Harrisburg couple's 'Coal Mining Movement' goes viral

Harrisburg couple posts on Facebook about southern IL mining struggles

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - More than 300 coal workers in southern Illinois are facing the unemployment line following layoffs at mines in Saline, Hamilton and White Counties.

Driven by that struggle, a Harrisburg couple is starting a non-profit to help out.

It began with a Facebook page called "Coal Miner's Movement 2016," created by Bob and Kelly Sandidge of Harrisburg.

Bob Sandidge said the group has now gotten attention in 11 states.

Recently laid-off coal miner Garry Mitchell said the support is "a ray of hope."

"Plan things and get a voice out there to be heard, and maybe someone will listen," Mitchell said on Friday. "They just laid off 180 guys, so I got caught in that round and here I am."

Sandidge said Harrisburg Mayor Dale Fowler called him shortly after the group gained traction.

"Here in Saline County, we're so reliant on the coal industry and jobs," said Fowler. "It's staggering. It's hundreds. And it's going to have an effect on our sales tax dollars. There's no question."

Fowler and Democratic State Representative Brandon Phelps have voiced their support for the group.

A town hall meeting on the matter will be held on February 25 in Harrisburg.

Sandidge expects the group to become a legal non-profit within a month.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.