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Another 99,000 Join Unemployed In Ohio Valley As U.S. Jobless Total Tops 38M

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (OVR) — The U.S. Department of Labor reported close to 99,000 additional unemployment insurance claims in the last week from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, as state unemployment offices worked their way through a backlog of millions of claims filed since the coronavirus pandemic forced business closures beginning in March. For the week ending May 16,… Read More

Unemployment Office sign

Unemployment Claims In Ohio Valley Surge Again, Up Another 355,000

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Claims for unemployment insurance once again surged around the Ohio Valley as nearly 355,500 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia sought help last week amid the economic calamity caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s in addition to the roughly 400,000 unemployment claims from the three states the previous week. The graph below shows the… Read More

The cast in rehearsal for “Coal Country.”

Coal Country: Can a Play About a Mine Disaster Help Bridge a National Divide?

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The actors deliver their lines from a sparse stage — just a few benches around them and 29 modest lights above. For the most part they speak directly to the audience, sharing memories of the lives of husbands, sons, fathers and nephews, some of the 29 men who died on April 5, 2010, when an… Read More

Unemployment

Ohio Valley Unemployment Claims Soar to Nearly 400,000 Amid Pandemic Shutdown

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (OVR) — Claims for unemployment insurance soared around the Ohio Valley region as nearly 400,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia sought help amid the economic freeze associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The new numbers come from data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor showing more than 6.6 million unemployment claims… Read More

A mountaintop removal mine site in southern West Virginia.

Coal Community Residents Again Ask Congress For Health Study Of Mountaintop Removal

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Residents of Appalachian coal communities told a Congressional subcommittee Tuesday that the controversial mining practice known as mountaintop removal should be halted until its health effects are better studied. Late in the Obama administration the National Academy of Sciences launched a study into the health effects for communities near mountaintop removal coal mines. Donna Branham of Lenore,… Read More

Toyota Revs Up Hybrid Vehicle Production In Ohio Valley

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The automaker Toyota announced Thursday major new investments in facilities in Kentucky and West Virginia to increase production of hybrid vehicles. Toyota plans to invest about $750 million in facilities in five states with almost half of that going to its plants in Kentucky and West Virginia. Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, already the largest… Read More

Three Miners Dead In Eleven Days: Grim December Caps Year In Coal Mine Safety

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Just a few months ago, the U.S. coal mining industry was on track for its safest year in history. But in an eleven-day span in late December, three miners died after separate incidents, bringing the total number of fatalities in 2018 to 12, even as coal mining employment continued its decline. “It is a reminder… Read More

Data Dives And Shoe Leather: How NPR’s Howard Berkes Investigated Appalachia’s Black Lung Epidemic

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NPR is reporting that more than two thousand coal miners are now suffering from the most severe form of black lung disease, Progressive Massive Fibrosis, or PMF. And despite clear warnings, investigative reporter Howard Berkes shows, the mining industry and government regulators did little to stop it. Data loom large in this story: Berkes took a deep dive… Read More

Driving While Recovering: For Some Fighting Addiction, A Roadblock On The Path To Sobriety

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After decades of addiction to heroin and prescription opioids, Wendy Crites finally made a clean break. “For the first time in my life I just wanted to be off of it,” she said from her home in Ranson, West Virginia. “I hit rock bottom.” Last year the ReSource profiled Crites, a single mother getting by on… Read More

Jim Justice

Rural Counties Under Stress From Justice Companies’ Unpaid Taxes In Several States

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In October, 2016, NPR, Ohio Valley ReSource and its partners reported that West Virginia billionaire coal baron Jim Justice, who was running for governor as a Democrat, owned companies that owed roughly $15 million in overdue taxes and mine safety fines. This week, Gov. Justice, who is now a Republican, made an announcement about those taxes. “I think we… Read More

Region’s Black Lung Rates Highest In 25 Years

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A new study by federal health officials finds the recent surge in cases of black lung disease is especially concentrated among coal miners in central Appalachia. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say the rate of black lung disease among experienced miners in central Appalachia is the highest they have seen in a quarter century…. Read More

National Academy Report Urges Stronger Coal Dust Monitoring Amid Black Lung Surge

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A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a “fundamental shift” in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust in order to prevent lung disease among miners. Despite improvements such as an Obama-era rule to strengthen monitoring and control of dust in mines, the experts on the… Read More

J.D. Vance Investor Tour Draws Hopeful Companies And Harsh Critics

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J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” returns to his native Kentucky this week. But Vance isn’t selling books this time. He’s leading a bus tour of well-heeled venture capitalists looking for investment options in the region. Vance worked with AOL founder Steve Case to line up big-name investors for what they call the “Rise of… Read More

mueller-trump

Firing Offense: Where Ohio Valley Senators Stand On Special Counsel Mueller

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“Why don’t you just fire the guy?” The question came in a press availability with President Trump soon after he learned that federal agents, acting on information from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, had raided the offices of his personal lawyer, Robert Cohen. The president visibly warmed to the question. Arms crossed, he answered, “Many people… Read More

Private Money To Pay For Mining Study Trump Administration Had Stopped

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The prestigious National Academy of Sciences is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining after the Trump administration ordered a halt to the scientific work. The panel of scientists assembled by the National Academies was months into a study of the health effects of surface mining when the Trump administration’s… Read More

“Matewan” Revisited: Film Unearthed Region’s Buried Labor History

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Thirty years ago the premiere of a small-budget, independent film had an out-sized effect on how many people in Appalachian coal country thought about their region and their past. “Matewan,” directed by John Sayles, depicted a bloody chapter in the fight to organize coal miners in the 1920s, exploring themes of class struggle and pacifism in… Read More