Fridley page 15

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Government Officials and County Farm Agent Will Explain Conditions To Land Owners
Farmers Demanding Fair Price for Land on Which $14,000,000 Plant Will Be Constructed

            Growing buyer-and-seller strife in connection with government acquisition of land for the proposed $15,000,000 TNT plant near Howell, St. Charles County, appeared headed for a showdown yesterday when a meeting of landowners, War Department representatives and state aids was called in Francis Howell High School for tonight.
            At issue is the question of “fair price,” which the government has said it is willing to pay for the land it needs for the explosives plant, but which, to farmers whose tracts are included in the proposed 1800-acre site, must include the cost of moving and re-establishing themselves on land that is said already to have doubled in price.
            Representatives of R. Newton McDowell, Kansas Cityan to whom the War Department has delegated the task of getting options, yesterday said they had “a few” options signed, but declined to reveal prices. Virtually the entire staff returned to Kansas City yesterday to vote after saying the “prospects are bright” for signing up other landowners.
            The meeting tonight is designed to iron out problems confronting farmers in the move they must make if they surrender their tracts, which range in size from small 50 by 140 foot building lots to 200-acre parcels.
            War Department aids are to join in price discussion and reveal the extent to which the government will aid in relocating families in homes comparable to those vacated. Federal and state social and economic specialists are to help in the work, it was said.
Representative Cannon
            Congressman Clarence Cannon of Elsberry, Lincoln Co., Monday had informed St. Charles County farmers, business and professional men that the War Department, regardless of protests, in December will begin construction on a $15,000,000 TNT plant in the county.
            Addressing about 700 persons late yesterday at the Francis Howell High School at Howell, he pointed out that only two courses are open for those owning the 18,000 acres sought by the War Department for the cite of the plant—they can sell to the government, or be dispossessed and fight the matter out in the courts. He added that the government would make every effort to be fair to all.
            Cannon said there is urgent need for TNT plants and that the location of the St. Charles plant had been determined scientifically by War Department experts. He explained such plants must be far away from the sea coasts and borders beyond the reach of enemy planes, near a great river for the needed supply of water, near highway, railroad and waterway transportation and close enough to a great city for labor and materials.
U. S. Must Have Land
            “Military necessity makes it imperative that the government have this land,” Cannon added. “The government experts will shortly be on the scene. Construction work will begin in December. That has been decided and it cannot be changed.
            “The government wants to be exactly fair. It does not want to take advantage of anyone. If you want to sell, you can sign the options at a price you consider fair. If you don’t, you can be dispossessed in five days and leave the matter to the courts to determine what you shall be paid for your land.
            “It’s a matter we must face. We are sorry. None of us had anything to do with it; none of us can stop it. In any event, the government will come in, take possession, and build the plant.”
            Cannon said the government, in fixing the final price to be offered, will take into consideration the fodder lost, farm operations not concluded, the cost of moving tenants and other matters not included in the price of the land. Twelve agents of the Department of Agriculture will be on hand to assist farmers and others in relocating.

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Large Number Of Families To Move. Plant To Be Camouflaged By Heavy Timber.

            An announcement of an evacuation order affecting 100 farm families in the government’s TNT area here was made by Capt. C. R. Dutton of the Army Ordnance Department, who is in charge of the war defense project, as contractors made preparations to begin actual construction of the plant between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Thirty buildings will be constructed.
            The staff under Capt. Dutton is said to have been directed to serve the moving order on the families personally because a surprisingly few of the persons failed to obey previous notices to vacate.
            A survey is being conducted now to locate the plant under natural camouflage of dense woods in the area. When the government several weeks ago began acquiring options on property in the area, farmers in many parts began cutting timber to realize what profit they could. Some of them conducted this work at night.
            The timber cutting has been almost completely stopped, it was learned, now that the area is being patrolled. It was understood that many of the farm houses and outbuildings will be left standing to better the camouflage. Some buildings, however, will be wrecked and a contract was signed yesterday to have this work done.
            Construction of a railroad spur from the M-K-T railroad to the center of the area has already begun. Temporary office buildings are being constructed at Howell now that the government has agreed to let schools in the safety area continue until May.
            Yesterday, roads leading into and out of the area were closed to general traffic. Only those still living in the area or having business there will be issued passes, good for two weeks, which can be renewed.