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New Florence man involved in state's response to Quecreek Mine rescue

Stephen Huba
| Sunday, June 3, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Scott Horrell worked as a coal miner to pay off college debt and ended up being responsible for abandoned mine reclamation for half the state of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Horrell was program manager for the Ebensburg office of the Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation for about 10 years, retiring in 2010.

“Scott was a very dedicated professional,” said Rich Beam, professional geologist manager in the Ebensburg office. “He was always about following regulations and doing the right thing, and he instilled that in the people who worked for him.”

During his time with the DEP, Mr. Horrell was involved with the state's response to the Quecreek Mine rescue in 2002 and the Nickel Plate Mine blowout in 2005.

“Scott was instrumental in the initial response to (the mine pool blowout) and the long-term solution to that problem,” Beam said.

James Scott Horrell of New Florence died Wednesday, May 30, 2018, at home after an eight-year battle with cancer. He was 69.

Born in Johnstown on Sept. 3, 1948, he was a son of the late Thomas and Minerva (Garrison) Horrell. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Thiel College and a master's in biology from the University of Michigan.

Mr. Horrell's career with the DEP spanned more than 30 years, including time as section chief for the DEP's Bureau of District Mining Operations in Greensburg and as program manager for the Bureau of District Mining Operations in Ebensburg, Beam said.

Around 2000, he became program manager for the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation in Ebensburg, whose territory covers 34 counties. While there, he worked as a liaison between the DEP and Gov. Mark Schweiker during the Quecreek Mine rescue in July 2002.

“He was there at Quecreek the whole time,” said his wife, Lisa. “He was on the phone with the governor giving him updates on the progress.”

Mr. Horrell was among those recognized by the state for the successful “nine-for-nine” rescue, she said.

Beam described Mr. Horrell as a major factor in the state's response to the Nickel Plate Mine incident in McDonald.

“He was not about finding the easy way out,” Beam said. “He was a problem solver.”

Mr. Horrell enjoyed fishing on his boat at Pymatuning State Park, playing pool with friends and gardening.

“He cultivated 11 different varieties of garlic, and he passed that love of gardening on to his children,” his wife said.

Mr. Horrell is survived by his wife, Lisa Leslie Horrell; and his children, Kenneth Braden Horrell, Bryce Scott Horrell, and Lydia and Patrick Freeman.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 p.m. June 9 at the Horrell residence. Private interment will be held in the Fort Palmer Cemetery. Arrangements are being handled by the Snyder Funeral Home, Ligonier.

Memorials may be made to Excela Health Home Care and Hospice, 501 Otterman St., Greensburg, PA 15601, or Byers-Tosh American Legion Post 267, 109 Kelly St., Ligonier, PA 15658.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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