Some Hobet Mine protesters reach plea agreement - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Some Hobet Mine protesters reach plea agreement

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On Thursday, nine protesters involved in a weekend protest reached plea agreements. The deal came as a surprise to some of the coal miners who hoped these people would stay in jail.

This all started after dozens of people reportedly trespassed onto the Hobet Mine's property and chained themselves to mining equipment.

Some miners said it was a frustrating and chaotic day.

"We lost three hours of production," said miner Josh Dingess.

A total of 20 people were arrested on trespassing and obstruction charged. They were hauled off to the Western Regional Jail. Their surety-only bail amounts were set at $25,000 a piece.

Some of them ended up taking plea agreements to avoid further legal proceedings.

The states offered a $500 fine and a one year ban from West Virginia mining property.

The agreement was disappointing to some Hobet miners, who attended the hearings on Thursday.

"I'm not real happy about it but I guess it's the extent of the law at this point. I guess if they come back, they'll deal with them with further penalties, but that's yet to be seen," said miner Jerry Sammons.

The miners said they're lucky no one was hurt even though some of the protesters chained themselves to mining equipment.

"They should have free speech and state their opinions. I don't care if they protest on the road but don't come on private property and take someone else's life into their hands. Someone could have easily gotten killed and not just one of us, but one of them," Dingess said.

Prosecutor Jack Stevens said he won't tolerate people who willingly break the law in Lincoln County.

"Coal mining is a legitimate business. It's legal here in the state of West Virginia. I understand people's right to protest if they want. If you go over the line and do something that's criminal, we're going to address it here in Lincoln County and I'm sure in the surrounding counties," said Stevens.

The other ten protesters are still in jail and one guy posted bond.

The state said it'll offer them the same plea agreement as the others when they have their hearings on Tuesday.