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Coal Miner Memorial Planned for Blakely

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BLAKELY -- Plans for a memorial to honor Lackawanna County coal miners have gotten a boost from a state gaming grant.

A woman from Blakely is collecting names for the memorial she plans to put in the borough.

Silvia Passeri of Blakely wanted a way to memorialize her coal miner father. He died from black lung at the age of 56.

Her father's name will be listed with more than 150 others on the memorial which has now become a reality thanks to a state grant.

Passeri has a vision when she sees the spot that used to be a skating rink at Blakely Borough Park. It's where she plans to put a memorial to Lackawanna County's coal miners and she just learned, when Newswatch 16 called, that she secured a state gaming grant that will help pay for it.

"Oh, I am so elated! I am just so elated!" said Passeri. "After a year of hard work with me and my committee and my officers, oh, my goodness. I can't tell you how happy I am, Stacy, thank you for being the one to tell me that we got our grant from the state."

The state will chip in $35,000. Passeri raised about $20,000 on her own by asking for donations from families who wish to have a loved one's name on the memorial.

The project all started because Passeri wanted to remember her dad.

"My dad died when he was 56 years old," she recalled. "He went into the mines when he was a little fella. There were seven in the family, and he was the eldest. He had to get some money for the family to eat. His life was so hard; I just want to memorialize all this."

There are monuments to coal miners across Lackawanna County including this one at McDade Park in Scranton. The one planned for Blakely would be the first in the county to have coal miners' names on it.

"It says to me, personally, 'you're not forgotten, we did not forget,'" said Chester Kulesa, the former administrator for the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton.

Kulesa now volunteers to give tours about mining history. He thinks we need more people like Silvia Passeri to preserve it.

"We should record our history, we should commemorate our history and that's something that I think is public history. The fact that community members do that and get involved in it is very important."

Silvia Passeri and her committee are still collecting names to be placed on the memorial. You can contact her at 570-383-2879.