Nominations being accepted through June 1 for ‘Spirit of the Coalfields’ Miners’ Celebration awards

Friday, Jan. 17, 2014

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Nominations are being accepted for “Because of You” awards to honor people who have made significant contributions to West Virginia’s coal mining enterprise and the state’s mining heritage.

Awards in nearly a dozen categories will be presented at a gala dinner and awards ceremony planned as part of this year’s “Spirit of the Coalfields” Miners’ Celebration to be held Oct. 2 at Tamarack in Beckley.

According to event organizers, representatives of the state’s mining industry and community leaders will gather at the event to recognize miners, engineers, safety and environmental professionals, community members and innovators. Nominations for the awards are being accepted through June 1.

“West Virginia’s mining industry is linked to many of our activities, including employment for many of our safety and engineering graduates,” said Dr. Tony Szwilski, chairman of the event planning committee and director of Marshall University’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences. “Every one of the thousands of individuals, in a number of different roles, who works in the industry—whether they are a safety engineer, miner, environmental professional or equipment supplier—contributes to each ton of coal produced, as do countless community leaders and mining families.

“This event is intended to honor and recognize the contributions of everyone involved. Last year’s celebration was a rousing success and we look forward to this year’s program being even bigger and better.”

According to Szwilski, “Because of You” awards will be presented in the following categories: Innovation in Mining, Safety Professional, Women in Mining, Community Investment, Environmental and Engineering Professional, Community Involvement, Educator of the Year and Champion for Mining. In addition, the Homer Hickam Collier and the Spirit of the Coalfields awards will be presented.

Representatives of the Coal Heritage Highway Authority/National Coal Heritage Area will be on hand to present several of that organization’s top awards, including the Nick Joe Rahall Award for Outstanding Achievements in Coal Heritage Preservation, the Coal Heritage Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Coal Heritage Marketing Award and the Coal Heritage Research and Documentation Award.

The “Spirit of the Coalfields” Miners’ Celebration will feature a gala dinner and awards ceremony beginning at 6 p.m.

To nominate someone for the “Because of You” awards or for more information about the Miners’ Celebration, contact Teresa Buckland at 304-696-3568 or

For more information about the Coal Heritage Highway Authority/National Coal Heritage Area awards, call 304-465-3720 or e-mail

The Miners’ Celebration is a cooperative project of the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences at Marshall University; the National Coal Heritage Area; the United Mine Workers of America; the West Virginia Coal Association; Strategic Solutions LLC; and the West Virginia Division of Energy, Office of Coalfield Community Development.

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964