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By Mike Gwinn- Vice President, Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group
This is the second 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.
It’s been an exciting few weeks for the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group since our first progress report earlier this month. On June 15th the Town Of Whitesville approved the transfer of over $36,000 to the UBB Miners Memorial. That money came from individual donations and fundraising events held last year by the former Whitesville Miners Memorial Park Committee. Five days later the UBBMMG announced a challenge from Alpha Natural Resources to match the first $250,000 raised for the UBB Miners Memorial.
Alpha’s pledge of $250,000 and support for the memorial helped push the UBBMMG’s fundraising efforts from the silent phase to the public phase. During the silent phase of the fundraising effort the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group has raised 65% of our goal for a total of $326,800. Since going public with our fundraising effort UBBMMG President Sheila Combs, with help from volunteers, mailed out over 100 donor packets to CEOs of coal companies and companies that support the coal industry asking for support for the memorial. It is the group’s hope to have the full $500,000 secured by the end of the summer.
Physical progress is being made at the site of where the UBB Miners Memorial will be built as well. Over the last week the temporary gazebo memorial, constructed just days after the explosion, was retired in a quiet and somber ceremony. Most of the artifacts were placed in sealed containers and will be stored at City Hall in Whitesville. Thanks to the Town of Whitesville the gazebo was moved and trees and plants removed in preparation for pre-construction site work. The tribute sign was removed and taken to it’s new permanent home at the Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department. In place of the temporary memorial a 4′ x 8′ aluminum project sign from Parton Signs in Charleston, WV was installed and will remain in place until construction is complete. Within the next one to two weeks the bank behind the memorial will be cleared of vegetation and geo-matting will be installed so that rock can be placed to provide stability and some added flood protection for the memorial site.
The UBB Miners Memorial page here at Faces of the Mine is also getting a facelift this week from co-creator Katie Griffith. She is hard at work adding new content to reflect the progress the UBBMMG has made over the last couple of months. Without the hard work and help of the Faces of the Mine team it would have been difficult for the UBBMMG to be where we are now in the process of building this memorial.
Be sure to keep checking Faces of the Mine for more exclusive progress reports from the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group.