(05/06/2010)

Digitally enhanced image shows the giant PATH towers
and lines that would cut across Calhoun farms, from Oka to
Stinson to Walker Creek would look like (Tina Rappaport Photo)

"Can you imagine playing in our fields and flying our kites with
the giant lines, or having a barbecue," asked Genie Hicks Bailey

By Bob Weaver

While there is more at stake with the Goliath PATH power line project than "not in my backyard," about 70 Calhoun property owners would be affected.

Several of the properties, including some farms that have been in families for several generations, will be cut in two by the giant towers and lines.

While the electric company says they pay premium price for the right-of-way, and in some cases offer to buy the entire property, some Calhoun landowners say the presence of the line dissecting their property or crossing nearby is just not worth it, and would likely reduce the value of their farms.

The billion dollar project is touted to bring electricity to the nation's eastern corridor with power generated near WV coal fields. Opponents say West Virginians will bear the burden of pollution and part of the cost to build the lines.

Genie Hicks Bailey looking at the Calhoun landscape
that would be disrupted by PATH from the family cabin
high on the mountain between Walker and Walnut

The distant Calhoun hills offer a quiet and peaceful view

Genie Hicks Bailey, whose Walker Rd. farm has been in her family for several generations, says the thoughts of the line crossing the mountain behind her house is devastating.

"My dad built a cabin on the highest point before he died, and few days go by we don't go up the hill to sit on the porch or play in the fields," Bailey said.

Bailey calls the 226-acre King-Ellison farm a family treasure.

The cabin built by Genie's dad before he passed

"Like most Calhoun people, we love our isolation from hectic city life, and to just think how the line will affect our view. Our cabin is an extension of our home. Try to enjoy a BBQ with that monstrosity in the middle of your property," Bailey said.

Bailey says the lines could also pose a health risk, beyond disturbing the landscape and wildlife.

"I want my home to be a safe place for my child to grow up," she said.

Justin Wizard and Tina Rappaport say "It seems like a bad joke"

Walker Rd. resident Justin Wizard says, "If the PATH line comes through, it will seem like a bad joke," saying he bought the property in Calhoun to live a self-sustaining life off-the-grid.

"I bought it several years ago, feeling safe from encroachment, no WalMarts and no new highways going through. I put thousands of hours building and improving my farm, planting fruit and nut trees that are just starting to produce wonderful organic fruit," Wizard said.

The giant PATH towers and lines could loom over his farm.

"I love the peacefulness and quiet. I can hear the stars twinkle at night. We have great neighbors and know everybody on my road. I love these mountains filled with lush plant life," Wizard said.

Oka resident Tex Murphy says the line will come
down his valley and cross his property, asking
"Can you imagine how you might feel about this?"

Wizard's partner, Tina Rappaport, said "After finding Justin, the love of my life, on his farm about three years ago, and living on this spot you can feel the boldness of the mountains and their feeling of safety. I was home."

"I suppose the flowers will still grow here, but the sunsets would be forever marred in the western sky," Rappaport said, "We're off the grid, but the grid is on us."

Wizard and Rappaport have delayed the construction of a house, waiting to see what happens with PATH.

While significant efforts have been made to stop PATH, with resulting delays, the project could move forward.

Genie Hicks Bailey concluded, "It is really not about money to us, it is about living in this wonderful place."

For more about the PATH project see The Power Line


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