The October 4 program kicks off at 3pm with special presentations to spotlight coalfield community-development successes.
Speakers include adjutant general major James Hoyer and state coalfield community development representative Rachel Lester.
Several awards will be presented at a reception later, including a Spirit of the Coalfields honor to author Homer Hickam, who wrote the book Rocket Boys and other memoirs about growing up in the mining community of Coalwood. Rocket Boys was later made into the movie “October Sky”
Because of You awards will be given to nine individuals for contributions to the state's coalfields heritage.
They will be bestowed in several categories including community reinvestment, community involvement, engineer, safety professional, equipment innovation, management professionals, women in mining, educator of the year and coalminer of the year.
Finally, the volunteers who made the Upper Big Branch mine memorial a reality will be recognized. The site was dedicated July 27.
The event will wrap at about 8pm.
"West Virginia's mining industry depends upon thousands of individuals in many different roles," conference chairman Tony Szwilski said.
“Every one of these people – whether they are miners, safety engineers, environmental professionals, equipment suppliers, community leaders or teachers – contributes to each ton of coal produced."
The event is free, but its sponsors – including Marshall University, the West Virginia Coal Association, the West Virginia Department of Energy, the United Mine Workers of America, and others – ask that guests pre-register at www.marshall.edu/ccegas