Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 19, 2012

Raney, Nehlen deliver positive coal message


Mixing memories with an important message, Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association and Don Nehlen, former head coach of the West Virginia University football Mountaineers praised the efforts of the Community Foundation of the Virginias Inc. for its work to help students and community service agencies of the region, and gave their opinions about the up-coming Nov. 6, general election.

“I’m so very, very proud to serve the coal industry,” Raney said of his nearly four decades of service as head of the coal association. “It’s truly a war on coal,” Raney said. “The bunch in the White House is bringing our industry to it’s knees.”

Raney was born in Covel, Wyoming County, and grew up on North Walker Street in Princeton. “When I was growing up in Princeton, I was learning about legacy,” he said. “My mom and dad instilled the Golden Rule in me.” He said he was thankful for all those people in his youth who gave him “the roots of responsibility.”

He told his friend, Charlie Carter, president of the Foundation, that he wouldn’t get too political at the dinner. He observed that in the Democratic primary, “when a felon from Texas gets 40 percent of the vote, I think West Virginia’s five electoral votes are safe, so now, we’re working to help our friends in Virginia.

“Because of this anti-coal war,” Raney said, “this may be the most important election in our lifetime.”

Raney joked about Nehlen and Nehlen joked about Raney. The two have traveled the state delivering the Friends of Coal message. Nehlen teased that he was happy to speak to the Foundation. “I haven’t lost a game for a long time,” he said.

He applied his head coaching philosophy to the up-coming presidential election. He said in football, “the guy at the top had better be honest,” he said. “There’s no question he’s anti-coal. We need a new quarterback.”

Nehlen said he was “a big attitude guy” as a coach, and used his undefeated 1988 and 1993 teams of how young people can succeed with a positive attitude. He also reflected on his first Mountaineer team in 1980.

“I didn’t know how that team was going to be,” he said. He said that at his first game, then Gov. John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV., brought John Denver to the new Mountaineer Field to sing, “Country Roads.” He said the Mountaineers beat the Cincinnati Bearcats, but after the game, he asked his wife how the team looked.

“She said: ‘You’ve got a long way to go to catch the band,’” he said, making reference to the Pride of West Virginia the Mountaineer Marching Band.

Nick Ameli served as master of ceremonies at the dinner, Gene Bailey gave the invocation and Charles Carter gave the annual report. Carter presented Mel Grubb’s famous fireworks over downtown Bluefield to Raney and Nehlen and presented a special award to the Hugh I. Shott Jr., Foundation for helping the foundation get its start. John H. Shott accepted on behalf of the Shott Foundation.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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