Coalfield Celebrates New Faces, New Project Developments

It’s been an eventful month for Coalfield Development, and we’re keeping that momentum rolling! For January’s Council Day, our team traveled to Charleston to tour the Capitol and be recognized by the House of Delegates for our efforts. Earlier this month, Coalfield also hosted various community and state leaders for a press conference at West Edge Factory to announce the launch of the ACT Now Coalition.

This Friday, we kicked off Council Day with some exciting news, developments, and introductions of our new crew members. Last week, we welcomed half a dozen new Coalfield crew members to various enterprises for mechanics, construction, apparel, and woodworking. We also joined a new union!

Projects and progress

Casey McCann, Revitalize director, also announced the start of progress on the Nenni Buildings project in Matewan, West Virginia.The three-building revitalization project will consist of three phases, beginning with the first floor. Last year, the Nenni Buildings revitalization project received $1.7 million from the U.S. Economic Development Authority and an additional $600,000 from Coalfield Development.

Read about the Nenni Buildings project here.

Thursday night, McCann and a crew traveled to the community to assess and involve the public on the housing development portion of the project, as well as the revitalization of Sheriff Sid Hatfield’s historic apartment. 

“We have a lot of active construction sites we‘re excited about, but there’s something about Matewan that resonates [with folks],” McCann said, noting that the community’s goal is to find balance between preserving the past while also taking the community’s future into consideration. 

Gina Milum, enterprise support coordinator, highlighted the completion of the first community workshop with Artist in Residence, Sassa Wilkes, at West Edge Factory. In July, Coalfield and the City of Huntington received $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts’ efforts to support the development of art studio spaces, community art programs, and installation of local artists’ works in the community. Wilkes, a Barboursville-based painter, is one of several artists participating in this project. 

Learn more about the NEA grant’s impact in our communities.

The workshop focused on the completion of the first piece of the art installation that will eventually become part of a large, 25-foot collaborative mural. Milum said she anticipates monthly workshops to continue in the future. 

New year, new theme, handbook revisions

To kick off our group reflections, CEO Brandon Dennison shared insight and decision to select Coalfield Development’s 2022 theme: history. Over the months to come, we’ll be reading Appalachian history books together and discussing our findings and analyses in study groups. 

“These are historic moments in Appalachia and in our world right now,” Brandon said. “A lot of times we study famous people — presidents, kings, and queens. I want to challenge us to think of history as everything that’s ever happened. You cannot change it, but you can change your analysis and perception of it.” 

Our choices can make waves that impact ourselves, our families, and communities, so it’s important to consider decisions before we make them, he said. Prior to breaking into group and personal reflection sessions, Brandon left us with a critical question: What kind of ripples do we want to send out?

Following our reflections, we continued our discussion on Employee Handbook revisions. Staff and crew members partnered up to review specific policies and presented them. 

Hat designations

After lunch, CEO Brandon Dennison and Kelli Crabtree, senior director of employee development, presented color coordinated hats for four categories of the Coalfield crew: green hats for individuals who have exemplified what it means to be leaders; blue for general staff; red for crew members; and brown for trainees.

Five crew members were designated green hat crew: Megan Mounts, Heather Tincher, Amanda Whitlock, Jeremiah Devote, and Golden Smith, all of whom started out as WRAPS trainees. Honorary green hat member is Zero, a canine companion at Highwall. 

Dennison took a moment to honor those wearing green hats. 

“In giving you this responsibilities, Coalfield Development is placing great trust in you,” Brandon said. “Trust is earned in doing the right thing, especially when your bosses aren’t looking. 

He followed his remarks with a few words of advice:

“Keep committed to the values and keep the trust of your teammates as highest priority,” he said. “Your leadership will have more impact on your crew than your CEO because you have direct contact. Becoming a green hat is a big responsibility and an opportunity to move closer to your potential, power and purpose. Consider your distinctions. We are proud of you, and we believe in you.”

Great news to end a great day

And for our final bit of good news: Earlier this week, Coalfield formally joined a union! This is a project that’s been in the works for 10 years now, so to say we’re excited would be an understatement. Having an opportunity to work with the Carpenters Council will be a game-changer for our team, and we can’t wait to partner with them going forward. 

We’ll be releasing a press release in the coming days that covers the ins and outs of our deal. Keep an eye on our website to read all about this exciting new collaboration!

“Carpenters Local 439 is extremely excited about the new addition to a long-time partnership with Coalfield-Development,” said Carpenters Council Representative Jeremy Jeffers. “Coalfield is a great organization doing great things for the community, and we are honored to partner with them to provide training and good paying jobs with benefits for their team.”

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