ELK GARDEN - Rain or shine, the Elk Garden Energy Expo is a go for Saturday, Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For the News Tribune
ELK GARDEN - Rain or shine, the Elk Garden Energy Expo is a go for Saturday, Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.  
An “All Energy” focus is the theme of the expo examining the major sources of energy generation that combine to make West Virginia No. 4 in the nation for energy contribution to the Unites States. Number 1 in bituminous coal; No. 2 in all coal only after Wyoming; and ahead of all other states in mining safety measures.
Energy is a strength of West Virginia for which we can be proud, and Elk Garden a center of energy sourcing for Mineral County for generations.
The new Elk Garden Miners' Museum will be open to view at the Town Hall, where Mineral County coal history is being showcased.
The most recent contributions of a miner's hardhat with the carbide lamp attached and a miner's first aid cabinet were donated this week by Paul and Mary (Paugh) Green, some of which was used in the Masteller Mine. Mary's father Robert Paugh lost his life in the mine when a cable broke and hit him when she was 3 years old. And John is the great-grandson of the doctor for whom Green Mountain is named, Dr. John Green. Stories such as theirs abound and are being recorded with the contributions so these memories live on.
The memorial of others who lost their lives in the Number 20 mine sits just outside the Town Hall, and at 2 p.m. Councilwoman Jean Braithwaite will lead a memorial service there. Flowers will be placed in their honor.
Also outside of Town Hall there will be a wind energy display brought to us by the team of operators of the Green Mountain Wind Farm on the ridge above Elk Garden. Their model, parts of turbines that kids can touch and handle, and educational packets will combine with first-person career experience of those who work in wind energy nearby. A tour of the wind farm will be offered to students of the Elk Garden Primary School for a date to be set in the fall.
Another fall tour is being prepared for the school students by Tim and Troy Schwinabart, of D and L Mining, in the open mine just to the south of the town on Route 42. And conversations are underway for another tour of Dominion's Mount Storm Power Plant that can be seen by many Highland families. These are planned so kids can see up close the excellence of the work that sends power from West Virginia, and learn more about careers in energy that can keep kids working in Mineral County with good jobs.
At the Elk Garden Fire Hall, Karen Lasure from the West Virginia Energy Office in Charleston will focus on new avenues for energy conservation. She is making a presentation in the primary school today, and serving as a judge for an art contest in the school. Students were asked to depict what they see of energy everyday in their community, from the turbines, to the mines, to the power plant, and the timber industry.
Prizes will be rewarded to winners of the contest for each grade, K-4, and for an all-school winner. All students participating are being rewarded with ice cream, a favorite positive reinforcement according to principal Mike Saturday.
Also today, a First Energy Miners' Meal has been added at 6 p.m. to offer a welcome reception and occasion to hear more from folks traveling in for the event. Karen will lead the conversation with more stories from the energy careers welcome during the evening.
Mayor Marian Droppleman and her crew are preparing foods that were customary for miners to take into the mines or enjoy after a hard day of labor. First Energy has donated resources to help with the meal and has provided materials that will be handed out this evening that introduce career opportunities with the company.
Councilman Jody Paugh will help attendees understand the timber element of energy generation by describing the usefulness of outdoor wood furnaces, with one provided by Boggs Supply from Keyser. Pellets will be available to see and even order in town that day.
Weather permitting, a skidder from a timber project will be there for kids to become more familiar with. And the working Leon's Lumber Mill just a quarter- mile on down Paughtown Road will be open to view.
Internal energy will be provided by Mineral County's Farmers Market vendors outside across from the school in the Town Park with fruits and vegetables of the harvest. If it rains, the Farmers Market will be placed inside the fire hall.
Other internal energy will be found at the Elk Garden Methodist Church with music during the afternoon, and through foods they are preparing. Also at the Firehall there will be sweets and treats to power up attendees even if it rains.
State Senator Randy Smith, chairman of the WV Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee, and Mineral County Senator, will be in attendance Saturday, describing the importance of energy to West Virginia, telling of his 40 years working in the mines, and listening to constituents’ thoughts. Senator Smith has been quite helpful in preparations for the Energy Expo, and has introduced planners and the Town of Elk Garden to numerous leaders in WV energy, and opportunities going forward.
Last-minute questions can be directed to John Lecky, of the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce, at 304-790-0947.
Everyone is encouraged to make the trip to Elk Garden on Saturday, and a warm welcome is promised - whatever the weather - along with more understanding of the energy that makes our state stand out in the nation.