A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

With the coronavirus pandemic roiling food supplies, local agriculture is experiencing a resurgence

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource Debby Dulworth has a lot of conversations with her cattle each day. She swings open a gate, driving the herd with repeated calls and the Hereford cattle respond in kind with groans and snorts. “They talk to me,” Dulworth said with a laugh, as the cows come bounding out into a fresh field of Kentucky fescue and buttercups. She’s been corralling them from pasture...

Daily Yonder: Small cities and towns across the country join in national police violence protests

By Jan Pytalski and Tim Marema Special to KyForward As America enters its second week of protests over the murder of George Floyd and police brutality, the demonstrations have spread to all 50 states, according to CNN. While the bulk of footage from the protests comes from major cities like Minneapolis, where Mr. Floyd was killed by a police officer, New York, or Washington, D.C., many rural parts...

Rural Blog: Federal hemp legalization opens avenues of promotion and protection for growers, sellers

Federal hemp legalization opens up new avenues of promotion and protection for growers and sellers The legalization of industrial hemp in last year’s Farm Bill has opened up a slew of new avenues for growers of the crop and purveyors of its products to help their operations, Liam Niemeyer reports for Ohio Valley Resource, a public-radio cooperative that serves Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. When...

Rural Blog: Getting black-lung benefits a daunting task for Central Appalachian coal miners

Black-lung disease is common among coal miners, with one in 10 nationwide suffering some form of it. The disease hit a 25-year high in Central Appalachia last year, where one in five suffer from it. But accessing federal benefits for the sometimes debilitating and deadly disease can be difficult, often taking years of fighting through bureaucracy, Sydney Boles reports for Ohio Valley Resource. “The...

Ohio Valley Resource, Appalshop reporter Becker among Nieman special reporting fellowship winners

A rural reporter, a small-city editor and an investigative reporter and editor from Puerto Rico the first recipients of a new fellowship from The Nieman Foundation at Harvard University “to support reporting and public service investigations in under-served news markets,” as it is described by the Boston-based Abrams Foundation, which funds it. The 2019 Abrams Nieman Fellows for Local...

Rural Blog: Former aide to Mitch McConnell takes helm at Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission, long a target of Republican presidents, has a new chief executive with strong ties to the most powerful Republican in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has helped secure its funding. Tim Thomas attended the East Kentucky Leadership Conference in Hindman Thursday. Former Gov. Paul Patton of Pikeville is at right (Photo by Al Cross) Tim Thomas,...

Tobacco’s Toll: New push aims to curb the other addiction problem in country’s sickest states

By Mary Meehan Special to KyForward 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...

CDC identifies 10 counties at highest risk of HIV infection — all are in eastern Kentucky, W.Va.

By Mary Meehan Ohio Valley Resource Sitting on top of the Bible on Pastor Brad Epperson’s desk at the Clay City First Church of God is a list of goals for his small congregation written in a looping cursive hand. “Our community ought to see the love of God in us, not just by our understanding of a compassionate Gospel, but our public acts of love,” is near the top. Epperson was born and raised...