NORTON, Va. - After years of struggle in the industry, there's good news on the coal front. A local company is helping to fill 800 coal jobs in the region, and applications are pouring in.
As phones ring off the hook at Professional Contracting, LLC in downtown Norton, David Jones tunes it all out concentrating on applying for one of 800 coal jobs the company is offering. "We went from two jobs running full force while high-wall miners and augers going; in a week's time, we were all laid off," Jones told News 5.
Otto Smith, another laid-off miner, tells us he needs one of these jobs now more than ever. "It's been pretty rough. I've been selling all my stuff to pay bills," Smith said.
As it turns out, both Smith and Jones are the perfect candidates.
Professional Contracting's president Eddie Estep was contacted by Daniel Bunn to open up coal mines, and priority is going to laid-off coal workers. "[Bunn] talked to me, and he said 'sell my coal. Help these miners. Help these communities,'" said Estep.
Estep told us they've gotten about 2,500 applications, and more keep coming in every hour. "I get phone calls at home about his until 11:30 at night for the next day," Estep said.
Even during a tough time for coal country, Estep told us these jobs will be stable, and he believes it won't be long before the industry could turn around. "All predictions are August and September, or at least by the first of the year," said Estep.
But it'll be sooner when 800 future hires hit the mines. Estep expects it will take about a month. Every applicant there is hoping they're one of those who will be back at work.
Jones said the best-case scenario is to "go to work soon, quick, with a paycheck behind it."
More facts on these coal jobs:
We're told one mine will open in Dickenson County, Virginia and two mines open in Harlan County, Kentucky, plus preparation plants.
The company is hoping more mines could open in the future, possibly creating up to 4,000 jobs.
Professional Contracting is taking applications for the next two weeks. You can apply in person at their office in downtown Norton at 850 Park Ave. NW.
To apply, you need to bring your miner's card, a copy of your annual refresher, and a valid driver's license.