PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- With layoffs at mines across the Tri-State region, miners in southeastern Kentucky could be looking at some good news as Patriot Coal plans to hire some workers for one of its mines in western Kentucky.
More than 100 coal miners came to a job fair Wednesday in Pikeville, and about the same amount showed up Tuesday in Hazard, Ky. There, several organizations such as the Kentucky Coal Association, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Programs (E.K.C.E.P.) and Hiring Our Miners Every Day (H.O.M.E.) set up a job fair to help fill the Patriot Coal positions.
Mike Day, the executive vice president of operations for Patriot Coal, said the turnout was good and that the first round of hiring would take place over the next couple of weeks.
“Looking for people to hire immediately and then we're also looking for people in the first quarter of 2014,” Day said.
Elizabeth Hurley waited in the hallway by the elevator as her husband filled out his application and went through interviews. She brought her 15-month-old daughter Aliyah along with her and said she was nervous but excited.
“It's all he wants is the coal mines, you know, nothing else,” Hurley said of her husband. “He loves working at the coal mines.”
She said the location of the mine, in Henderson, Ky., would be a difficult move for them because she and her husband have three young daughters – an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old, plus baby Aliyah.
“Moving would be really, really hard, cause all of our family is here. But for the job, I mean, we probably would,” Hurley said. “I got my mommy and daddy here, and he's got his mommy and the kids are in school, so they'd have to switch and they've already made friends.”
Hurley’s family lives in Elkhorn City, which is about six hours away from the Highland Mine in Henderson, where the jobs would be. Still, she said they would probably go if her husband could get one of those jobs.
Terry Clemons said he would be willing to go anywhere for work. He, too, is an unemployed miner with 14 years of experience. Most recently, he worked at a mine in Meta, Ky. – a 2 1/2-hour commute from his home in McDowell, Ky.
“I was offered a job in a salt mine in Louisiana, and I was going to take that, but I haven't heard anything back from it,” Clemons said.
Clemons said he will keep looking if he does not get one of these positions with Patriot Coal.
Bridget Back, who works with E.K.C.E.P, said the job fair is intended in part to help miners stay in Kentucky.
“A lot of these guys, that's all they've ever done, and they really have a love for the job and the industry itself. They want to stay with that,” Back said.
Patriot Coal says at least 40 miners will be hired in the next couple of weeks, and another 40 or so in a few months.
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