A pair of tall black boots and a lunch pail sat near the altar Sunday at the New Life Assembly church - a memorial to the 29 men killed in the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1970 and a thank-you to those who make their living inside the mountains.

This day, the first Sunday since last Monday's explosion killed 28 workers and a contractor at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, was for many a time to honor the profession. Tears of mourning fell, and arms swayed in worship among the 50 people gathered at the church.

Pastor Gary Williams, who has worked at Massey Energy mines for 18 years, knew many of the victims. On his way to church Sunday morning, he heard Ricky Workman's name among them for the first time.

"I know his child. I know his wife. He's a part of my family. He's a part of my life," Williams said, tears falling. "Over time, our hearts and the emptiness that we have inside will fade away, but I don't never want to forget what happened April 5, 2010."

Benefit for West Virginia Coal Miners

Hosted by Tomahawks Smoke House and Saloon in St. Albans

Sunday April 11th, 1PM

BBQ from 1PM to 2:30PM

Charity Bike Ride to Creekside Cafe

Back to Tomahawks for Live Music

The Cat Daddy's perform at 6PM.

All proceeds go to the families of fallen miners.

The entire membership of the West Virginia Coal Association and Friends of Coal from throughout West Virginia extend their deepest sympathies and support to the families of those who lost their lives in yesterday’s accident at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County. 

We offer our most sincere thoughts and prayers to the families, and all those at Massey Energy as well as everyone touched by the events at the Upper Big Branch, and we stand ready to assist in any way possible while maintaining our fervent hope the remaining miners are successfully rescued.

EPA action is reckless and arbitrary, shows disregard of impact on people and the economy

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Coal Association supports today’s decision by Mingo Logan Coal Company to file suit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency over its announcement of intent to revoke the permit for the company’s Spruce #1 surface mine in Logan County.

“This decision by EPA is reckless and arbitrary,” said West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney. “It establishes a very dangerous precedent in that it reneges on an already approved permit, something that has never been done previously. In doing so it brings into question the reliability of the entire permitting process and shows an arrogant disregard for the impacts this will have on the state’s economy and its people. We fully support Mingo Logan’s actions to compel EPA to respect the law and follow its own regulations.”