CHARLESTON - Gov. Joe Manchin has announced the official appointment of Mr. James Dean to serve as Acting Director of the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (MHST), effective immediately.
Mr. Dean is filling the post being left vacant by the departure of Doug Conaway, who announced earlier this month that he is stepping down as the state's mine safety chief to pursue other opportunities. Dean is currently Director of Extension and Outreach and Associate Director of the Mining Extension Program at West Virginia University (WVU), and will be serving as Acting Director of MHST on a strictly temporary basis until an appropriate search for Mr. Conaway's replacement can be conducted.
He will join MHST Deputy Director C.A. Phillips and Administrator Terry Farley in continuing the investigations into January's mining disasters at the Sago and Alma Mines, as well as the ongoing underground and surface mine inspection schedules.
"The appointment of Mr. Dean during this period of transition solidifies our commitment to the families of our 16 lost miners that West Virginia will continue to make mine safety our #1 goal," Manchin said Feb. 14. "His knowledge, combined with the experience and background of both C.A. and Terry, will allow us to continue in Doug's absence without skipping a beat until a permanent replacement is found."
"The Governor made a good choice in selecting Mr. Dean for this position," said MHST Deputy Director C.A. Phillips. "I look forward to working with him on continuing our efforts to ensure the safety of our state's coal operations for the workers of West Virginia as well as the entire coal industry."
As for the current investigations, according to MHST Administrator Terry Farley, "I want to assure everyone that the investigations will continue as planned, as will our dedication to continuing to work together to make our mines as safe as humanly possible."
Doug Conaway, a 29-year veteran of the mining industry who prior to becoming MHST Director in 2001 served as MHST Administrator of Enforcement and Safety, will be staying on with MHST long enough to assist Dean through the transition. "I am confident that with the appointment of James Dean, and the continued hard work and dedication of C.A. Phillips, Terry Farley and the entire MHST staff, the state of mining and most importantly mine safety in West Virginia is in very good hands," he said.
Dean holds an Associate Degree in Engineering Technology-Mechanical, a Bachelor's degree in Engineering Technology-Mining and a Master's degree in Engineering of Mines. He is also a Certified Mine Safety Professional (CMSP) through the International Society of Mine Safety and has MSHA IS IU Instructor Certification. His specific areas of expertise are mine safety and mine management. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Holmes Safety Association, and is a member of the Society of Mining Engineers and the Society of Explosive Engineers.
Said Dean, "The MHST team already in place is extremely experienced and professional, and I look forward to working closely with them on the state's comprehensive mine safety efforts until an extensive search for a permanent appointee can be completed."