Coal Tattoo

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West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin has scheduled a press conference for 11 tomorrow morning to announce a major grant toward funding construction of a new Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County.

The Annenberg Foundation has offered the $2.5 million to help build the school, a move that would get students, faculty and staff away from the adjacent Massey Energy coal-processing plant and the huge Massey slurry impoundment that sits just up the hollow from the school.

UPDATED: Here’s the link to Gov. Manchin’s press release, announcing that additional contributions from Massey and the local school system will reach the amount needed for the new school.

The governor’s office issued a press advisory this evening announcing that Gov. Manchin, local legislators, the Raleigh County Board of Education, the School Building Authority would join Charles Annenberg Weingarten of the foundation at the press Capitol press conference. The advisory said only that the governor would be making an announcement “regarding a financial gift that will go toward building a new school facility in Raleigh County.”

The Wall Street Journal Online reports:

A person familiar with the offer said Mr. Annenberg learned about the school when he came to the area following the Upper Big Branch accident, and that he got support for the project from the foundation’s board members who include family members.

The WSJ quoted Matt Turner, Manchin’s communications director:

We’re extremely pleased and delighted with this.

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The $2.5 million will go a long way toward the $4 million that Raleigh County still needed for the new school after the School Building Authority awarded the county $2.6 million. Massey Energy agreed to provide $1 million and the county already had $1 million — and a smaller contribution from Coal River Mountain Watch of $10,000 — but $4 million was still needed to fund the $8.6 million project.