UBB Miners Memorial Progress Report #5
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By Mike Gwinn- Vice President, Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group
This is the fifth segment 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 hard to believe it’s been a year since Pam Miller and I sat down at Sheila Combs’ dining room table to form the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group. Over the last twelve months we have developed the plans for the project, at that same table, and secured more than a half million dollars in private funding. In January we finally broke ground on the UBB Miners Memorial. It was an exciting yet bittersweet moment when that first scoop of dirt was lifted from what would become the footer for the back wall of the memorial. We were happy to see our plans coming to fruition but reminded again of the loss the memorial will represent. I think it’s safe to say the number of tears were equal to the number of smiles that day.
Since the groundbreaking last month, much dirt has been moved and concrete poured. Two dedicated Pray Construction employees have braved the cold, rain and snow and are single-handedly responsible for the progress at the site of the proposed memorial. Footers have been dug and filled with concrete to support the back wall and privacy fence. The rebar enforced concrete bases of the 50′ long granite UBB Miners monument and entrance sign have also been constructed. Footers for the remaining walls and planters are being dug currently.
In the coming days, a rainwater drainage system will be installed and the conduits and wires ran for the exterior path lighting all in preparation for the block layers to come in and build the walls of the plaza. Large boulders will be set first and the walls built around them. After they are complete, stacked stone veneer will be installed over the block and the tops of the walls capped with natural flagstone slabs.
Appalachian Power will be working this week, weather permitting, to move two power poles currently located at the entrance to the memorial. The poles are being moved approximately 50 feet towards the bridge, away from the memorial site.
Construction of the plaza is on schedule. Construction of the granite UBB Miners Monument and entrance sign in Vermont, however, was set back by Hurricane Irene this fall and the complexity of the etching required. The back of the monument alone has 37,000 characters to be laser and hand-etched. The employees at Rock of Ages are working hard to get caught up and to tackle the extensive etching. So actually receiving and setting the monument and entrance sign probably won’t happen until late spring or early summer, unfortunately. At that time we will likely have a dedication ceremony.
Until then it’s full steam ahead on what we can finish so we’re ready to receive the monument when it gets here. Keep checking Faces of the Mine for more information on the project. You can also follow our construction progress through photo galleries at http://www.facebook.com/ubbminersmemorial. Thank you for reading and supporting the UBB Miners Memorial.
Be sure to keep checking Faces of the Mine for more exclusive progress reports from the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group.