Mt. Talk Monday: Interview with Miner & Writer – Gary Bentley

Gary Bentley, Letcher County native and former undergroud coal miner, sits down with Mountain Talk Monday host Kelli Haywood to discuss his new column for the online publication The Daily Yonder, “In the Black.” Through his column Bentley tells his personal story of life underground, and addresses the stereotypes often portrayed in mainstream media of miners and mining, “King Coal”, and Appalachians in general. Bentley also speaks of the importance of telling one’s stories for the sake of posterity and a broader understanding of the current truth of the coalfields of Appalachia. Listen today for the rare opportunity to hear it like it is straight from the mouth of a miner. See Bentley’s writing on The Daily Yonder website. Each new column appears on Monday.

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Mountain Talk is WMMT’s twice-weekly community space for conversation, airing each Monday & Wednesay from 6-7 p.m.  Mountain Talk programs focus on a variety of topics related to life in the mountains, including: food, community issues, art, health, and more.  Click here to hear past programs.

MN&WR: Can Old Culture Revive the Economy in Hindman, KY?

  • Hindman awakens new opportunity to revitalize the economy through a rich cultural heritage in arts and music
  • Humans of Central Appalachia (Doug Naselroad – Master Lutheiry in Residence at the Bolen Woodworking Studio in Hindman,KY)
  • “White Highways” written and read by James Still from Appalshop Archive
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Doug Naselroad by Malcolm J. Wilson (HOCA)

The economic impact of tourism on the entire state of Kentucky is growing.  In 2014, the tourism and travel industry contributed over $13 billion to Kentucky’s economy.  More eastern Kentucky coalfield towns are looking to tourism as a possible way to diversify their economies and transition as the impact of the decline in coal is widely felt.  WMMT has been visiting these towns, some of which were once bustling and alive activity, in special coverage of the economic transition of eastern Kentucky, and to learn more how each town is uniquely adjusting to this economic downturn, envisioning a future, and revitalizing.  To begin this week’s Mountain News & World Report, Kelli Haywood visits the city of Hindman, the county-seat of Knott County to witness the efforts being made to utilize the distinctive resources available to the community in hopes that arts, music, and tourism will create a thriving economy in years to come. In this episode, we feature Part I of a two part series on Hindman.

Also in this show, WMMT proudly features the first of what will be an ongoing collaboration with the Humans of Central Appalachia project – an interview with Master Luthier in Residence at the Bolen Woodworking Studio of the Appalachian Artisan Center, Doug Naselroad.  Humans of Central Appalachia (HOCA) was founded on Facebook in 2014 in an effort to dispell the stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media sources and shock photographers.  Malcolm J. Wilson, the photographer and citizen journalist who heads the project, hopes to give residents of Appalachia a means to tell their story in their own words.  Transcribing his interviews just as the participants speak them, and including a captivating photograph for each, Wilson and team doesn’t embellish or manipulate, but presents a very particular people from a very particular place with accuracy.  In this special feature of Mountain News & World Report, WMMT and HOCA will share original audio from Wilson’s interviews edited for sake of time only, not content.  As Wilson placed front and center on the HOCA website – “To hear an honest story of Appalachia, ask an Appalachian.”

To end this week’s show, we share the reading of “White Highways” by the poet himself – James Still.  This recording comes from Appalshop Archive. To learn more about the efforts of the archive to preserve our cultural heritage for future generations visit – www.appalshoparchive.org.

If you like what you hear, see, and read of the Humans of Central Appalachia project visit their support site – https://www.patreon.com/humansofcentralappalachia.

Mountain News & World Report is a bi-weekly production of WMMT, and new episodes air every other Thursday at 6pm on WMMT, with a repeat broadcast the following Sunday morning at 10:30.  To listen to previous episodes, check out our streaming archives.

Coal Report for January 27, 2016

Continuous Miner by Xlxgoggaxlx - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileContinuous_Miner.jpg#mediaFileContinuous_Miner.jpg

Continuous Miner by Xlxgoggaxlx – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileContinuous_Miner.jpg#mediaFileContinuous_Miner.jpg

Tuesday, January 19th, ABC News and local sources reported Kentucky’s first coal mining death and the 3rd in the nation this year.  Nathan G. Phillips, aged 36, lost his life underground in the Dotiki Mine located in Webster County.  Phillips was operating a continuous miner when he was pinned against the wall by the machine.  Continuous miners are digging machines commonly used in underground mines.  The federal mine safety officials issued new rules in 2015 that were designed to help prevent accidents of this type.  The rules require proximity sensors on the machinery that would give warning signals or shut down when a worker wearing a corresponding sensor gets too close.  Older machines can be exempt from adopting the new rules until 2018.   Continue reading Coal Report for January 27, 2016

Mountain Talk: Restorative Radio, Pt. 3

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Michelle Hudson with her fiancee William Griffin

Across WMMT’s listening area of southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and southern West Virginia, there are 6 prisons, both state and federal.  For over a decade now, WMMT’s Calls from Home show has provided a lifeline for communication between those incarcerated in our mountains and their families, often very far away.

In this edition of WMMT’s Mountain Talk, we hear a Part III of a new, special radio documentary project: Restorative Radio, which was produced in conjunction with Calls from Home.  Over the past four months, WMMT producer Sylvia Ryerson has worked with family members of people who are incarcerated in two local “supermax” facilities here in southwest Virginia.  She has helped these family members produce long-form “audio postcards” for broadcast here on WMMT, to be heard over the radio by their loved ones nearby.  These radio pieces capture voices, music, and everyday sounds from home. To hear Part III in full, simply hit “play” above.

Part III shares two new audio postcards: The first is from Michelle Hudson in Northern Virginia, going out to her fiancee William at Wallens Ridge State prison. This second is from Jarrod Friedline and Jeremy Frazier in Woodbridge Virginia, going out to their brother and cousin Paul at Red Onion State Prison.

And stay tuned – Restorative Radio will continue to air on the fourth Monday of every month @ 6pm through April 2016.

 

Coal Report for January 20, 2016

Little Doubles Creek, Knott County Kentucky

Little Doubles Creek, Knott County Kentucky

President Obama and those in his administration this week announced a three year moratorium on the program of coal leasing on federal lands.  ABC News reported that the program allowing the government to lease coal mining rights to a single bidder for mining coal on federally owned public lands has not been reviewed in those 30 years.  The 12.5% government royalty rate that was established in 1976 has cost the government as much as $200 million a year in recent years.  In contrast, the coal companies leasing these lands primarily in Wyoming and Montana, which are the largest coal producing lands in the nation, had an annual revenue of over $1 billion.  Most of these leases were granted to a single bidder as the competition between companies for acquiring new rights to mine have lessened with the decreased demand for coal over lower cost natural gas.  The moratorium will allow for a review period of three years for the program, however, the next president will be under no obligation to complete the review.  Officials will have an interim report completed by the end of President Obama’s term.  While government auditors have long questioned sustainability of the current royalty rate, industry groups say any increase in rates will impact both consumers and jobs. Continue reading Coal Report for January 20, 2016

Coal Report for January 13, 2016

"Miner spirometry (9253624711)" by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from USA - Miner spirometry. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Miner_spirometry_(9253624711).jpg#/media/File:Miner_spirometry_(9253624711).jpg

“Miner spirometry (9253624711)” by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from USA – Miner spirometry. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

The Kentucky Quarterly Coal Report for July through September 2015, which is issued by the Department for Energy Development and Independence, has been released and shows a 0.8 percent drop in Kentucky’s total coal production in quarter three.  According to Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett, “When you look at 2014 and 2015, there’s not that tremendous drop as seen in 2012 and 2013, but more of a flat plateau with occasional company-specific losses.”  In the same article for the Appalachian News Express, Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Jacob Colley spoke of one of these company-specific layoffs saying, “We just had a major layoff this week in Floyd County… RedHawk Mining laid off about 200 more.”  Colley sees the decline in both coal production and coal jobs as something the region has felt continuously throughout the recent years.  According to the report, there was nearly a 500,000 ton decrease the the third quarter production of eastern Kentucky coal, down from the second quarter reporting.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the most deadly form of black lung disease (a lung disease that develops from inhaling coal dust), progressive massive fibrosis has spiked to the worst levels seen in 40 years.  The disease is now being seen in younger miners.  To address the concern this poses, the Mine Safety and Health Administration or MSHA created a three phase Final Rule to Lower Miners’ Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust.  The second phase of this rule is set to begin on February 1, 2016, and would require individual miners to wear continuous Continue reading Coal Report for January 13, 2016

Mountain Talk: Restorative Radio, Pt. 2 Christmas Special

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Latasha Carter (bottom right) Shelia Carter (top left) and family in roanoke VA, made a piece for relative Shandre Travon Saunders at Red Onion State Prison.

Across WMMT’s listening area of southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and southern West Virginia, there are 6 prisons, both state and federal.  For over a decade now, WMMT’s Calls from Home show has provided a lifeline for communication between those incarcerated in our mountains and their families, often very far away.

In this edition of WMMT’s Mountain Talk, we hear a Part II of a new, special radio documentary project: Restorative Radio, which was produced in conjunction with Calls from Home.  Over the past four months, WMMT producer Sylvia Ryerson has worked with family members of people who are incarcerated in two local “supermax” facilities here in southwest Virginia.  She has helped these family members produce long-form “audio postcards” for broadcast here on WMMT, to be heard over the radio by their loved ones nearby.  These radio pieces capture voices, music, and everyday sounds from home.  Just in time for the holiday season, on Monday, Dec. 21st, WMMT aired the second of these hour-long specials, and you can hear that special, in full, by pushing “play” above.

Part II shares three new audio postcards: The first is from Charlene Yarbrough and family in Newport News, Virginia, created for her sonJames at Wallens Ridge State prison. The second piece is from Latasha Carter, Sheila Carter and family in Lynchburg, Virginia, for their son and grandson Shandre at Red Onion State Prison.  The final piece is from Louise Goode and Amber Hines in Hampton, VA, for their son and uncle Gregory at Red Onion state prison.

And stay tuned – Part III of Restorative Radio will premiere on Mountain Talk, Monday, January 25th at 6 p.m.  You can listen live, wherever you are, by clicking the “Listen Live!” button at right.

 

Coal Report for January 6, 2016

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2015 saw the lowest number of coal mine deaths on record since the Mine Safety and Health Administration began tracking. MSHA reported that eleven miners died on the job in 2015. This marks a consecutive 3 year drop in mining related fatalities across the U.S. The most recent spike in coal deaths occurred in 2010 when an explosion at the W. Va. Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 miners bringing that year’s total to 48 deaths. The federal government has cited increased inspections by MSHA, after the Upper Big Branch tragedy, as a reason for the decline. MSHA has continued to look into mines which have questionable safety records using surprise inspections. Another possibility for the decline fatalities, according to Peterson, is the drop in employment within the coal industry country-wide.

In other news, Monday, Jan. 4th, saw the first coal mining fatality of 2016. As reported by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, the W. Va. Office of Miner’s Health, Safety, and Training confirmed the death of Peter Dale Sprouse. Sprouse was a belt man and fire boss at the Greenbrier Minerals Lower War Eagle Mine in Cyclone W. Va., according to the MHST media release. 53 year old Sprouse lost his life early Monday morning from injuries sustained while operating a belt roller. The Office of Miner’s Health, Safety, and Training are currently conducting an investigation and work at the mine where Sprouse was employed has been idled.

Continue reading Coal Report for January 6, 2016