Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Cheshire, Ohio no more

Village purchased by AEP begins process of dismantling government

The Associated Press

        CHESHIRE, Ohio — With their town being bought out by American Electric Power, the mayor and council met to begin the process of dismantling this village's government.

        “We want to make sure that what we do is legal and proper,” Mayor Tom Reese said.

        Council members voted Monday night to contact the village's attorney, who will be asked to examine the steps required to legally dissolve the village government and dispose of property.

        “It was business as usual,” Councilman Ron Hammond said, “and now it's not. It's business unusual. It's kind of surreal.”

        Columbus-based AEP announced April 16 that it had reached an agreement to buy about 200 plots of land that make up the village of Cheshire for $20 million.

        Residents in the Gallia County town about 90 miles southeast of Columbus had asked AEP to buy their land and homes because they were tired of worrying about the emissions from the company's nearby Gen. James M. Gavin plant.

        Last summer, the village was plagued by blue clouds of sulfuric acid gas drifting from the coal-burning plant. Residents said the pollution caused burning eyes, headaches, sore throats and white-colored burns on their lips, tongues and insides of their mouths.

        Under the agreement they signed with AEP, residents will give up their rights to sue the company over personal and property damage they claim they sustained from the emissions.

        The village legal counsel, Gallipolis lawyer Brent Saunders, will advise the council on dissolution of the village, incorporated in 1953; disposal of village property; and what to do with any money that could come from getting rid of that property, the mayor said.

        The council will meet again next month.

        “We'll be here until there's not a village,” Reese said. “It's sad. It's a sad occasion. This is a close-knit community.”


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