Communities in Action, Landscape in Change

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Appalachian Studies Conference: Appalachian State University; Boone, NC and the Appalachian Coal Country Team Spring Training: Hawk’s Nest; Ansted, WV

The 36th annual Appalachian Studies Association conference celebrated the identity of Appalachia and produced salient points about economic development in the region. I attended with my AmeriCorps Office of Surface Mining and Volunteer in Service to America (OSM/VISTA) Appalachian Coal Country Team; under sponsorship of Friends’ of the Cheat Brownfield Revitalization Program.

Members of the Appalachian Coal Country Team (ACCT), who foster sustainable food initiatives and environmental stewardship, had a variety of panels and papers to hear during the three day conference. An exhibition hall featured used books and new publications of Appalachian history, music, and cooking; a silent auction buzzed in frenzy on Saturday, as conference attendees – from Universities and Coalitions across over 7 states – set their bids on artisan crafts.  Research papers and journals on Appalachian Studies spoke of the interconnectedness of the Appalachian people with the Appalachian “place”.

The Appalachian Coal Country Team led a panel on the Core Goals of OSM/VISTAs, speaking in turn about building capacity, economic and resource development, and environmental stewardship. The community effort for redevelopment of the Kingwood Shops Property was showcased as a case study for economic opportunities garnered by the AmeriCorps OSM/VISTA partnership with Friends of the Cheat.

The Department of Interior Secretary of Youth, Partnerships and Service, Michael Gale, speaks to the Appalachian Coal Country Team of the changing landscape of federal programs, and encourages the team to innovate and create opportunities for this generation. 

The underlying message of these presentations hit a sobering note, as the topic of sequestration, and the potential impact on WV AmeriCorps programs, inevitably came up. The West Virginia based Appalachian Coal Country Team is especially impacted by proposed cuts to the federal program, including a projected loss of twenty OSM/VISTA positions. The magnitude is multiplied in communities which benefit from VISTA involvement, which averages $35,000 in grant and cash resources raised per VISTA and hundreds of hours of volunteer engagement.

Friends of the Cheat has hosted OSM/VISTAs for thirteen years, and certainly has witnessed expansion in its Monitoring and Mapping Program as well as stewardship in the volunteer-run activities such as Cheat Aquatic Pollution and Baseline Ecological monitoring program and recreational trails, due in part to OSM/VISTA activities over the years. FOC has grown in capacity over time, and is an exemplary success story in the ACCT year book.  Many of the other ACCT partner organizations have not had such a long incubation time with the Appalachian Coal Country Team, and often, the OSM/VISTA is the only staff person. The proposed cuts do not hinder this team’s dedication to their communities; however, many OSM/VISTAs and their partner organizations are identifying ways to adapt to the changing fiscal times and create new means to support the service of youth in their organization.

Cheat Fest music lineup announced!

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Spring is finally here… and so is the full band lineup for Cheat Fest 2013!

We’re excited to have fest newcomers Shivering Timbers and Wheels join a batch of returning favorites: Bob Shank, Lindsey & Ty Jaquay of Meadow Run, Jason Jaros of the Halftime String Band, BiBs & Barefeet, From the Hip, Hillbilly Gypsies, Rising Regina, and the Lewis Brothers. Huge thanks to Joan Pitzer for once again bringing such great musicians to the fest!

1:00 – 2:00  |  In the Round… with Bob Shank, Meadow Run, & Jason Jaros

2:15 – 3:15  |  BiBs & Barefeet

3:30 – 4:30  |  Shivering Timbers

5:00 – 6:00  |  Wheels

6:15 – 7:15  |  From the Hip

7:30 – 8:30  |  Hillbilly Gypsies

8:45 – 9:45  |  Rising Regina

10:00- 11:00  |  The Lewis Brothers

Check out the festival music page for the full scoop. Don’t miss this lineup — buy your fest tickets today!

Exciting New Job Opportunities with FOC!

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Friends of the Cheat is excited to announce new job opportunities with the organization as part of our new Pilot Partnership Project with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.  FOC is currently recruiting for two different positions, a single Team Coordinator and 3 Field Technicians.  Full job descriptions and application details are included below for each of the positions.  The deadline for applications is May 3, 2013.

Friends of the Cheat Team Coordinator

Position Summary

The Friends of the Cheat (FOC) Team Coordinator will coordinate monitoring and maintenance of bond forfeiture sites in West Virginia as a part of FOC’s Partnership Pilot Project with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Office of Special Reclamation and Enforcement (WVDEP).  The Team Coordinator will supervise up to ten Field Technicians assigned to monitor and maintain bond forfeiture sites and will provide field support in the event of Field Technician absence or unexpected site problems.   The Team Coordinator will work directly with the FOC Executive Director, FOC Project Manager, and management-level WVDEP staff to ensure the achievement of deliverables assigned to FOC by the WVDEP.

The Team Coordinator will be responsible for detailed budget oversight and will practice active cost containment for maximum efficiency and project success.  The Coordinator will procure, monitor, and maintain project supplies and equipment and manage the team’s vehicle fleet.  The Team Coordinator will supervise record keeping and submission of Field Inspection Reports by field technicians to WVDEP through the Special Reclamation (SPREC) reporting system.  The Coordinator will maintain a record of unusual observations or problems, and take corrective action or forward information to appropriate management level for further action.  The Team Coordinator will be responsible for drafting an annual project report and assisting the FOC Executive Director with quarterly budget reviews and financial reporting to WVDEP.  The Team Coordinator will work out of the FOC office located in Kingwood, WV.  The Team Coordinator must maintain an excellent attendance record.  Extended hours will be dictated by weather conditions and emergency situations as required.

Requirements

A four or two-year undergraduate degree in a related field is mandatory.  The Team Coordinator will be required to have strong computer skills including proficiency with Microsoft Office software and Google applications.  The Coordinator must be competent in mathematic ability, and demonstrate excellent communication skills.  Knowledge of water chemistry and previous field work experience is preferred.  GIS mapping experience and knowledge of WV water quality standards are preferred but not required.  The Team Coordinator must maintain a strong commitment to quality control and care for equipment.

Employee will be required to have a valid Class A Driver’s License with the ability to operate a 4-wheel drive vehicle in inclement weather.  Applicants will be subject to a search of his or her Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) prior to hiring.  Successful applicants will be required to complete a 40-hour hazardous materials handling safety training within the first three months of employment and handle hazardous chemicals utilized in water treatment.  Employee must be able to walk and carry equipment long distances in adverse weather over rugged terrain and lift a minimum of 50 pounds.  Employees will be required to pass a physical examination by a licensed physician within the first three months of employment and complete recommended follow-up examinations.  Failure to pass these initial examinations will result in termination of employment.

Compensation

The Team Coordinator position is a full time position with a starting annual salary of $26,000 – $30,000 with vacation and personal leave.  Health insurance and a work vehicle are provided.

Application

Submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for 3 references to Friends of the Cheat before May 3, 2013 for full consideration.  Electronic submissions are preferred and can be sent to foc@cheat.org.  Please use the subject line Re: Team Coordinator Application.

 

Friends of the Cheat Field Technician

Position Summary

Friends of the Cheat Field Technicians aid in the reduction of water pollution of West Virginia’s streams and rivers.  Technicians are assigned to specific bond forfeiture sites in order to maintain water quality according to National Pollution Discharge Effluent System (NPDES) permits issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).  Technicians will visit sites a minimum of twice weekly to perform field tests and collect water quality samples for third-party lab analysis of mine water discharges.  Field technicians facilitate appropriate chemical treatment based on test results of treatment system influent and effluent.  Technicians adjust treatment according to weather and water flow conditions.   Technicians maintain detailed records of field test results and activities in field notebooks and submit Field Inspection Reports to WVDEP through the Special Reclamation (SPREC) reporting system.   Field technicians monitor chemical storage tank capacity gauges to maintain adequate chemical supply for treatment.  Technicians record unusual observations or problem areas and take corrective action or forward information to appropriate management level for further action.  Field Technicians take appropriate safety and security precautions to protect themselves from chemicals, equipment, and facilities.  Extended hours will be dictated by weather conditions and emergency situations as required.

Requirements

Field Technicians will have basic computer skills for data entry and electronic communication with Friends of the Cheat and WVDEP personnel.  Fundamental math skills are required.  A basic knowledge of water chemistry is preferred but not required.  Field Technicians must maintain a strong commitment to quality control and care for equipment.  Friends of the Cheat will provide all training as needed.  Field Technicians must maintain excellent attendance records.

Employees will be required to have a valid Class A Driver’s License with the ability to operate a 4-wheel drive vehicle in inclement weather.  Applicants will be subject to a search of his or her Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) prior to hiring.  Successful applicants will be required to complete a 40-hour hazardous materials handling safety training within the first three months of employment in order to handle hazardous chemicals used in water treatment.  Employee must be able to walk and carry equipment long distances in adverse weather over rugged terrain and lift a minimum of 50 pounds.  Employees will be required to pass a physical examination by a licensed physician within the first three months of employment and complete recommended follow-up examinations.  Failure to pass these initial examinations will result in termination of employment.

Compensation

The Field Technician position is a full time position with a starting hourly wage of $10-12/hour with vacation and personal leave.  Health insurance and a work vehicle are provided.

Application

Submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for 3 references to Friends of the Cheat before May 3, 2013 for full consideration.  Electronic submissions are preferred and can be sent to foc@cheat.org.  Please use the subject line Re: Field Technician Application.