Author

Mason Adams

Mason Adams

A native of Clifton Forge, Mason has covered Blue Ridge and Appalachian communities since 2001. He worked for Waynesville, N.C.’s Enterprise-Mountaineer from 2001 to 2003 and The Roanoke Times from 2003 through 2012. He’s freelanced since then, with bylines in Politico Magazine, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Vice, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Scalawag, Belt Magazine and many more. He lives in Floyd County.

Another 38 special: inside the intense battle for a reliably red Virginia senate seat

By: - March 22, 2021

What was expected to be a pretty predictable special election in Southwest Virginia has turned into a surprisingly intense fight in its closing days. Voters in Virginia’s 38th Senate District will elect a new state senator through 2023 on Tuesday. Incumbent Ben Chafin died on Jan. 1 from complications related to COVID-19. The district includes […]

Even before COVID-19, tele-health was becoming a big part of rural Virginia health care

By: - April 6, 2020

HARRISONBURG — Meagan Thurston wasn’t sure what to expect when she walked into Strength in Peers in December of 2019 for her first tele-psychiatry session, but she was willing to do whatever it took to get her children back. The previous summer, Virginia’s Child Protective Services had taken her five children, between the ages of […]

Why Floyd County burned bright for Bernie

By: - March 6, 2020

FLOYD — On Super Tuesday, only three Virginia localities voted for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders over former Vice President Joe Biden in Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary: Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Floyd County. For observers, the first two make sense: Charlottesville and Harrisonburg are home to the University of Virginia and James Madison University, respectively, and Sanders […]

Hemp growers face processing bottleneck, uncertain regulatory landscape

By: - February 4, 2020

CHRISTIANSBURG — As the second year of commercial hemp begins in Virginia, growers face regulatory uncertainty and a rapidly evolving market. Farmers are still processing the hemp they grew in the 2019 season, which marked the first year that people could legally grow hemp in the United States. Plenty of farmers added hemp to their […]

‘Raging granny’ faces music for pipeline protest: ‘Happy that I did it’

By: - January 14, 2020

CHRISTIANSBURG — Activist and self-identified “raging granny” Glenna “Duff” Benjamin traveled to Montgomery County in September to lock herself to a sideboom pipelayer and block construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for five hours. On Monday, she returned to face the consequences of her act of non-violent civil disobedience. The 76-year-old Benjamin pleaded not guilty […]

Rural school districts face tough discussions on consolidation

By: - January 8, 2020

CLIFTON FORGE — Alleghany County Sheriff Dale Muterspaugh went on a crusade in 2004, pledging his department’s resources to find the primary victim of a massive vandalism case at the high school. In July, dive teams searching the bottom of Pike Pond found what they were looking for: the Brackman Cup, symbol of the fierce […]

Do Democrats have a rural future?

By: - October 30, 2019

Rural Virginia has swung hard for Republicans over the last decade, driven by backlash to President Barack Obama, an emigration of more educated residents to urban and suburban areas, and a realignment in culture and voting patterns. So why is a Democrat in exurban Northern Virginia running on the campaign slogan, “The Future is Rural”? […]

Amazon embarks on listening tours across Virginia

By: - October 22, 2019

ST. PAUL — Amazon officials got a tour of southwestern Virginia on Monday, conducting a listening session with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, regional lawmakers, and local community leaders before mounting ATVs to explore the nearby Spearhead Trails off-road network. Ardine Williams, Amazon’s vice president of workforce development, said the listening session is just one of […]

In Southwest Virginia, a ‘Trump Republican’ seeks a local office

By: - October 15, 2019

CHRISTIANSBURG — The stark black-and-white sign stands out, even amid the campaign cavalcade of color that, along with the changing leaves, marks October in Virginia.  It’s not the absence of the traditional red or blue that grabs the eye so much as the wording: “Elect Dr. Mark J. Matney — Trump Republican for Commissioner of […]

Remote health clinic returns to Lee as hospital prepares to reopen

By: - September 20, 2019

Lee County’s first Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic took place in 2014, one year after the county’s community hospital closed down. Now, even as the shuttered hospital prepares to reopen its doors as an urgent care center, RAM is gearing up to once again deliver free dental, vision and medical care to underserved and uninsured […]

Seeking ‘quick wins’ for a distressed region: New economic initiative aimed at Southwest Va.

By: - September 17, 2019

Southwestern Virginia lawmakers are taking another swing at creating new economic growth in a part of the commonwealth that has lagged far behind Northern Virginia, metro Richmond and Hampton Roads in job creation. They were in Abingdon last week to announce InvestSWVA, a public-private partnership that Will Payne, the project lead and managing partner of […]

‘Getting in the way:’ Inside the standoff over the Mountain Valley Pipeline

By: - August 4, 2019

ELLISTON — The roar of construction echoed through the hollow, as a bulldozer pushed dirt on an impossibly steep slope hundreds of feet up the ridge. At the bottom of the slope, a makeshift fence and stack of pallets marked a boundary — the edge of a support camp for tree-sitters who for 10 months […]