CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — As West Virginia prepares for the closure of another coal mine, state lawmakers announced the formation of a group to find ideas aimed at revitalizing coal communities around the state.
Republican State House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and Democratic House Minority Leader Doug Skaff announced Tuesday the creation the work group to help struggling communities that have suffered coal plant and mine closures, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
The announcement came the same day Monongalia County Resources Inc. gave notice that it would close a Monongalia County coal mine later this year and permanently lay off 180 workers at its mine. Monongalia County Resources is a subsidiary of St. Clairsville, Ohio-based mining company American Consolidated Natural Resources.
Republican Delegate Mark Dean of Mingo will lead the work group and said it plans to visit Logan, Welch, Moundsville, Montgomery, Morgantown and Beckley to discuss ideas for revitalization.
Democratic Rep. Evan Hansen of Monongalia County, who is part of the work group, said in a statement that officials want to hear from coal communities “so that the people most affected by the decline in coal production can have a voice in what’s needed to diversify our economies and create jobs.”
“It’s especially fitting that the Coal Community Workgroup got started just when the (Monongalia County Resources) mine announced that it would shut down,” Hansen said.