Winds of Change Newsletter, March 2009 See sidebar for table of contents
Residents Vent Concerns to DEP
by Joanie Newman, excerpted from Jan. 16, 2009, Coal Valley News
Seventy-nine-year old Donald Maxey travelled the 6-hour drive from his home in Mt. Airy, Maryland, to Ashford Rumble Elementary School last week to voice his complaints with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
"I didnt want to miss this because I was born and raised at Nellis and have family all the way up to Ridgeview," he said.
Maxey said he recalls walking over Bull Creek Mountain. "You couldnt do that today," he said, noting the destruction to the mountain was a shameful loss for his five children and eight grandchildren.
"I want to share with the DEP my concerns about mountaintop mining," Maxey said from his seat in the gymnasium at Ashford Rumble Elementary School.
The gym was crowded with more than 75 people anxiously awaiting either a turn at the microphone or listening with rapt attention to the voices of area residents and coal miners.
Lois Kirk, of Ashford, told the DEP officials and the assembled crowd that she hates to hear the mountains torn up.
Kirk said she has been told by former coal miners that the coal being mined in the area can be removed using other methods, such as underground mining.
"Whos ultimately paying the price? I think we are," she said.
Kirk complained to the DEP about damage that was sustained to her home after repeated blasting.
"We bought our home in 1976 hoping it would last us our entire life. Now, Im not sure," she said.
Danny Kinder, who has been a pastor in the area for more than 28 years, said he lives close to Bull Creek Mine and estimates that his home is probably one of the closest ones to the blasting.
"Not only are the roads torn up, my complaint is our homes have been rocked and shook," he said.
"You can wash your vehicle one day and the next day you can write your name in the dust that collects on our vehicles," he said.
Misty Pennington, another area resident stood up to recount an incident her husband experienced with coal mine blasting.
"A couple weeks ago, my husband called me and at first I thought the house had been vandalized. Come to find out, it was one of our shocks or shakes. It had knocked the shelves off the wall and there were broken items everywhere.
I called and complained and was told they would get back with me right away, but Im not so patient because theyve destroyed my home," she said.
Pennington also went on the record to say she was concerned what was going to be left for her little boy. "Whats going to be left for him?" she asked.
Longtime resident Vera Pritchitt, said she had lived and paid taxes in this area for 57 years. "So I think in my twilight years I deserve to enjoy some beauty," she said, further stating that mountaintop removal mining was destroying the areas appeal to tourists, calling it "an embarrassment to visitors who come to our area."
"For us and some of the others, we have family cemeteries; to me that is sacred ground," she said. "I urge you, DEP, to protect us and our property."
As you may have guessed from reading this story, OVEC organizers are at work in Ashford, as well other communities. For more information, call Robin at (304) 522-0246.