HOLDEN — On March 8, 1960, 18 miners perished in a fire at Holden No. 22 Mine owned by the Island Creek Coal Company. For everyone involved, this was a very somber and devastating day; miners’ families and the coal mine communities across southern West Virginia are still dealing with the loss that came out of the event.
The 22 Holden community has previously discussed a memorial for the 18 miners, but, when the coal camp and the mines became non-operational, there was no safe place to put a monument.
In the summer of 2014, Isom Ooten, whose father was one of the 18 men who perished in the fire, sought the support of West Virginia Senator Art Kirkendoll (D-Logan) to help seek funding from both the Logan and Mingo County Commissions to purchase a monument.
Ooten, John and Connie Maynard Preece and Mike and Patricia Bodo Sazy would eventually form the Holden 22 Miners Memorial Committee. The group’s initial priority was to start working to obtain a land designation and right-of-way for the monument somewhere along 22 Mine Road, group members said. The meeting also focused on the legal process of incorporating the group.
Security became in an issue during the site selection process, so the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA) was approached about locating the memorial somewhere within its James H. Harless Wood Products Industrial Park on 22 Mine Road.
Leasha Frye Johnson, executive director of the MCRA, identified a half-acre plot within the industrial park near the newly constructed WV Army National Guard’s Logan – Mingo Readiness Center.
The MCRA transferred the deed to the property to Holden 22 Miners Memorial Fund on June 26, 2015. Johnson explained the small tract will not only afford visitors a safer space for viewing the monument but the monument’s location will also add historical substance to the industrial park creating a modern day transformation of an area rich in coal mining history.
With the help of Gene Russell, owner of H&R Block in Logan County, Holden 22 Miners Memorial Fund Incorporated was able to receive an incorporation as a West Virginia non-profit corporation.
The group’s board of directors includes Isom Ooten, president and chief financial officer; Patricia Bodo-Sazy, first vice president and Connie Maynard-Preece, second vice president. Connie Maynard Preece and Patricia Bodo Sazy will also handle all the public relations for the board. The board of directors has been working during the past year to finalizing the land and area for the monument.
The property project is still in the process of being developed and landscaped for preparation of the monument to be erected soon. Ooten explained, “This memorial…has been set aside for families, friends and neighbors who lived in the coal camp community of 22 Holden.”
After the Holden 22 mine memorial project is completed, the board of directors will be sending out notices to Holden 22 families, neighbors and friends about the upcoming monument dedication that is being planned for 2016. Anyone interested in contacting the board of directors can contact Ooten at 304-784-7383, Connie Maynard-Preece at 304-946-4264 or Patricia Bodo-Sazy at 502-452-2584.
All donation proceeds will go toward the maintenance and improvements of the Holden 22 Miners Memorial Monument property.
Donations can be mailed to the following address:
Holden 22 Miners Memorial Fund Inc.
PO Box 22
Holden, WV 25625
Make check payable to: Holden Twenty Two Miners Memorial