a financial crisis, sitting on excess food they can’t sell — food that could be directed to food banks and pantries.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $3 billion infusion to try to get surplus food to pantries. Those funds could eventually be put to use at pantries like one in west Kentucky.

Courtesy Bytemarks via Creative Commons

Unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

At least 287,576 people in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s in addition to the roughly 755,000 claims form the three states in the previous two weeks.

Bytemarks Via Creative Commons

Unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

At least 287,576 people in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s in addition to the roughly 755,000 claims form the three states in the previous two weeks.

The data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor showing more than 5.25 million unemployment claims around the country.

The coronavirus is taking a terrible toll on nursing homes in the Ohio Valley. Well over a thousand residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia have tested positive for coronavirus, and dozens have died from COVID-19.

Residents in these facilities are already more vulnerable, and in many cases, the facilities were running low on protective equipment even before the pandemic hit.

Glynis Board

A West Virginia-based coal plant operator has announced that it’s filing for bankruptcy due to weak demand for electricity. Longview Power LLC, which operates one of the newest and most efficient coal-fired power plants in the U.S. hailed by the Trump administration as a model for coal’s future, announced in a Tuesday press release that it would seek to restructure its debts and ownership structure under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.

The company cited low power demand, driven by a mild winter, cheap natural gas prices and the COVID-19 global pandemic.

America's experience with the coronavirus pandemic was at first primarily a threat to cities. Now, however, after months of spread and insufficient measures to test for and contain the virus, COVID-19 cases have arrived in rural America in large numbers as well.

For the Ohio Valley, this means a heightened threat to many communities with disproportionately high numbers of people especially vulnerable to the disease due to age and other health conditions.

UMWA Wants More Coronavirus Protections for Coal Miners

Mar 26, 2020
Brittany Patterson

The United Mine Workers of America is asking federal regulators to set uniform, enforceable guidelines to help protect coal miners from contracting COVID-19.

In a letter dated Tuesday, March 24, UMWA President Cecil Roberts wrote to the Mine Safety and Health Administration requesting the agency issue a “safeguard” or “emergency standard” that would require coal mine operators to take actions to protect miners from the coronavirus.

Michael Brumage

As new cases of coronavirus mount in the Ohio Valley, health officials are bracing for an onslaught of patients and what could be unprecedented demand for beds, medical staff and specialized equipment.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

As states across the Ohio Valley order the closure of non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, coal mines will remain open. But as with many industries, the global pandemic is straining the coal sector, and some experts say the already struggling industry could face intense challenges in the months ahead as electricity demand flags and international exports stall.

Brittany Patterson

Energy producers, utilities and energy sector workers across the Ohio Valley are adjusting operations and bracing for continued economic impacts as the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.

Efforts to limit the spread of the virus include shuttering schools and businesses and limiting travel, all of which reduce demand for energy. The federal government is moving to stabilize the economy, including a possible bailout for oil and gas producers.

Sydney Boles

As the economic fallout from the coronavirus continues to reshape our lives, small-town business owners are worried about the future. Whitesburg, Kentucky —  a town already struggling from the decline in the coal industry — is grappling with a new and serious challenge as the effort to contain the disease brings deep economic pain.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

Energy producers, utilities and energy sector workers across the Ohio Valley are adjusting operations and bracing for continued economic impacts as the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.


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