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Glen Alum Mountain, WV

Beech Creek

Friday, September 1st, 2006

Penny Loeb is a distinguished author and the web designer for http://www.wvcoalfield.com , who has generously allowed her articles to be reprinted here.

Beech Creek is over the mountain from Wharncliffe, way down in the southern part of the state, nearly an hour south of Logan. Despite the distance, Beech Creek residents have managed to make themselves known. Led by Tom and Deanna Hatfield and Freda Simpkins, they have voiced their concerns to an array of public officials, from DEP Director John Caffrey to Delegate Arley Johnson.

Aerial photo of Glen Alum Mountain, photo by Kent KessingerBlasting has been the leading problem in Beech Creek for the past few years. Surface mines, as well as deep mines, are on both sides of the creek, like the mine in the picture gallery. The mines aren’t exactly removing the tops of the mountains. So far they have been removing the sections right below the peak. Nonetheless, the process still requires large blasts.

A number of people thought their houses and wells had been damaged. But the mines refused to acknowledge the damages. Mine officials said all blasts were within the allowed limits. Nor did the Division of Environmental Protection inspectors cite the mines for violations. So residents invited DEP Director Caffrey to visit the community. On Aug. 7, 1997, about 50 people met with Caffrey, Environmental Advocate Wendy Radcliff and inspector Harold Ward.

West Virginia Organizing Project member Tom Hatfield led Caffrey on a tour of six homes. “These are not the only homes that have been damaged,” he told Caffrey. “We selected these homes because they show the different types of problems we have suffered.” Damage included cracks in walls and foundations and homes where wells had gone dry. He also saw where a major slide had threatened a house.

Freda Simpkins, a WVOP member, said the drilling crew was still at her house when a blast caused a newly drilled well to fall in. “What more evidence do you need?” she asked Caffrey.

Later in the month, a joint inspection of the damages was done by investigators from DEP and the federal Office of Surface Mining. This group also met Janice Allen, a woman in her 70s who had to run from flyrock while hanging out her laundry. “Missy run, we’re going to be killed,” she told her cat.

The final report had not been issued as of the end of January. However, residents learned of a preliminary report. It stated blasting had caused damage to two houses, both of which had pre-blast surveys.

Beech Creek residents stand up for their community. A few years ago residents got together and raised money to build a new volunteer fire department building.

More recently, the community came together and had a park put in where their grade school once stood. Still, they feel the loss of the school, which closed down five years ago. At an early meeting of Beech Creek members of the West Virginia Organizing Project, Tom Hatfield reflected, “You know, if we had worked together and stayed organized five years ago, we would still have that school. We shouldn’t ever let anything like that happen again.”

3 Responses to “Beech Creek”

  1. Levi Reitmire Says:

    Iam a native of West Virginia, Mason County… the destruction there can still be seen from years ago, during my childhood in the 60′s, I had roamed the creek beds, evidence of coal mining debris,abandoned equipment,cooper water,shaft mine’s, ect… still litter the Ohio valley, these mines and debris left behind are a huge ecological disaster, the Ohio River itself is an coal mining caused cess pool, evidence of the coal minig industry is still evident today.

    Why?

    I’ll tell you why Greed its all about the dollar made for the mining tycoons…yes it does put some people to work but the price that are habitat pays, far out weighs the benefits.
    This is the modern era, I currently reside in Oklahoma, and the wind farms are springing forward, there is a huge work force in maintaining and errecting such farms.
    By no means Iam degregating our miners these people has families to feed too, just as we all, the mining tycoons will explain that “it will benefit the community”, many has fallin for that, the promises of a wealth of jobs, only to find out later them jobs are non-existant and are replaced by machinery and automation.
    Its truely sad, but fact is the mining tycoons has more pull in Washington, than we do, its called money the big pay off, I Love this Country, only problem is the corrupt Governmental Body that sells out to the highest bidder, it really disheartening to here a congresman state ” its a good bill, BUT I have to vote my party”…so the question is this “what do you think the mining lobbyist are doing in Washington”…well it dont take a scientist to figure that out.
    Most people are ignorant to how the judicial system works, well be accussed of something innocent of the charge and see what happens to ya…As said I Love this Country, but all the corruption will bring this country to its knees in an economic melt down, i feel mad and dishearten for my WV neighbors truth is though the mining companies will say its all legal, there you have it right back to the Judicial System one of the most corrupt in the World. You want proof, here it is, Say your charged with a crime, you dont have that much money, so the State appoints you a public defender, even though he knows your innocent….he will state” he he he I would really like to try this case, but the Judge is in a bad mood and if you loose they will take you out back and throw you in a hole for 50 years….why do you say this ,because, the mining company has the money…your all done and its sad really it is, Iam sorry and my prayers goes out to you and this country.

    Native: West Virginia
    Military Vet: 6 yrs

    I have earned the right to tell the truth.

    Visit: http://www.stormtrax.net

    God Bless, Sincerely, Levi

  2. Bill Says:

    I oftem wonder why these tree huggers come from places like NY City and Los Angelos to try and tell people from WV how to keep their state in good health! Go to WV and you will see a very beautiful state thru and thru, go to NY City, LA, and/or detroit where the liberal tree huggers live and you’ll see a mess of buildings and flat land that has been stripped of all nature! Lets see what there is to say about that. I often wonder how tree huggers make their liven’ because normal working people couldn’t just up and leave the state or their job to get in someone elses business and get thrown in jail. Someone higher up is paying these kids to pro,ote a phoney agenda!

  3. Bill Says:

    Pleez correct any missssspelling as we know thats all obamanytes are guhd fo!

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