Storyteller, educator among those recognized with ‘Because of You’ awards for contributions to coalfields heritage

A retired miner who travels the state telling schoolchildren about the early days of the industry and the coordinator of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s mine management program were among nine people recognized earlier this month with “Because of You” awards for significant contributions to the state’s coalfields heritage. The awards were presented as part of the 2012 Miners’ Celebration held Oct. 4 at Tamarack.

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

Those honored at the celebration included (with links to YouTube videos about each honoree shown at the ceremony) Bill Alderman, assistant professor and coordinator of the mine management program at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (Educator of the Year Award); John W. Brown III, former president of Brown Equipment and Machine (Equipment Innovation Award – posthumous); Chuck Farmer, president of Rouster Wire Rope and Rigging (Equipment Innovation Award); Clarence Martin, chief executive officer/chief financial officer of State Electric Supply Company (Management Professional Award); Kenneth Perdue, director of safety operations at Alpha Natural Resources (Safety Professional Award); Fred Powers, storyteller and retired miner (Community Involvement Award); Page Reed, owner of Emerald Marine Products Corporation (Engineering Award); Linda Raines Torre, owner of Decota Consulting Company Inc. (Women in Mining Award); and Art Weisberg, owner and founder of State Electric Supply Company (Community Investment Award).

McDowell County native and bestselling author Homer Hickam, who wrote “Rocket Boys” and other memoirs about growing up in the mining community of Coalwood, also was on hand to accept a special “Spirit of the Coalfields” award. The program concluded with a salute to the community effort to build a memorial to the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. The monument, which stands along state Route 3 in Whitesville, was dedicated in July.

Approximately 200 representatives of the state’s mining industry gathered for the conference, which also highlighted successes in coalfield community development.

Sponsors included Marshall University, State Electric Supply Co., the West Virginia Division of Energy and West Virginia Executive. Contributors were Alpha Natural Resources, Brickstreet Insurance, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP and The State Journal.

For more information about the 2012 Miners’ Celebration or the “Because of You” awards, contact Dennis Jarvis at ext.6-3506.