Residents Continue to Challenge Peabody

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By Sam Jones
By Jared Roberts

SALINE COUNTY— There’s a new phase in the fight over expansion of the Cottage Grove mine.

For months, residents of Cottage Grove Township have been fighting Peabody's plans to expand its surface mining operation. It would cover 800 acres and come extremely close to some homes. Neighbors are also concerned about a plan to close Rocky Branch Road to make way for the mine.

There's been a lot of debate over who has the right to close that road, and there still isn't a clear answer on that. A group opposed to the expansion made their case in Springfield Thursday. A judge granted them 15 days to present arguments against closing that road.

“I'm not against mining, I'm against strip mining and what they're doing to our township,” Judy Kellen explained.

Residents like Kellen and Allan Porter say it means an end to their peace of mind.

“You get sick to your stomach and it carries over with ya day after day,” she added.

“Peabody, if they'd come in and done it right it would've been a whole different story,” said Porter.

Both say they've felt blasts from the mine as it's expanded. They don't believe the project is worth the cost to the people of Saline County.

“You've got a handful of peanuts; the money they got for the coal that's under those roads and you done this county a great injustice,” Porter urged.

Saline County Highway Engineer Jeff Jones says they'll work to get a survey of the road soon, then assess potential damage to it. Afterwards, he'll hold a final hearing with his decision on whether the road can be eliminated or not.

“If nothing else's accomplished, Peabody's gotta understand that ‘hey, you're dealing with human beings and some people is gonna stand against what you're doing,’” Porter advised.

Kellen knows they have a long way to go, but she still believes they have a chance to save the road.

News 3 reached out to Peabody for comment but did not hear back. There is no deadline for a decision on the road.

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