July – August 2019, Volume 47, Number 4

Early in the morning on July 1, Blackjewel, LLC and associated companies operating 32 coal mines in Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky filed for bankruptcy. Later that day, emergency funding fell through as banks that had previously financed the operations of Blackjewel owner Jeff Hoops no longer were willing to do so. The lack of funding forced the closure of all of the mines, including the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr Mines near Gillette. The company’s approximately 1,700 employees were sent home, and the communities in the four
states were left with many unanswered questions.

Nonprofits and government agencies, including the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, then raced into Gillette, Harlan, Kentucky, and other coal communities offering welfare type funding for families left without a paycheck and possibly without a future.

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