Friday, April 29, 2011

Stop the Kaboom!

Stop the Kaboom! Festival is an event merging music, art and activism in a fundraiser for a new direct action campaign, the RAMPS Collective. RAMPS stands for Radical Action for Mountain and People Survival, and they have just recently launched their campaign in southern West Virginia, to help abolish Mountaintop Removal coal mining.

The festival and campaign will help raise money and awareness for this cause, and will be used to acquire a living space in the Coal River Valley of WV. The music will include several local and regional musicians, representing a wide range of styles and genres, including bluegrass, funk, reggae, jam, folk and electronic music.

In addition, we will have several informed and inspiring Speakers from throughout WV taking the stage. They'll be speaking and conduction presentations on their involvement in organizing to stop Mountain top Removal, Hydrofracking Marcellus Shale for natural gas, and their struggles in creating a more sustainable, healthier West Virginia.

The event is located in Hedgesville, WV and will be held April 29th through May 1st, 2011. The festival will include admission and 3 days of camping for a minimum donation of $15 dollars.
If you would like to take part in vending, or wish to set up a table with an environmental or social justice group, please contact event organizer Laura Steepleton at

For more info, please visit us at or on Facebook at

--Laura Steepleton

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mountaintop removal in Romney

On Thursday, April 28th at 6 pm, three young staffers from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation will talk about their efforts to stop the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. The event will take place at the Hampshire County Public Library on Main Street in Romney, and is sponsored by the Hampshire County Independent Network.

All in their twenties, Junior Walk, Adam Hall and Amber Whittington grew up in the coal mining region of West Virginia. But when they reached adulthood, they began to recognize how removing entire mountaintops to get at the coal beneath was devastating the communities in which this practice occurred. They got involved with groups like Coal River Mountain Watch, and eventually joined the staff of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation.

The foundation was organized by Larry Gibson, who has been the subject of many articles, documentaries and books, for his attempt to save his family home place on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. All the land around him has been strip-mined, but Gibson refuses to leave the property where a family cemetery goes back 300 years.

Also being discussed at Thursday evening’s event is the upcoming March on Blair Mountain, which will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain, where 10,000 coal miners fought against private coal company security, police and eventually the US Army, for the right to organize a union. It remains the largest civil insurrection in US history since the Civil War.

After Blair Mountain was, in a dubious process, removed from the National Register of Historic Places, and became a target of acquisition of both Massey and Arch coal companies, several groups, including the United Mine Workers, filed suit against the Secretary of the Interior to return Blair Mountain to the Register. That lawsuit is pending.

The March on Blair Mountain will take place in June, and will follow the route that the army of miners took in 1921. Marchers will start in Marmet WV on June 6th, and end up at Blair Mountain in Logan County on June 11th, where a final rally will be held. Details can be found at

The appearance in Hampshire County will be the first in a whirlwind weekend for the Keeper of the Mountains staffers, who will be speaking at events throughout the Eastern Panhandle, including on Saturday at the Stop the Kaboom music festival in Hedgesville (

Hampshire County Independent Network organizer Michael Hasty, who drafted the Hampshire County Commission resolution that established the Hampshire County Marcellus Committee—so far the only county advisory board on Marcellus gas issues in the state—and serves as committee secretary, will also be a featured speaker at the Stop the Kaboom festival. He will speak following the appearance of his folk trio, Michael & the Archangels, Saturday April 30 at 1 pm.

More information and biographical information about the speakers:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Single payer forum tonight

This evening at 6 pm, at the Bank of Romney Community Center on Main Street in Romney, Gloria Rickel will present the case for a single-payer national health care system in the US, along the lines of the Canadian model. Ms. Rickel will contrast the experiences of her Canadian relatives with those of American health care consumers. Her slide show program, "Health Care after Health Care Reform," will be followed by discussion. Sponsored by the Hampshire County Independent Network.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Single-payer health event in Romney

On Monday, April 18th, at 6:30 pm, the Hampshire County Independent Network will sponsor a discussion of proposals for a single-payer health care program in the US, the only industrialized nation without a national health care system. The program will be presented by Gloria Rickel, who has prepared a slide show, "Health Care after Health Care Reform," comparing the US system to health care systems around the world, and the legislation passed last year to a single-payer system. Ms. Rickel has family living under other health care systems. The event will take place at the Bank of Romney Community Center on Main Street in Romney. --Windy Cutler

Monday, April 4, 2011

HCMC meeting

The Hampshire County Marcellus Committee (officially renamed as such at the last county commission meeting) will meet today at 12 noon at the Hampshire County Health Department in Augusta WV. The public is welcome to attend. Among the topics on today's agenda are a committee statement in support of the bipartisan group of Delegates (including Hampshire's Ruth Rowan) who are calling for a temporary moratorium on new gas drilling permits until regulations are strengthened; and the offer of a conference call with the committee from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the authors of the Pittsburgh PA city council's ban on hydrofracking within the city limits.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Edit problem

Regular readers of the Independent amy have noticed some weirdness in the past few days--long absences, mysterious large blocks of text. The problem for me as neo-Luddite editor was that the "enter" function didn't work in the blogspot posting program. It worked fine on my computer. I'll know after posting this (I corrected the last post on a friend's computer) if the system is functioning correctly again. If so, I'll have new stuff up soon. If not, help! --Michael Hasty