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The Friends of Coal is launching a two-week membership drive from March 31 to April 14 in Mabscott in an effort to get hundreds of the town’s residents to sign up, said Mel Hancock, coalfield representative.

On Thursday, Mabscott’s City Council voted to officially make the town a member in the Friends of Coal, and will sponsor the membership drive. The move has the support of Mabscott’s Mayor Wayne Houck, who was once a coal miner. Friends of Coal to conduct membership drive
By Bill Billeter
Register-Herald reporter

The Friends of Coal is launching a two-week membership drive from March 31 to April 14 in Mabscott in an effort to get hundreds of the town’s residents to sign up, said Mel Hancock, coalfield representative.

On Thursday, Mabscott’s City Council voted to officially make the town a member in the Friends of Coal, and will sponsor the membership drive. The move has the support of Mabscott’s Mayor Wayne Houck, who was once a coal miner.

Becoming a member of the Friends of Coal is free and requires only that applicants fill out a card providing their contact information and identifying volunteer activities they are willing to perform in support of the organization.

Having a strong membership base helps to support the organization’s cause, Hancock said.

“The Friends of Coal is a grass-roots organization made up of people who believe in the importance of coal,” Hancock said. “By joining the organization, they become part of a collective voice to speak about issues that are of importance to the coal industry.”

Like most towns in southern West Virginia, Mabscott’s history is tied to the coal industry.

“Mabscott began as a coal town,” Hancock said. “And today there are eight or nine businesses within city limits that are directly involved in coal mining.”

Hancock plans to visit each of the businesses in Mabscott and ask them to participate in membership drives for their employees. In order to make the membership drive a success, Hancock is counting on strong volunteer participation.

“I’m hoping that people will contact me and volunteer to help out,” Hancock said. “It will be hard to engage each citizen, but if enough people are willing to help out, we can almost go door to door.”

Residents interested in volunteering to assist in the membership drive can contact Mel Hancock at 237-5694, 253-2056 or mel_foc@wrminc.com. Residents interested in becoming a member of the Friends of Coal can visit Mabscott Town Hall to pick up a membership card, or go online to www.friendsofcoal. org. When filling out the membership card, Mabscott residents should write “Town of Mabscott” in the entry for “Referring Member,” Hancock said.

It is likely that Oceana will be the next local town to participate in a citywide Friends of Coal membership drive, Hancock said, indicating that many of Oceana’s residents are current or former coal miners and are likely to support the effort.

“These two towns (Mabscott and Oceana) have set an example for other towns to do the same,” Hancock said. “This is a huge challenge to try to manage this — and to do it where a lot of volunteers can help to reach large numbers of people.”

— E-mail: bbilleter@register-herald.com

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