Atchison County Woman Upset County is Taking Her Land

Atchison County Woman Upset County is Taking Her Land

Ethel Campbell, a rural Atchison County woman is upset the county is using eminent domain to take part of her land to build a new bridge.
(ATCHISON COUNTY, Kan.) Ethel Campbell's family has owned land in Atchison County for more than 60 years. They were one of the first African-American families to own land in the county.

"It's part of our heritage," Campbell said.

That's why a recent decision by Atchison County has her angry and fighting for her property.

"It's not right," she said.

Atchison County is wanting to tear down a bridge adjacent to her land, rebuild it, and move it about 100 feet onto her property. That would cut off about half an acre of Campbell's land.

She said the bridge only has only about ten vehicles travel it daily.

"One person makes four of those trips," she said. "It's a deserted area. There's no one on that road for miles."

The bridge has been over the creek since the days of horse and buggies and is in need of a replacement. Construction in the bridge's current location would force the contractor to pay railroad insurance because it is in a railroads right-of-way. This would cost the contractor an extra $70,000 to replace the bridge.

Jerry Kuckelman is the Atchison County Prosecutor and said the government has every right to take somebody's land if it is for the common good.

"Usually the fight over eminent domain has to do with the value of the land," Kuckelman said.

The county offered $1,700 for Campbell's half acre. But for her, they can't put a price on her family's heritage.

"The land will stay in the family for years to come," she said. "The $1,700 is really an insulting amount."

Campbell's son is an attorney and expects to fight the decision in court if it gets to that point. Construction is set to start this summer.
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