While it is difficult now, officials stress there are better days ahead for Blackjewel miners

Published: Jul. 11, 2019 at 2:51 PM EDT
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For some Blackjewel miners, the rumblings of a bankruptcy filing could only mean one thing.

"That you probably lost your job," said Freeman Feltner, who worked at one of the company's mines in Cumberland.

For others, it meant that the company was just reworking the way it operates.

"Most of the miners thinking well maybe they'll just restructure and we can dig ourselves out of the bankruptcy," said Feltner.

But what transpired during the past three weeks is not what any of the miners were expecting.

"Usually when there is a mass layoff coming, these guys are notified, but these guys took their check to the bank and found out that check was no good," said Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander.

Thursday in Hazard, officials with multiple state and local agencies worked with miners to get their paperwork in order to file for unemployment while also helping them file for leniency on credit and other needs.

While there is help out there for the miners, they are still tired and frustrated with how the entire situation was handled. They also say that had it went down differently, their patience may be greater.

"The biggest problem is with their payroll they received it bounced. If that payroll wouldn't have bounced these miners would have been a little lenient with the company but if you cash your paycheck and it bounced that's pretty bad," said Feltner.

While no one denies these are trying times, officials promise that the storm will pass and these hard-working Eastern Kentuckians will return to work again.

"They are at their hardest moment and they will have hardships ahead, but there are better days, other jobs are coming. There's a government that is working. We talk about jobs and that has to be our forefront and our focus and there has to be talk about how to diversify our economy in East Kentucky and that day is coming," said Alexander.

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