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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Former Coal Miner: “Fighting Through the Struggle” to Change Careers

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former miner from Mingo County says the hardest part of starting a new career in southern West Virginia is believing that you can. But one organization is helping bridge that gap for local workers.

Jared Blalock from Williamson turned to the Coalfield Development Corporation after the mining jobs dried up. Coalfield combines paid work with community college and life-skills classes.

Blalock said with their help, he's about to finish a two-year degree, which he may transfer to Marshall University. According to Blalock, there are so few opportunities around Williamson that it's easy to get depressed and give up - but not doing that was the key.

"When I say keeping a positive attitude and gritting it out, toughing it out and really goin' for something, I mean it. Because you have to,” Blalock said. “That's what I fight hardest each day, is keeping a positive mindset. So always now, I try to think to myself, 'Stay positive, stay positive. Keep going, keep going.'"

The Trump administration has argued that loosening environmental regulations will reopen mines. But most economic analysts predict that little or no boost to coal jobs will come in the near term.

West Virginia also has had the worst rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. And Blalock said when people feel hopeless, it's a lot easier to turn to drugs than many realize.

"The only thing that separates people is choices. I could make a choice to get on drugs,” he said. “And it's easy. People don't really realize how easy it is to fall in that road when you're going through depression, and when you feel like, 'There's nothing I can do.'"

Coalfield Development Coorporation operates programs making high-end cabinetry and wood products, installing solar power systems, growing commercial-scale vegetable gardens and remodeling low-cost housing. Employees like Blalock work in one of those areas about 30 hours a week. They also take six semester hours at community college and three hours a week of life-skills training on topics like budgeting and professionalism.


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