The people of Cottage Township got a chance to voice their concerns to a representative of Peabody Energy Tuesday night at Southeastern Illinois College regarding a strip mine expansion that would impact roads.
Peabody Operations Manager John Keller presented maps and explanations of the company's plans to close a portion Cottage Grove Road.
"We are looking at developing land south of state Route 13 in the Cottage Grove area," said Keller.
His assistants held the large map as he explained which of two possible plans he favored.
Plan A involves closing Cottage Grove Road to the public and making it a hauling road for the strip mine expansion.
Plan B would require coal trucks to travel longer distances on public highways and would be less safe, in Keller's opinion.
"We don't see it as an advantageous option," said Keller. "With plan B there will be 140 coal trucks per day on publicly used roads.
"The plan we are proposing is to close about a 1/4 mile stretch of Cottage Grove Road. This has to be done by the end of the calendar year."
Donald Karnes, local resident, said, "We need a way out of our property in the event of a flood."
"We don't have alternative roads right now because we don't have our permits. You would have access roads once the permits are issued," said Keller.
Rhonda Dillard said, "If you go ahead with your plans my house will be flooded when it rains. Right now the water runs off into the area you are planning to mine. Once you start mining it won't be able to go that way. I know how the water runs on my property."
Keller assured her that the flooding would not occur.
Trustee Judy Kellen read a prepared statement saying she felt that the township had suffered nothing but loss since the mining started.
"We have lost population, we have lost homes and we have lost roads.
"When the mining company is gone who is going to pick up the tab for loss of revenue from homes and roads in order to continue to maintain the roads we still have?
"We were told when we lose old 13 and it is ripped out that the state would replace it. Our state is broke.
"We have lost a view of where we could see for miles. We have lost history. We had a cemetery in a beautiful location that now has been turned into something akin to an abyss. We have to endure dust, noise levels to the pitch you wanted to scream because you couldn't get any rest or sleep, earth tremors, home damages, complete isolation of any type of view to the north, health issues, a sadness in your heart that puts a dread on your face everyday and an unrest in the spirit that we knew nothing of," Kellen read.
Page 2 of 2 - "Nothing the mines has done or is planning on doing has been or will be advantageous to our community," she later read.
Kellen then apologized to the people of the township who elected her.
"I would like to apologize to the people of Cottage Township who helped elect me because I have not been able to do what I was elected to do which is to protect the township, people and our habitat from harm."
Kellen says the Peabody plan would close the entry to Rocky Branch Road causing it to become essentially a private driveway, increase Berry Road traffic and anyone traveling east will have to first drive west in order to reach an exit.
Resident Allen Porter took a stance of hopelessness.
"I am telling you that Peabody is going to do whatever it wants to do, no matter what we say tonight," said Allen Porter, a resident of the area. "The blasting is causing cracks in my house. What are you going to do about that? I am not here to stir up trouble, but you folks should have looked into this before you bought the land. It ain't going to go good for you if you cover me with dust and destroy my home," said Porter.
"Go back and tell your bosses that they have a whole lot of people hot under the collar here."
The township would receive $15,000 per year during the time the road is closed. The mining is planned to start in 2014 and end by 2018 said Peabody Manager John Keller.
After the meeting ended discussion about the need to ask for more money from Peabody began.