Liam Niemeyer

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."

 

 
 

Adrian Cable/WikimediaCommons

Kentucky is one of 12 states that holds elections for agriculture commissioner, which facilitates and promotes the state’s $5.9 billion agriculture industry that has more than 75,000 workers.

Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture in many ways is a marketer and advocate for the various agricultural organizations and associations in the state. The department also helps farmers and businesses grow various crops, monitors the needs and health of agriculture in the state, regulates hemp growing licenses and even inspects 60,000 gas pumps across the state.

Liam Niemeyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

Tony Silvernail swings a heavy machete at a stalk of bushy hemp and chops the plant near the root, grabbing the five-foot-tall shoot with his sun-weathered hand.

It’s an unusually hot October day on his farm, Beyond The Bridge LLC, tucked in the hills outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. But the heat doesn’t faze Silvernail, sporting a sweat-soaked shirt, a huge smile, and a fat cigar between his teeth.

Silvernail and hundreds of others of farmers across the Ohio Valley are finally getting to harvest thousands of acres of hemp, the first harvest since the federal government legalized hemp cultivation last December.


Andy Beshear, Matt Bevin official photos

Republican Governor Matt Bevin and his opponent, Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear continued to battle over contentious campaign issues at this fall’s first gubernatorial debate Thursday in Paducah. 

The two candidates for governor discussed issues ranging from how to control the invasive Asian Carp in west Kentucky reservoirs, infrastructure investment including the state’s middle-mile broadband system KentuckyWired, economic development with recent layoffs in west Kentucky, and how to continue to fund the state’s pension systems.

 


WFPL

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he believes the whistleblower, who filed a complaint alleging President Trump asked the President of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, and that White House staff intervened to “lock down” the record of the phone call, should come forward and be identified.

Paul made his comments to media Tuesday after a roundtable discussion hosted by the Purchase Area Development District in Graves County. 

“I think we probably deserve to know who the whistleblower is. You know, our criminal justice is predicated on if I accuse you of something, I have to show up in court and accuse you of it. So I think there’s reasons to have whistleblower statutes and to have anonymity,” Paul said. “But if you’re accusing a person of something where the ramifications are impeachment, I think that person ought to come forward.”

Fort Campbell

Almost $63 million dollars in federal funding slated to build a middle school at the Fort Campbell United States Army Installation is being diverted to fund construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

CBS News reported Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed off on transferring $3.6 billion dollars in military construction funds, including funds to construct a Fort Campbell middle school, to instead build 175 miles of southern border barriers.

U.S. Congressman James Comer of Tompkinsville said in a statement that he supports the Fort Campbell Middle School project but that “baseless opposition” from Democrats blocked necessary funds for the border wall. He said the transferred funds might delay military construction projects.

Liam Niemeyer

Tom Folz drives around on a sunny, August afternoon and surveys the thousands of acres of dark green, leafy soybean plants and tall stalks of corn he grows on his sprawling farm in Christian County, Kentucky.

At 54, Folz has wispy, white hair matching his white mustache. It’s taken him several long work weeks to get his crop to where it is today.

“You got to be a little bit ‘off’ to be a farmer,” Folz said. ”You don’t get to enjoy anything during harvest and planting season because we’re working.”


Brittany Patterson

Down bumpy back roads deep in central West Virginia, a flat, bright green pasture opens up among the rolling hills of coffee-colored trees.

Wildflowers and butterflies dot the pasture, but West Virginia University Professor Jeff Skousen is here for something else that stands above the rest of the Appalachian scenery – literally.

Thick stalks of green-yellowish grass reach up ten feet into the air like a beanstalk out of a fairy tale, and Skousen is dwarfed by it.


USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week a proposal to tighten the rules on who qualifies for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA estimates more than three million people across the country would lose SNAP benefits in an effort to prevent fraud. Anti-hunger advocates in the Ohio Valley say the more than two million people in the region who use the benefits would be impacted.

The department wants to change what they call “broad-based categorical eligibility” in the SNAP program. The regulation allows people that don’t have a low enough income to qualify for food stamps to get them in other ways. For example, people can also qualify if they receive assistance from other federal programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families


Liam Niemeyer

West Liberty University Professor Zachary Loughman has dedicated his professional life to crustaceans – specifically freshwater crayfish. He dips his hand into one of the water tanks at his laboratory near Wheeling, West Virginia, to pick up a teal crayfish the size of a dollar bill.

“See the little guy dropping down? We caught mom and she had 300 babies. So we just let them grow,” Loughman said. “We’ve had our feet – my lab – in over 3000 rivers in the past ten years.”


Shea Castleberry works in a time capsule of sorts. He walks through the aisles of the Family Video store he manages in Murray, Ky., a small city surrounded by rolling farmland about two hours north of Nashville.

Next to the movies and popcorn, there's a new addition to his store that surprises some of his regulars.

"A lot of people are like 'a video store selling CBD?' But it really does tie into our values. Which is, we're here for the community," Castleberry said.