FOCers Sponsor High School Football Championship!!!

December 08, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Posted by Robin Blakeman on facebook.

The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

I cringed upon learning that Friends Of Coal (FOC) was a primary sponsor of West Virginia’s high school football championship.

FOC lobbies purely for the multi-national coal companies that it is paid to represent.

They claim to be preserving jobs, yet their industry has exponentially diminished the amount of coal mining jobs over the past several decades as increased mechanization of the mines and blatant disregard for miner’s safety has become the predominant operating procedures of the corporations they represent.

Parents can’t sit by knowing these vast, destructive operations are poisoning our water supplies, polluting our air and about to destroy a very important part of our children’s cultural heritage — Blair Mountain, the site of the largest labor uprising in the nation in the early 1900s and a key event in the formation of the United Mine Workers Association.

Blair Mountain should be on the National Register of Historic Places, and should be a major tourist destination; our school children should have the right to visit and learn about their heritage.

Yet, it is FOC, financier of athletic events, which is willing to blow up this historic site.

Blair Mountain is now permitted for mountaintop removal mining, thanks largely to the lobbying efforts of FOC.

Robin Blakeman


About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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