Fridley page 51

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Group Facing Condemnation Actions to Discuss Employment of Counsel to Defend Interests

            Dispossessed landowners in the 16,300-acre site of the TNT plant in St. Charles County will meet in Weldon Spring Church Hall at 8 o’clock tonight to discuss employment of counsel to defend their interests in the condemnation suits which the Government is filing against 144 parcels in the area, after having decided that prices agreed on by R. Newton McDowell, War Department purchasing agent, were too high.
            Dr. O. L. Snyder, retired physician and chairman of a committee of the landowners, announced the meeting at a gathering of about 250 persons Saturday night, many of them owners not represented by counsel, who heard the committee’s report and speeches by other persons, including Congressman Clarence Cannon, in whose district the plant site is situated.
            Cannon told the owners that in his opinion the option agreements McDowell made were legal and binding, notwithstanding the Government’s decision to ignore the options and proceed with condemnation. He declared the House Military Affairs Committee had been unanimous in support of the citizens’ rights under their contracts and added that this was the first time in his 30 years at Washington that he had known the Government to “welsh” on its word.
            Dr. Snyder in his report reviewed the circumstances to date and declared many of the owners had had to move from their homes in mid-winter on short notice, with inconvenience and sacrifice of personal property in many cases.
            The Government had paid out $1,073,802 for 121 parcels of land, representing 6729 acres and 19 town lots, before stopping payments Feb. 7. Checks totaling $370,921 for 35 more parcels had been prepared but were held up pending further investigation. Of these 35 parcels, deeds completing transfer of 23 of them to the Government had actually been filed, but the former owners still are unpaid and the Government is filing condemnation suits against these parcels. Prices agreed on by McDowell for the entire tract totaled about $3,000,000. The Government had expected to pay [one or more lines missing]