BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. – A Boone County state senator said this week’s news of planned layoffs at two of Patriot Coal’s operations in Boone County is “devastating.”
“This affects everyone from preschool to the funeral director and everybody in between — car dealers, banks, health care,” said Sen. Ron Stollings (D-Boone, 7). “Boone County is not very diversified and, when something like this hits, it’s like the car industry to Detroit.”
On Wednesday, Patriot Coal issued 60-day WARN Act notices for the company’s Wells Mining Complex near Wharton and the Corridor G Mining Complex near Danville along with their supporting facilities.
The WARN notices indicate at least 50 people at each site will be laid off in the coming weeks and months.
As of this week, Patriot executives could not provide a final layoff number. Company officials cited forecasts for ongoing challenges in the metallurgical and thermal coal markets as reasons for the furloughs.
Stollings said the coming layoffs, and their potential effects on Boone County and surrounding areas, prove Boone County needs other industries beyond coal. “These hard-working coal miners are a great workforce. They’re drug free. These people are randomly tested. They could go to work anywhere if we just had a little more diversification,” Stollings said.
Diversification takes time, but Stollings said he does see signs of hope for the future. “With these large tracts of land, post-mine land use, there’s ideas such as farm to school and our proximity to Charleston, U.S. 119, Corridor G, I think we have the potential,” he said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Together, the two Patriot Coal complexes in Boone County employ nearly 850 people.
The Wells complex includes the Black Stallion Mine, CC10 Mine and Wells preparation plant. The Hobet 21 Mine and Beth Station preparation plant make up the Corridor G complex.