Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Editorials

March 11, 2013

Promise of jobs?

Are plans to hire 800 miners real or too good to be true?

ASHLAND — In a region that has seen hundreds of coal mining jobs be eliminated in recent years with the closing of mines, having a company seeking applications to fill what it says could be more than 800 jobs at now idled mines in Kentucky and Virginia sounds almost too good to be true. And it may be. But we hope not.

Since announcing a few weeks ago that it was taking applications for mining jobs, Eddie Estep, president of Professional Contracting in Norton, Va., has hedged a bit on just how many jobs the company is seeking to fill and just where those jobs are.

Estep said Thursday the company already has placed about 50 miners in jobs and hopes to place hundreds more in the weeks and months ahead. However, he said, those applying for the positions must be patient.

Estep said his company has fielded about 3,000 applications over the past month. His company is working with a group of investors who will control the mines, he said. However, he declined to name the investors or give specifics about the locations of the mines. He said the investors own mines that are idled.

Estep still says he hopes to fill about 800 jobs at mines in the two states.

“It can be a little less, but it can be a lot more, too, depending on what the investors want to put into it,” he said. “There’s a lot of mines shut down. Reopening mines is the quicker way to put people to work but it takes time through federal laws and state laws to do it.”

Speculation about the jobs had focused on Alpha Natural Resources, which closed four mines in January, costing the region hundreds of jobs. However Alpha, based in Bristol, Va., told the Whitesburg Mountain Eagle that the company has no business arrangement with Professional Contracting.

Estep, who helps companies find labor and also trains miners, said news reports this week that the jobs don’t exist were untrue.

“I’m not playing games with this. If they want to stop the rumors, call me,” he said. “Eight-hundred people is not an overnight adventure. It takes time to process applications.”

If an operator wished to resume mining at an idled mine in Kentucky, they would have to notify the state Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement’s regional office, according to Dick Brown, a spokesman for the state Energy and Environment Cabinet. Brown said if a transfer of mine ownership were involved, the state’s Division of Mine Permits would have to approve applications but it likely wouldn’t happen until a purchase is finalized.

Mark Spicer, an out-of-work miner who lost his job as a greaser at a Martin County surface mine in January 2012, drove from Perry County to the Professional Contracting offices in Louisville on Monday to apply for one of the jobs. He said the building was full of applicants and he filled out paperwork, had his picture taken and was told to wait about two weeks.

“They told us when they would start viewing them, then they’d call us for interviews,” Spicer said. He said he wasn’t told what coal companies were interested in hiring.

Estep said he has worked with about 50 mining companies and has been in the coal mining industry for 35 years. He was listed as an instructor with the state of Virginia’s Board of Coal Mining Examiners on the state’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy website.

Is this all a ruse? We doubt it. We can’t see what any company has to gain from advertising to non-existent jobs.

We hope this is all on the up and up, and that investors are planning to reopen idled mines, creating hundreds of jobs. That would be a sure sign that the coal industry is being revived even as power plants are switching from coal to natural gas and other sources of energy. When miners are working, then so are truck drivers and railroad crews who haul the coal from the mines. When mines are closed both miners and truck drivers lose their jobs and the economy of the entire region is harmed.

The promise of 800 coal mining jobs sounds great. We just hope that promise is fulfilled. One thing is certain: There is no shortage of individuals in his region who are willing, able and eager to fill those mining jobs. 

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Positive trend

    For those adults who have a low opinion of American teenagers, Uncle Sam’s latest study of worrisome behavior among teens provides some good news: Teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less. Most forms of drug use, weapons use and risky sex also are declining — and have been since 1991, the year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first started surveying teens about  their behavior.

    July 24, 2014

  • Research's value

    In pushing for a higher education reform bill in the late 1990s, former Gov. Paul Patton set an ambitious goal of having the University of Kentucky become a Top 20 research university by 2020. UK has yet to accomplish that goal, but UK and the University of Louisville both have made great advances in research in recent years.

    July 24, 2014

  • Deadline is near

    People with Kentucky driver’s licenses may soon be required to show a passport or some other accepted form of federal identification to enter “restricted” or “semi-restricted” areas of federal facilities, including federal courthouses, military bases, federal prisons and a wide range of other federal offices.

    July 23, 2014

  • Issue is safety

    The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has recommended softball  “players at first base, third base and pitcher utilize the permissive requirement in the playing rules and wear face/head protection.”

    July 23, 2014

  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • 0518greene.jpeg Greene-Lounsberry

    John and Eva Greene of Greenup are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter, Stacey Nicole Greene, to Jonathan Wesley Lounsberry.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo