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Labor leaders remember workers lost on the job during ceremony in Benwood

By Shelley Hanson, The Intelligencer

BENWOOD, W.Va. — West Virginia workers who died this year and decades ago were remembered Sunday during a memorial ceremony at St. John’s Fellowship Hall in Benwood.

The event was organized by West Virginia AFL-CIO and the Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler Central Labor Council. The featured speaker for the event was Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America.

Other speakers included Art “Sonny” Oakland, president of the Marshall-Wetzel-Tyler Labor Council; Benwood resident Joe Tellitocci, community activist; and Roseann Ferro read a message from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

BB Smith, president emeritus of the Marshall-Wetzel-Tyler Labor Council, led the Pledge of Allegiance and ringing of the bell. The Rev. Doney Chacho led the opening and closing prayers. Tom Breiding performed two musical pieces he wrote on his guitar. The emcee for the event was Andy Walters, secretary/treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the Benwood Mine Disaster during which 119 coal miners died in an explosion at the mine.

All of their names were read aloud and a bell was rung at the end.

The names of 20 different West Virginia workers who died while on the job in 2023 were also read out loud. The bell was hit after each name. They include Cecil Barker, Katherine Brown, Thomas Burgoyne, Franklin Crouch, Christopher Finley, Dwight Garnes, Matthew Huffman, Lea Huffman, Robert Key, Zander Klimek, Kymiir Maples, Cory Maynard, Daniel McGrath, David Moreland, Cody Mullens, Hans Robinson, Tyler Thomas, Michael Walker, Daniel Walls and Carson White.

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