The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 20, 2011

Donations allow additions to UBB memorial

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Reporter

— As businesses and corporations across the country chip in to memorialize the miners who died on April 5, 2010 in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, the non-profit Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group plans to add on to their plans for the Whitesville memorial.

Vice -president of the memorial group, Mike Gwinn, explained that after Alpha Natural Resources pledged to match the first $250,000 in June, the group set the memorial budget at $500,000.

In all, the group has raised over $350,000 (without Alpha’s matching donation) for the UBB Miners Memorial and the preliminary project cost estimate has been adjusted to include a few new elements.

Gwinn said the group, plans on adding a tribute to the first responders, including fire, police, EMT and mine rescue teams.

Among other additions, group also plans on adding an interpretive marker that will give a timeline of events as they transpired during week after the April 5 explosion.

Other interpretive markers may be added to pay homage to all fallen coal miners and tell the history of coal mining in West Virginia.

Funds will also provide a small parking area near the site, he said.

The group announced their most recent donation Wednesday, a $10,000 contribution from Appalachian Power.

“Appalachian Power Company is humbled to be a part of the Upper Big Branch Memorial. We realize that the memorial itself may not fill the hole experienced by those who have lost a loved one. It is our hope however that the memorial can provide a sense of peace, and an opportunity for current and future generations to be aware of the 29 brave individuals who lost their lives here April 5, 2010,” said Tania A. Hotmer, External Affairs Manager with Appalachian Power Company.

Currently, site preparation teams are beginning to dig over the next few weeks. This will be the last work to be complete until the ground thaws in the spring, said Gwinn.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com