Following seven months in Charleston as the acting director of the states Office of MinersHealth Safety and Training, Jim Dean has returned to lead West Virginia Universitys Department of Mining Extension. And hell have additional equipment to use in the process.

Three new state-of-the-art simulators obtained by the program will enable apprentice miners to gain hands-on experience before ever entering a mine.

While in Charleston, from February to August, Dean led the states investigations into recent mining disasters, and developed plans to implement new mine safety regulations passed by the state legislature. When Dean left the state post, Gov. Joe Manchin named him a Distinguished West Virginian for his service to the state.

It was interesting and challenging, to say the least,said Dean,but I am glad to be back at WVU .

During Deans absence, Joe Spiker, director of the departments Emergency Preparedness Center, filled in as acting director. He has now returned to his former duties in the department. The department also has hired two new full-time instructorsButch Boord and John Spadaforeto lead miner training classes.

Joe did a fantastic job at keeping the momentum going at a time when miner training is growing,Dean said.I appreciate his service to the University and to the department.

The department received a boost last year with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the opening of a new mine training facility at Dolls Run, near Coredonated by CONSOL Energyand the establishment of the Academy of Mine Training and Energy Technologies. The Academy is a joint public-private partnership between the WVU Department of Mining Extension, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, and the West Virginia Coal Association.

Some of the funds were used to purchased advanced mine training simulators, which enable future coal miners to gain realistic hands-on experience on mining equipment before ever entering a mine. Three of those simulators have now been delivered and installed at the Dolls Run facility, and will be used in upcoming classes.

Established in 1913, the Department of Mining Extension provides a wide range of training programs for underground and surface mining, from new-miner training for apprentice miners to advanced courses in specialized areas such as EMT certification for coal mining, foreman/fireboss training, electrical apprentice, and many others. The department trains more than 3,000 new and experienced miners each year.

For more information on miner training programs at WVU , contact the department, 304-293-4821, ext. 3800.