UPDATE: Applicant for coal jobs many are calling fake says everything seemed legitimate

By: Tanner Hesterberg, Whitney Burks, Rebekah Pewitt Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg, Whitney Burks, Rebekah Pewitt Email

MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT) - One eastern Kentucky man who applied for one of the jobs in question at Professional Contracting said nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Paul Davidson has been laid off from the mines since November 2012. So when he heard 800 coal jobs were coming open through Professional Contracting, he drove more than one hour from Clay County to the company's headquarters in Norton, Virginia.

"We walked in the door and they asked for our information," Davidson said. "Like our driver's license, our (mining) cards and what we were certified to do."

Davidson said when he applied he was not told what mining company would be creating the jobs.

"I asked questions about where the mines were going to be located, which at that time he told me two were in Isom (Letcher County)," Davidson said. "And I asked them about their coal sales, if they felt comfortable selling their coal and he said, 'yes.' He gave a legitimate answer to that."

Davidson said they did not ask him for any money.

"Just some of the questions I asked...there was no hesitation," Davidson said. "In pay scales or insurance or 401k plans. It had to be rehearsed. It was one of the best scams I've seen, if it is."

Story by Whitney Burks, 3/8/13:

NORTON, Va. (WYMT) - Thousands applied for the jobs, but some are wondering if they wasted their time.

We previously reported that questions are being raised about hundreds of coal jobs supposedly coming to the region.

Nearly 3,000 laid off miners applied for the jobs, but some fear those jobs are not real.

On Thursday WYMT talked to the owner of the company accepting the applications who denied anything is wrong and actually said some of those miners have already gone back to work.

Eddie Joe Estep, President of Professional Contracting, said the jobs will be there and he is putting laid off miners back to work.

"I've got people jobs for years. It hasn't changed," he said.

Estep said it is all just rumors, and he does not know why they would get started. He said they did have one investor pull out of the project, but he said two more came on board.

"Get other investors. Get other ways to do it. I think that the rumors defeat investors," he said.

Estep said so far he has placed nearly 50 of the applicants in jobs with companies like Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources, but as WYMT previously reported Alpha officials said they are not working with Professional Contracting.

Estep, however, adamantly denied any of it is a scam.

"There have been rumors that we charged for applications, asinine and stupid," he said.

He said he is ready to put the so-called rumors to rest.

"Call me and talk to me. They've all got the number," he said.

WYMT contacted the Better Business Bureau in Roanoke, VA. Officials there confirmed they are investigating Professional Contracting but could not release any other details.

WYMT also contacted Arch Coal officials about working with Professional Contracting. They said they do not have enough information to make a statement right now.


Story by Tanner Hesterberg, 3/7/13:

NORTON, Va. (WYMT) - Last month we told you about hundreds of coal jobs that were supposedly coming back to eastern Kentucky and Virginia.

Thousands of people drove - in some cases several hours - to Norton, Va., for a chance to go back to work.

But Wednesday officials at a company that reportedly owns the idled mines said it's not true and there were never any plans to do that.

Officials with Professional Contracting LLC have been accepting applications for more than 800 coal jobs that they said were coming back to the region with the reopening of several mines.

Thousands of people have been filling out applications to work at the mines, some of which are in Harlan County.

But officials with Bristol, Va.-based Alpha Natural Resources said contrary to what applicants are hearing from Professional Contracting, they have no plans to reopen any of the mines.

"We have been contacted by a number of media outlets asking about these jobs, but none of this is true," Alpha spokeswoman Samantha Davison said. "There are no plans at this time to reopen any of our mines and we have no arrangement with this company whatsoever."

Davison said, to her knowledge, Alpha has never been affiliated with Professional Contracting.

"It is a shame that people are led to believe that there are Alpha jobs out there," she said. "There are not at this time."

One out-of-work miner - who did want his name revealed - said nothing seemed suspicious when he went to apply.

"Nothing seemed shady or out of the way to me," he said. "It seemed just like any other job I've ever applied for."

Alpha laid off hundreds of workers at four mines in Harlan County back in January.

WYMT contacted the Better Business Bureau in Roanoke, Va. Officials there said no complaints have been filed against Professional Contracting as of Wednesday.

We tried but were unable to get in touch with Professional Contracting's owner, Eddie Joe Estep.


Original story by Rebekah Pewitt, 2/23/13:

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT/WKYT) - After many rounds of layoffs, hundreds of coal mining jobs are coming back to the region. Officials with Professional Contracting say they are currently looking to fill more than 800 jobs.

Ever since Alpha Natural Resources idled four mines and laid off hundreds of workers in January, It's been the word about town.

“There was a rumor that over in Norton that there was an operation that was taking place to bring back to life some of our coal mines,” said Harlan County Judge Executive, Joe Grieshop.

And that rumor has proved to be fact. Officials with Professional Contracting in Norton, Virginia say they plan to employ workers at 5 mine sites that have been previously shut down.

“The owner behind the scenes who wants this to happen, wants to put coal miners back to work who had been laid off,” said Grieshop.

The mines are located in Kentucky and Virginia, and officials say they have ongoing negotiations to purchase more, which is good news that many people need to hear.

“This news will bring smiles to a lot of faces in eastern Kentucky in this region,” said Grieshop.

“I’m glad to see them in Harlan. I mean, that's keeping our people here instead of going someplace to work,” said Harlan County local, Chester Clem.

Officials say more than 2,000 people have already applied for the jobs, but they are still welcoming applications.

They say you must apply in person at their office at 850 Park Avenue, Norton, Virginia, which is open from 8:00a.m. to 4p.m.

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