The Logan Country Club recently hosted an awards ceremony for the Aracoma Council of the James A. Holmes Safety Council. This organization has developed the James A. Holmes Safety Award. This is the first of an annual award to recognize an outstanding member of the coal community whose career exhibits an excellent safety record and contribution to mine safety.
The first recipient is William “Bill” Merritt, who began his mining career in 1953 at the age of 17. He has witnessed significant change in the coal industry. He learned to drill, shoot coal and set timbers, which is a far cry from the automation used in production today. He has been a witness to times of tragedy in the industry, such as the Buffalo Creek Disaster. He was working at Laredo Coal that day in 1972 and walked seven hours to get from Laredo to finally reach level ground at Amherstdale.
During his 60 years of coal mining, Merritt has never had a lost time or reportable accident. His diligence and determination coupled with a positive attitude has earned him the respect and admiration of friends and co-workers. He continues to work daily with state and federal inspectors, teaching and assisting front line foremen to achieve safety and production goals.
Merritt and wife Betty have been married more than 50 years. They have one daughter, five grandchildren and make their home in Barboursville.