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.

A year after Medicaid expansion, hundreds still flock to rural medical clinic in Southwest Virginia

By: - July 1, 2019

WISE — Nina Black has been coming to Remote Area Medical’s clinic in Wise for at least 12 of the 20 years it’s been running. This year was different: Black was one of about 290,000 Virginians covered under the state’s new Medicaid expansion, making 2019 the first time she’s had insurance coverage in years. “I’ve […]

Elk reintroduction ignites backlash in Southwest Virginia

By: - June 30, 2019

WISE — For most people, spotting an elk in the wild sparks excitement and awe.  That’s especially so in southwestern Virginia, where elk have only recently been reintroduced after an absence of more than 150 years.  For farmers and cattlemen, however, the sight of elk inspires something else: fear and dread. “If they are allowed […]

‘They care about corporations:’ Landowners demonstrate pipeline project’s toll

By: - June 12, 2019

WIRTZ — Little Creek ran chocolate-milkshake brown, surging with flood water as it splashed over its banks just feet from where lengths of the Mountain Valley Pipeline lay mounted on wooden blocks and submerged in ditches. Two dozen people trudged through the mud and muck, surveying what was once a key pasture for Four Corners […]

Solar is powering part of Danville’s resurgence

By: - June 10, 2019

DANVILLE — This former tobacco and textile town’s oldest and newest symbols of economic prosperity soaked up sunlight on a recent early summer afternoon. Tobacco seedlings stretched for the sky in the mid-90s heat, same as they have here for 300 years. Today, that legacy crop is supplemented by another kind of farm — acres […]

The Virginia House of Delegates met Thursday to discuss redistricting, but didn't get far. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 30, 2018)

A Southwest Virginia primary streetfight mirrors Republican divisions statewide

By: - June 7, 2019

FLOYD — Voters in Southwest Virginia’s open 4th House District will get a new delegate this fall, with a Republican contest that’s turned into a streetfight ahead of next week’s primary, and a Democratic candidate waiting in the wings. The winner of the Republican nomination, contested by third-generation candidate William Wampler III and Russell County […]

Will they be built? Virginia’s contentious pipeline projects face major legal hurdles

By: - May 29, 2019

FLOYD — Warm weather has brought renewed activity to the Mountain Valley Pipeline in western Virginia, but the project and its equally contentious sibling, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, still face unresolved legal and regulatory hurdles that leave their completion uncertain. This year has seen new protests on the ground, as well as an escalation in […]

Where’s all that Interstate 81 money going?

By: - May 14, 2019

FLOYD — The saga of securing money to build out Interstate 81, which runs through rural western Virginia as one of the East Coast’s arterial commercial routes, was one of the twistiest narratives of the 2019 General Assembly session. A pair of bills proposing tolls to fund interstate construction was blocked by the trucking industry, […]

One vote from becoming ‘New York and California:’ Southwest GOP races offer insight into 2019 strategy

By: - May 8, 2019

GATE CITY — Many Americans are closely following the emerging race between President Donald Trump and a large field of Democratic challengers, but when Del. Todd Pillion told a group of Republicans that this election “is easily the most important that we’ve seen in a generation,” he wasn’t talking about 2020. Instead, Pillion, R-Washington County, […]

Northam vetoes ‘only anti-gerrymandering bill to cross his desk,’ senator complains

By: - May 2, 2019

FLOYD — Gov. Ralph Northam has vetoed a pair of redistricting bills, including one to codify criteria for the process and eliminate the practice of splitting localities between legislative districts. Senate Bill 1579 dictated that congressional and state legislative districts, beginning in 2020, were to be drawn according to factors that included equal population, racial […]

State regulators ‘bending over backwards’ to accommodate Justice mining companies, environmental groups say

By: - April 29, 2019

FLOYD — The numerous coal companies that belong to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have allowed thousands of acres of southwest Virginia surface mines to go unreclaimed for years, even as the state agency tasked with enforcing reclamation laws has repeatedly bent its own rules to give the companies more time. Officials […]

‘You’ve got to make your own:’ Rural parents struggle to access mental health services for kids

By: - April 7, 2019

FLOYD — Becky Silvey has seen it all. The Franklin County mother has raised three children who have faced challenges ranging from addiction to autism to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She’s struggled with a troubled marriage while navigating the school and criminal justice systems to advocate for her children. At one point, Silvey found out her oldest […]

Softer tone emerges in meetings between community, military over munitions plant pollution

By: - March 28, 2019

CHRISTIANSBURG — Lt. Col. James Scott’s first community meeting as commander of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant two years ago began as a standoff. Armed police officers stood watch around the perimeter of the room. Community members sat in chairs on one side.  Army officials and staffers from BAE Systems, the private contractor that operates the […]