COAL: No one is holding breath for Trump-led revival in this IL town

West Frankfort, a city of 8,000 people in the heart of southern Illinois’ coal-producing region, hosts a festival every spring to celebrate its mining heritage and the contributions of current and former miners who live in the area. But no matter what President Trump says, there’s little optimism here that the mining industry will be restored to prominence (Credit: Jeffrey Tomich/E&E News).

WEST FRANKFORT, IL — “It’s Friday afternoon in May at Terry’s Barber Shop, just hours before the midway and carnival games kick off a block away at the Old King Coal Festival, an annual celebration of the area’s mining heritage that goes back to 1941.

Terry Chambers opened his barbershop in the heart of downtown when he moved to town in 1972.

Over the decades, the lone barber’s chair by the window has served as a front-row seat to changes that swept through this town of 8,000. Among them: the continued erosion of the coal industry that helped put the city on the map.

Ask the locals who take a turn in Chambers’ barber chair these days about the future of mining in the region, and they simply shake their heads. They talk about the coal business as they would a terminally ill friend. They don’t expect much improvement; they just hope it can hold on.

That’s the case even under a president who promises to restore the coal industry to prominence.”

— Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News

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