Ken Hechler and Kathy Mattea
Kathy Mattea has a big role in the Coal Country film, as she tours a MTR site from the air, and adds a musical presence to the movie. Kathy is a fantastic musician, and staunch supporter of the movement to stop MTR. She just participated in the first “MOUNTAIN AID” festival in North Carolina, which was held to raise money and awareness of the Marsh Fork Elementary, which is at the foot of the Shumate slurry dam.
Here she is pictured with Ken Hechler of West Virginia. Since 2004, Hechler has been busy traveling the country, lecturing on many different subjects including President Truman, World War II history, American history, the effects of mountaintop removal mining, and other items. He is one of the most active participants in the Congress to Campus program sponsored by the United States Association of Former Members of Congress.
Hechler completed his latest book, Super Marine! The Sgt. Orland D. “Buddy” Jones Story, in September 2007. He is presently working on five new books including one on musical parodies as used in politics, a biography of his grandfather and great uncle, both of whom joined the forces fighting for the North in Parkersburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), his inside story of the fight for black lung victims, a photo book about his life, and perhaps an autobiography.
In August 2008 he lectured at the Pentagon on President Truman and Civil Rights, in honor of Truman’s desegregation of the military and federal workforces. He was also honored in Charleston, West Virginia during a conference marking the 30th anniversary of the Black Lung offices in West Virginia.
In April 2008, the world premiere of Russ Barbour’s two hour film, “Ken Hechler – In Pursuit of Justice” was held at Marshall University. It was shown on West Virginia Public Broadcast in September 2008 and copies on DVD were mailed to all of the public libraries , academic libraries and schools of the state. Hechler celebrated his 94th birthday on September 20, 2008 introducing the Kanawha Valley premiere of the film about him.
On June 23rd, 2009, Ken Hechler, now aged 94, participated in a protest near mountaintop removal mining sites in the West Virginia coalfields in the Coal River Valley along with local coalfield residents, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, and Rainforest Action Network executive director Michael Brune, among many others. He was one of 29 protesters arrested for trespass.