By Kyleigh Nevis
Coal River Valley’s Marsh Fork Elementary School, located within walking distance of a coal loading silo and a leaking sludge dam and a few miles from Upper Big Branch Mine, is soon to have a new home.
Charles Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation announced on April 30 that they will pledge $2.5 million to fund the school’s relocation, which is estimated to cost a total $8.5 million.
It will take 14 months to move the school, said Ed Wiley, an activist.
Ed Wiley started Pennies of Promise (http://www.penniesofpromise.org/) to campaign for the relocation and rebuilding of Marsh Fork Elementary. They spent three years fundraising and Wiley even led a 450-mile walk from his home in West Virginia to Washington D.C. to promote awareness, raising $10,400. The organization’s efforts are captured in the film On Coal River.
Other funders include the West Virginia State School Building Authority, Raleigh County school officials and environmental groups. Even Massey Energy has contributed over $1.5 million to the project.
“Well, you know, everybody’s responsible. Everybody is involved, and you know, they probably should have paid for the whole thing. Why step up to the plate now? They could have built a school long, long time ago. So it’s all political, it’s all everybody’s going to jump on board now and say, well, we helped out this school. And it’s fine; we’ll take their money, anything! Let’s get the kids out of there,” Wiley told Jeff Young in an interview on Living On Earth, which aired the week of May 7.
For the full transcript of Wiley’s interview on Living on Earth: http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=10-P13-00019&segmentID=5
For more information on the Annenberg pledge: http://www.wv.gov/news/governor/Pages/GovernorJoinsLegislators,EducationOfficialsandtheAnnenbergFoundationtoAnnounceNewMarshForkElementary.aspx