KIMBALL — Coal mining has picked up in McDowell County since the election of Donald J. Trump, bringing dozens of jobs and more than $100,000 every quarter to the county in coal severance taxes.
Although Lacy Workman is a disabled coal miner and can’t take advantage of the upturn in production, he is happy to see it happen.
Workman sat at the Ya’sou Greek restaurant in Kimball, one of the few businesses still open in this once-thriving coal town. it’s also a business reflecting the international diversity of generations of coal miners who came to coal country in the early 1900s seeking work and a new life.
But in recent decades those jobs have gradually dwindled as mechanization, competition from other countries, natural gas and environmental concerns impacted the demand for coal.
For Workman, the frustration culminated after Barack Obama became president and a perceived “war on coal” threatened what was left of the industry.
“Up until four years ago, I was a Democrat,” he said. “I voted for Obama the first time, but the second time, I could not do that.”
Workman, 50, and a native of Big Ugly in Lincoln County, said he didn’t think Obama ever “stood for what was right,” and downplayed America, “bowing down to the other countries” rather than standing for America.
When Trump announced he was running, Workman was quick to get on board.
“I have been a supporter of him for many years,” he said. “He is not a career politician. He is for the working man and his actions prove that. He is a voice for the common man … he is not part of the establishment.”
Workman said he has been a truck driver in the past and made deliveries to Trump’s casinos, getting a chance to talk with people who work for him.
“He treats them well,” he said.
With expectations high, after more than year in office, those expectations have been met.
“So far, he is everything that I have thought,” he said. “The actions he is taking I like.”
Those actions include trying to rein in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and ease regulations, one of the reasons the coal industry has been given a boost, he said.
“The big thing around here, when Hillary (Clinton) made that comment she was going to see that miners and companies shut down everyone got hit in this state,” he said.
Workman said the country was purchasing coal from other nations “while our men are out of work.”
“We’ve got 250 years surplus of coal,” he said of the reserves in the state. “We have more gas under the ground than probably anywhere. We should be energy self-sufficient. We don’t need anybody else.”
Workman said he is aware that a lot of factors other than easing environmental regulations play into the demand for coal, but it has helped.
“I also support his tax reforms,” he said. “He is putting money into the little man’s pockets, middle America.”
Workman said the “elites” are getting breaks and making money as well, but they are also investing, creating jobs and helping out, even if it’s small pay raises.
Trump is also a supporter of veterans and the military, he said.
“We have military training deaths that should never happen,” he said, blaming the decline in proper funding for the military on the Obama Administration. “We have to get it built back up and Trump is doing that. We give billions to other countries and our soldiers are dying (because of faulty equipment). Trump wants to have peace through strength.”
Workman said Trump is a supporter of veterans and veterans’ rights and always has been.
He also likes the idea that Trump has already picked on member of the U.S. Supreme Court and maybe will choose more.
“The left has been trying to rewrite the Constitution,” he said of Democrats. “We have to stick to the rule of law.”
That rule of law includes the Second Amendment and Trump always supports gun rights, Workman said.
“If you take the gun away, next they will take your knives away,” he said. “But little Johnny can then make a pipe bomb.”
Workman said the problem is mainly in the decline in family values and kids playing video games that “desensitize” them to the realities of violence.
“Right now, our younger generation don’t have the same moral attitude that they did when I was younger,” he said. “Kids are too spoiled. Some of them don’t even have to do their work assignments (in school) and then cry and complain and they get a passing grade. They are not teaching the work ethic.”
Taking Christ out of schools and courts leaves no hope for people, he added.
Workman was not happy about the increase in the deficit with Trump’s plans, but he also said the infrastructure money ($1.5 trillion) is necessary.
“Money has to be put into it,” he said. “By doing this, then we can start working … and prosper (with better roads and economic development).”
Workman was referring to two major new highways, King Coal Highway and Coalfields Expressway, that have only been partially constructed, awaiting more funding.
Many topics of concern about Trump, from tweeting to the Russia investigation, do not concern Workman.
“I think the tweets are great because 90 percent of everything that printed of Trump is negative,” he said. “Even if it’s his version of truth (in the tweets) he’s standing by it. Right now, a lot of the media should have their credentials pulled and shut down. The media should checks and balances …” but it’s too one-sided.
Workman said the collusion with Russia story is not true.
“They say Russia is trying to manipulate democracy,” he said. “But what is the media doing? The same thing. Most of it (what they say or print about Trump) is not true or just negative. It’s all spin.”
Workman also has no concerns about Trump’s alleged relationships with women or the things he has said about them.
“With the women deal, they (the media) pushed the woman when there was no proof,” he said, adding that the Hollywood Access tape where Trump made derogatory statements regarding touching women was “locker room banter.”
“These claims he was a womanizer,” Workman said, “he’s a billionaire. He didn’t have to look for any of them. They are all over him in the first place. If there is no proof and it’s all hearsay, did it really happen?”
Workman said this is “supposed to be a country of innocent until proven guilty. But this is guilty by media.”
Trump is a tough guy, he said, and he responds.
“Trump makes it clear, if you attack him he’s going to hit you back harder,” he said.
Anyone who questions the president’s motivations is not paying attention, he added.
“Trump didn’t need this job. He had a lavish lifestyle. He took a major cut (in making money) in the White House.”
Workman, who is married and has two children, said Trump is creating a legacy.
“He is trying to do what is right,” he said. “He wants to build things up and make it better … he is listening to his generals and to the people around him. Obama did not.”
Workman said Trump is being “as fair as he can.”
“As long as he is doing what he is doing now, he is doing great by me and I will do anything I can to help him.”
Workman was a bodybuilder until he was injured in the coal mines working on a belt system.
But he remains a big fan of coal and has high hopes that Trump will help turn the state, and McDowell County, around with his polices and support of the industry.
Coal has been portrayed as “such a dirty thing,” he said, but with innovations and clean coal technology “it’s not like it used to be.”
Workman said the county may never get all the coal jobs back like it once was.
“But some are coming back (since Trump took office),” he said. “Trump is a supporter of the people, everybody.”
— Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com
Source : http://www.bdtonline.com/news/pulse-of-the-voters-former-coal-miner-has-high-hopes/article_7f4fa6c0-36ef-11e8-bae3-1711b74f9f3e.html