Donna May, director of the Matewan Massacre reenactment, spoke to the commission about the event and the amphitheater the town plans to build.
The play, which is based on the 1920 showdown between the United Mine Workers and Baldwin Felts agents hired by local coal companies, dramatizes one of the most important turning points in US labor history. It has traditionally been performed each May and again in September at the Hatfield McCoy Festival.
However, the town will combine its two biggest community events, the Matewan Massacre Reenactment and the Hatfield McCoy Festival, into one event, Matewan Heritage Day, which will be held May 23 this year.
“We want to extend the set we use in the play,” May told the Commission. “We also need to enhance our sound system. We had over one hundred audience members who stood in pouring rain to watch our performance last September. If people want to see it that much, we will do the play, no matter the weather. But, we want to weatherproof our sound system.”
The MCC agreed to contribute $2,500 to the town for use in producing the annual Matewan Massacre Reenactment.
May also told the Commission the reenactment would be staged under a new title in 2009 as well.
“At the guidance of Randall Reed Smith, West Virginia’s Commissioner of Culture and History, we have renamed our production the Matewan Massacre Drama,” Booth said. She explained the term ‘reenactment’ often is associated with Civil War events, which can be problematic when applying for various grants and funding.
May went on to say she was able to obtain a study and some preliminary plans for the Matewan Amphitheater, done by David Hill, who donated his services. The cost of work done by Hill is usually $20,000, Booth said.
The MCC also agreed to grant money to help the King Coal Highway I-73 project move forward. The highway, when completed, would connect Williamson with Bluefield, and run through McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wyoming and Wayne counties. David Akers explained the King Coal Highway Authority wants to prepare an economic impact study to analyze the recreational and industrial benefits the highway could create. The cost of the study would be $25,000.
“The KCHA has pledged $5,000,” Akers said. “I have asked the commissions of the five counties involved for $3,000 each.” He added another donor has promised $5,000. The MCC agreed to contribute $3,000 toward the study.
Mingo County Commis-sion also agreed to contribute $2,000 toward the purchase of a new hot water tank for the Williamson Field House. The old tank recently burst, and the cost of replacement is estimated to be from $4,000 to $4,500.
Leigh Ann Ray, grant coordinator for the MCC, reported she had been successful working with the Greater Kanawha Recre-ation and Conservation District to obtain funds for various projects around the county. Ray was able to bring home several thousands of dollars to the county, including $2,500 for the Williamson Kiwanis Club, $2,400 for regional tourism and $2,000 for the Delbarton Little League baseball field.