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Crandall Canyon miners families seek site for memorial

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor


The memorial for the Crandall Canyon miners will face the mountain where the miners remain entombed.

Representatives from the Crandall Canyon miners families presented a letter to the Emery County Commission asking their help in securing a site for the miners memorial at the Crandall Canyon mine site.

It is a site above Crandall Canyon, as close as possible to the spot where the miners are entombed. Commissioner Drew Sitterud said you can see the mountain where the miners are from the proposed memorial site. A parking area will also need to be established. Access to the site needs to be kept available even after the Crandall Canyon mine is reclaimed.

Emery County Sheriff LaMar Guymon spoke in favor of the proposed site saying it was beautiful choice. The county will submit their proposal to the forest service for their approval of the chosen property. Dave Shaver of UtahAmerican Energy was on hand to voice the support of the coal company on the memorial site.

It is possible UtahAmerican Energy will go into a different seam of coal at Crandall Canyon. The road to the mine will be maintained throughout any mining activity. An agreement needs to be made as to the continuation of the road after the mine site is reclaimed.

The family representatives, Nelda Erickson and Sheila Phillips sent the following letter to the commission: "We represent the families of the six miners who were killed in the Crandall Canyon Mine tragedy. As you know, our loved ones are permanently buried in the mountain and will never be recovered. We are now attempting to find some closure to our loss by constructing a final memorial. We have selected a site just above the Crandall Canyon mine site in an undisturbed forested area that we feel would be suitable. It is as close to where our loved ones are entombed as we can reasonably get, and it provides a relatively peaceful setting for the headstones.

An artist's rendition of the planned Crandall Canyon monument.

"We are requesting that Emery County act on our behalf to acquire the site from the US Forest Service and from UtahAmerican Energy so that it may remain a protected sanctuary in perpetuity. We envision a memorial site with the six headstones facing toward the mountain in which they are now buried. A trail would lead from the Crandall Canyon mine yard to the memorial. We also request a small separate area for parking, isolated from the mine equipment. We would also like the county to consider working with the US Forest Service to take over the Crandall Canyon road in the future so that when the mine is reclaimed there will still be suitable access to the memorial for the families," said Phillips and Erickson.

Sitterud said they met with the forest service and they are cooperating well with the county. Ray Petersen, public lands director for the county, is filling out the necessary application to be submitted to the forest service. It will need approval from the Washington Office of the US Forest Service. It is a special use permit the county is seeking to place the memorial on forest service land. An agreement also needs to be made between the mine and the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining that the county is not responsible for any reclamation on the road or at the mine site.

The mine owns part of the trail to the memorial site and the parking area. A small piece of forest property will need to be permitted for the placement of the memorial.

Sitterud said they are paying close attention to detail with the application so it will only need to go through the process once. The process needs to move along quickly and according to protocol so an August 6 completion date for the memorial can be realized.

Reverend Shawn Clapp of Ferron met with the families of the nine miners on behalf of Murray Energy and UtahAmerican Energy, Inc. The memorial will be constructed in accordance with the designs chosen by the miners families. The memorial will consist of six stone monuments placed in a semi-circle with the names of Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Brandon Phillips, Manuel Sanchez, Kerry Allred and Carlos Payan. Three benches of stone with the names of the rescuers who died, Dale Black, Brandon Kimber and Gary Jensen. These benches will be located opposite the six monuments. Rev. Clapp read a statement from Robert Murray, the president and chief executive of the coal company. "The employees of our companies and I grieve with the families of our fallen miners. We are privileged to announce this memorial, to be constructed in accordance with the wishes of the families and at the location they have selected. This memorial at this serene place, will be an enduring symbol of our miners' sacrifices and our devotion to them and their families. We joing the families in profound mourning," said Murray.

Project Engineer, Dave Shaver used a series of maps and drawings to describe the overall location and details of the memorial to the families. Construction of the complex will begin when the weather permits.






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