Coal Heritage Lecture Series Announces April Events

For Immediate Release: 
Mar 28 2017

CONTACT:  Sarah Dalton

Concord University

Office of Advancement

PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712

(304) 384-6312,


After 4 p.m.






ATHENS, W.Va. – The annual Coal Heritage Lecture Series, co-sponsored by Concord University Beckley Center and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, is underway. The remaining lecture dates are Monday, April 3 and Monday, April 17. This lecture series will take place at 7 p.m., in Room E-10, of the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, located in Beaver, W.Va. These events are free and open to the public.

The series is in its 7th year and according to Concord instructor Karen Vuranch, “[It] has had a very good response and attendance from the community.”

With the different lecture series over the years, Vuranch enjoys the diversity of the topics the most. She states, “We have been able to cover topics from the history of coal to contemporary issues. We have also always included one lecture each year on how the arts interpret coal history. Music or storytelling or visual art has always been a part of the program.”

“Music of the Labor Movement” will be the focus of the April 3 lecture. Community activist and songwriter, Elaine Purkey will speak on forging ties between unions and local communities. For the last 20 years Purkey has been “fighting the good fight”, stating that “If you don’t bother, it’s going to get worse.” She and her husband Bethel are residents of Lincoln County, and are veterans of the UMW strike against Pittston Coal.

The final lecture in the series on April 17 will feature a panel that will focus on the topic “After Coal.” Joe Brouse, of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, will be discussing alternative employment options in light of the changes in the coal industry. Christy Bailey of the National Coal Heritage Area will address how to tell the story of coal to tourists. Jessica Lilly of Concord University and West Virginia Public Radio will speak on the emotional toll that is placed on families when mine layoffs occur. Audience discussion will follow to further explore the issues.

With this series, Vuranch has an important goal. “My ultimate goal is to make students and community members aware of the rich history of coal and create a dialogue about how coal has influenced who we are as a community and where we are going,” she said.

For more information on these events please contact the Concord University Beckley Center at (304) 256-0270 or email instructor Karen Vuranch at





Josie Hanna and Cassidy D’Angelo, Concord University students who are Communication Arts majors with an emphasis in public relations, wrote this release. Josie is from Ronceverte, W.Va. and Cassidy is from Coal City, W.Va.



Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679 extension 6086

if special assistance is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.