Laid off Letcher County coal miner thankful for new job

By: Morgan Lentes Email
By: Morgan Lentes Email
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FLEMING, Ky (WYMT) - On Monday, most of you probably celebrated a day off from work. But for one Letcher County man, laid off for months from his job in the coal industry, he is using this Labor Day to remember how fortunate he is that his luck finally changed.

What a difference a year can make! Last July, we introduced you to Jerry Meadows, who lives just outside Fleming-Neon. He had been unemployed for months.

"It is like your heart gets ripped out. You are like what are we going to do now? I was about to get out here and start cutting people's grass," said Meadows.

Meadows spent more than one decade doing electrical work in the mines of eastern Kentucky. He was laid off in early 2013.

He tells WYMT the pressures of providing for a family made unemployment a stressful time.

"You want to cut back here and here but then you have got little ones who say, can I have this? How do you say no," said Meadows.

McRoberts is not a big community in Letcher county but it is the town that Meadows calls home. He said he did not want to leave the area just because he needed work.

"I was like a lot of people. You just about want to give up and you just have to persevere and go on and have faith that something is going to come through," said Meadows.

Finally, after months of waiting, he caught a break. In October of last year, Meadows was hired as a commercial electrician in Hazard.

He has been working ever since.

"I was taught to work hard at 12 years old. You know, there is money in anything if you want to work hard," said Meadows.

It is a lesson he shares to encourage others, especially his fellow miners.

"These that are laid off, like I said, sometimes you might have to take a job you do not want to do. But sometimes, you have to swallow your pride when it comes to your family and your little ones," said Meadows.

Meadows tells WYMT that the Hiring Our Miners Everyday or HOME program helped him get his foot in the door with his current employer.
MCROBERTS, Ky (WYMT) - In recent months, more and more coal miners have been laid off and are now looking for work.

Jerry Meadows, Jr. lives in Letcher County and lost his coal mining job in January.

Since then, he has updated his resume and started applying for jobs wherever he can.

Meadows said he has not had any luck so far but that he is not giving up hope.

He said his family is his number one motivation for getting back to work.

"It just puts you in a little more conscious frame of mind," said Meadows.

Besides not getting a paycheck anymore, Meadows also lost his health insurance, which is a big concern to him.

"If I'm out here working around my home, you know, well, I need to be a little extra careful," said Meadows.

With a diabetic wife, children of his own and nine grandchildren, Meadows said he will find a way to provide for his family with or without a job.

"Snow is going to be flying here soon. Do they need a coat? Somehow you just make preparations for that," said Meadows.

However, he admits that is a lot harder without his previous income.

"There's assistance that can help them out and government assistance, but that can only go so far," said Meadows.

Meadows receives unemployment benefits and will until early 2014.

He said each day he checks for new job postings, which are few and far between in Eastern Kentucky.

Meadows said having family in the area makes it hard to think about leaving town for a job.

"If it ever come to it where I had to stay away from home, but when you got a family it is real hard to think that way," said Meadows.

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