A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Landslides follow historic flooding as clear and present risk to Appalachian Communities

By Katie Myers Ohio Valley Resource Elaine Tanner lives with her life partner, Jimmy Hall, at the head of Mill Creek in Letcher County. Jimmy is a sixth-generation Letcher Countian, and the land is his family land. Together, they like to roll around on their property on their ATV. But lately, Tanner’s spent more time searching for signs of damage than having fun. That’s what she was doing on Thursday...

Study shows bias, conflicts of interest with doctors hired by coal companies to read black lung x-rays

By Curtis Tate Ohio Valley ReSource Doctors hired by coal companies in black lung cases are far less likely to diagnose the disease in X-rays than are independent doctors or those who are hired by coal miners, a new study has concluded, pointing to conflicts of interest in the system that sick miners use to receive assistance. The doctors who worked for coal companies to read the chest X-rays of miners...

A year into the coronavirus pandemic, crowded jails continue to fuel infections across the region

(Photo courtesy Warren County Regional Jail) By Alana Watson Ohio Valley ReSource When the first coronavirus cases were reported last year, Warren County, Kentucky, Jailer Stephen Harmon knew there was going to be a COVID-19 outbreak in his jail. It was just a matter of when. “We tried our best to keep it from happening,” he said. “However with this many people in a fairly small spot, we knew...

As lawmakers prioritize broadband services, some communities wonder when it will reach them

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource As Barkley Hughes and I rumbled around in his red utility vehicle last month, memories slowly unwound about his western Kentucky hometown. Tolu, a historic Ohio River-bound community of less than a hundred, only makes up a few blocks before opening up into rolling farmland. Hughes openly admits it’s not near anywhere, but that’s part of the reason he came...

Here comes the sun: Solar moves in, and a Kentucky farm community wonders about its future

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource The golden hue of the sunset shines across the sky and through the window as a woman drives down Van Meter Road in Clark County, passing by green rolling hills and hay bales. In her social media video from early September, Adreanna Wills points out white signs in yards along the way, displaying the phrase “Industrial Solar” with a slash through the words. “Imagine...

As effects of pandemic continue to stall economy, region’s economists weigh in on Biden recovery plan

President Joe Biden presents his economic recovery platform. (Photo by Adam Schultz, via Ohio Valley ReSource) By Alana Watson Ohio Valley Resource The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cripple the economy in the Ohio Valley and President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pursuing his plan for economic recovery. Biden’s economic priorities include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,...

Addiction during the pandemic: Remaining in treatment while staying safe from COVID-19

By Corinne Boyer Ohio Valley ReSource Since 2012, the 2nd Chance Center for Addiction Treatment has served people in Lexington. The office sits on a busy street on the city’s north side. Similar to the heavy traffic that passes by, clients seeking treatment for substance and opioid use disorders steadily stream in and out of the building. But in 2020, the clinic had to limit that flow of patients...

Black Lives in Red States: Art and life converge for two women during a tumultuous year

By Sydney Boles Ohio Valley Resource Jessalyn Brown met Kyra Higgins through theater. “I saw her on stage and I was just like, ‘This girl is so good!’ She was just amazing.” So when it came time for Brown, 21, to direct a play for her senior project at Georgetown College, she knew she wanted Higgins, 22, to be in it. The play was “Blackademics,” a 2018 piece by Black playwright Idris...

After a ‘dark day’ in the nation’s Capitol, lawmakers and residents who were there take stock

By Jeff Young, Alana Watson, Liam Niemeyer and Corinne Boyer Ohio Valley Resource Owensboro, Kentucky, pastor Brian Gibson spoke at an event in Washington, D.C., Tuesday that combined religion with support for President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the election. “How many of you all believe that the people we elected are going to do what’s right tomorrow?” Gibson asked...

COVID relief is on the way. But as hunger persists, is it too little too late for some Kentuckians?

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource He asked her if she was cold. Wind whips around the park in western Kentucky a couple of days before Christmas. He puts his arm around her as they move closer together on the bench. Blake Livesay, 27, met Laura Brooke, 31, online earlier in 2020, and they’ve been inseparable since. She liked his way with words, “like a walking, talking Hallmark card.” He...

Kentucky records significant increase in overdose deaths as COVID-19 pandemic worsens opioid crisis

By Suhail Bhat Ohio Valley Resource New federal data shows the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the country’s deadliest 12-month period for drug overdose fatalities, including a sharp increase in overdose deaths in the Ohio Valley. According to the latest data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 81,000 people died due to drug overdoses in the 12 months from May 2019...

Patrons help Kentucky restaurant workers weather the pandemic holidays through ‘Adopt a Server’

By Sydney Boles Ohio Valley Resource Stay-at-home mom Sarci Eldridge has a big heart. So when Kentucky entered its second round of restaurant restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, her first thought was for her favorite server, Jessica Carey. “Me and my mom were talking, and we were just like, you know, we should just get Jessica something to get her through the holidays,” Eldridge said....

Despite voting restoration, many Kentuckians among thousands in Ohio Valley still disenfranchised

By Alana Watson Ohio Valley Resource After more than a decade, Kentucky resident Guy Hamilton-Smith voted this year for the first time in the state. Even though he didn’t vote in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending his ballot through the mail was still an emotional moment. “Not being able to vote for many years was like a really big reminder that in very important and meaningful ways,...

More sick staff, fewer beds in rural hospitals as COVID-19 continues spread through region

By Corinne Boyer Ohio Valley ReSource Dr. Kirk Tucker, chief clinical officer of Adena Health Systems in Chillicothe, Ohio, said a week before Thanksgiving that the health system’s three hospitals in southern Ohio were bombarded with coronavirus patients. But it isn’t just the patients testing positive. The virus has also sickened 65 of his fellow caregivers. Recently, Tucker said, a doctor there...

Economic outlook grim across Ohio Valley as coronavirus relief programs come to an end

By Sydney Boles Ohio Valley Resource With hundreds of thousands across the Ohio Valley struggling to make ends meet, a suite of coronavirus aid packages, including rent and utility relief funding, eviction moratoriums, and expanded unemployment benefits, is set to expire at the end of December. (Photo from Courtesy Bytemarks, Creative Commons via Ohio Valley ReSource) The consequences could be far-reaching....

Reviewing Biden’s plan for ‘building back better’ and what it could mean for the Ohio Valley

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley ReSource David Meinschein’s teachers, staff and students have sacrificed a lot this year amid the staggering challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. He opens the door heading inside Ballad Memorial High School’s basketball gymnasium — known locally as the “Green Palace” for its school colors. The school’s emptiness is another reminder of COVID-19’s impact....

Older veterans face new fight as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the region

By Corinne Boyer Ohio Valley ReSource On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his daily briefing on coronavirus, which is surging across the Ohio Valley. Eleven more Kentuckians had died that day. Then the governor provided an update on an especially worrisome outbreak at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center near Lexington, one of four long-term care facilities dedicated to veterans in the state....

Multiple false comments about election by President Trump dismissed by many lawmakers

By Sydney Boles Ohio Valley Resource 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.” The results of the election had not yet been called, and the counting of legally cast ballots will continue for quite some time, as is typical....

Formerly disenfranchised Kentuckians cast their ballots after Beshear’s order restores voting rights

By Becca Schimmel Ohio Valley Resource 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 election is special. It’s her first chance to vote since 2008. She won’t be going to a voting booth. Elections are a bit different this year because of the...

Overhyped hemp? Amid major price drop, and a big bankruptcy, Kentucky hemp farmers feel burned

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource John Fuller is waiting for another farmer he’s never met before to talk about a situation he never imagined he would be in. It’s an overcast January day on his farm in west Kentucky, where he grew 18 acres of hemp last year, investing more than $250,000 of his own cash. He’s one of nearly 1,000 licensed hemp growers in 2019 who helped grow Kentucky’s biggest...