Learn more about the underground economic engine that is Routt County's Twentymile Coal Co.
John Papierski is not exactly the image that comes to mind when one thinks of a coal miner.
The 48-year-old Illinois native said that when he was growing up, he was expected to go to college, and his father made him go.
Papierski attended school on a baseball scholarship and earned degrees in marketing and business management. After graduating, he landed a job with 3M that lasted one year.
“I wore the suit,” Papierski said. “It just wasn’t for me.”
He moved to Craig 20 years ago and worked as a hunting outfitter until five years ago.
“It was a great job and everything, but I was looking for something that was more stable, and I heard such great things about Twentymile” Coal Co., Papierski said.
With a wife and two children, he also was looking for good benefits. The job fit.
“I wanted to go to a place where I could stay and retire at,” Papierski said.
When he first started four years ago, he worked on a bull gang tasked with doing preparation for the continuous-miner operation that creates the network of tunnels at Twentymile Mine.
“It’s construction, just undergound,” Papierski said. “After a couple of days, you don’t feel like you’re underground anymore.”
Today, he does maintenance on the continuous miner machines.
“I used to get yelled at for breaking the stuff,” Papierski said. “Now, I’ve got to fix it.”
Papierski said his job pays well and offers limitless opportunities to work overtime. He works three 13-hour shifts each week, which gives him four days to be outside and with family.
“Really, right now, I don’t think you can find a better job as a family person,” Papierski said.