Coal layoffs in eastern Kentucky impact miners and communities

By: Morgan Lentes Email
By: Morgan Lentes Email

HYDEN, Ky (WYMT) - For months, we have reported on layoff after layoff to our local coal industry. Many of us already know how it impacts miners, but what about the communities they call home?

You could argue coal mining put the mountains of eastern Kentucky on the map. However, as the industry declines, laid off miners like Roger Roark are stuck looking for work.

"I started in the coal mines around 2007 and I bounced from several different coal mines,"said Roark.

Roark said losing his job has had a huge impact on his life.

"It effects every aspect that you can think of," said Roark.

State and county leaders tell WYMT it is not just the miners that are impacted. In Leslie County, Judge Executive Jimmy Sizemore said businesses are feeling the effects.

"It impacts business places, grocery stores, gas stations, you know, just numerous things," said Sizemore.

State Representative Tim Couch could not agree more. He lives in Leslie County and said even the schools are taking a hit.

"Since December, the district has had 30 kids who have left. We have coal miners that have been laid off and that want to feed their family. They are moving to the work," said Couch.

Sizemore admits he is worried this trend will continue in the future.

"It is real sad. We want the county to grow instead of the population going down," said Sizemore.

For the workers who have made their career working underground, they are tired of bringing the economy down.

"The working people that are left are going to have to be footing the bill. I hate to see that. I would rather go back to work just as much as any other coal miner," said Roark.

Judge Executive Sizemore added his county is also dealing with dwindling coal severance funds. He tells WYMT they are about half what they were just a few years ago.

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