Close to 30 residents of the Rita coal camp were given eviction notices this month by the new owners of the Snap Creek Properties. DB Land LLC, new owners of the property, reportedly intends to use the property for commercial purposes.
Residents of Rita do not want to leave the area, but finding somewhere to move — and the money to move — is the problem. Officials of Logan County are stepping up and trying to find a solution for the residents and the new owners.
“Giving an eviction notice is personal and we understand that,” said Art Kirkendoll, W.Va. Senator and former Logan County Commission president. “But giving more than 30 at once… it becomes our problem.”
Kirkendoll has asked DB Land officials to work with him in trying to find a solution.
“Lets give these people the best opportunity to relocate with our assistance and help and make the transition as good as it can be” said Kirkendoll.
Kirkendoll said he received a call from Jim Lewis of DB Land and that he was pleased at the way the conversation went.
“He said, ‘We did the eviction notices, which is the first step you do. But I truly understand it could be months and months before we to go on and consummate our deal and in giving these people time to move… I want to be helpful,’” said Kirkendoll.
Kirkendoll said he assured Lewis that Logan County was very business friendly.
“I told him I hope that they would come into Logan County and spend their money and do good things, but if it had to be this part of the partial that you are going to use, to give me opportunity and time to 1), meet with my emergency services people at the state, 2) to find out if there are some potential trailers or other places, and 3) to look for an adequate piece of land or multiple pieces of land to where we could move these people,” said Kirkendoll. “The people of Rita understand that they have to go, but they are just asking for time and help.”
Kirkendoll said he told Lewis that with his help, along with the people Kirkendoll knows and the support of the county commission and Assessor Rick Grimmett, they could make this as good as it could be.
“It won’t ever be perfect, but I think we can take a bad situation and make it a really better situation,” said Kirkendoll.
Kirkendoll said Lewis reported to him that he had been in contact with some of the other land companies seeking available land for the residents.
“I was very pleased to hear that and I told him that I had a good rapport with the land companies also,” said Kirkendoll. “We’re just going to up our game and bring in everybody that can give qualifying support and see what we can do and how fast we can do it — but do it the right way.”
A special meeting will be held for Rita residents on Tuesday, September 25. An official from the Governor’s office, a lawyer who will discuss legal issues and Grimmett, who will be standing in for Kirkendoll, are scheduled to attend.
“Since I am on the Energy Commission, I have be out of state,” said Kirkendoll. “But Rick will be in tuned with me during the meeting.”
A notice from the residents states that the meeting will be held at the Bethlehem (Rita) FWB church at 7 p.m. Residents of Rita are asked to bring letters, receipts, lease agreements, etc., from Snap Creek and or DB Land.
Rita has been home to generations of the same families since the early 1900s, and many of the residents are elderly and disabled. Many of the former coal camp houses have been demolished and former land owners have allowed those renting to put their own mobile home or modular on the lots where the houses once stood.