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December 9, 2016

Former coal miner turns his life around

Steven Vires

Steven Vires

Steven Vires grew up in the coal mines of Perry County. His family operated a coal mine in the 1980s and 90s. After graduating high school, everyone assumed he would follow in his family’s footsteps and go to work in the mines.

“I grew up in the coal mines,” Vires said. “There is not much industry in Perry County and what manufacturing jobs were here have either closed or moved out of the country.”

For 12 years, Vires made a living working in the coal mines. That life came to an end when Vires lost his job at Pine Branch Mining.

Living in a small, rural community of Chavies, 10 miles north of Hazard, Vires was out of work, with little or no job prospects, and uncertain about his family’s future.

Everything turned around for Vires when he signed up for the Displaced Coal Miner Training (DCMT) program.

Thanks to DCMT, Vires is receiving tuition-free workforce skills training at Hazard Community and Technical College and well on his way to becoming a certified auto mechanic.

“The Displaced Coal Miner Training program has made a big difference for someone who’s been laid off from the failing coal industry,” Vires said. “The training has allowed me to stay in the region without having to look for another job outside Perry County.”

Vires has completed two semesters at Hazard Community & Technical College and has one more year to go before he receives an associate’s degree in automotive technology.

After graduating college, he plans to operate his own auto repair shop in Perry County.

“The financial security is questionable,” Vires said about starting his own business, “But not having to work for someone else, I’m looking forward to being my own boss.”

Learn more about the Displaced Coal Miner Training program.

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