It’s a no-win situation

By Pat Cheek

General Manager

I was heart sickened reading the Wednesday, July 31 story “Letter from store to miners sparks controversy.” My father was a coal miner for many years and lost his job when the mine he was working for shut down their operations. I know and have seen the struggles first hand.

Coal mining has always provided good paying jobs when they are up and running, but when a sudden close like Blackjewel happens it’s a tremendous hardship on our miners and effects the entire community.

While I’m heartsick over the closing, I am so proud of this community. Harlan residents are strong and fully committed to their friends and neighbors. The outpouring of love and support through the many collections and drives show the strength of this community. It makes you proud to be a part of such incredible folks who will work and pull together through the good and the bad times.

I haven’t seen the letter sent by Don’s Super Saver to Blackjewel miners seeking payment for bad Blackjewel checks cashed at the store but can’t help but feel this business is “stuck in the middle” of the same situation our many miners are. $90,000 plus is a huge amount of money for a business to lose and especially for a locally-owned business.

These are folks that have been here for our community every day and has supported this community for its many years in existence. They’re not out to “hurt” our miners who are already suffering terrible losses themselves. They’re just a small business struggling to remain solvent and be able to stay open and continue to provide jobs and opportunity for their workers.

They are forced to follow the “legal guidelines” necessary for the situation. As a service to the community, they cash checks and in this situation they cashed checked everyone assumed would be good. So, they’ve taken that money directly out of their store’s money, which probably leaves them in a tough situation paying their employees and probably leaves them unable to meet their immediate payments to their suppliers. It’s a no-win situation for them as it is for the miners.

I sympathize with the miners as I have seen the same situation personally and know the anger and hurt they are feeling. The unknown of tomorrow and the many questions going through their minds, mostly “how do I provide for my family,” “how do I pay my bills” and “where do I go from here.” But, please don’t turn those feelings into vengeance against a business who has been there for you and for the community with years of service. They’re in the same struggle right now, caught in the middle of a bad situation left behind by the mine’s closing.