Coal Rally Huge Success


Governor Joe Manchin

    More than 1,000 members of the Friends of Coal gathered at the West Virginia State Capitol for the second annual Friends of Coal Day to show their support of the nation's most important natural resource recently.
    The past, present, and future of coal and its contributions were the theme of the day, as representatives from West Virginia government, business and higher education spoke to the importance of coal in professional and personal contexts.
    West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin recognized that support, declaring March 31, 2005 "Friends of Coal Day in West Virginia" in a proclamation presented to President Bill Raney and Chairman John Skidmore of the WVCA.
    Skidmore says the proclamation and Friends of Coal Day is a way of telling and showing the public the supporters of coal and keep them up to date on industry developments.
    "We continually need to inform the public of the current situations surrounding coal," he said. "They need to be able to learn about the growth, development and changes in the industry and become more familiar with its processes and this is a way to do that."
Former Marshall University head football coach Bob Pruett explained that his lifelong affiliation with coal has made him come to appreciate its cultural value.
    "I truly understand what coal has done for us in the past and where our present and future are going," he said. "Without coal, we cannot continue to do many of the great things we've started here."
    Dan Miller, West Virginia Coal Association vice president of public relations, says the event was yet another example of the importance of coal to the daily lives of West Virginians.
    "Clearly, this demonstrates to state officials the deep-rooted support of the coal industry among the citizens of the state," he said.


    In addition to industry acknowledgment, the state proclamation also recognized coal miners and their families for "contributing to a proud West Virginia heritage of courage with strength of character and quiet confidence that has the respect and admiration of all West Virginians."
    Similar resolutions were read on both the Senate and House of Delegates floors. John and Susan Young, of Riverton Coal in Charleston, WV, were on hand to officially accept the resolutions.
    One of the clearest messages of the event came via an e-mail received by Friends of Coal that was read by Friends of Coal chair Warren Hylton. The e-mail reviewed the development of Friends of Coal as a significant grassroots motivator in West Virginia and the necessity of such an organization.
    "Some people donít realize how important coal is to our society," the e-mail read. "It keeps our lights on. It keeps us warm."
    The e-mail also accounted for coalís worth in solving issues within the state.
    "Every time West Virginia gets in trouble, coal is involved in getting us out," the e-mail said.
Hylton's 13-year-old daughter, Tracy Jo, wrote the e-mail, without his knowledge. 
Don Nehlen, former head football coach of the West Virginia University Mountaineers, also spoke to the cooperative efforts of Friends of Coal and the coal industry as a whole.
    Nehlen made a link between the means that both the West Virginia Mountaineer team that reached the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA basketball tournament and the coal industry must rely on teamwork to function. "That's the thing about the coal industry, we're a team," he said. Visit their website:  cl

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