A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commentary: While coal mining jobs are dwindling, mine fatalities are going up — here’s why

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward At a time when we ought to see fewer deaths from coal mining, the number of fatalities has increased compared to last year. The greed of coal tycoons and politicians (who are sometimes one and the same) is the reason. In the first seven months of 2017 there have been 10 coal-mining fatalities in our country. The year is just past the halfway mark, and there have...

Daily Yonder: A musician or a coal miner? It’s a question that deserves an answer

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward After several days on the road with his band, Black Lung, Gary finds himself back at the mine — late for work and smelling like booze. “Bentley, you going to be a coal miner or a musician?” the superintendent asks. It’s a question that deserves an answer. The lights whipped by like lightning bugs in summer air. The sound of car horns and...

Daily Yonder: Pain and suffering — and testing your endurance — is all part of being a coal miner

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward Working underground 16 hours straight takes its toll on the body, and being cut by a utility knife and dragged by a power cable doesn’t help one bit. I enjoyed the pain and suffering I endured underground, and I saw it through the eyes of the miners I worked with. We pushed one another to work harder and faster, work through our lunch, refusing to stop for...

Daily Yonder: Suspension from job leaves miner in position to consider his options

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward Suspended from work for one week and facing the possibility of termination for making home movies underground, Gary considers his options for continuing his mining career. My fingers trembled as I pushed the buttons of my home phone. I was scared, but most of all I was worried about Bart. He had a family to care for. He had a mortgage to pay and a child to feed....

Daily Yonder: Showing friends what it was like to work underground easy until running afoul of the law

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward Everyone wanted to know what it was like to work underground. Showing them was as easy as getting a digital camera, setting up a YouTube account, and breaking state and federal law. The light of the LCD screen was blinding me as I sat looking into the portal of the mine. I had purchased a new digital camera and I immediately wanted footage to show my friends and...