Annual Miners’ Celebration to take place Oct. 1

Miners, community members and others connected with the state’s coal mining industry will gather at Tamarack in Beckley on Thursday, Oct. 1, for the 2015 Miners’ Celebration, which is sponsored in part by Marshall University’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS).

The annual event will feature a reception and dinner to recognize those who play a role in the success of the state’s mining industry.

“Every person 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, educators and mining families,” said Dr. Tony Szwilski, chairman of the event planning committee and director of CEGAS.

At the event, Logan native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., the winner of the 2010 “America’s Got Talent” TV show and a successful performing and recording artist, will be honored with a Spirit of the Coalfields award, which is presented to individuals who have overcome events to succeed. Jasper Sugg of Man will receive the Homer Hickam Collier Award, which goes to a coal miner who epitomizes the spirit, dedication and skills of the mining profession.

“Because of You” awards for significant contributions to West Virginia’s coalfields heritage will be presented in a number of categories, including Management Professional (Interim President Gary White); Community Involvement (CEDAR of Southern West Virginia); Women in Mining (Sandi Davison); Safety Professional (Gary Frampton); Educator of the Year (Helen Curry Southall); Outstanding Innovation (J.H .Fletcher and Co.); Community Investment (Diane Barnette); Environmental Professional (Mike Castle); Engineering Professional (Terry Potter).

The Coal Heritage Highway Authority/National Coal Heritage Area will present the Coal Heritage Award for Excellence in the Arts (Johnnie R. Shuck); Coal Heritage Award for Historic Presentation (Winding Gulf Restoration Organization); the Coal Heritage Award for Interpretation (West Virginia Mine War Museum); and the Coal Heritage Award for Research and Documentation (Marsh Fork High School Alumni Association for Greenways and Recreation Preservation).

The evening’s entertainment will be provided by Ray Perry of the Coal Fired Band.

The gala will begin at 5 p.m. with a free reception in the Tamarack atrium. Dinner and the awards ceremony, which require a ticket, will begin at 6 p.m. in the ballroom. Tickets for the dinner and awards ceremony are $50 a person and a table for eight can be purchased for $400. In addition, sponsorships are available in a range of $1,000 to $6,000. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased by calling ext.6-4029 or by e-mailing

In addition to Marshall’s CEGAS, the Miners’ Celebration is a cooperative project of 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.