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Letters to the Editor Coal Dust Sampling Fraud Dear Editor: Thank you for publishing in your Fall 1996 issue the testimony given by coal miners Dana Hager, Earl Shackleford, and Herbert Metcalfe before the federal Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers ("Coal Companies Are Lying, Miners are Dying..."). My clients are pleased that their experiences with coal dust sampling fraud by mine operators in Eastern Kentucky will be shared with a larger audience through Appalachian Heritage. I also want to inform your readers that the advisory committee issued its report to the United States Secretary of Labor in November 1996. Among the recommendations of the Committee was that "MSHA take full responsibility [from mine operators] for all compliance sampling at a level which assures representative samples of respirable dust exposures under usual conditions of work"! The report, citing the miners' testimony concering dust sampling fraud, stated that "one of MSHA's highest priorities must be to restore confidence...in the coal mine dust sampling program." We are hopeful that MSHA will act on the advisory committee's recommendation, and that meaningful changes will be made so that miners will no longer be required to work in dust exceeding the permissible exposure limits. —Tony Oppegard Glimpses from a Journey Dear Editor: I have been fed many fine meals and offered much wisdom in my work and travels among Kentuckians. For these gifts and these good people, I am grateful. Here are a few glimpses from that journey. Baptizing "We used to baptize in the creek," the people observed. "Had to break the ice in the spring," they recalled. "Now we use the built-in baptistry at the church down the road." 24 "Why not hold our next baptism outdoors?" suggested the eager young pastor. "Too cold, too muddy, too much trouble," they said. J. D., who liked church people but not church, mowed a path around his pond, and someone cut a wading stick. Folding chairs crowded the shore in eager expectation. The wind danced through the wildflowers as the pilgrims gathered. A guitar strummed hymns of praise through the windowless cathedral. J. D.'s hay wagon became a pew, and he watched in wordless wonder. The words of Jesus played upon the ears of the witnesses and drifted across the Kentucky fields. Waist-deep waded the pastor into the waters of God, and sinners were called to life newborn. Sarah came from the bloodied violence of poverty to give her young soul to Jesus. April turned from the teen-age temptations of Appalachia into the cleansing waters. From the prison and the shelter, Christine came to follow the Christ. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they emerged from a watery grave to walk in the newness of life. They were gathered into the Kingdom of God and into the waiting arms of Jordan Baptist Church. Bigger than most, older than most, wiser than most, Mr. Charles Johnson often has the final word in this part of Kentucky. "Amen," he said. "Amen." Burying They came from the hills of Kentucky, strong and rough and worn. Fourteen children and a lifetime in the wilderness had taken their toll. The battle with leukemia had been long and hard and unsuccessful. But they were not eager for words of comfort. They had come to bury their boy along the banks of the Ohio. When he stood beside the casket, all the pain of all the years broke loose. "Now I've lost you," the father screamed, "just like I lost your twin brother. I took him to the airport and said good-bye. They sent him off to Vietnam and they shot him there. He fell alone with nobody there to pick him up. I won't do that anymore." They put up a stone wall in Washington, and they held a parade in New York. They said the war was over. They were wrong. The Laying on of Hands On a crisp Sunday in June, the faithful gathered to set aside one of their own. Plain folks and professors sat side by side on well-worn pews. Hymns of faith wafted their...

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