“Schools Out” by Alice
Cooper was a popular rock and roll anthem in the 1970’s and it’s a tune
many school children in West Virginia might be singing a little earlier
than usual this year. A major change in the
school calendar and a mild winter means many counties will end the school year
before Memorial Day.
West Virginia Public Radio has begun
an ongoing focus on McDowell County and the multiple
efforts underway to improve its education system – and its economy. McDowell County has ranked last in
education in the state for most of the past
decade. Despite a state takeover of the county education system in 2001, little
progress had been made until the appointment of a new superintendent 2 years
ago. Jim Brown talks about his
short tenure in a poverty-stricken county.
Yogurt has always been associated with good
health. Now demand is growing for a new kind of yogurt--the Greek variety.
Sales more than doubled last year. And just as this market shift is healthy for
consumers, it's also healthy for dairy farmers--a key sector in our region's
economy that is struggling to survive.
Nearly 90% of the corn in this country is genetically-modified. And as using genetically-modified—or GM—corn becomes increasingly popular in everyday foods, more people are becoming concerned about potential ill effects on human health and the environment. Besides being used in food, that corn is also finding its way into Kentucky’s signature spirit: bourbon.
Moonshine in Western Kentucky goes back to the first settlers in the region. Moonshiners turned crops of corn into liquid gold in an attempt to escape poverty in areas where fields were plentiful and jobs were scarce. Historically, Moonshiners in Kentucky perfected their craft in the dark of night in an effort to avoid revenue agents seeking their cut of this often untaxed libation. In Marshall County an upstart moonshiner has started a legal distillery to carry on their legacy despite the difficulties of trying to re-create a business that kept few records.
Plus: WV: Solar energy, McDowell project, Marshall touring choir, Huntington Kitchen ...KY: Civil War, severe weather ... and more