WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (10/17/12) - The spotlight was shining brightly last week on Alliance Coal Company’s Dotiki Mines, and in particular, the 35 men who operate the coal prep plant.
Federal, state and Alliance officials celebrated a milestone for the prep plant operation ... over one million man-hours worked, over an 11 year period with no lost time accidents.
“This is living proof that a safe operation is a productive operation,” stated Kenny Murray, Vice President of Operations for Alliance Coal. “We feel like the coal industry is safer than ever and this record certainly is proof of that.”
Dotiki, which has moved back to its original location on Hwy 270 near Clay, is one of 11 mines owned by Alliance Coal. The prep plant has been at that location for 43 years, washing, cleaning and processing coal as well as loading coal onto trucks and rail cars. In the 11-year span, an estimated 65 million tons of coal have been processed at the Dotiki prep plant. Since the original opening date in 1967, many improvements have been made at the mine site, including renovation of the bath house and construction of new prep plant in the spring of 2012.
Joe Fritz, Federal Mine Inspector for MSHA District 10, and a Webster County resident, was on hand at the ceremony to give high praise to Dotiki and its prep plant workers. He called the mine the “flagship” of all Alliance mines. He also presented the mine with an award from MENSA.
“This mine has touched every single person in western Kentucky over the years in some way, either through its employees and families as well as other businesses in the area. Dotiki is a model of growth and safety for all Alliance mines,” Fritz noted. “I’ve searched through records of the entire coal industry and I can’t find a safety record that comes close to matching this.”
Fritz was also quick to praise the training and commitment of the Dotiki prep plant employees.
“We all seek perfection but we realize no one is perfect. But on the way to perfection, you guys found excellence and this award is certainly not enough recognition for the job you do,” Fritz continued. “But more importantly, the most precious thing that comes to this prep plant is what leaves this prep plant ... and that’s each and every one of you guys. You return home to your families each day and there’s nothing more important than that.”
Freddie Lewis, Executive Director of Kentucky State Office of Mine Safety and Licensing continued the ceremony with an impassioned speech of the coal industry and its workers.
“This remarkable safety record should be the headlines throughout this great nation, the coal industry is alive and well. You guys come to work every day and you’ve made and continue to make the coal industry safer than it's ever been,” said Lewis. “You’re a hero to your family, your company, your state and your nation. You’re the kind of people that keep this nation running, despite the hit that the coal industry has taken over the past four years.
“You realize that this is a hazardous and dangerous job, but you have stayed focused on yourself and the safety of others and then on production. You’re honest, hard-working men and your record speaks for itself. It’s a true honor to be here and be a part of this ceremony and I know you don’t get the recognition you deserve. And from the bottom of my heart and the state office I represent, I want to say “thank you”. And I want you to leave here with your heads held high and your chest sticking out with pride for the industry your are in and the job you’ve done. I hope to come back when you stretch this record to 12, 13 even 15 years.” Lewis concluded.
Prep Plant Manager of Operations Ricky Reid, who has been with Dotiki since 1983, offered his thanks to the state and federal mine inspectors that have helped train and aid the safety conditions of the plant over the years. He also praised his fellow employees and Alliance Coal Company.
“I’ve never once asked for funding for safety issues and that request be denied by Alliance. That certainly shows their concern for safety of their employees is first and foremost,” Reid stated. “And this record could not have been possible without you guys speaking out and voicing your concern of safety issues and then us taking care of them. We wouldn’t be here today if you hadn’t done your job and always kept safety first. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you guys for that.”
Alliance Safety Director Chris Gunn noted that several years ago, Dotiki ranked ‘middle of the pack’ in safety marks compared to the other 10 Alliance-owned mines. But in the past 11 years, Dotiki has vaulted to the top in both production and safety.
Prep Plant employees include:
DANNY FRED GARDNER
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