Friday, October 02, 2009

Local officials may ask state, coal firm for aid to replace school that is a flash point in mine debate

UPDATE 10/8: West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd has responded the the Register-Herald's report of Massey's refusal to help fund a new Marsh Fork Elementary, and he's not very happy with the coal giant. "Such arrogance suggests a blatant disregard for the impact of their mining practices on our communities, residents and particularly our children. These are children’s lives we are talking about,” Byrd said in a statement released to Ken Ward Jr., of The Charleston Gazette. “Let me be clear about one thing – this is not about the coal industry or their hard-working coal miners. This is about companies that blatantly disregard human life and safety because of greed. That is never acceptable.” (Read more)

UPDATE 10/6: Massey Energy spokesman Jeff Gillenwater told the Associated Press Tuesday that the company had no interest in donating money for a new Marsh Fork Elementary, adding the company already pays millions of dollars in taxes that go toward education. No official request for funding has been made by the Raleigh County School Board to Massey.(Read more)

School officials in Raleigh County, West Virginia, said this week they are considering asking the state and maybe Massey Energy Co. for money to build a new elementary school in Marsh Fork, to replace the one that "sits in the shadows of Massey’s Goals Coal Co. operations," Jackie Ayres of the Beckley Register-Herald reports.

The school has long been one of the flash points in the debate over mountaintop-removal strip mining. Environmental groups have argued the coal silo and huge slurry impoundment pose health risks to students. (Photo by Vivan Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition)

School board president Rick Snuffer told Ayres building a new, $5 million school “would correct a lot of political problems in the county." Local officials may approach Massey for financial assistance, Ayers reports. “I think we could meet with them [Massey] and get something,” board member Gordie Roop said. “Say, ‘Why don’t you build a new school here?’ See if they’d help. They might build the whole school.” (Read more)

Actually, “They” would likely be one person, Massey Chairman Don Blankenship. "Everyone would like to know if Don Blankenship is willing to spend at least as much to help the Marsh Fork kids as he was to put on his big, self-proclaimed Friends of America, pro-coal rally on Labor Day," writes Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette. "Maybe other coal companies would join in, and donate just a percentage of the money they’re spending fighting tougher strip-mining regulations and opposing action on global warming to this project." (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coal severance monies in the state of Kentucky has paid for and supported a medical school in Pikeville, currently proposing paying for a pharmacy school in Cumberland, Kentucky. Coal companies such as the McCoy boys built the McCoy Athletic Center in Phelps, Kentucky back in the 1977. Coal severance continues paying & supporting schools in Pike County! Millions of dollars were appropriated to schools and school programs via Kentucky General Assembly coal severance funds the last budget cycle and previous budgets as well. Coal has always carried it's weight in supporting education and education programs!