Ohio Valley Resource

Sydney Boles

Polls had barely closed in the U.S. when President Donald Trump falsely alleged voter fraud and claimed prematurely to have won the election, saying “We will win this, and as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.”

Eastern Standard for October 8, 2020

Oct 8, 2020

Not letting a pandemic get in the way, the Kentucky Book Festival is “on” - virtually. | A mini book festival of our own features poet Lynell Edwards; novelists Wesley Browne and Karen Salyer McElmurray; and, the new non-fiction from the Ohio Valley Resource, documenting views of America from the perspectives of the coal-mining communities of Appalachian Kentucky  

Sydney Boles

A proposed $17.3 million settlement of a class action lawsuit would provide additional payment for hundreds of Appalachian coal miners who were suddenly left jobless by the abrupt bankruptcy of the Blackjewel mining company.

The settlement must be approved by the judge overseeing the complicated Blackjewel bankruptcy case. Although it is not yet final, attorneys for the miners call the agreement a “major victory” in bankruptcy court, a venue that is often not favorable to workers’ claims.

Sydney Boles

Small food producers in Kentucky aired their disapproval during a virtual public hearing Monday for a proposed rule that could increase permitting fees for some producers by more than 1000%. One Democratic state representative believes the proposed regulation could also clash with a bill signed by Governor Andy Beshear this year to help local public health departments become more sustainable.

Courtesy DNC Video

Democrats made their pitch to the American people during a largely virtual Democratic National Convention and addressing climate change emerged as a central tenet of the party’s plan.

The party platform spells out a major investment in green energy jobs and infrastructure in order for America to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission no later than by 2050. Environmental justice is a key component of the Democrat’s climate plan and it references ensuring fossil fuel workers and communities receive investment and support during this clean energy transition.

Courtesy Madison Buchanan

“Hello,” the call began. “This is a prepaid debit call from an inmate at the Virginia Department of Corrections.”

Madison Buchanan, a 19-year-old college student, pressed 0 to accept the call and was connected to Jacob Alan Shouse, Offender Number 1101441.

“I want to thank you so much for helping me out with this,” Buchanan said.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine,” Shouse replied. “I’m all about new friends, new advocates, activists, anything positive.”

Brittany Patterson, Ohio Valley ReSource

On a recent sticky July afternoon, Diana Green stands on the muddy bank of lower Davis Creek in South Charleston, West Virginia. 

Courtesy Animal Wellness Action

An animal rights advocacy group published a report Thursday that says Kentucky is “a center” for illegal cockfighting breeding that ships tens of thousands birds across the world to the Philippines, Mexico, and other countries.

The Animal Wellness Action report details video interviews and social media posts of seven suspected breeders, ranging from Bowling Green in west Kentucky to Manchester in east Kentucky, as evidence of these operations.

Alice Welch for USDA

Tyson Foods sought and received federal permission to increase the operating speed at poultry processing plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana even as public health officials reported dozens of coronavirus cases among Tyson workers. Now, a union representing workers at meatpacking plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana is one of several plaintiffs suing the federal government over waivers that allowed Tyson Foods and other companies to operate faster.

Jeff Young

At the Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green, Kentucky, vendors and shoppers are adjusting to the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes wearing face coverings, maintaining distance, and taking other precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

Market manager Susan Warrell said their first days under the state’s recent mask mandate were a challenge, but shoppers have been understanding.

“We had just a couple of people that came without masks. And I just stopped them and explained,” she said. “And they put the mask on and shopped at the market.”

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.

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