Let me tell you about our dot…
Pasture, ready for a milk cow…
Installing a frame for solar panels…
A summer of preserving the bounty of our land…
It’s hard to describe the sickening feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you look at that map. It’s so awful to stare at your home on a screen with their big black line cutting right across your property and right next to your house. They’ve assigned you a number, or maybe even a combination of letters and numbers – that’s what we got. All you are is just another piece of land that’s in the way.
It’s an aerial map. As I’m looking at it I can clearly see my house, my barn, the shed, our small gravel road leading up to the other barn, and more. Was I in my house when they took that picture? Am I out in the field somewhere too small to see? It’s creepy and feels violating. It’s trespassing. You want to say, “Hey! Who told you you could come take a picture of my house?” but there’s no one to listen.
Again and again you see their canned statement about being “committed to working with landowners” and “the benefits to the state” but you know it’s not true. One neighbor called over and over and never got through. Another finally got through only to be told that “no, we can’t move it a few feet over so it’s not across your pond” or “yes, we see you plan on building a barn in the path – but that wouldn’t be possible. It would be in our way.”
We wanted to know what the benefits were of the substations they lied about bringing to each county they plan to cut the line through. They quietly told us those were simply “typos.” Not lies — “typos.”
They carelessly drew a fat black line across a map while dreaming of their own profits. That line would mean my neighbors have to move. That line would mean my land isn’t really mine anymore. That line would mean that everything my family has worked for and invested in could just go to someone else simply because they want it and we’re “in the way.”
These are our dots, these are our numbers!
After reading through posts about your “dots”, I understand what your dots are and what they represent. Stories about farms, family history, an agriculture vocation, a lifestyle, your piece of the American Dream! How did “we” evolve from a society that rewarded hard work, independence and the American Dream to one where “the people” are battling large corporations to hold on to their dot, their piece of the “Dream”?
Each one of us is also a dot. We all have our own stories to tell. In New Jersey, we are also numbers. Our number indicates how many feet our dots are away from FirstEnergy’s proposed high voltage power line. If built the Monmouth County Reliability Project will sit as close as 10-15 feet away from some of our community homes, schools, parks, a historic district and senior living centers over an active commuter train line.
FirstEnergy hosted open house meetings last spring and told residents that they did not have any information about pole placement or properties. Yet, our community was able to obtain maps created by an engineering firm that date back several years prior to their open house meeting. These maps indicate the location where over 100 monopoles would be built. The right of way where FirstEnergy wants to install these lines is roughly 100′ wide and many homes are located within 200′. Surely, we all had questions.
Where will the monopoles go? How many trees will have to be cleared? What chemicals will be used on the right of way? Do I have to remove my shed, my pool? Will my yard be taken and used as an easement? How will our school and town budgets be affected when property values decline? Will trees on my property that buffer my home from the noise of the trains have to be removed? Will the lines buzz? What about living in such close proximity to the emf? Will train signals be affected? Will my home be located within the fall zone?
FirstEnergy had no regard for “the people”. We are just dots, we are just numbers. Our communities rely on property tax revenue from our dots. This revenue funds the majority of our school and town budgets. What will happen to our communities since so many of our dots would be located within feet of high voltage lines that may reach up to 210′? As taxpayers in a state with the highest property taxes in the nation, it is likely we will be asked to pay more to own our dots. Those same dots will be worth less as they will change the quality of life as we know it.
Our towns will never be the same. Our dots will never be the same. Our piece of the American Dream will be sabotaged by a giant corporation that has no regard for us, our families, our homes. We have all worked so hard to buy and make our houses “home”. Our piece of the American Dream, but to FirstEnergy we are just a dot, we are just a number!
My parents bought this farm in mid-1950 and began farming and raising cattle. Our family moved to the farm in 1959 and built a new house on the land in 1964. This “place” has been our home for nearly 60 years. Our livelihood continues to be farming and raising cattle. This work has been passed from generation to generation and cannot be moved to another location or replaced with another vocation. My father and grandfather went to war to fight for our freedom. One of the freedoms that they fought for and so many others died for was the fundamental right to own property and not to “…be deprived of his property except by authority of law.” How does corporate greed equate to the authority of law?
Today, my farming operation extends over three properties: I own two and rent one. The proposed transmission line would cross all three. As with any business, this land is used to maximize production. We have farm land that is most appropriate for crops and pasture land that is best suited for cattle. Many do not realize that farming has become technologically advanced. We have concerns about the GPS equipped tractors and ramifications from a 345,000 volt powerline hanging over head while planting, maintaining and harvesting crops. This high dollar farming equipment assists us in obtaining the best possible crop yield. The inability to navigate these huge machines around poles would take a large swath of crop land out of production, further reducing crop production. If we cannot maximize the use of this equipment, then it erodes away our bottom line. In the pastures, the proposed line would hang directly over the ponds which are the only sources of water for our cows and calves. Soil compaction is a further issue we would face since the proposed line would diagonally cross one tract of land. Construction damage is inevitable. Whether it be crop production or grass yield for cattle, the soil would never regain its maximum production capability if the line is built.
Missouri ranks among the top states in the nation for agriculture and agricultural-related businesses. Missouri ranks 2nd in the U.S. for the largest number of farms, and is ranked 6th in the nation for overall cattle production. In 2015, cattle and calves brought in over $2 billion in cash receipts to the state. My cattle operation and the operations of other farmers and cattlemen like me throughout the state contributed to this ranking. You may say, “well, this is only one small farmer or a few small farmers, it won’t make a difference.” Well, it will. Missouri’s ranking is based on cattlemen and farmers like me who make their living raising and selling crops and cattle. If this transmission line is allowed to move forward, what is to stop it from plowing across other farm and grazing land with the same potential hazards? What will stop the unbridled use of eminent domain power, regardless of the effect on innocent property owners or impact on the state’s agriculture industry?
 Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, MO Department of Economic Development April 2016.
 The Cattle Range All Cattle & Calves Compiled from USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service Data January 1, 2017.
 U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Charts and Maps about Your State, MO 2015.
My husband bought 120 acres of ground in 1970 after he graduated from high school. One of the reasons why my husband wanted this land is because it connects to his parent’s place and cows can easily be herded between the two tracts of land.
My husband and I were married in 1973. There was a 1-1/2 story house on this land when my husband bought it. We remodeled this house and turned it into our home. During the remodeling, we included a large picture window in the front of the house so that we can enjoy the beautiful view of the sky, trees and rolling hills from our living room. The proposed transmission line would be the prominent view from this window.
Currently, we have 60 cow-calf pairs on this land. The rule of thumb is 1.5 to 2 acres will support a cow-calf pair. Our herd is well within that ratio. A large, 40 foot deep pond that we built in 2000, waters this herd. This is the only source of water for our cows other than a creek that runs through the property, but in drought years, the creek is dry. Without the pond, the cows would have to walk a mile away to drink water. It takes weight off of cattle when they have to walk so far to water and loss of weight equals loss of income. Additionally, we often use the pond with our daughters when they come to visit for boating, swimming and fishing. The pond is stocked with catfish and is a great place to retreat and relax after a hard day.
One of the single shaft steel poles holding up the proposed transmission line is planned to be placed behind the pond’s dam, with the potential line hanging right across the water. The road to get to the pole would go directly over a concrete pad and waterer that we have situated behind our pond for the cows. It is terrifying to think of using the pond for watering cattle or for recreation with a 345,000 volt transmission line hanging over it! We only have 20 additional acres where our cattle can graze during construction of this potential line. How are we supposed to support 60 cow-calf pairs on 20 acres of pasture when that’s only enough ground to support 10-13 pairs? Is it right that we would have to sell our cattle or use up all of the feed we have stored for winter so that a power line can be built through our land?
Farming is our life. The land is part of the fabric of our family. This is where we work, play and relax. It is our inheritance and the inheritance we intend to pass on to our two daughters. It is our retirement. We have been farming for over 40 years and have added additional acres of land to our holdings along the way. Most of these tracts join the original 120 acres that my husband bought in 1970. It is on those sections of land that we grow soy beans, corn and hay to feed our livestock and to sell as a cash crop.
We will be farming and raising cattle until we pass on, at which time our daughters plan to continue as the fourth generation in our family to farm. Our oldest daughter wants to raise cattle while our youngest daughter wishes to plant crops. They have grown up helping us on the farm and know their way around machinery and animals. Farming and raising livestock is a good life. Why should our lives be turned upside down because of an unnecessary transmission line? It is appalling that a corporation is trying to maximize their profits off of the backs of farmers who have worked tirelessly for the lives that they love.
I am from Missouri. Although I’ve lived away most of my life, the family farm is always the place we called ‘home.’ It is now a Missouri Century Farm.
In 1915, my grandfather purchased his first parcel and a year later, married my grandmother. They raised my father there. He grew up, went to World War II in the Pacific, and still wanting to serve his country, joined the U.S. Department of State for a 20 year career overseas in USAID.
On ‘Home Leave’ from overseas we always stayed several months at Grandma and Grandad’s farm in Missouri. Sometimes my brother and I went to school in Novelty and Edina. Many of our best memories, of fishing, raising our own piglets to market for our first savings accounts, laughing at the cows sneaking up on us at the pond, Sunday dinners, holiday feasts, farm style, with the cousins, grandma’s home crafts and gardening, have all had a huge impact on my adult life. Their quality of life, their thriftiness, their model for the rewards of hard work, all stayed with me. Someone once said of my work ethic, ‘it must be that Pioneer Grandmother of yours in Missouri!”
My grandparents were never rich. Together they worked the land. With my parents’ help and strong savings ethics, the family gradually bought adjacent and nearby parcels, building the Century Farm it is today.
Retiring from work in Kenya, my folks returned to live out the rest of their days at the farm. Mom came home early and contracted the building of a new home on the farm, detailed indoors with recycled barn wood from an antique barn on the property.
Dad and Mom were active in conservation programs, building ponds, planting orchards, multiple tree plantations, being awarded State Tree Farmer designation one year. As they aged, my husband Bob and I traveled out several times a year to plant more and prune, and participate in creating Dad’s dreams for improving the land, maintaining buildings, and growing the tree farm. We even did a trial lavender farm.
Now, the folks are gone, yet the trees remain. So does Grandad’s renovated barn, which I hope to use as my Missouri pottery studio in my retirement. Having a power line run fewer than 1000 feet from my workspace is not part of my dream. Nor is having a private company mow down a 35 year old stand of Dad’s trees. Nor are towering power lines crossing the terraced fields, passing too near the home place, too close to our buildings.
Home is where the heart is, and my dot is my place to call home
They told us that it was “our dot” on a map.
Our history, family, hard work and futures!
You know what my dot is?
I bought my farm from an elderly women who, with her husband, built the house in which I live in 1920. I rented the pasture from this couple before he passed away and continued to rent from her and to help her with upkeep to the farm until she died; so my tie to this place began way before I bought it in the late 80’s. My home is situated on 80 acres near my parents’ place which would also be impacted by this potential power line. Mom and Dad bought their farm in the early 70’s and have farmed it and pastured cattle on it ever since. I worked the cattle and the land together with my dad until he passed away.
The route of the proposed power line slices through the middle of my 80 acres, passing 300 to 400 feet away from my home. It continues across the road on our neighbor and then catches my mom’s farm which impacts another 40 acres – a total of 120 acres in all for my family! If this power line goes through, the use of heavy equipment and concrete being poured across both of these tracts of land to hold up the poles has a tendency to condense the soil making it less productive; the ground will never recover from this soil compaction. And worse, as a realtor, I know the value of my property and that of my mother’s will drop 35% should this transmission line come to fruition. All the while I’m potentially hearing the hum of a needless power line generating millions of dollars in profits for a greedy company.
This is my dot.
If this power line goes through, you may be next.
You could be their next “dot on a map.”
They told us that it was “our dot” on a map.
Our history, family, hard work and futures!
You know what my dot is?
My “dot” is our sanctuary that connects me with my roots. Growing up, it was never a question of “if” you were going to go outside and work all day at Grandpa’s house, it was whether you’d be bringing the rest of the crew coffee or water when you did. Our family farm is where I learned I was strong enough to clear brush, pour cement and climb up in a tree with a reciprocating saw to hack off dead branches. It’s where I learned that years of hard work, contributing to the community, and being a good citizen would pay off with a piece of land that you could call your own and leave for your children.
Each tree and flower tells a story. To one side of the house, there are the lilies from Great Grandma’s garden, in the backyard there’s the that tree my sister got stuck in and the neighbor had to come over with a ladder to get her down, in the side yard there’s the cherry tree that helped us make cobblers and pies for all our friends and family and reminds me of the few precious years I had to spend with my Grandmother. The men and women who load up and drive into town and are paid to tell us that these transmission lines are a great idea have no concept of this kind of connection to the land or heritage. They make their money taking advantage of people – not helping things grow. After a hard day of laboring outside doing honest work, I thank God that I was raised better than that.
This is our dot. Please help us protect our dot.
Support Representative Nate Walker’s HB640 & HB795.
They told us that it was “our dot” on their map.
Our home, our family, and our history.
You know what our dot is?
This beautiful picture represents my farm and what it means to my family. This farm has been in the family since the early 1940’s. My late husband was raised on this farm. At that time, his parents rented this farm including 200 tillable acres. In 1965 my in-laws bought a farm and moved. Geo and I moved here and took over the farming operation. We purchased the farm in 1997. After my husband’s death in 2003 my son took over the farming, and continues to farm our 200 acres.
I love our family farm, and the gift God gives us every year as we are given the opportunity to plant his soil. No one loves the land and cares for the land like a farmer. It is my hope that this farm will always remain in the family, and the flag will forever fly over my farm letting everyone know this is “The O’Brien Farm.”
Please help me protect my “dot.”
Support Representative Nate Walker’s House Bill 640 & House Bill 795.
They told my that it was “my dot” on their map.
My farm that I purchased for my family to enjoy.
You know what my dot is?
In 2006 I purchased 58 acres in Marion County for recreation and hunting for my family. From 2012-2014, a Embridge Oil Pipeline was put on this property which disrupted use of half of the property. Also in a letter from Embridge in January 204 they said in part, “During a recent archaeological survey conducted for the Embridge Flanagan South Pipeline Project on your property, archaeological specimens (artifacts) were recovered that date to the prehistoric and/or historic time periods. URS Corporation (URS) conducted this study on behalf of Embridge Pipelines. The material recovered from your property is currently under analysis.”
A month after Embridge got the property back to usable, I received a letter from the Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois. They said they plan on putting a transmission line in – which would cross the oil pipeline in the middle of my property. Also, they feel a one-time payment for the easement and power line is a fair exchange for the devaluing of my property and the permanent profits they would reap. I do not! A private business should not have that right.
In the photo, the black line indicates the path of the pipeline, and the transmission line and poles are numbered 45 & 46.
Please help me protect my dot on the map. Support Nate Walker’s HB640 & HB795.