We must always recognize the contributions and sacrifice of our nation’s miners.
That’s a message being reinforced today, the fourth annual National Miner’s Day.
The observance was the dream of Fairmont artist Creed Holden, a Doddridge County native who moved to Marion County to attend Fairmont State.
“I learned about the miners themselves, the people who did the actual mining of the coal,” he said. “Their stories tugged at my heartstrings. They worked so hard and were paid too little.”
On Feb. 17, 2006, the West Virginia Legislature completed legislation creating Miner’s Day to “honor each and every miner, past, present and future.”
Then, on Dec. 3, 2009, the U.S. Senate officially passed a resolution making Miner’s Day a commemorative holiday each Dec. 6.
U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., jointly introduced a resolution in both houses of Congress to support the goals and ideals of a National Miner’s Day.
The date of Dec. 6 was selected because it is the anniversary of the worst industrial accident in American history, in 1907, that took place in Monongah. At least 361 men and boys perished in a devastating mine explosion.
In West Virginia, of course, coal mining is the focus, but today all the nation’s miners are being honored.
Joseph A. Main, the assistant secretary of labor for Mine Safety and Health, stressed this point in a letter sent this week to the Sun Advocate in Utah.
“American miners play a much larger role in our lives than most people realize. They extract a variety of raw materials, such as coal, copper, phosphate, silver, limestone, iron and zinc — ores that are essential components in the products we use every day,” Main said.
“Coal, and the electricity generated by coal power, play prominent roles in our homes, businesses and communities. Miners produce the gravel, crushed stone, tar, asphalt, road salt and cement used to build the roads we travel on and to make them safer. The bridges we build to span canyons and rivers are built with rock and mineral products produced by miners.
“Gold, silver and copper wiring, ceramic insulators, and silicon processing and memory chips are essential components in electronics that we use daily, such as smartphones, computers and televisions.
“Thousands of everyday consumer goods are made with the fundamental materials secured from the hard work of miners. They range from cosmetics to toothpaste, from cookware and dinnerware to appliances.”
There has been plenty of sacrifice along with the contributions of miners. Marion County last month marked the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Farmington mine disaster that took 78 lives.
“It was then that West Virginians finally said enough is enough,” said Mike Caputo, a coal miner who now serves as United Mine Workers District 31 international vice president and as majority whip in the state House of Delegates. “People should not have to go to work worrying about whether they are going to make it home to their families at the end of the day.”
The Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 were passed.
Mining is indeed safer but not safe.
As Caputo noted, the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in Raleigh County killed 29 miners, and there are on average dozens of mine fatalities each year.
Main said that “through the ‘End Black Lung — Act Now’ initiative and other occupational health efforts, we are making progress in limiting miners’ exposure to respirable dust and other harmful contaminants. While more needs to be done to prevent death, injury and illness in the nation’s mines, our efforts and collaboration with labor and industry stakeholders are showing positive results.”
That progress must never be slowed as we are reminded this Miner’s Day, an occasion to officially mark so many years of contributions and sacrifice that we must never forget.
We must always recognize the contributions and sacrifice of our nation’s miners.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?
I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
“Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.
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- Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely