CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's mine safety agency is facing a major shakeup as the state's coal industry experiences its deadliest year in three decades.
A day after Gov. Joe Manchin won election to the U.S. Senate, Manchin announced the departure of Ron Wooten, director of the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training.
And the safety office is also expected to lose its longtime administrator, Terry Farley. Wooten and Farley are both expected to take jobs in the private sector.
On Wednesday morning, Manchin announced that he had promoted deputy director C.A. Phillips to serve as acting director.
Phillips, a McDowell County native, is a former United Mine Workers safety officer and had worked for the state mine safety agency for more than 10 years.
"C.A. Phillips is recognized throughout the mining community as a strong leader and a man who cares deeply about mine safety," Manchin said in a prepared statement. "His leadership and experience will make this a smooth transition for the agency, its employees and the mining industry."
Phillips said he has already appointed as his acting deputy, Eugene White, the chief inspector in charge of the agency's Danville regional office.
"I truly believe that the most precious resource in the mining industry is the miner," Phillips said. "I appreciate the confidence Governor Manchin has shown in me with this appointment."
Wooten's resignation marks the second time in the last four years that the mine safety office has faced leadership changes amid investigations of major mining disasters.