New Coal Miner Training Facility Opens in Boone County

By: Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Lauren Schmoll Email

BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A project a year in the making is finally up and running in Boone County. But what's exciting about this isn't just the new technology or fancy learning tools. It's the hope of making coal mining safer.

“I think anytime you empower people with knowledge and skills, it has to do good,” Mark Bolen said.

Bolen leads a mine rescue team for Alpha Natural Resources. He says the new Running Right Leadership Academy will help his men train in a more realistic atmosphere.

“There's no situation in the field that can compare with underground,” Bolen said. “But this place can simulate it very closely.”

Miners can practice just about everything that could go wrong inside a mine, in a nearly 100 thousand square foot mine lab.

The company's chairman and CEO says the building is capable of even more than they planned for.

“A lot of the benefits we're going to get out of this facility are yet to be imagined,” Kevin Crutchfield said. “It's limited only by our imagination. I think the payoffs will be huge.”

For Bolen, it's one step closer to fulfilling the ultimate goal.

“You want everybody to go home,” Bolen said. “Every day. Just like they came to work.”

Making sure every miner stays safe.

Alpha says the facility will also benefit the community: Bringing miners from out of the area here, which will boost business to hotels and restaurants.

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