Sunday, April 14, 2024

Elderly Widow Faces Eviction from Home of 55 Years Due to Road Project: ‘She Is Losing Everything’

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A elderly Kentucky widow is facing eviction from her home of 55 years because a new highway project is planned to go straight through her living room.

Janet Arnett purchased 63 acres in Salyersville, KY with her late husband, Lowell, in 1969 where they planned to settle down and raise a family, WYMT-TV reports.

Their quaint home that sits on the Mountain Parkway took the couple nearly 29 years to build, as they lived in several mobile homes before its construction in 1998. 

“It’s a small house, but to me it’s a mansion,” said Arnett.

Since Lowell’s death in 2015, Arnett has been busying herself taking care of the property and making memories with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the home. 

“When I was growing up, Mamaw’s house was always this place of refuge,” Arnett’s granddaughter Zoe Parker, told WYMT-TV. “We cooked together. And this is where I grew up playing in the creek, catching crawdads, and catching lightning bugs.” 

But Arnett could soon lose everything she has built. 

The last phase of the Mountain Parkway Expansion, a 45-mile expansion road project through Eastern Kentucky, will demolish her home. 

Arnett said the developers had visited her property over the years, warning that she may lose a small piece of her land to the new road and Eminent Domain. 

But the current plan shows the road running through the middle of her 63-acre property, which means her home will be destroyed.

“We don’t want her to be collateral damage for a project that has been in the works for years,” Arnett’s daughter, Lanessa DeMarchis, said. 

According to the project’s website, the Magoffin-Floyd segment is a 13-mile segment that will be a “four-lane, undivided, limited access highway that spans from US 460 in Salyersville (Magoffin County) to KY 404 in Prestonsburg (Floyd County).”

“This was our epicenter of our family. And Mamaw’s house will always be Mamaw’s house whether it’s right where it is or it’s down near the road – but it’s tough if Mamaw’s house gets bulldozed,” Parker said. 

“She is losing everything,” her daughter said. 

The family said they have contacted the county, the transportation cabinet, local representatives, and Gov. Andy Beshear’s office about the situation, but have heard no real solutions. 

The family requested the road be moved either to the front or behind the home but was told it could not be done due to structural issues. 

They also requested that Arnett be able to move her home from its current foundation to a lower piece of the property, but she claimed officials told her they would not be able to install a septic tank. 

“Just leave me alone. Build (the road) in front of me; build it behind me. You know, I just want to stay at my house. Here,” Arnett pleaded. “Why did it have to come through my house?”

Although Arnett is being compensated for her troubles, she says that it’s not about the money but it’s about the memories within the home – which cannot be bought.

Her family has created an online campaign and petition to raise awareness of what is at stake for Arnett.

“For us to see her go through that, it breaks our heart. I mean, it’s almost unimaginable what they’re putting her through right now,” said DeMarchis. “So, we’re just asking for them to think what it really means.”

“I’m 76. You know, I’m not gonna be around too much longer,” Arnett said. “Why can’t I stay here in the house? My house.”

The Christian Perspective

The Bible points out that God cares for widows and their struggles and He calls His people to do the same. 

In Psalms 68:5 and 146:9, the psalmist calls God the protector and upholder of widows.

And James 1:27 reads in part that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….”

Please pray for a peaceful resolution for Ms. Arnett and her family. 

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