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Pennies of promise stops in Panhandle

September 05, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A southern West Virginia man who is worried about an elementary school that sits below a 385-foot-tall sludge dam in his community on Monday brought his campaign for a new school to Shepherdstown.

Marsh Fork Elementary School is 400 yards downstream from the sludge dam that is part of a large coal mining operation near the community of Sundial, W.Va.

The sludge dam holds about 2 billion gallons of sludge, according to the Pennies of Promise campaign.

Organizers of the campaign are worried about the school, considering an incident in 1972 when a coal sludge dam in Buffalo Creek, W.Va., burst and collapsed, killing 125 people and destroying more than 1,000 homes.

Pennies of Promise campaign organizers are working to raise awareness of the issue, and are raising funds to use for construction of a new school in a safe area.


Not satisfied with the help he has received from the state level, Ed Wiley, one of the organizers, decided to take his message to Washington, D.C.

By foot, the group's literature says.

Wiley left Charleston, W.Va., on Aug. 2, and is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Sept. 12.

Wiley stopped Monday afternoon at the Shepherdstown Train Station to talk about the campaign.

Jordan Freeman said there has been local support for the Pennies of Promise effort, and people in Shepherdstown wanted to hear from Wiley.

Wiley said the children at Marsh Fork Elementary School are facing a serious situation.

"We are the backbone of West Virginia a lot of times, and we don't get anything in return," Wiley told about 50 people gathered at the train station. "I'm out here trying to save our community."

Anyone wanting to get involved in Pennies of Promise may call 304-854-1830 or send an e-mail to

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