SHARPLES - Coal miners and their families packed a public hearing Tuesday evening to show they support the largest mountaintop removal strip mine permit in state history.
More than 250 people filled the bleachers at the Sharples Elementary School gym. Most wore green T-shirts supplied by Arch Coal Inc.
Arch's Hobet Mining Inc. subsidiary wants a permit to strip 3,100 acres - about 5 square miles - east of W.Va. 17 across from its current Dal-Tex mining complex near Blair.
John Hardin, a United Mine Workers member from Arch's Hobet 21 job in Boone County, traveled to Logan to speak up for the company. He said the area needs the jobs.
"What are we going to give the next generation to live on?" Hardin asked. "How are they going to make it? What are we going to do for jobs for our families?"
Miners, other company employees and contract workers clearly outnumbered environmentalists and local strip mine critics at the hearing, the second such public meeting on the project.
Company officials put a notice about the meeting into workers' most recent paycheck envelopes.
"There will be people there who don't want this permit issued," the flier said. "They don't care about your job.
"Please attend this hearing and show that you support the future of our jobs here at Dal-Tex," it said. "Encourage your family and friends to join you. Arrive early to get your 'I'm proud to work at Dal-Tex' T-shirts while supplies last."
David Todd, a spokesman for Arch Coal, said the company wanted Division of Environmental Protection officials to see that many people support the company's plans.