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Chatman Appointed to National Coal Heritage Area Authority

By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor

Local historian Jay Chatman was recently appointed to the National Coal Heritage Area Authority by Governor Jim Justice. 

The McDowell County Commission had voted to nominate Chatman for the position earlier this year, feeling that he was the best fit for the job. 

“It was kind of a surprise,” said Chatman. “I didn’t expect it but I thought it would be nice because of all the history work I’m already doing.”

In a letter congratulating Chatman on his appointment, Governor Justice promised to keep working hard as a Governor and that he was eager to face the challenges ahead by working together to achieve a bright future for the State of West Virginia. 

The National Coal Heritage Area encompasses 13 counties and recognizes Southern West Virginia as a unique cultural region where coal mining has made a significant contribution to the national story of industrialization.

Despite his work promoting the rich history of his native McDowell County, Chatman is able to look at things with a regional approach. 

“For the growth of tourism, all these counties need to be working together,” said Chatman. “We can keep our visitors in the State longer if we send them along to each County to experience what they have to offer, whether it’s theater, art, Appalachian music or history. We want them to learn about the proud Appalachian history without the negative connotations.” 

Chatman said this mountainous region was filled with nothing but opportunity in his eyes as he looks forward to serving with the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.