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Encore: Fur Trapping In W.Va. And A Blue Ribbon Winner, Inside Appalachia – West Virginia Public Broadcasting



Encore: Fur Trapping In W.Va. And A Blue Ribbon Winner, Inside Appalachia – West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, we visit with West Virginia trappers to learn about the fur trade in the 21st century.

We also meet a county fair champion who keeps racking up the blue ribbons and has released a cookbook of some of her favorites.

And we hear an update on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Construction has begun again, but some people wonder if it’s even needed.

These stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.


In This Episode:

The West Virginia Fur Trade In The 21st Century

Before coal or timber, the fur trade was one of Appalachia’s first industries. 

Fur trapping flourished for centuries, made fortunes and led to wars and was still lucrative into the last few generations.  

Now, most West Virginia fur trappers struggle to earn a living, but some have adapted or found new careers using their particular skills. Folkways Reporter Lauren Griffin brought us the story.

Blue Ribbon-Winning Fair Food

There’s nothing quite like the county fair, where you can pet a goat or get motion sick on the tilt-a-whirl.


A staple of county and state fairs are the annual craft competitions, where the hopeful vie for the coveted blue ribbon.

Few people have been as successful as Russell County, Virginia resident Linda Skeens, who has won hundreds of ribbons, become a social media sensation and released a cookbook featuring some of her winning recipes. 

Producer Bill Lynch spoke with her about winning contests and collecting recipes.

Cruising With Vintage Vehicles 

For over 50 years, in Roanoke, Virginia, on any given Friday night, you can see modified cars and trucks with neon lights, spinning rims and streamlined spoilers strutting from north to south and back again. And often — you’ll see old-timey antique cars out there among them.

Host Mason Adams reported this story in 2020, about a family of mechanics who have spent years developing the skills to get those vintage cars just right.


The Mountain Valley Pipeline Saga Continues

We’ve reported on the Mountain Valley Pipeline for years. Completion of the pipeline has been held up because a federal court keeps throwing out its permits. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled to allow work to resume again. But some energy analysts question whether the pipeline is even needed.

WVPB’s Curtis Tate spoke with Suzanne Mattei of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Extended Family Pitching In To Care For Dementia Patients

Spouses or adult children typically care for people with dementia, but more and more extended family members are taking on that role. CareEx is a project at the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech that studies extended family caregivers in central Appalachia. 

WVPB’s Eric Douglas spoke with project coordinator Brandy McCann about their work.



Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sturgill Simpson, Ron Mullennex, Mary Hott and Noam Pikelny.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens.

You can send us an email:

You can find us on Instagram, Threads and Twitter @InAppalachia. Or here on Facebook.

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.


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West Virginia

WVSports – West Virginia Mountaineers: Commitment 101: Chris Fileppo



WVSports  –  West Virginia Mountaineers: Commitment 101: Chris Fileppo

The West Virginia football program has landed a commitment from Wyndmoor (Pa.) La Salle College High 2025 spear Chris Fileppo.

Fileppo, 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, flipped his pledge to the Mountaineers from James Madison where he had been committed since April. The versatile athlete also held offers from Purdue, South Florida, Connecticut, Villanova, Monmouth and a number of others.

The two-star prospect received an offer from West Virginia in May and those efforts were spearheaded by secondary coach ShaDon Brown.

Fileppo made the trek to West Virginia over the weekend for an official visit and saw enough to end his recruitment by committing to the Mountaineers shortly after its conclusion.


Fileppo is set to play spear for West Virginia on defense, but also has the skill set where he could end up at free safety depending on how he continues to develop.

Fileppo represents the sixth commitment for West Virginia in the defensive backfield behind Tampa (Fla.) Gaither 2025 cornerback Serious Stinyard, Irmo (S.C.) Dutch Fork 2025 cornerback Elgin Sessions, Richmond (Va.) Trinity Episcopal 2025 defensive back Terrance “Deuce” Edwards, Lakeland (Fla.) 2025 defensive back Sammy Etienne and Huntington (W.Va.) 2025 safety Zah Jackson.

He is the 18th commitment overall. breaks down the commitment of Fileppo and what it means to the West Virginia Mountaineers football program both now and in the future.

Skill set:


Fileppo is a long rangy safety that has the frame to fill out even further. He is a sure tackler and has no reservations coming down into the box to spill ball carriers. He is equipped with the speed and athleticism to cover a lot of ground and his skill set is a good fit for what the program wants at the spear spot.

Fileppo plays both sides of the ball and creates separation as a wide receiver, showcasing his athleticism. He displays strong coverage skills and plays the game with a high IQ in the backend of the defense. He possesses good ball skills and shows the ability to track the football well to both make plays on it and deliver hits.

Fitting the program:

West Virginia continues to target versatility and length in the back end of the defense and Fileppo certainly possesses both of those traits. He has the size and skill set to move around to multiple positions but will likely start his career at either spear or possibly even the free safety spot.


This is a player that secondary coach ShaDon Brown targeted and was able to get him to campus in order to close the deal in his recruitment. The Mountaineers were also able to go into neighboring Pennsylvania to fill a need in the recruiting class and gives the program a safety that can move around to multiple positions.

Fileppo will step into a position where they will be seven scholarship players on the roster when he arrives on campus and with his ability to bounce around it opens doors for him to potentially challenge for early time.

Recruiting the position:

West Virginia has hit the defensive backs hard in this cycle and while there are options out there, expect the Mountaineers to be selective if there are any additional prospects added to the class.



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WVSports – 2025 DL Crawford sees a lot on West Virginia official visit



WVSports  –  2025 DL Crawford sees a lot on West Virginia official visit

Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh 2025 defensive end Elijah Crawford made his official visit to West Virginia over the weekend and left campus with a strong understanding of what the program is about.

Crawford, 6-foot-4, 265-pounds, had visited Morgantown before but this trip allowed him to really see the family dynamic and camaraderie within the program.

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In West Virginia, the Senate Race Outcome May Shift Limits of US Climate Ambitions – Inside Climate News



In West Virginia, the Senate Race Outcome May Shift Limits of US Climate Ambitions – Inside Climate News

For decades, West Virginia has elected senators who have played an oversized role in United States energy policy, backing fossil fuels and resisting robust action on climate change.

Sen. Joe Manchin may have been outside the mainstream of the Democratic party in his views, but in a closely divided Senate, he was able to set the boundaries of what President Joe Biden could accomplish on climate. 

Manchin opted to refrain from testing a moderate’s chances at re-election given West Virginia’s sharp political turn to the right. He announced he would retire at the end of this year, and broke from the Democrats entirely in May when he registered as an Independent.

Now, the race to fill his seat this fall could radically change West Virginia’s role as the state limiting the ambitions of national climate policy. The nation’s No. 2 coal state could elect a full-throated, fossil fuel-boosting senator in November—in fact, coal operator and businessman Jim Justice, the current Republican governor and an acolyte of former President Donald Trump, is running more than 30 points ahead in the latest polls.


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But Justice, 73, would just add to what is now essentially the unanimous pro-fossil fuel bloc of Republicans in Congress. His Democratic opponent, Glenn Elliott, 52, an attorney and mayor of Wheeling, sits firmly in the mainstream of his party on climate change. Elliott argues that warming is bringing dangerous weather extremes like torrential downpours to West Virginia and that an energy transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable.

The choice for West Virginia voters on one side or the other of the nation’s politically polarized energy policy couldn’t be clearer. But the 2024 Senate race also ends the state’s long reign at the fulcrum of that policy, with the balance in the Senate often tipped by Manchin over his 14 years in Washington, and for more than 50 years prior, by his predecessor, the late Sen. Robert Byrd.


In a speech two years ago, Justice downplayed renewable wind and solar power, and even the prospect of energy powered by hydrogen, as “the parsley around the side of the plate” where “oil, gas and coal” are the “meat and potatoes.” 

Of climate change, Justice said, “I don’t know if it’s for real or not.” In backing coal, he went on to play the religion card, while ignoring the economic reality of coal losing its competitive edge to natural gas and renewable energy. “I truly believe with all my heart that God wants us to progress and like it or not, civilization only progresses with abundant cheap energy,” he said. 

Glenn Elliott, an attorney and mayor of Wheeling, West Virginia. Credit: Elliott for West Virginia
Glenn Elliott, an attorney and mayor of Wheeling, West Virginia. Credit: Elliott for West Virginia
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. Credit: Office of the GovernorWest Virginia Governor Jim Justice. Credit: Office of the Governor
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. Credit: Office of the Governor

For his part, Elliott said in an interview that he is “not trying to end anybody’s job in coal. But I do think we need to start thinking in a much more sort of open-minded, expansive way the way we make our energy.

“The market itself is going to steer us away from a fossil fuel-based energy production model and we need to be doing something to prepare for that reality, instead of just doubling down on the way we’ve done things.”

‘Acres of Diamonds Under Our Feet’

West Virginia remains the second-largest coal-producing state despite a plummet in production by more than half over the last 15 years. Over about the same period, West Virginia has emerged from a regional fracking boom as the fourth-largest producer of natural gas.

The state’s representatives in Washington have sought to maintain the dominance of fossil fuel in the nation’s energy system, playing a leading role in some of the earliest debates in Congress on climate change. In 1997, Byrd, by then former Senate Majority Leader, reached across the aisle to join with Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to author and secure a unanimous resolution opposing the United Nations climate agreement known as the Kyoto Protocol that was then taking shape, effectively blocking U.S. ratification of the treaty.


Another significant Byrd moment came 10 years later when the Senate was debating what eventually became the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The Democrats had full control of Congress for the first time since 1993, with the Senate essentially evenly split as it is today. It was the Democrats’ big chance to address climate change.

The legislation that President George H.W. Bush ultimately signed improved fuel economy and supported biofuels and energy efficiency. But mainly because of Byrd and other Democratic “moderates” at the time, the Senate jettisoned the House-passed effort to establish a National Renewable Energy Portfolio standard like those that were becoming popular at the state level. The proposal was for 15 percent of U.S. power to come from clean energy.

“Our coal supplies are large enough to last for generations, fueling the electricity needs of our homes and our businesses,” Byrd said on the Senate floor. “We don’t have to ask someone else for this cheaper and abundant energy source; it is right here, like acres of diamonds, under our feet. It is there, there in the ground, for the taking.”

Sen. Robert Byrd stands next to his desk in 1977. Credit: Marion S. Trikosko/Library of CongressSen. Robert Byrd stands next to his desk in 1977. Credit: Marion S. Trikosko/Library of Congress
Sen. Robert Byrd stands next to his desk in 1977. Credit: Marion S. Trikosko/Library of Congress

Most recently, Manchin, whose family also has coal interests and who has been a tireless advocate for coal mining and miners, played a leading role in limiting the scope of President Biden’s clean energy and green infrastructure aspirations by effectively killing the $2 trillion Build Back Better plan that Biden ran on in 2020. 

Manchin then provided pivotal votes to secure passage of two landmark bills—the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

However, the infrastructure law is heavily weighted to road and bridge building instead of public transit or clean alternatives. Biden’s originally planned $174 billion investment in electric vehicles and a network of charging stations was pared back to $7.5 billion for EVs, charging infrastructure and electric school buses, for example. 


While the Inflation Reduction Act invests $370 billion in fighting climate change, more federal dollars than any other federal action, Manchin made sure the legislation included items that bolstered the fossil fuel industry, such as a requirement that the U.S. government offer millions of acres of federal land for new oil and gas leasing over the next decade. 

Some environmental critics decried the fossil fuel support, with one calling the comprises “climate suicide,” but other Washington insiders who support climate action praise Manchin’s bipartisan approach.

Manchin doesn’t get the credit he deserves in climate policy circles, with his legislative style of seeking bipartisan cooperation, said Sasha Mackler, executive director of the Energy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank. 

“Sen. Manchin has been a leader on these issues for a very long time, and has at times been a bit of a thorn in the side of the climate policy community,” Mackler said. “But he has also enabled significant action to happen, and that has been very important in setting an energy agenda that has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans.”

Debts, Fines and Babydog

The Cook Political Report rates the 2024 Senate race in West Virginia as “solid” Republican.


Justice is viewed as an “extremely popular governor here, and also comparatively, nationwide,” said Sam Workman, a professor of political science and director of the Institute for Policy Research and Public Affairs at West Virginia University.

Given Justice’s strong position in the race, Workman doesn’t see the governor trying to engage his challenger very much, hoping to “coast to victory,” he said. 

“On that chord, Gov. Justice is signaling more than ever his alignment with sort of national Republican priorities,” such as Southern border control and immigration. “He’s lockstep in line with President Trump’s take on things.”

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice speaks next to President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Huntington, West Virginia on Aug. 3, 2017. Credit: Justin Merriman/Getty ImagesWest Virginia Governor Jim Justice speaks next to President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Huntington, West Virginia on Aug. 3, 2017. Credit: Justin Merriman/Getty Images
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice speaks next to President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Huntington, West Virginia on Aug. 3, 2017. Credit: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Political observers in the state say he takes advantage of an “aw-shucks” manner of speaking and the ever-presence of an English bulldog, Babydog.

Neither Justice’s campaign nor the governor’s office responded to requests for an interview. On his campaign website, Justice promises to “remain a coal, natural gas and oil champion.”  

Justice earned the endorsement of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association in part because of the governor’s views on energy production, said Bill Bissett, president of the lobby group. “We are an association that believes in energy development, not just with coal, but with all forms of energy. Overall, we have found him to be definitely willing to listen and definitely not stand in the way of energy industry development,” Bissett said.


Bissett said the state’s economy is going in the right direction, “so to continue that leadership, from the governor’s office to the U.S. Senate simply made a lot of sense to us.”

Bissett also praised Justice’s “overall business acumen” as the patriarch of a family enterprise that includes coal, agriculture and, since 2009, the historic and plush Greenbrier resort, which he bought out of bankruptcy.

But state and national news reports, from the Mountain State Spotlight and ProPublica to Politico and the New York Times, paint Justice’s business practices in a far different light. Formerly on the Forbes billionaire list, Justice inherited a fortune in coal interests from his father, and his family’s companies have faced and continue to confront a staggering trail of lawsuits, debt and environmental health and safety fines.

The environmental and safety record of mining companies run by the Justice family is among the worst in the industry, said West Virginia University Law Professor Pat McGinley, who came to the state in 1975 and has worked on behalf of coalfield residents and successfully challenged the permitting of mountaintop removal coal mining.

McGinley counts “literally millions of dollars” in fines paid on “thousands” of mine safety violations, while the Environmental Protection Agency has also sought payment of millions of dollars in fines from Justice family coal companies.  


“His companies have failed to reclaim mine lands after the coal has been extracted” in states across Appalachia, leaving scarred landscapes “oozing acid mine drainage, causing flooding, soil erosion, sedimentation and putting miners’ lives at risk,” McGinley said.

Justice “is right at the forefront of those who wink and nod at mine safety and environmental regulation. In the Senate, I’ve no doubt that that’s where he will go,” McGinley said.

Elliott said his campaign intends to show how Justice hasn’t had “to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

Looking Forward vs. ‘the Past’

West Virginia Democratic consultant Mike Plante, who is not working on Elliott’s campaign, said Democrats running for statewide office in West Virginia have a chance if they can demonstrate they are putting West Virginia first.

He sees the race as a referendum on Justice and one offering divergent outlooks.


“Glenn Elliott represents the future of West Virginia,” Plante said, describing him as “forward-looking. And Jim Justice represents the past.”

Elliott is a Wheeling native who left home to earn academic degrees from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Georgetown University’s law school.

He worked as a legislative assistant to Byrd from 1994 to 1999 and practiced corporate law in the Washington area before returning home in 2009 to set up a solo law practice. He’s been mayor of the state’s third-largest city since 2016.

Manchin endorsed him before the May 14 Democratic primary, when Elliott defeated two other candidates.

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Elliott, following at least part of the Democratic Party playbook, touts women’s health issues and reproductive choice as among his top campaign themes. Democrats elsewhere have found success defending pro-choice positions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade two years ago, after which West Virginia lawmakers almost completely banned abortion.

“A lot of people who may not be completely comfortable with (abortion) are now saying, wait a second, we went too far, and we are making women in West Virginia almost second-class citizens,” Elliott said. “So for me, that’s the single most critical issue for this campaign.”

Regarding energy, Elliott said he recognizes the role that West Virginia coal has played in the economy of the state and nation but coal has also “come at great cost. It’s killed a lot of miners either directly in the mines or it has sickened miners after the fact. It’s damaged a lot of communities.


“It’s important for West Virginia’s senator to advocate that if we’re going to be moving away from these fossil fuels that we’ve always relied on, West Virginia needs to make sure we get made whole in that equation. We can’t be just left behind.”

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