NORTON - To help promote mine safety, various state and federal mine agencies along with the Virginia Mining Association annually sponsor the Governors Cup Mine Rescue Contest, in which mine rescue teams practice a simulated mine disaster in order to be better prepared in case an actual mine accident happens.
In an effort to communicate why mine safety is important to the general public, the Virginia Mining Association also sponsors an art and essay contest for area school children.
At the conclusion of the 2007 contest, the winning teams and winning art and essay winners will be presented with plaques in recognition of their achievements at Southwest Virginia Community College.
Art and essays should be in relation to what a child would have knowledge of such as seat belts on equipment, safe tires, proper lights and signals, obeying mine traffic signs, speed limits on mine property, or personal protection such as hard hats, steel toe boots, the use of electrically insulated gloves, or the use of gloves when handling burred material. Other themes could include proper ways to lift things, eye protection, hearing protection, and reflective clothing.
Special consideration will be given this year to submissions that include the family or members of the family as a reason for thinking safe while working in a coal mine. For example, "Safety in coal mining is important because I want my Dad to come home to me every day or I want my Uncle Bob to be safe so he can play with me."
Entries must arrive at the VMA office (VMA 18, 7th Street, Park Ave. Center, Suite 206, Norton Va. 24273) by 3 p.m. on May 11. Winners will be notified May 18.
This year's theme is "Safety In Coal Mining Is Important Because." The theme must be written in the top left-hand corner of each submission of art, and essays must start out with the words, "Safety In Coal Mining Is Important Because...."
The student's and teacher's grade, name and school name and school phone number must be located on the back of each individual essay or artwork.
Submissions on 8Â½-by-11-inch paper are preferred.
First-place entries - one each from Lee, Tazewell, Buchanan, Wise, Dickenson and Russell counties - will each be presented with $100. Second-place winners from each county will receive $50. Each teacher of a winning student will also receive $50.
Students must be in grades one through seven, and the school must be located in the above mentioned coal-producing counties.
The art and essays will become the property of the VMA and will be reproduced in fliers and posters that will be sent to coal companies in Virginia in an effort to increase safety awareness among miners as well as in press releases and published in the Virginia Mining Journal.
Winners and their teachers will be invited to the Virginia Governors Cup Mine Rescue Contest on June 1, where they will be presented with plaques and checks in recognition of their efforts to increase safety awareness in Virginia's coal mines.
For more information about coal mining in Virginia and mine safety visit the VMA Web site at www.virginiaminingassoc.com.