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Ten Years Of Somber Reflection: WVU Faculty, Staff Recall Sago Mine Disaster

The Free Press WV

MORGANTOWN, WV — One of the worst mining disasters ever in the United States rocked a tiny community about an hour-and-a-half south of Morgantown 10 years ago.

In a flash, Sago, an unincorporated, unassuming and picturesque town nestled along the banks of the Buckhannon River, became an international epicenter.

Hundreds of reporters, camera crews and satellite trucks from around the country descended upon the Upshur County community to report on the tragedy that arose from the pit of one of the most dangerous professions - an explosion that trapped 13 coal miners in the Sago Mine on January 02, 2006.

After two days of prayers, weariness and anxiety, only one of the 13 miners came out alive.

As we embark on the 10th anniversary of the disaster, West Virginia University experts are available to reflect and discuss the issues - ranging from mine safety, legal ramifications, emergency response, trauma care and media coverage - related to the tragedy.

The decade has seen its share of improvements in the mining field, yet there’s still work to do.


The mining industry

Mine disasters such as Sago helped lead to the formation of a key component of WVU’s Mining Extension program - the opening of a simulated underground coal mine in 2009. The WVU facility, located at the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies in Core, was unique when it opened as the only facility in the state to offer live fire training in an underground atmosphere. This effort was a collaboration of mining companies, state entities and various vendors across the country.

But the Mining Extension program’s dedication to the safety of coal miners is not some new, run-of-the-mill mission statement. In 2014, the program itself, housed in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, celebrated its 100th anniversary of providing hands-on safety and health instruction to members of the mining industry. The program has worked cooperatively with state and federal agencies, academic departments at WVU, mining associations, labor and mining companies in West Virginia and across the country.

Any injury or loss of life in a mine is one too many, and serves as a reminder that safety and training procedures can always be enhanced; the difficulty is often variability in people’s performance, said Jim Dean, director of Mining and Industrial Extension (Dean can be reached at ).

“The legislation and increased training that came after Sago was one of the factors leading to our simulated mine,“ Dean said. “We created opportunities to deliver high-quality, hands-on, experiential training, which is better in developing skills than in traditional classrooms.“

The simulated mine includes three entries with one entry having a continuous conveyor belt. Other features include a mine fan and models of mining equipment. It also contains a National Fire Protection Association-compliant burn room, which is extensively used for firefighting training.

In addition to the simulated mine, Mining Extension offers training in a self-contained self-rescuer trailer. SCSRs are portable oxygen sources, or breathing apparatuses, that provide breathable air. They are designed to facilitate escape from mines after a fire or explosion.

Dean said SCSR training is crucial following Sago. Dean was appointed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin in 2006 to serve as acting director of the West Virginia Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training following the Sago and Aracoma accidents. Throughout the investigation, it was thought that the SCSRs used at Sago did not work. However, analysis by NIOSH showed that the SCSRs contained sufficient air. One theory was that the miners had not been properly trained to use the devices and did not recognize the heat and restriction when using the device.

“Prior to 2006, each individual miner did not have the opportunity to experience the heat and restrictive nature of wearing an SCSR,“ Dean said. The SCSR trailer is intended to familiarize miners with using the potentially life-saving apparatus.

“We don’t simply show them a video or tell them how to use it,“ said Josh Brady, associate director of Mining Extension ( Brady can be reached at ). “We take them to the unit, have them deploy it, understand it and use it.

“You can have the greatest equipment and technology, but if you don’t have the skillset to use them correctly, you won’t succeed.“

Other improvements to emerge after Sago include the development of refuge chambers, emergency underground shelters intended to provide four days of air, food and water for multiple workers. Further enhancements in communications and tracking devices also followed suit, all of which are taken into account in Mining Extension’s training programs.

“We have a history of working collaboratively with diverse groups of people to develop or update curriculum for miners,“ Dean said. “The department really pioneered that years ago, long before I came along in 1994.“

Last year, Mining Extension trained more than 3,755 miners from seven different states.

Others in the Statler College have also made strides in mine safety research. In 2011, mining engineering professor Keith Heasley received a $110,511 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a seismic system for locating trapped miners(Heasley can be reached at 304-293-3842 or ).

The system is portable and can be set up within minutes of arriving at the accident site.

That particular project stemmed from Sago. The 13 men were trapped two miles inside the mine at about 280 feet below the ground. The only survivor, Randal McCloy Jr., later recounted how he and his fellow miners took turns pounding at the mine bolts and plates underground with a sledgehammer, in hopes that rescuers above ground would hear those pleas for help.

Several factors inhibited responders’ ability to locate and rescue the miners. Traditional seismic systems used to locate trapped miners are limited in depth, Heasley explained. Most systems can’t locate miners more than 400 feet underground. Although the Sago miners were trapped within 280 feet, a seismic system was never tried because rescuers assumed that background noise would interfere with the miners’ signals.

Background noise, which can be anything from the wind, chatter or trees rustling, can interfere with the signals that determine a miner’s exact location.

The system tested by Heasley has special hardware and software filters to remove the background noise. It has been tested at two local mine sites: The 4 West Mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and the Federal No. 2 Mine in Fairview. It was even recently tested in Australia.

“The technology is not foolproof,“ Heasley said. “It takes an educated person to run them. They’re complex and expensive.“

Heasley has partnered with SureWave Technology, a United Kingdom-based company that has further developed the seismic system.

“The good thing is that the technology is out there. If we did have an event, we’d know who to call.“

Emergency response and trauma care

Serving as state EMS medical director of West Virginia, Dr. Bill Ramsey received a page during a conference in Morgantown (Ramsey can be reached at ). He was informed there was an accident at the Sago Mine.

Ramsey had responded to several mine accidents over the years, so this one, in particular, didn’t seem too unusual, just yet.

“The magnitude and the international attention it would receive was unknown at this point,“ said Ramsey, who is now chief collaboration officer and director of coordination and logistics for WVU Health Sciences. “Looking back, Sago unfolded in a sequential fashion, like a snowball rolling down a hill.“

Ramsey soon caught word that this was no ordinary mine accident, though he says no one mine incident is necessarily “routine.“ After receiving confirmation that 13 miners were trapped, Ramsey called in the cavalry of emergency medical responders from local and state levels.

In his role as state EMS medical director, Ramsey was responsible for overseeing the medical operation outside the mine while mine rescue teams tended to the situation underground. Those duties included keeping hospitals and medical command teams informed and providing consultation and medical updates to Gov. Manchin and other state agencies.

One of the greatest takeaways from Sago is the importance of accurate information and communication, Ramsey said. Communication errors and incomplete information are common in the early phases of any emergency response, he said. However, the gravity of Sago led to an emotionally intense atmosphere for not only rescue personnel and victims’ families, but also the media.

Media outlets and news services, including The Associated Press and Reuters, reported shortly before midnight Jan. 4, 2006, that 12 of the 13 miners survived. A few hours later, it was reported that a miscommunication had taken place and that only one of the 13 miners was, in fact, alive.

“It’s not uncommon in rescue situations for communication to be imperfect,“ Ramsey said. “For example, when emergency responders are first dispatched to a car wreck, the information they initially receive is frequently partially wrong, but initial communication always requires confirmation and clarification. In the hostile and hazardous environment of the mine, the rescuers are talking with air masks on and folks on the outside are waiting and wanting badly a positive outcome. In this particular situation, because of the magnitude and the hypersensitivity, it spread like lighting a match to a gas tank.“

Case in point: When Dr. Alison Wilson and other trauma specialists at WVU were first alerted about the mine disaster, they were told that 30 miners were trapped - not 13 (Wilson can be reached at ).

Nonetheless, WVU activated its trauma teams and the intensive care unit was ready to treat any incoming patients.

“There was a lot of concern about whether we could absorb 30 people, but we were ready,“ Wilson said.

Since the 9/11 attacks, emergency and healthcare readiness had been heightened on state and federal levels, she said. Responders and hospital personnel were better equipped to handle large-scale emergencies.

“Planning ahead with the mentality of ‘when it happens’ instead of ‘if it’s going to happen’ has helped us with the processes,“ Wilson said.

Sago served as an additional wake-up call for the trauma care profession.

“It made us think about how we set up a statewide trauma system and utilize the various healthcare facilities, so you don’t have everyone with a broken arm going to the main hospitals,“ Wilson said. “What we learned from Sago is that it’s crucial to prepare and build communication between the hospitals and emergency responders to identify the severely-injured patients and get them to the level one centers as fast as possible. The patients with less critical injuries can be transported elsewhere - like a smaller, regional hospital - to receive care.“

Wilson currently serves as director of WVU’s Institute for Critical Care and Trauma, which aims to promote research, education, outreach, injury prevention and improved patient care in areas of trauma.

WVU handles several patients of mining and gas and oil industry accidents, Wilson said.

“They’re hard, high-risk jobs,“ she said. “They’re in tight quarters and, unfortunately, we have seen some substantial injuries that are disabling. Of mining accidents, many are crush injuries, like a crushed back or pelvis.“

One global medical improvement since Sago is the development of new technologies that aid patients with lung issues and low-oxygen levels, Wilson said. In intensive care medicine, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a newer technique that provides both cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are unable to garner enough gas exchange to sustain life. ECMO works by removing blood from the body and artificially removing the carbon dioxide and oxygenating red blood cells.


Law

Pat McGinley has kept a watchful eye over the effectiveness of coal mine safety regulation over much of the last four decades (McGinley can be reached at 304-552-2631 or ). He joined the WVU College of Law in 1975 after serving as a special assistant attorney general in Pennsylvania who was heavily engaged in mine safety litigation.

Following Sago, he was called upon to serve as an investigator to an independent, mine disaster investigation commissioned by West Virginia’s governor. Five years later, he served as a member of Gov. Manchin’s independent panel investigating the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, a coal mine explosion in southern West Virginia that killed 29 miners.

McGinley believes that a series of mine disasters, beginning with Sago, has led to tougher mine safety enforcement by MSHA and a few improvements to mine safety laws.

In the same month as the Sago disaster, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill creating a new mine emergency response system that required coal companies to provide miners with additional emergency air supplies, communications equipment and tracking devices.

Federal regulations also went into effect in 2006 that would require additional and improved SCSRs, lifelines (ropes) to help guide underground miners in poor visibility and additional trainings.

In addition to Sago, McGinley cited the Aracoma Alma Mine accident in Logan County, which killed two miners; the Darby Mine No. 1 disaster in Kentucky, which killed five miners; the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster in Utah, which killed six miners and three rescuers; and Upper Big Branch, as the series of accidents that contributed to regulatory changes.

“Sago began the process of turning a spotlight on coal mine health and safety,“ McGinley said. “Upper Big Branch was the culmination of that. These events made clear the inadequacy of mine safety enforcement for at least a decade.“

McGinley believes that investigators learned from Sago that it was important to initiate more thorough, comprehensive and professional reviews of mine disasters.

“Unlike Sago and mine disaster investigations over the entire 20th century, the Upper Big Branch investigation was the most thorough and professionally-done,“ he said. “Several hundred witnesses who worked the Upper Big Branch mine received subpoenas and testified under oath concerning conditions at the mine, violations of mine safety rules and the manner in which the was managed. For the first time, mine disaster investigators knew how to ask the right questions and probe for the truth. That didn’t quite happen at Sago or in other prior disaster investigations.

“The significant changes in mine safety enforcement since Sago has largely been a result of a regulators rejection of the very sorry history of enforcement by federal and state governments in the first decade of the 21st century,“ McGinley continued. “However, neither state nor federal legislators have used what was learned from recent post-Sago mine disaster investigations to enact needed amendments to existing law. That is extremely disappointing.“


Media

No one media outlet, whether it be CNN, The New York Times or local television news crews, was immune to reporting what became wildly inaccurate information about the fate of the Sago miners.

Still, it was not the fault of the media.

“Everyone was getting the same information,“ said April Kaull, assistant director of University Relations-News at WVU (Kaull can be reached at 304-293-3990 or ). “Multiple news organizations were reporting this and we had to start walking this information back as we learned more from the individuals giving us briefings.“

Many newspapers, including USA Today, The Washington Post and The New York Times, erroneously ran stories on their Jan. 4, 2006 front pages that 12 miners were found alive. Of course, that information was recanted in the early hours of that day due to poor communication between responders underground and officials above ground.

Kaull, who, at the time, was working at WBOY-TV and West Virginia Media as an anchor and executive producer, believed several valuable lessons in journalism were learned from Sago.

“We all became much more cautious,“ she said. “In our newsroom, the younger reporters learned to navigate a very delicate situation. They learned to be journalists.“

Amongst the national media circus, the local journalists, at times, had to outmaneuver the more domineering national outlets like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Hundreds of media set up outside the Sago Baptist Church, where families had gathered to await news of the miners. That atmosphere showed the importance of local journalism, Kaull said.

“Being a local journalist means building relationships with people in the same community you live and work, and to call upon those people in a time of crisis,“ Kaull said. “The media from out of town - they don’t have to be held accountable. They’re gone after they get the story. For local journalists, it revealed to them the importance of doing a good job, being fair and being compassionate while at the same time digging for truth.“

Kaull covered several of the miners’ funerals, however, she respected the families’ space.

“I remember being in Buckhannon and Tennerton and the surrounding communities, going from funeral home to funeral home,“ she said. “I did not talk to the families on that day. I felt it needed to be their time to grieve on their own.“

As an adjunct professor in the Reed College of Media, Kaull discusses her experiences with her students. Kaull also covered the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which is another lesson in relationship-building and responsible journalism.

“As a journalist, you are granted great access to people, places, issues and events that the average person doesn’t have,“ she said. “With that great access comes great responsibility.

~~  WVU ~~

Crystal Devon Sipe

The Gilmer Free Press

Crystal Devon Sipe

Age 43, of Wright Street, Weston, WV passed away at 6 PM on Tuesday March 17, 2015 in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston.

She was born in Clarksburg, WV on July 20, 1971 a daughter of the late Clifford Barker and Linda Hitt Ables of Weston.

On August 25, 2006 she married Robert Wayne Sipe and they celebrated eight years of marriage.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by one son Tucker Wade Barker; stepdaughter, Whitney Sipe; two brothers: Robert Wilson Barker of England and Robert Lynn Smith II of Weston; two sisters: Rachel Barker of VA and Sarah Barker of Charleston.

In addition to her father, she was preceded in death by two sons: Dillion and Dakota Barker.

Crystal was employed by the Dairy Queen in Weston. She enjoyed reading and watching movies.

Crystal’s request for cremation has been honored.

Friends and family will gather at the Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service at 144 Hackers Creek Rd. in Jane Lew from 1-2 PM on Sunday March 22, 2015.

A Memorial Service will follow at 2 PM with Reverend Wease Day officiating.

The Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored and privileged to serve the family of Crystal Sipe.

Pauline Mae Ratliff

The Gilmer Free Press

Pauline Mae Ratliff

Age 77, of Glenville, WV passed away on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at the Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV following an illness.

She was born in Braxton County, WV on April 03, 1937.

Pauline is survived by her husband, Arnold “Whiz” Ratliff; daughter, Janice Ratliff of Glenville; son, Dave Ratliff of Gilmer Station. Also surviving are grandchildren, Kenny Ratliff, Jennifer Ratliff, David Ratliff, Jr., and Brittney Burros and husband Jonah. Pauline was also blessed with great-grandchildren, London, Madison, and Lincoln. Pauline also left behind two beloved canine companions, Daisy and Josie.

Pauline was proceeded in death by one sister, Karen Workman.

Pauline loved her family and her dogs; she enjoyed caring for them and spending precious time with them. She also loved her church, going to yard sales, sewing, keeping a clean house and visiting with friends. Pauline was loved and cherished by her family and friends and will be missed by all.

Family received friends at the Stockert-Paletti Funeral Home 378 Flatwoods Corner Road, Flatwoods, WV 26621 on Sunday, March 15, 2015 from 12-2 PM.

Funeral services followed visitation and was held in the Stockert-Paletti Funeral Home Chapel with Reverend Bryan Groves officiating.

Interment followed services in the Little Kanawha Memorial Gardens in Heaters, WV.

The Stockert-Paletti Funeral Home of Flatwoods, WV will be serving the Ratliff Family.

Sarah Lou Daugherty

The Gilmer Free Press

Sarah Lou Daugherty

Age 74, of Harrisville, WV, departed this life on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at Eagle Pointe Nursing Home in Parkersburg, WV.

Sarah was born October 11, 1940 in Ritchie County, WV (Mahone Community) a daughter of the late Alva H. and Marcella J. (Martin) Sinnett.

Sarah spent her life as a loving and caring homemaker for her family. She was a graduate of Harrisville High School with the class of 1959 and greatly enjoyed the annual HHS Alumni and class reunions. She greatly enjoyed writing poetry and was an avid walker who met many friends while walking at the Harrisville Town Park.

She was a former member of the King Knob United Methodist Church and attended St. Luke’s United Methodist Church of Harrisville.

Sarah was also a big part in the lives of her grandchildren who she loved dearly.

She is survived by her children, Cheryl Ann Marshall of Ripley, WV; Terry Wayne Daugherty (Melissa) and Roger Lee Daugherty (Dorothy), both of Harrisville, WV; grandchildren, Chad Prunty (Becca) & Chase Marshall, both of Mineral Wells, WV; Trace, Emily, Tangi, & Ryan Daugherty, all of Harrisville, WV; sisters, Ernestine Cowan of Parkersburg, WV; Betty Hart of Millersburg, OH; Vieva Massie of Massillon, OH ; Barbara Whitehair; Nancy Timmons of Harrisville, WV; Brinda Price of Washington, WV; Margaret Wright of Petroleum, WV; brother, Alva H. Sinnett, Jr. of Millersburg, OH, and her great grandchildren, Asher & Abel Prunty of Mineral Wells, WV.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Alfred Wayne Daugherty and her half brother, Wilber “Babes” Martin.

Funeral services will be 1 PM Saturday, March 21, 2015, at the Raiguel Funeral Home, Harrisville, WV with Rev. John Frum officiating.

Burial will follow in the Harrisville IOOF Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 4 PM - 8 PM Friday, at the funeral home.

Helen L. Woodring

The Gilmer Free Press

Helen L. Woodring

Age 85 of Burning Springs, WV passed away March 14, 2015 at the Worthington Center of Parkersburg, WV.

She was born in Wood County, WV December 24, 1929 the daughter of the late John and Mary (Ames) Dooley.

She attended Good Hope Church of Reedy WV.

She enjoyed being at home and spending time with her friends and family.

She is survived by sisters, Barbara Dooley of Parkersburg, Sandy Dooley (Dale Clark) of Palestine, WV, Sharon Dooley of Pennsboro, WV, Nancy Smarr (Jack) of West Union, WV; brothers, Jack Dooley of Newark, WV, Homer Dooley of Burning Springs, Kevin Dooley of Burning Springs, and David Dooley (Tonda) of Burning Springs; and several nieces and nephews.

Helen was preceded in death by both her parents; her husband Marcus J. Woodring; sisters, Margaret Griffin, Juanita Dooley and Mary Arnold; brothers, Bobby Dooley, Keith Dooley, John Dooley, George Dooley, and William Dooley.

Services will be held 11:00 AM Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at Matheny Whited Funeral Home of Elizabeth ,WV with Rev. John Price officiating.

Visitation was Monday March 16, 2015 from 6-8 PM.

Interment will be at Beatty Cemetery of Burning Springs.

Kenneth R. Cottrill

The Gilmer Free Press

Kenneth R. Cottrill

Age 86, of 543 Berlin Road Weston, WV passed away on Sunday, March 15, 2015 in Crestview Manor Nursing Home of Jane Lew following an extended illness.

He was born in Lewis County, WV on September 05, 1928: son of the late Wayne Cottrill and Anna (Gum) Cottrill.

On August 20, 1949, he married Mildred I. (Waugh) Cottrill, who survives.

Mr. Cottrill is also survived by three daughters: Margie (Lowell) Smith of Buckhannon, Susie (Chuck) Landsettle of Calcutta, OH and Ronda (Steve) Osburn of Buckhannon, 4 grandchildren: Chad Landsettle, Stephanie Groves, Whitney Chapman and Breanna Smith and six great grandchildren: Kasey Davis, Danner and Stevie Groves, Logan and Marisa Landsettle and Lakelyn Chapman.

In addition to his parents, Kenneth was preceded in death by one brother: Roger Cottrill, two sisters: Margaret Morrison and Madeline Gordon and one infant brother.

Mr. Cottrill retired as linesman with C & P Telephone Company with 33 years of service and after his retirement was a consultant with Thomas and Betts. Earlier he worked with B & O Railroad.

Kenneth was a member of the Stonecoal United Methodist Church of Weston.

He was a charter member of the East Weston Lion’s Club, member of the Telephone Company Pioneers and an honorary lifetime member of the Jaycees. Kenneth was a member of Weston Lodge #10 AF & AM and the Nemesis Shrine of Parkersburg. He also was a driver for Meals On Wheels at the Lewis County Senior Center of Weston, WV.

Family and friends will be received at the Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home 730 N. Main Avenue Weston on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 from 4-8 PM.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday at 11 AM from the Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home chapel with Reverend Bob King officiating.

Interment will follow services in the Weston Masonic Cemetery of Weston, WV.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Stonecoal United Methodist Church 1251 Old Route 33 Weston, WV 26452or the Lewis County Senior Center 171 W. 2nd Street Weston, WV 26452.

Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home of Weston is honored to serve the family of Kenneth R. Cottrill.

Mary Alice Ernestine Daniels

The Gilmer Free Press

Mary Alice Ernestine Daniels

Age 78, went to heaven to join her late husband, David L. Daniels, Sr.; brothers, Charles Morris and Carl Ray Morris; and a sister, Sarah Lee Pritt.

Mary was born December 25, 1936, at Cannelton, a daughter of the late Charles and Violet Wright Morris, the fourth child of a coal mining family.

Survivors include her children, David L. Daniels, Jr., Timothy A. Daniels, Diana Dalatowski and Tina Mitchell; 15 grandchildren and four great grandchildren; and a sister, Nancy Blankenship.

Mary passed March 10, 2015 at 7:45 PM at the Arbors of Marietta, from advanced dementia.

She attended church religiously. Mary enjoyed life, singing and praising her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A funeral service was conducted at 2:00 PM Saturday, March 14 at the John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer, with Pastor Geoff Wayne officiating.

Mary’s final resting place will be in Clover Cemetery, Clover.

She was loved by all and will be missed.

God rest her soul.

Leona M. Barazzone

The Gilmer Free Press

Leona M. Barazzone

Age 93, longtime resident of Berea, WV, passed away quietly on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital in Buckeye, WV, after a short bout of pneumonia.

Leona was born November 14, 1921 in Berea, WV (Ritchie County) a daughter of the late Ernest Ray and Elsie Ota (Maxson) Bonnell.

She was a retired postmaster of the former Berea and Pullman post office in Ritchie County, WV. She attended Harrisville High School for two years and later graduated from Pullman High School with the class of 1939 as the Salutatorian. She attended Salem College and after college moved to Charleston, WV for work from 1941-1975. She was the longtime secretary/treasure of the Pine Grove Community Cemetery Association of Berea, WV and served as the Grange Master of the North Fork Grange of Berea, WV. She greatly enjoyed gardening, making quilts.

She was a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

Leona was a kind and generous person and was sweet to all she met.

She is survived by her son, Barry Barazzone of Circleville, WV; daughter, Irma Barazzone of Morgantown, WV, step-son, Sam Barazzone and step-daughter, Esther Lynn Barazzone and her brother, Orville “Bud” Bonnell of Pennsboro, WV.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Vincent Barazzone in 1965; step-son Patrick Vincent Barazzone;sisters, Dortha Hodge; Willa Dean Spiker; Arleta Bartlett, and Wilma King.

Funeral services will be 1 PM, Monday, March 16, 2015, at the McCullough-Rogers Funeral Home, Pennsboro, with Pastor Donald Maxson officiating.

Burial will follow in the Pine Grove Cemetery, Berea, WV.

Public visitation was from 4-8 PM on Sunday, March 15, 2015, at the funeral home with a gathering of family at 3:30 PM on Sunday.

Pauline Whelan Kurtz

The Gilmer Free Press

Pauline Whelan Kurtz

departed this earthly world on Friday, March 13, 2015, with her loving husband of 63 years, David H. Kurtz, by her side.

Born May 30, 1933 in Weston, WV to Paul Joseph and Mabel Nixon Whelan, who preceded her in death, she was also preceded in death by her older sister Mary Catherine Chapman and younger brother Dannie Paul Whelan.

Mother to Constance S. Kurtz of Weston and Laura Kurtz Kuhns of Fairmont, who survive along with son-in-law Donald, she was beloved grandmother to Sarah Virginia (Boyd) Fallon and great-grandmother to Abigail, Emily and Joshua, all of Weston. Also surviving are her nieces and nephew, Melissa Whelan Woody (husband David) of Weston, Susan Chapman Daugherty of Parkersburg, and Randall Chapman (wife Carol), along with several grand-nieces and nephews, and sister-in-law and her husband, Sheila and William Hicks of Jane Lew.

A graduate of Weston High School Class of 1951, Pauline lived briefly in Germany with Dave during his stint in the US Army, and later accompanied him throughout his adventures in stock car racing in the 1950s. Later they became state skeet champions and enjoyed fishing, camping and golfing together. She worked with Dave at his gun shop, Dave’s Sport Shop, throughout the sixties and seventies, and later worked for the local cable company in Weston and Sutton. After closing the sport shop, she and Dave spent time in Marco Island, Florida, where they enjoyed fishing and boating.

In the early 1990s, she and Dave opened a popular local restaurant and bar, Eli’s, which they operated for 10 years. She also worked with him later in his most recent business in Weston, and after retiring in recent years, greatly enjoyed spending time with her great-grandchildren and other family members and Peg, her devoted Boston Terrier (her other Boston, Buster preceded her in death).

A Catholic by faith, Pauline’s life will be celebrated with a graveside memorial on Monday, March 16,2015 at 1:00 PM at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens of Jane Lew, WV with Reverend J. Stephen Vallelonga as celebrant.

Interment will follow services.

Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home of Weston is honored and privledged to serve the family of Pauline Whelan Kurtz.

Glen David Burkhammer

The Gilmer Free Press

Glen David Burkhammer

Age 65, of Weston, WV passed away on Friday, March 06, 2015 following an extended illness.

He was born in Weston on July 12, 1949: a son of the late Glen Burkhammer, Sr. and Pauleen (Tomey) Burkhasmmer.

Mr. Burkhammer is survived by one brother: Steven Burkhammer and wife Elsie, one sister: Betty Griffith and husband Ron, three sons: Glen Junior Burkhammer and wife Christina and John Henry Burkhammer both of Wooster, OH and Jason David Burkhammer of Mount Vernon, OH and one daughter: Betty Sue Weimer of Weston. He is also survived by several grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He was thrice married: first to Edna Sue Garrison, who preceded him in death, second, Phyllis (Rupe) Burkhammer, and third: Tammy Montgomery who both survive.

Mr. Burkhammer was a self -employed mechanic and cut right-of-ways for oil and gas companies. He worked as a custodian for the Lewis County Board of Education and worked at the Lewis County Senior Center as a van driver. He also was a custodian and groundskeeper for the Lewis County Park and drove taxi for the city of Grafton.

Mr. Burkhammer was a veteran serving in the United States Navy with the Seals. He loved the outdoors: hunting, camping, fishing, hiking, and nature walks. He loved to dance and riding motorcycles. He was always willing to lend a hand to help those in need. He was a loving father, grandfather, brother and uncle. He was a hard worker and good provider for his family and touched many hearts with his kindness and generosity.

At Mr. Burkhammer’s request, he will be cremated.

At a later date, an interment will be held at the West Virginia National Cemetery of Pruntytown, WV.

Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home of Weston is honored to serve the family of Glen David Burkhammer.

Larry G. Metz

The Gilmer Free Press

Larry G. Metz

Age 77, passed away March 13, 2015 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh.

He was born December 05, 1937 in Braxton County, WV a son of the late George Metz and Hallie Steele Metz.

He was preceded in death by brothers, Rex Metz and Bobby Bailey, and sisters, Marie Thompson and Lucille Bailey.

Larry is survived by his wife of 56 years, Helen Whitesel Metz; sons, Trent Metz and wife, Lisa of Sutton and Brent Metz and wife, Connie of Raleigh, NC: daughter, Kelli Metz Norman of Parkersburg, sisters; Ethlene Duckworth of Gassaway, Judy Pumphrey and husband, Bert, Peggy Kniceley and husband, Charlie, Jeannie Burke and husband, Steve; brother, Sammy Bailey and wife, Janice all of Weston.

Grandchildren; Broc Metz of Sutton, Cord Metz and wife, Kelsey of Burnsville, Josh Metz and wife, Amory of Raleigh, NC, Courtney Metz of Raleigh, NC, Codi Norman and wife, Abby of Parkersburg, and Caleb Norman of Parkersburg; 4 great grandchildren, Ava Adams and Brantley Norman of Parkersburg, Teagan Metz of Sutton, and Monterae Metz of Burnsville. Also survived by several nieces and nephews.

He retired from CSX Railroad with 33 years of service. He was a sergeant in the Army National Guard. He was the owner of Western Steer, Sports Connection, Sears Catalog Service and Helen’s Fabric.

He was a member of the Gassaway Masonic Lodge for 50 years and a member of Gassaway Baptist Church.

Service will be 2 PM Monday, March 16, 2015 at the Gassaway Baptist Church with the Reverend Mark Stump officiating.

Burial with military rites will be in the Metz Family Cemetery at Chapel.

Friends may call from 6 to 9 PM Sunday, March 15, at the Gassaway Baptist Church.

Arrangements by Richard M. Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Hazel Snider

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Hazel Snider

Age 89, of Big Springs, WV went home to be with the Lord March 11, 2015 at Minnie Hamilton Health System in Grantsville, WV.

Born in Wirt County, WV on August 10, 1925, she was the daughter of the late Henry and Emily Veon.

She was a homemaker and member of the Hoy Chapel United Methodist Church at Leading Creek.

Surviving are daughters Janice (Tom) Blair of Big Bend, WV, Jeanie (Alfred) Hickman of Big Springs; sons James (Linda) Snider of Big Springs, Wayne (Helen) Snider of Big Springs, Donald (Linda) Snider of Harrisville, WV and Timothy (Lisa) Snider of Big Springs; one brother, Arnold Veon; one sister, Mary Winland. Also surviving are 13 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.

She is preceded in death, in addition to her parents, by her husband Willard Snider; infant daughter Susan Snider; infant grandson Michael Wayne Snider as well three brothers and two sisters.

Funeral services will be held 3:00 PM Sunday, March 15, 2015 at Stump Funeral Home in Grantsville with Rev. Rick Metheney and Rev. Carroll McCauley officiating.

Burial will follow in the Saunders Cemetery at Big Springs.

Friends and family may call at the funeral home from 1:00-3:00 PM prior to the service.

Donald Hill

The Gilmer Free Press

Donald Hill

Age 77 of Calhoun County, WV, passed away March 07, 2015 at his residence.

He retired from Operating Engineers local 123 of Charleston WV.

He enjoyed camping, fishing, playing poker and shooting pool.

Don prided himself in being an honest hard working man, and wished to be remembered as a good man, always willing to help others in need.

He is survived by his daughter, Melissa Kerby (Brian) of Calhoun County; granddaughter, Nicloe Nelson (Willie) of Calhoun County; 2 grandsons, Chris Scragg of North Carolina and Matthew Hill of Calhoun County; and several special friends and family.

He was preceded in death by his wife Judith Hill and 2 daughters Kimberly and Robin Hill.

There will be no services.

Matheny Whited Funeral Home of Elizabeth WV assisted the family.

Lillian Anne Webb

The Gilmer Free Press


Lillian Anne Webb

Age 68, of Pennsboro, WV, departed this life on Saturday, March 07, 2015, at Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg, WV.

Lillian was born November 28, 1946 in Baltimore, MD, a daughter of the late Norbert Phillips and Thelma (Baer) Phillips of Harrisville, WV.

She spent her life as a wonderful, wonderful homemaker for her family. She was a loving daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

In addition to her mother, she is survived by her husband of 31 years, Lawrence Webb; daughters, Cheryl Rau and Michelle Brown, both of Baltimore, MD; grandchildren, Jason Miller and David Rau of Baltimore, MD; Lawrence Brown of Pennsboro, WV; Lillian Brown of South Korea; Yvette Brown of Ravenswood, WV; Fernando Brown and Raymond Brown, both of Pennsboro, WV; Brandon Rau of Baltimore, MD; Miguelina Brown of Clarksburg, WV; Felix Brown of Pennsboro, WV, and her great grandchildren, Kennedy Miller of Baltimore, MD and Logan and Quinn Brown of Pennsboro, WV.

In addition to her father, she was preceded in death by her son, Joseph Johnston and great grandson, Jacob Brown.

Funeral services will be 2 PM Thursday, March 12, 2015, at McCullough-Rogers Funeral Home, Pennsboro, with Pastor Doug Guinn officiating.

Burial will follow in the Mt. Harmony Masonic Cemetery, Pennsboro, WV.

Visitation will be from 12 PM - 2 PM on Thursday, at the funeral home.

Eunice Remona Satterfield

The Gilmer Free Press

Eunice Remona Satterfield

Age 75, of Pennsboro, WV, departed this life on Sunday, March 08, 2015, at Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg, WV.

Eunice was born June 06, 1939 in Pennsboro, WV, a daughter of the late Ted John and Mary Virginia (Jones) Satterfield.

Eunice previously worked in the former Pennsboro Marble Factory. After working in the marble factory, she stayed at home to babysit for her younger brothers and sisters as well as other family members. She also cared for and took great care of her parents. She loved collecting baby dolls and jewelry, listening to gospel music, and was a very hard worker.

She previously attended the former EUB Church of Pennsboro and also attended the Pike Church of God and she dearly loved her cats and her nieces and nephews.

She is survived by her brother, Leonard Satterfield (Delores) of Pennsboro, WV; sisters, Mary Williams (Roger) of Ellenboro, WV and Sue Ross of Pennsboro, WV, along with her loving nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Larry, Lee, Samuel, and Lennie Satterfield.

Funeral services will be 2 PM Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at the McCullough-Rogers Funeral Home, Pennsboro, WV with Rev. John Frum officiating.

Burial will follow in the EUB Cemetery of Pennsboro, WV.

Visitation will be from 5-8 PM on Tuesday, at the funeral home.

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