76-Year-Old Widow Facing Eviction From Home Of 55 Years So KY Government Can Build A Highway

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A woman from Kentucky, USA, is fighting to keep one of the few things she has left of her late husband after learning that a new highway expansion is planned to pass right through her house.

Janet Arnett purchased the 63 acres on the Mountain Parkway in Salyers back in 1969 along with her late spouse, Lowell. 

The couple lived in different mobile homes on the property before constructing the house in 1998.

“It’s a small house, but to me, it’s a mansion,” the 76-year-old woman said.

Letting go of the Magoffin County home would be challenging, not only for Arnett but also for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They, too, hold treasured memories associated with the residence.

Image credits: New York Post

“When I was growing up, mamaw’s house was always this place of refuge,” Arnett’s granddaughter, Zoe Parker, explained.

“We cooked together. And this is where I grew up playing in the creek, catching crawdads, and catching lightning bugs.

“This was our epicenter of our family. And Mamaw’s house will always be Mamaw’s house- whether it’s right where it is or it’s down near the road—but it’s tough if Mamaw’s house gets bulldozed.”

In January, the family received the unsettling news: their home stood in the way of the plans to expand a “four-lane, undivided, limited-access highway” that spans from US 460 in Salyersville (Magoffin County) to KY 404 in Prestonsburg. 

Janet Arnett purchased the 63 acres on the Mountain Parkway in Salyers back in 1969 with her late husband

Image credits: Janet Cheek Arnett

The development would require the demolition of the home, which Arnett took care of after her husband passed away unexpectedly in 2015.

“We don’t want her to be collateral damage for a project that has been in the works for years,” said her daughter, Lanessa DeMarchis.

Arnett requested that the highway be built in front of or behind the home. However, she was told that development and structural issues complicated that alternative.

“I mean, if [they] want to build the road, that’s fine. But just leave me alone. Build it in front of me; build it behind me. You know, I just want to stay at my house. Here,” she pleaded. 

“Why did it have to come through my house?”

“It’s a small house, but to me, it’s a mansion,” the 76-year-old woman said

Image credits: New York Post

The family said they have contacted the county, the transportation cabinet, local representatives, and Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, asking them to review their situation. So far, they haven’t felt like their emotional attachment to the home was considered in their plan.

Arnett isn’t interested in the money she was offered for the property. “She wants to live her remaining years in her home,” DeMarchis said.

“And for us to see her go through that, it breaks our heart. I mean, it’s almost unimaginable what they’re putting her through right now.

“So, we’re just asking for them to think what it really means.”

The family said they have contacted the county, the transportation cabinet, and Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, but their situation hasn’t been reviewed

Image credits: New York Post 

The desperate family has launched an online campaign and a petition titled “Save Mamaw’s House from the Highway Expansion” to protect their home.

“They are forcing her to move. They will bulldoze her house to the ground,” the petition, written by Arnett’s granddaughter, reads. 

“This is the house we raised our kids in. This is the house where we hid Easter eggs, celebrated birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

“This is the house where ALL of us escaped to when life just got too complicated.

“Yes, they are ‘buying’ it from her. But, she doesn’t care about the money. She wants to live her remaining years in her home. 

“We have tried EVERY option to prevent this from happening. Can you imagine this happening to your 76-year-old widowed mom?”

Arnett’s fervent wish is to celebrate many more birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmases at her home. 

“I’m 76. You know, I’m not gonna be around too much longer,” she said. “Why can’t I stay here in the house? My house.”

People supported Arnett’s cause and her wish to protect her family history

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