Donated by Gallagher Monument and Jason Gallagher
BELLAIRE A permanent memorial dedicated to the 72 miners who lost their lives because of an explosion at Willow Grove Mine on March 16, 1940 was dedicated in Bellaire City Park on Saturday.
The permanent memorial has the names of all 72 miners who died etched on it.
The memorial was the idea of Jimmy Albert, a student at the East Richland Christian School, who wanted to see the creation of a permanent memorial as his project to become an Eagle Scout.
Among those attending the unveiling ceremony were those who lost family members on the day of the explosion, as well as leaders from the United Mine Workers of America, elected officials and their representatives.
According to Albert, he picked City Park as the location for the memorial because it will be easier to maintain and because of it proximity to other, historically significant mine buildings.
The Willow Grove memorial is located near the southeast corner of the park, across the street from where the mine offices and the Miner’s Temple Theater were once located.
Albert also received praise from elected officials and UMWA officials for his work to memorialize the miners.
Larry Vucelich, a representative with the UMWA, said the Willow Grove explosion was the incident that become the foundation for future mine regulations that would make the industry safer for all miners.
“Last year we had the least amount of miners who died in the history of mining. We had 16 last year and that is 16 too many,” Vucelich said. “But it is definitely getting better and these gentlemen did not die in vain.”
Vucelich, along with Mike Caputo, UMW District 31 vice president, thanked Albert for his work on behalf of all miners.
Ohio Rep. John Domenick also had praise for Albert and coal miners.
“He is a person who has a future, who cares about this valley, who cares about those family members who lost their loved one . . . ” he said.
Prior to the conclusion of the ceremony, Jean Craig read all the names of those who lost their lives and are now memorialized on the monument, which was followed by a moment of since and then the playing of “Taps” and a gun salute prior to the closing prayer of the event.
The materials and labor for the monument were donated by Gallagher Monument and Jason Gallagher.