The Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group announced last week that they had met and exceeded their fund raising goal of $250,000 for the UBB Miners Memorial project. As of Oct. 1, 2011, the group had collected $326,000 with another $45,000 pledged but not yet received. Including Alpha Natural Resources matching gift of $250,000, the memorial group will have raised over $620,000 for the project. This total amount does not include gifts-in-kind that have been received for work, materials and equipment donated. The estimated value of the gifts-in-kind would likely push the total amount raised for the project to near $700,000. "We cant say enough about our corporate partners and the community support we have received since the public phase of the fund raising effort began in May," said UBBMMG President Sheila Combs. The latest contributors to the project include: Swanson Industries, Taggart Global, the Bernard McDonough Foundation, Friends of Coal Miners, the Chisler Brothers, Fairchild International, Guyan Valley Mine Supply, Kentucky River Properties, Patriot Coal Corporation, R.M. Wilson, United Central Industrial Supply, AEP Appalachian Power and Bucci, Bailey and Javins LC. The most recent and most obvious progress has occurred at the site of the proposed memorial. Earlier this summer, a crew from Coal River Energy surveyed the site and marked the riverbank so that rock could be placed to help support the weight of the memorial. The bank itself needed significant prep work before the rock buttressing could be installed. Charleston-based East Cumberland, offered to clear the bank of vegetation and trees and dispose of the material for the project. The owner of Tyler Trucking in Seth agreed to install the rock along the riverbank and donated his company's expertise in construction and the use of an excavator at a largely reduced cost to the memorial group. CSX provided the limestone that was used for the buttressing and United Central Industrial Supply of Chapmanville donated two large rolls of fabric underlayment for the bank. Shamblin Stone, Inc. also provided two trucks for three days to move the stone to the site at a significantly reduced cost. Coal River Energy provided the use of an excavator and operator for three days. Again at no cost. Police officers from the Town of Whitesville donated their time to provide security and traffic control while the work was being completed. The gifts-in-kind provided by all the companies and people involved in the riverbank stabilization total well over $10,000. "I am not surprised at all by the outpouring of support from coal companies and businesses that support the coal industry and the community," said Sheila Combs. "Since day one there has been an eagerness and willingness to help and contribute to the project that has been humbling for all of us involved in planning the UBB Miners Memorial." The last step before actually breaking ground was wrapped up last week. Terracon Consultants, Inc performed a geotechnical survey at the site to determine the relative strength and stability of the land where the memorial will be built. This allowed the memorial group to finish the foundation plans with hopes of breaking ground at the site shortly after the core sample testing is complete. Terracon donated this service at a significantly reduced rate as another gift-in-kind to the project. This gift to the project is valued at several thousand dollars. "Terracon's contribution to the UBB Miners Memorial project is extremely generous and very much appreciated. They did not hesitate to offer their services when we approached them earlier this month," said memorial group President, Sheila Combs. In the upcoming weeks, the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group will meet with Alpha Natural Resources executives to brief them on the progress of the memorial. The group will also meet with an AEP Appalachian Power executive to receive a donation from the company during a check presentation ceremony at the proposed memorial site. The group is also hoping to break ground on the UBB monument foundation shortly after the core sample testing results are received back from Terracon Consultants. The Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group, INC is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) established in February of 2011 to raise funds to construct a memorial plaza located in Whitesville. The memorial will commemorate the events that occurred at UBB, pay homage to all fallen coal miners and recognize the importance of the coal mining industry to the Mountain State.