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By Mike Gwinn- Vice President, Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group
This is the first in a series of exclusive updates for Faces of the Mine readers on the progress of the proposed permanent UBB memorial to be built in Whitesville, WV.
Much has happened since the inception of the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group four months ago. The group was formed in February of 2011 to plan, fund raise and construct a permanent memorial in Whitesville, WV. It will commemorate the events that took place on April 5th, 2010 at the Upper Big Branch Mine in nearby Montcoal, WV. The Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) incorporated in the state of West Virginia. The group’s officers are Sheila Combs- President, myself and Pam Miller- Treasurer.
In February the Town of Whitesville donated the land where the temporary gazebo memorial is located for the purpose of constructing a permanent memorial. Soon after, UBBMMG partnered with Rob Dinsmore of Chapman Technical Group in St. Albans, WV to design and plan the new memorial. His plans for the UBB monument and the surrounding plaza left all of us speechless. It was then we knew this was the perfect design and something that needed to be built no matter the cost.
Since then, UBBMMG has partnered with the creators of Faces of the Mine to become the memorial’s official website. The project has attracted several companies hoping to help out with materials for the memorial. A fiber optics lighting company in Connecticut expressed interest as did a granite company in North Carolina. The proposed memorial has even drawn international attention. A company that specializes in laser etching on granite from Stanstead, Quebec has contacted us.
More recently the group completed and filed permit applications with the Army Corps of Engineers and the WV DNR to reinforce the riverbank behind and below the proposed site of the memorial. Later this summer the gazebo memorial will be retired to begin site work. That will be a bittersweet day for those that spent the last year maintaining it, the families and the community. The artifacts inside and around the gazebo will be carefully preserved, packed away and stored for posterity in Whitesville. The gazebo and sign will be moved to a more prominent place in town.
In May the group received it’s first major corporate contribution of $25,000 from Martin Engineering, a global leader in mine conveyor systems. Martin’s local affiliate, SCP Engineering, also pledged $5,000 to the project. Next week the UBBMMG will be announcing it’s largest corporate pledge to date!
Faces of the Mine is the memorial’s official website so check back here often for more updates like this, construction photo galleries and for special announcements. On the home page click the “Memorial” tab and then “UBB Memorial” to follow our progress here. All press releases pertaining to the proposed memorial will be posted at facesofthemine.com prior to being sent out to local media.
You can also follow the progress of the project on facebook and twitter. We’ll be asking facebook users input on the project and posting construction photo galleries and video once the building begins.
Check Faces of the Mine for more exclusive updates on the progress of the UBB Miners Memorial.