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Telling their side of the story




To the Editor:

Seventeen families from Camp Branch, Stinking and Indian Creek have been waiting since November 2, 2007 for justice. That is the final date they were guaranteed by their “Water Trust Agreement” to have “good quality water or their share of the trust money.” As of today, they have no water and no pay for their own water line.

We (17) paid for it and did not get it (a first in history). We are not bound by our Trust Agreement to use our $1.5 million for any water except for those 29 up Camp Branch, Stinking and portions of Indian Creek. Nowhere in our Trust Agreement does it state the $1.5 million is to be used for seed money.

On September 7, 2005, according to The Mountain Eagle, the County Judge and Donald Profitt (trustee and Letcher County Water District chairman) received $1.9 million from the Department of Agriculture for the Camp Branch/Colson area. Other funds allocated to the project include $2,800,000 in coal severance tax money, $400,000 in Abandoned Mine Lands money and $1,500,000 in coal lawsuit settlement money. Therefore, there should be enough money to put water lines up Pistol City, Cane Hollow, Buck Creek, Beaver Dam and Loves Branch without the use of our $1.5 million trust money which was allocated only to the original 29 families.

Seventeen families have refused to sign the Letcher County Water and Sewer District use agreement because:

1. Our Water Trust Agreement does not contain that language, and it contains nothing about sewer.

2. The Water User Agreement states: A. Our present source of water will be disconnected. B. They may prorate the water. C. The user grants the District, its successors and assigns an easement over, under and upon your land to set and maintain its water meter. (Note: This applies even if the meter is on highway or road property.) This easement is in full force and effective only for as long as water is supplied to you. There are two user agreements – one for the public and one of the 17.

Water samples have been taken and the results show contaminants. Remember the contamination of the water tank that was vandalized on Sandlick. There have also been three boil water advisories. Please go online to “EPA-Envirofacts Warehouse SDWIS.com to find the facts.

Our trustees have filed for an

Las extension of time to study this problem. These trustees were assigned with the task of (according to the Water Trust Agreement) “(1) that the disbursement of the money may only be made upon the completion of said water lines and systems and only after they are in service providing good quality water to the communities identified above and only if the water lines are completed and in service within five years, from the date the money was received from Golden Oak or its insurers or November 2, 2007.”

This order was entered into the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office by the appropriate authority on October 21, 2002. If a court-ordered document can be cast aside, then God help us all.

In The Mountain Eagle, Archie Banks, District 2 Magistrate, stated, “They told them they will get $60,000 to $70,000 each.” Mr. Banks, who are they? We need good quality water.

Jim Murtaugh has stated that “those who don’t sign the water user agreement” cannot obtain water. Letters from Greg Pridemore state he will provide us with potable water and that we may sign the user agreement. The Letcher County Water and Sewer District user agreement is the problem at this point.

Mr. Pridemore stated the Water and Sewer District is operating at a deficit. Please don’t fault us 17 families for that, we have no water at all.

Judge Jim Ward stated “that the water is at our homes waiting for us to hook on.” Mr. Ward, the Water and Sewer District refuses to put barrels/meters in for us because we refuse to sign their agreement. We are sure you are aware of our Trust Agreement that states there must be a completion of said water lines and systems and in service, also there must be good quality water.

In Civil Action No. 99-CI- 119, Danny Baker, et al vs. Golden Oak Mining Co., at the beginning of the lawsuit, all of the 29 families with bad water put up $1.5 million to get good drinking water. Now there are the powers that be, in our opinion, that want us to give them the $1.5 million, the rights to our property that we pay tax on, and charge us monthly bills for bad water that they can turn on and off at their discretion.

JOYCE BAKER Thornton


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