LOGAN, W.Va. — Blackhawk Mining announced plans to idle three deep mines and two preparation plants in Logan and Mingo County this week.
The move will put 342 employees out of work for an undetermined amount of time. It will also cut into the coal severance revenue for Logan County, but County Commissioner Danny Godby believed it would not be as severe as feared.
“It’s going to have an effect, but our County Administrator said he didn’t think it would be a ‘devastating’ blow, but any further complications could be,” said Godby.
The downturn in the coal industry in the past year has been crusher to neighboring Boone County. There the county Board of Education was forced to make deep cuts in the school system and layoff teachers. The Boone County Commission had to deal with similar circumstances as well and layoff county employees all due to the loss of coal severance tax revenue. Godby said they’ve been able to weather the storm in Logan County much better.
“We have been very fortunate,” he explained. “We were affected, but not to the level Boone County was,”
Godby said county officials have been diligent in crafting year to year budgets and anticipate such downturns. As a result, he said they don’t anticipate having to lay off any county workers.
“We’ve watched our money as far as outside agency spending and things like that,” he said.
According to Godby, the much bigger issue for Logan County, and other counties in West Virginia, is the increasing cost of the regional jail bill. He said the bill seems to continue to rise well beyond what anybody is able to pay and doesn’t stop, fueled almost exclusively by the problems with opioids.
“The coal is not the real problem, the drug problem is our biggest problem,” he said.