MADISON, W.Va. — Boone County Commissioner Mickey Brown said last week’s news that Alpha Natural Resources sent out WARN notices to 1,100 employees took him by surprise.

It’s no secret the coal industry is under fire from the Obama administration with proposed EPA limits on carbon emissions. However, Brown said it was a punch to the gut.

“It not only affects the coal company, it affects everything around from the grocery store to the filling stations to schools,” he said.

Two out of the 11 mines mentioned in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification are located in Boone County, Black Castle Mining’s surface mine and Independence Coal’s Twilight surface mine.

Alpha blames the possible layoffs on a weak coal market and coal-fired power plants shutting down because of new environmental regulations. The company is reevaluating how to best operate in these tough economic times. Brown said the county commission will have to do the same.

“We lose coal severance money and then we also lose tax money from their equipment if they’re going to move out,” said Brown.

That means there’s less money for county salaries, improvement projects and even new equipment for the sheriff’s department. The commissioner said the positive economic projects happening in Boone County always seem to be overshadowed by news like Alpha’s.

“Things were moving pretty good. We’ve got a new hospital being built in (Madison). We’re doing the best we can to keep the county clean in order to spur people to move into the area. But without employment, we just have people moving out.”

The county currently employs a handful of former miners who lost their jobs. Brown said they’re a great addition to the county payroll.

“They do water projects. They build buildings; do electrical work, general maintenance. They’re jacks of all trades,” the commissioner said.

While the county would like to hire more workers like them, that’s just not possible.

“We’re at the point right now where we have to watch every penny that we spend.”

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  • attn dumb liberals

    You must really love obama. Somehow u make him out to be responsible for everything thats wrong in the world. Obama is just a man he is not the god like figure u make him out to be. In order to make a argument about something you must be informed, just ranting about your closet love for liberals and democrats sorta makes you sound stupid. Just some friendly advice for ya.

  • DP

    What has made coal so important to this state is what makes diversity in our state almost impossible: The topography within our borders! I've been to each of the 55 counties in our state, and with the exception of 6-8 of them, there is NOT ENOUGH flat land on which to build large manufacturing plants (such as Toyota). Combined with lack of infrastructure, WV is just not very appealing to out of state companies moving all (or some) of their operations here.

    MOST of those who are insistent on the need for WV to get out of the coal business seem to be completely unaware that every coal mining job generates AT LEAST 6-8 other jobs. Sadly, most miners (and those businesses dependent on them) are left with few options.

    Prior to his elections, the Bystander/Fundraiser in Chief made ABSOLUTELY CLEAR his intentions regarding coal. Unfortunately, Far Left Wing Hacks such as Nicky Jo Rahall and Natalie Tennant both supported and campaigned for him in 2008 and 2012! Now these two Lemmings are doing EVERYTHING to distance themselves from him-WHAT DISGUSTING HYPOCRITES!!!!!

  • Jack Mehoff

    Alpha did Obama a favor.

  • Frank

    I hear you, but correct me if I'm wrong ... I thought the UMWA did NOT endorse Obama in 2012. I know they did in 2008 but not 2012. That says something right there. Its no wonder a Texas convict beat Nobama in 10 WV counties in the primary. How pathetic. The War on Coal is REAL. Time for all Democrat cronies and Obama sucks to be retired.

    • Dumb Liberals

      Check their financials and cross reference the UMWA officers names to the m0r0n's campaign finances. You have to remember, democrats, (d)'s, liberals, socialists are experts in funneling moneys in the back door.

      • I'm honest at least

        Open your eyes idiot. Republicans are pretty good at it too. You don't have a clue.

        • I'm honest at least

          No I would say you are the idiot. I'm saying 90% of politicians are crooks......Party lines mean nothing.

        • Dumb Liberals

          So by your own admission the liberals are corrupt. Thank you for proving my point - IDIOT!

  • WVcoal

    Lots of good paying jobs and job opportunities in Northern Virginia.

    • Dumb Liberals

      Isn't that where the UMWA headquarters are? I believe they are on US Rt1 in Triangle, VA. Lots of high dollar vehicles in their parking lot. Bought and paid for by union dues of the union brethren. Quite a few with m0r0n decals on them.

  • Gary Karstens

    Time to diversify the WV economy. We can't keep polluting the air that the world breathes. YEESH! It is time for a new and better era in WV. Time will prove that President Obama's initiatives will make WV a better place. We must do this for the CHILDREN!!!!!!

    • Aaron

      It's easy to say it's time to diverisfy but quite another to elaborate. Why don't you try the 2nd one Gary. I got to yeesh's that says you can't.

    • Richard Hertzer

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  • Rick

    STRAIGHT TICKET VOTING no matter who is on the ballot!!! Maybe the voters will become more informed now!!!

  • cutty77

    You can't blame everything on the President. WV is almost last in EVERYTHING IN THE COUNTRY. Look at The Clowns that are at The State House. I don't blame people i would get the hell of out of that part of the State too.

  • Aaron

    There is a reason that the area that would eventually become West Virginia was part of the last to settle in colonial America. It's the same reason that mountainous regions worldwide have often lagged behind lowlands in terms of economic development and prosperity. For all the talk diversifying southern West Virginia, besides coal, there simply isn't any good reasons why businesses would locate there.

    The only reason the area was as populated as it was in the late 19th and early 20 century was coal. Without coal, railways would have routed into southern West Virginia and without coal, there is no reason for businesses to locate in that part of the state.

    Moving out is probably the best thing southern West Virginians can do.

  • WestByGod

    Can't help but remember a time seven yrs. ago, there was a coal miners convention in Morgantown. I was walking through the parking lot at Lakeview Resort when i saw a bumper sticker that read, "coal miners for obama", had to chuckle.
    Thank you obama!!!

    • Jumbo

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