Ohio Valley ReSource

WKU Public Radio is part of a new regional journalism collaborative known as the Ohio Valley ReSource.  It's made up of public media stations across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.  The collaborative will focus on the changing economy in the region and its effect on jobs, healthcare and infrastructure. 

Each station taking part in the Ohio Valley ReSource is hiring a reporter to contribute to the effort.  WKU Public Radio's reporter is Becca Schimmel, who will be based in the Bowling Green newsroom. 

The Ohio Valley ReSource is made possible by member stations and through a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting. 

Ways to Connect

LBJ Library/public domain

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.

“The United States has been very keen for me and others to investigate human rights issues in other countries, which I have done,” Alston said. “Now, it's the turn to look at what's going on in the U.S. There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.”

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stood in front of the state’s capitol to rally the roughly 120 coal miners and industry boosters gathered there.

“The fight against the unlawful Clean Power Plan started in Charleston, West Virginia,” Morrisey said, noting the state’s role in a legal challenge to the Obama-era rule.


DEA Beefs Up Ohio Valley Opioid Enforcement

Nov 29, 2017
CSpan

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday enhanced federal enforcement targeting opioids in the Ohio Valley region, including a new Drug Enforcement Administration field division in Louisville.  

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Sessions said the Louisville field division will be the first new DEA division established in 20 years. He said it will have about 90 special agents and 130 task force officers focusing on drug trafficking in the Appalachian region

Glynis Board

Last month the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt chose an eastern Kentucky mining town as the venue to announce his intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule that sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday the agency returned to coal country to conduct its only public hearing on the matter in Charleston, West Virginia.


Changing Course: A School Cooperative Aims To Remake Coal Communities

Nov 27, 2017
Benny Becker

Betsy Layne High School serves rural Floyd County in the eastern Kentucky town of Stanville, population 206. Students there produce a video program called “Bobcat Banter” where they usually talk about sports and student life. But early last year “Bobcat Banter” introduced some special guests.

“We’re here with Mr. and Mrs. Gates from the Gates Foundation,” the students said.

The world’s richest man and his partner in life and philanthropy, Melinda Gates, had dropped in for a chat.

MSHA

The U.S. Senate voted along party lines Wednesday, 52 to 46, to narrowly confirm President Trump’s  nominee to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. The country’s top mine safety position has been vacant since January as coal mining fatalities have risen to a two-year high. Trump’s choice to fill the post is facing opposition from congressional Democrats and safety advocates. 


Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

A bipartisan group in Congress, including several Ohio Valley lawmakers, is pushing for more federal support for technology known as carbon capture and storage. The lawmakers and an uncommon alliance of labor, business, and environmental groups want to pass legislation called the FUTURE Act which would speed commercial deployment of technology that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from industries that burn fossil fuels.

Such technology has been in development for decades. Today, a number of projects show various methods are possible to “scrub” CO2 from the waste stream and store it underground. However, it is still prohibitively expensive to scale up those projects to the level needed to affect the global output of carbon pollution.


Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

At a conference last year on the region’s opioid crisis, journalist Sam Quinones presented a call to action to Northern Kentucky University.

Quinones is author of the influential book on the opioid crisis, “Dreamland,” and a tireless speaker on the topic. At conferences and other events in the Ohio Valley he frequently makes a plea: create an addiction research hub among regional institutions affected by the epidemic.

NKU decided to give it a shot.

“We looked and saw who was doing any kind of research related to health,” Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh said. “We sent an invitation for them to come to campus last December and to start to talking about opioid addiction and the possibility of forming a consortium.”


Mary Meehan

Hundreds of kids scurrying to buses are oblivious to a sign above them declaring Bourbon County High School “100 percent Tobacco Free.” But upstairs in the library, sophomore and anti-smoking advocate Jacob Steward unfurls a six-foot scroll with earth-toned papers trapped between clear sheets of laminate. He begins reading the anti-smoking slogans he’ll post around the school.

“E-cigs pose threat to health and turn kids into addicts and gives big tobacco your money,” he said. “E-cigs, neither water, vapor or harmless.”


Michael Durham, Bat Conservation International

Bats have a bit of an image problem. You probably saw some Halloween decorations recently featuring flying, fanged creatures of the night. But conservationists say bats are actually very helpful animals, saving farmers in the Ohio Valley region alone hundreds of millions of dollars simply by eating harmful insects.

Now bats need some humans to return the favor and help to halt the spread of a deadly disease.

 

The bat disease called White Nose Syndrome was first spotted in New York about ten years ago and researchers say it is rapidly moving across the country decimating many bat populations.

Mary Meehan

Roxanne Schwartz, of Lebanon, New Jersey, told a story to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis Wednesday that could easily resonate with parents in the Ohio Valley.

Her two sons were denied by insurance companies when seeking treatment for conditions related to opioid use disorder.

“We have spent over $300,000 in the last seven years,” she said. “We borrowed against our home, cashed out our college savings accounts and withdrew money from our retirement fund.”

White House video

As bad as the opioid epidemic is across the nation, it is even worse here in the Ohio Valley.

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia collectively have a rate of opioid-related deaths that is more than twice the national average.

Last year 5,306 people died from opioid overdoses in the three states -- 15 deaths a day. That means that 13 percent of all opioid deaths in the nation occurred in a region with just over 5 percent of the country’s population.


Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

President Donald Trump outlined on Thursday his long-awaited plan to address the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency. Part of that plan was based on experiences in the Ohio Valley region.

In an address at the White House Thursday both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump mentioned efforts in the Ohio Valley region to help infants affected by the crisis.

Trump said that a hospital nursery in West Virginia treats one in every five babies for symptoms of addiction.

Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

Many lawmakers from the Ohio Valley region are expected at the White House Thursday as President Donald Trump delivers an address on the opioid crisis.

It is still not clear when the president will unveil a long-awaited emergency declaration on the epidemic. The president called opioid addiction “an emergency” in early August, and a White House spokesperson indicated at the time that "expedited legal review" of an emergency declaration was underway. However, two months have passed without action on the matter.

In an interview Wednesday evening Trump indicated the emergency declaration will come "next week." The president is scheduled to speak on the opioid crisis Thursday afternoon at the White House.


USDA/Bob Nichols

After serving five years in the Navy Tyler Dunn has returned home to Hickman, Kentucky. These days, if he isn’t at work at the local liquor store or completing assignments for a business degree, you might find him surrounded by one of several stray cats he saved from a parking lot.

It’s hard to reconcile this image of Dunn -- military veteran, serious student, and sensitive pet owner -- with another fact about his life. Nearly ten years ago he was fired by Tyson Foods, in Union, Tennessee, for animal cruelty. 


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