Appalachian Regional Authority speaks to out of work coal miners, new jobs coming to Russellville

May 24, 2016

A workshop today in Tuscaloosa was expected to help Alabama communities that lost coal mining jobs.

The Appalachian Regional Authority spoke about how colleges and governments can apply for part of sixty five million dollars in federal aid. The money is meant to help put out of work coal miners back on the payroll.

Co-Chairman Earl Gohl** says some coal towns have used grant money to beef up their manufacturing sectors, while West Virginia took another path…

“Several years ago, they began to develop what’s called the crooked road, where they brought together the entrepreneurs and other venues, and have been able to help strengthen and bring together the small business community in that part of the state to be really aggressive, and to be strong.”

The town of Brookwood lost over three hundred coal jobs when Walter Energy closed its number four mine. Nationwide, coal consumption at power plants has recently dropped by twenty percent.

A furniture store chain is expanding its operation in to Northwest Alabama.

Farmers Home Furniture is building a new distribution center in the Russellville Industrial Park, creating nearly 80 jobs. 

Farmers will invest approximately $10 million dollars in the 325,000 square foot facility. 

The furniture store has 35 locations throughout the Yellowhammer State. 

Tuscaloosa will be teaming with Motorcyclists this week. Today is the 16th annual Run for the Wall cross country motorcycle ride.

Nearly four hundred bikers made a pit stop at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. They ate lunch and spent time with the patients at the VA.

Run the Wall is a motorcycle ride beginning in California and ending at the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day.

Damon Stevenson is the Public Relations Coordinator for the Tuscaloosa VA. He says the patients were excited for the bikers’ arrival.

“Every year veterans, our patients here, and staff alike are just so excited to see them. And they line the streets and we have little flags - American flags - they all wave flags and cheer and wave to the riders as they enter the campus grounds. It’s just an exciting event that we look forward to every year.”

Many of the motorcycle riders are veterans themselves. Stevenson says the motto of Run for the Wall is they ride for those who can’t.